VII. Planning the Counterintelligence Interrogation

A. The Nature of Counterintelligence Interrogation

The long-range purpose of CI interrogation is to get from the source all the useful counterintelligence information that he has. The short-range purpose is to enlist his cooperation toward this end or, if he is resistant, to destroy his capacity for resistance and replace it with a cooperative attitude. The techniques used in nullifying resistance, inducing compliance, and eventually eliciting voluntary cooperation are discussed in Part VIII of this handbook.

No two interrogations are the same. Every interrogation is shaped definitively by the personality of the source - and of the interrogator, because interrogation is an intensely interpersonal process. The whole purpose of screening and a major purpose of the first stage of the interrogation is to probe the strengths and weaknesses of the subject. Only when these have been established and understood does it become possible to plan realistically.

Planning the CI interrogation of a resistant source requires an understanding (whether formalized or not) of the dynamics of confession. Here Horowitz's study of the nature of confession is pertinent. He starts by asking why confessions occur at all. "Why not always brazen it out when confronted by accusation? Why does a person convict himself through a confession, when, at the very worst, no confession would leave him at least as well off (and possibly better off)...?" He answers that confessions obtained without duress are usually the product of the following conditions:

38 [page break]

1. The person is accused explicitly or implicitly and feels accused.

2. As a result his psychological freedom - the extent to which he feels able to do what he wants to - is curtailed. This feeling need not correspond to confinement or any other external reality.

3. The accused feels defensive because he is on unsure ground. He does not know how much the accuser knows. As a result the accused "has no formula for proper behavior, no role if you will, that he can utilize in this situation."

4. He perceives the accuser as representing authority. Unless he believes that the accuser's powers far exceed his own, he is unlikely to feel hemmed in and defensive. And if he "perceives that the accusation is backed by 'real' evidence, the ratio of external forces to his own forces is increased and the person's psychological position is now more precarious. It is interesting to note that in such situations the accused tends toward over response, or exaggerated response; to hostility and emotional display; to self-righteousness, to counter accusation, to defense.... "

5. He must believe that he is cut off from friendly or supporting forces. If he does, he himself becomes the only source of his "salvation."

6. "Another condition, which is most probably necessary, though not sufficient for confession, is that the accused person feels guilt. A possible reason is that a sense of guilt promotes self-hostility." It should be equally clear that if the person does not feel guilt he is not in his own mind guilty and will not confess to an act which others may regard as evil or wrong and he, in fact, considers correct. Confession in such a case can come only with duress even where all other conditions previously mentioned may prevail."

39 [page break]

7. The accused, finally, is pushed far enough along the path toward confession that it is easier for him to keep going than to turn back. He perceives confession as the only way out of his predicament and into freedom. (15)

Horowitz has been quoted and summarized at some length because it is considered that the foregoing is a basically sound account of the processes that evoke confessions from sources whose resistance is not strong at the outset, who have not previously-been confronted with detention and interrogation, and who have not been trained by an adversary intelligence or security service in resistance techniques. A fledgling or disaffected Communist or agent, for example, might be brought to confession and cooperation without the use of any external coercive forces other than the interrogation situation itself, through the above-described progression of subjective events.

It is important to understand that interrogation, as both situation and process, does of itself exert significant external pressure upon the interrogatee as long as he is not permitted to accustom himself to it. Some psychologists trace this effect back to infantile relationships. Meerlo, for example, says that every verbal relationship repeats to some degree the pattern of early verbal relationships between child and parent. (27) An interrogatee, in particular, is likely to see the interrogator as a parent or parent-symbol, an object of suspicion and resistance or of submissive acceptance. If the interrogator is unaware of this unconcsious process, the result can be a confused battle of submerged attitudes, in which the spoken words are often merely a cover for the unrelated struggle being waged at lower levels of both personalities. On the other hand, the interrogator who does understand these facts and who knows how to turn them to his advantage may not need to resort to any pressures greater than those that flow directly from the interrogation setting and function.

Obviously, many resistant subjects of counterintelligence interrogation cannot be brought to cooperation, or even to compliance, merely through pressures which they generate

40 [page break]

within themselves or through the unreinforced effect of the interrogation situation. Manipulative techniques - still keyed to the individual but brought to bear upon him from outside himself - then become necessary. It is a fundamental hypothesis of this handbook that these techniques, which can succeed even with highly resistant sources, are in essence methods of inducing regression of the personality to whatever earlier and weaker level is required for the dissolution of resistance and the inculcation of dependence. All of the techniques employed to break through an interrogation roadblock, the entire spectrum from simple isolation to hypnosis and narcosis, are essentially ways of speeding up the process of regression. As the interrogatee slips back from maturity toward a more infantile state, his learned or structured personality traits fall away in a reversed chronological order, so that the characteristics most recently acquired - which are also the characteristics drawn upon by the interrogatee in his own defense - are the first to go. As Gill and Brenman have pointed out, regression is basically a loss of autonomy. (13)

Another key to the successful interrogation of the resisting source is the provision of an acceptable rationalization for yielding. As regression proceeds, almost all resisters feel the growing internal stress that results from wanting simultaneously to conceal and to divulge. To escape the mounting tension, the source may grasp at any face-saving reason for compliance - any explanation which will placate both his own conscience and the possible wrath of former superiors and associates if he is returned to Communist control. It is the business of the interrogator to provide the right rationalization at the right time. Here too the importance of understanding the interrogatee is evident; the right rationalization must be an excuse or reason that is tailored to the source's personality.

The interrogation process is a continuum, and everything that takes place in the continuum influences all subsequent events. The continuing process, being interpersonal, is not

41 [page break]

reversible. Therefore it is wrong to open a counterintelligence interrogation experimentally, intending to abandon unfruitful approaches one by one until a sound method is discovered by chance. The failures of the interrogator, his painful retreats from blind alleys, bolster the confidence of the source and increase his ability to resist. While the interrogator is struggling to learn from the subject the facts that should have been established before interrogation started, the subject is learning more and more about the interrogator.

B. The Interrogation Plan

Planning for interrogation is more important than the specifics of the plan. Because no two interrogations are alike, the interrogation cannot realistically be planned from A to Z, in all its particulars, at the outset. But it can and must be planned from A to F or A to M. The chances of failure in an unplanned CI interrogation are unacceptably high. Even worse, a "dash-on-regardless" approach can ruin the prospects of success even if sound methods are used later.

The intelligence category to which the subject belongs, though not determinant for planning purposes, is still of some significance. The plan for the interrogation of a traveller differs from that for other types because the time available for questioning is often brief. The examination of his bona fides , accordingly, is often less searching. He is usually regarded as reasonably reliable if his identity and freedom from other intelligence associations have been established, if records checks do not produce derogatory information, if his account of his background is free of omissions or discrepancies suggesting significant withholding, if he does not attempt to elicit information about the questioner or his sponsor, and if he willingly provides detailed information which appears reliable or is established as such.

[approx. 2 lines deleted]

42 [page break]

[approx. 5 lines deleted]

Defectors can usually be interrogated unilaterally, at least for a time. Pressure for participation will usually come [approx. 1/2 line deleted] from an ODYOKE intelligence component. The time available for unilateral testing and exploitation should be calculated at the outset, with a fair regard for the rights and interests of other members of the intelligence community. The most significant single fact to be kept in mind when planning the interrogation of Soviet defectors is that a certain percentage of them have proven to be controlled agents; estimates of this percentage have ranged as high as [one or two words deleted] during a period of several years after 1955. (22)

KUBARK's lack of executive powers is especially significant if the interrogation of a suspect agent or of any other subject who is expected to resist is under consideration. As a general rule, it is difficult to succeed in the CI interrogation of a resistant source unless the interrogating service can control the subject and his environment for as long as proves necessary.

[approx. 20 lines deleted]

43 [page break]

[1/3 of page deleted]

C. The Specifics

1. The Specific Purpose

Before questioning starts, the interrogator has clearly in mind what he wants to learn, why he thinks the source has the information, how important it is, and how it can best be obtained. Any confusion here, or any questioning based on the premise that the purpose will take shape after the interrogation is under way, is almost certain to lead to aimlessness and final failure. If the specific goals cannot be discerned clearly, further investigation is needed before querying starts.

2. Resistance

The kind and intensity of anticipated resistance is estimated. It is useful to recognize in advance whether the information desired would be threatening or damaging in any way to the interests of the interrogates. If so, the interrogator should consider whether the same information, or confirmation of it, can be gained from another source. Questioning suspects immediately, on a flimsy factual basis, will usually cause waste of time, not save it. On the other hand, if the needed information is not sensitive from the subject's viewpoint,

44 [page break]

merely asking for it is usually preferable to trying to trick him into admissions and thus creating an unnecessary battle of wits.

The preliminary psychological analysis of the subject makes it easier to decide whether he is likely to resist and, if so, whether his resistance will be the product of fear that his personal interests will be damaged or the result of the non-cooperative nature of orderly-obstinate and related types. The choice of methods to be used in overcoming resistance is also determined by the characteristics of the interrogatee.

3. The Interrogation Setting

The room in which the interrogation is to be conducted should be free of distractions. The colors of walls, ceiling, rugs, and furniture should not be startling. Pictures should be missing or dull. Whether the furniture should include a desk depends not upon the interrogator's convenience but rather upon the subject's anticipated reaction to connotations of superiority and officialdom. A plain table may be preferable. An overstuffed chair for the use of the interrogatee is sometimes preferable to a straight-backed, wooden chair because if he is made to stand for a lengthy period or is otherwise deprived of physical comfort, the contrast is intensified and increased disorientation results. Some treatises on interrogation are emphatic about the value of arranging the lighting so that its source is behind the interrogator and glares directly at the subject. Here, too, a flat rule is unrealistic. The effect upon a cooperative source is inhibitory, and the effect upon a withholding source may be to make him more stubborn. Like all other details, this one depends upon the personality of the interrogatee.

Good planning will prevent interruptions. If the room is also used for purposes other than interrogation, a "Do Not Disturb" sign or its equivalent should hang on the door when questioning is under way. The effect of someone wandering in because he forgot his pen or wants to invite the

45 [page break]

interrogator to lunch can be devastating. For the same reason there should not be a telephone in the room; it is certain to ring at precisely the wrong moment. Moreover, it is a visible link to the outside; its presence makes a subject feel less cut-off, better able to resist.

The interrogation room affords ideal conditions for photographing the interrogatee without his knowledge by concealing a camera behind a picture or elsewhere.

If a new safehouse is to be used as the interrogation site, it should be studied carefully to be sure that the total environment can be manipulated as desired. For example, the electric current should be known in advance, so that transformers or other modifying devices will be on hand if needed.

Arrangements are usually made to record the interrogation, transmit it to another room, or do both. Most experienced interrogators do not like to take notes. Not being saddled with this chore leaves them free to concentrate on what sources say, how they say it, and what else they do while talking or listening. Another reason for avoiding note-taking is that it distracts and sometimes worries the interrogatee. In the course of several sessions conducted without note-taking, the subject is likely to fall into the comfortable illusion that he is not talking for the record. Another advantage of the tape is that it can be played back later. Upon some subjects the shock of hearing their own voices unexpectedly is unnerving. The record also prevents later twistings or denials of admissions. [approx. 6 lines deleted] A recording is also a valuable training aid for interrogators, who by this

46 [page break]

means can study their mistakes and their most effective techniques. Exceptionally instructuve interrogations, or selected portions thereof, can also be used in the training of others.

If possible, audio equipment should also be used to transmit the proceedings to another room, used as a listening post. The main advantage of transmission is that it enables the person in charge of the interrogation to note crucial points and map further strategy, replacing one interrogator with another, timing a dramatic interruption correctly, etc. It is also helpful to install a small blinker bulb behind the subject or to arrange some other method of signalling the interrogator, without the source's knowledge, that the questioner should leave the room for consultation or that someone else is about to enter.

4. The Participants

Interrogatees are normally questioned separately. Separation permits the use of a number of techniques that would not be possible otherwise. It also intensifies in the source the feeling of being cut off from friendly aid. Confrontation of two or more suspects with each other in order to produce recriminations or admissions is especially dangerous if not preceded by separate interrogation sessions which have evoked compliance from one of the interrogatees, or at least significant admissions involving both. Techniques for the separate interrogations of linked sources are discussed in
Part IX.

The number of interrogators used for a single interrogation case varies from one man to a large team. The size of the team depends on several considerations, chiefly the importance of the case and the intensity of source resistance. Although most sessions consist of one interrogator and one interrogatee, some of the techniques described later call for the presence of two, three, or four interrogators. The two-man team, in particular, is subject to unintended antipathies and conflicts not called for by assigned roles. Planning and

47 [page break]

subsequent conduct should eliminate such cross-currents before they develop, especially because the source will seek to turn them to his advantage.

Team members who are not otherwise engaged can be employed to best advantage at the listening post. Inexperienced interrogators find that listening to the interrogation while it is in progress can be highly educational.

Once questioning starts, the interrogator is called upon to function at two levels. He is trying to do two seemingly contradictory things at once: achieve rapport with the subject but remain an essentially detached observer. Or he may project himself to the resistant interrogatee as powerful and ominous (in order to eradicate resistance and create the necessary conditions for rapport) while remaining wholly uncommitted at the deeper level, noting the significance of the subjects reactions and the effectiveness of his own performance. Poor interrogators often confuse this bi-level functioning with role-playing, but there is a vital difference. The interrogator who merely pretends, in his surface performance, to feel a given emotion or to hold a given attitude toward the source is likely to be unconvincing; the source quickly senses the deception. Even children are very quick to feel this kind of pretense. To be persuasive, the sympathy or anger must be genuine; but to be useful, it must not interfere with the deeper level of precise, unaffected observation. Bi-level functioning is not difficult or even unusual; most people act at times as both performer and observer unless their emotions are so deeply involved in the situation that the critical faculty disintegrates. Through experience the interrogator becomes adept in this dualism. The interrogator who finds that he has become emotionally involved and is no longer capable of unimpaired objectivity should report the facts so that a substitution can be made. Despite all planning efforts to select an interrogator whose age, background, skills, personality, and experience make him the best choice for the job, it sometimes happens that both questioner and subject feel, when they first meet,

48 [page break]

an immediate attraction or antipathy which is so strong that a change of interrogators quickly becomes essential. No interrogator should be reluctant to notify his superior when emotional involvement becomes evident. Not the reaction but a failure to report it would be evidence of a lack of professionalism.

Other reasons for changing interrogators should be anticipated and avoided at the outset. During the first part of the interrogation the developing relationship between the questioner and the initially uncooperative source is more important than the information obtained; when this relationship is destroyed by a change of interrogators, the replacement must start nearly from scratch. In fact, he starts with a handicap, because exposure to interrogation will have made the source a more effective resister. Therefore the base, station, [one or two words deleted] should not assign as chief interrogator a person whose availability will end before the estimated completion of the case.

5. The Timing

Before interrogation starts, the amount of time probably required and probably available to both interrogator and interrogatee should be calculated. If the subject is not to be under detention, his normal schedule is ascertained in advance, so that he will not have to be released at a critical point because he has an appointment or has to go to work.

Because pulling information from a recalcitrant subject is the hard way of doing business, interrogation should not begin until all pertinent facts available from overt and from cooperative sources have been assembled.

Interrogation sessions with a resistant source who is under detention should not be held on an unvarying schedule. The capacity for resistance is diminished by disorientation. The subject may be left alone for days; and he may be returned to his cell, allowed to sleep for five minutes, and brought back

49 [page break]

to an interrogation which is conducted as though eight hours had intervened. The principle is that sessions should be so planned as to disrupt the source's sense of chronological order.

6. The Termination

The end of an interrogation should be planned before questioning starts. The kinds of questions asked, the methods employed, and even the goals sought may be shaped by what will happen when the end is reached. [approx. 3 lines deleted] If he is to be released upon the local economy, perhaps blacklisted as a suspected hostile agent but not subjected to subsequent counterintelligence surveillance, it is important to avoid an inconclusive ending that has warned the interrogates of our doubts but has established nothing. The poorest interrogations are those that trail off into an inconclusive nothingness.

A number of practical terminal details should also be considered in advance. Are the source's documents to be returned to him, and will they be available in time? Is he to be paid? If he is a fabricator or hostile agent, has he been photographed and fingerprinted? Are subsequent contacts necessary or desirable, and have recontact provisions been arranged? Has a quit-claim been obtained?

As was noted at the beginning of this section, the successful interrogation of a strongly resistant source ordinarily involves two key processes: the calculated regression of the interrogatee and the provision of an acceptable rationalization. If these two steps have been taken, it becomes very important to clinch the new tractability by means of conversion. In other words, a subject who has finally divulged the information sought and who has been given a reason for divulging which salves his self-esteem, his conscience, or both will often be in a mood to take the final step of accepting the interrogator' s values and making common cause with him. If operational use is now

50 [page break]

contemplated, conversion is imperative. But even if the source has no further value after his fund of information has been mined, spending some extra time with him in order to replace his new sense of emptiness with new values can be good insurance. All non-Communist services are bothered at times by disgruntled exinterrogatees who press demands and threaten or take hostile action if the demands are not satisfied. Defectors in particular, because they are often hostile toward any kind of authority, cause trouble by threatening or bringing suits in local courts, arranging publication of vengeful stories, or going to the local police. The former interrogatee is especially likely to be a future trouble-maker if during interrogation he was subjected to a form of compulsion imposed from outside himself. Time spent, after the interrogation ends, in fortifying the source's sense of acceptance in the interrogator's world may be only a fraction of the time required to bottle up his attempts to gain revenge. Moreover, conversion may create a useful and enduring asset. (See also remarks in
VIII B 4.)

51 [page break]

Next: VIII. The Non-Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation
Document Table of Contents
Analysis of the KUBARK Interrogation Manual