National Security Program | Report

National Security Interrogations: Myth v. Reality

by Steven Kleinman

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Following the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, several Bush officials claimed that controversial interrogation techniques generated actionable intelligence used to kill the al Qaeda chief. While these claims were quickly refuted by current officials, some policymakers remain convinced that brutal interrogations are indeed effective mechanisms for eliciting information from detainees. Unfortunately, this debate is is informed by Hollywood depictions of interrogations and not in reality. We decided to ask an expert interrogator with years of experience handling high value detainees.

In the this report, veteran military interrogator Steven Kleinman explains:
  • What interrogation actually is (and why fictional portrayals muddy the waters);
  • How coercive practices actually undermine interrogators’ long-term goals; and
  • Why experienced interrogators know that rapport-building is the most effective means to extract valuable information from detainees.


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