U.S. Panel Shapes New Interrogation Guidelines President Bush is expected to issue new rules for interrogating terrorism suspects, and some of the more violent and controversial practices may be outlawed. But some extreme measures are likely to continue.
NPR logo

U.S. Panel Shapes New Interrogation Guidelines

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/10659929/10659930" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
U.S. Panel Shapes New Interrogation Guidelines

U.S. Panel Shapes New Interrogation Guidelines

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/10659929/10659930" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


President Bush is expected soon to issue new rules for interrogating suspected terrorists. It's likely that some controversial techniques like water boarding, labeled as torture by critics, will be forbidden. However, other extreme measures are likely to continue.

Steven Kleinman serves on the Intelligence Science Board, which studied interrogation methods and offered recommendations last year at the request of the director of national intelligence. Mr. Kleinman himself has extensive experience as a military interrogator, and he joins us from member station KAZU in Pacific Grove, California. Welcome to the program.

Colonel STEVEN KLEINMAN (U.S. Air Force Reserve; Member, Intelligence Science Board): Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.

YDSTIE: In your experience, what are the most effective ways of getting information from someone who's determined not to give up that information?

Col. KLEINMAN: Step one is to understand why they are determined not to give that information, which is a very strategic approach that takes patience, spends time talking, but more importantly, actively listening. And you'll find out everybody has an outcome that they want to realize. And resistance, protecting information for some reason, there is an underlying interest to be satisfied. And if you spend enough time talking, they will tell you.

YDSTIE: Give us a quick example of that.

Col. KLEINMAN: A great example would be an insurgent that I spoke to in 2003 who was involved with the arms trade - black arms. And I spent time with him, and I noticed after a while that his number one concern was his wife and especially, his two daughters.

And so I thought, well, maybe this is an interest that he wants to protect. And so I talked about a (unintelligible) family of mine back in the United States, and my concern about drug problems and that my two daughters would be the target of somebody trying to sell them narcotics.

And then I asked him if he thought that the person selling narcotics had any responsibility. And he said, of course, and I asked him, well, then didn't he feel any responsibility for what people use as weapons for.

At first, he said no, and I asked him, well, what if the bullets flies over a fence and hits a six-year-old girl? You don't feel any responsibility for that?

And it stunned him. It stunned me how effective it was. He looked at me and, literally, a tear welled up in the corner of his eye down his cheek. And he started apologizing for his behavior, that he was ashamed of himself, and that the best he could do was try to help me. And he provided extensive amount of information.

YDSTIE: Members of your study group also suggested using techniques that are common in advertising and marketing.

Col. KLEINMAN: The things that we see in advertising like scarcity, you know, how often do we hear, you must call now, this offer is only available for the next 24 hours. You can use that in an interrogation. For instance you know, some people are going to be let go early. Some people are going to receive something attractive, but we can't offer to everybody.

It's done in a more sophisticated fashion than that, but that's the underlying principle or authority. And we see commercials where somebody is wearing the white lab coat and you assume that they're doctors who do know what they're talking about.

Yeah, that's the approach I used often. Authority means also expertise. If I go and talk to somebody and I convince them that I know more about this topic than they do, it makes it much easier for them to answer questions because they assume they're not providing anything I don't already know.

YDSTIE: By the time, the president issues this new executive order on interrogation techniques that we're waiting for, the old rules will have been in effect for about a half-dozen years. What are the long-term effects of the use of those methods over that period?

Col. KLEINMAN: That's an excellent, excellent question. The whole concept of law of war for a lot of people strikes them as an oxymoron. But every war comes to an end, and it suggests that if we don't conduct ourselves with a certain level of discretion that is very, very difficult, sometimes impossible to trade to develop a relationship afterwards. And people will remember, especially in parts of the world, such as the Middle East, that our storytelling culture that they remember and will remember and remember for generations to come.

YDSTIE: Steven Kleinman is a consultant on National Security and a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Thanks for joining us.

Col. KLEINMAN: It was an honor, sir.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.