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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Modern Interrogation is Built on Psychology - Not Torture

On the topic of our current adiminstration’s approval of torture for interrogation, I found the following post quite interesting. —pseudolus

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One last post on interrogation and then I’ll get off my soapbox and back to being a trial lawyer and running a trial practice. Hans Scharf, a German PFC, is the father of modern interrogation. He was the son of a South African manufacturer visiting family in Germany when World War II broke out and was conscripted into the German Luftwaffe. He was assigned to question U.S. Airforce and British RAF pilots. He always got his information. How did he do it?

The key is to get the prisoner talking. And it doesn’t have to be about military topics, or sensitive information. You just want them talking. Once they’re talking, you can steer the conversation around to other issues, toss in a few innocent questions here and there and you’re on your way. (It’s not quite that easy, but that’s the main point).


A conversation with Hans would go like this “You’re not going to make me talk.” and Hans would reply “That’s fine, I don’t need to make you talk.” “Oh.” A favorite tactic of Hans would be to leave the immediate compound and walk through the woods with the prisoner and just make small talk with them. Halfway through the woods, there was an anthill. Hans would cover up the holes in the anthill with a handkerchief and they would watch the ants scurry around to create new ways into the anthill. He would then talk to the prisoner on the difference between the goals of socialism working together and capitalism where it’s every man for himself, using the ants as an example. He could almost always toss a question or two in when he got in a heated political discussion.

Another key is that with the information and organizational structure that the Germans had, Hans only needed one or two pieces of information from each prisoner, thus making it nearly impossible for the captured pilot to know when he was giving away military information.

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read the rest:

South Carolina Trial Law Blog: Modern Interrogation is Built on Psychology - Not Torture 

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