Pride and Ego Down interrogation techniques

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Pride and Ego Down interrogation techniques attack the self-image of a proud, perhaps overconfident prisoner. It was considered a relatively mild method in the Guantanamo guidance, with the caveat that some nations might regard the method, used against prisoners of war, to be a violation of Article 17 of the Third Geneva Convention, "Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."[1] The guidance, however, pointed out that the policy in force was that Guantanamo prisoners were not subject to the Geneva protections, but warned against a political liability. [2] In the 2002 guidance, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wanted to preapprove its use, but later delegated the authority.

Along with Fear Up interrogation techniques, it is considered the antithesis of rapport-building noncoercive techniques. [3] Nevertheless, there have been some historical situations, in which the prisoner's belief system centered on pride, where it could be used. Heavily indoctrinated Nazis, conditioned that Hitler could never be wrong, could be disoriented by demonstrating his errors.

The 1987 version of a U.S. Army manual points out that it is a potential dead end to interrogation: "if it is unsuccessful, it is very difficult for the interrogator to recover and move to another approach and reestablish a different type of rapport without losing all credibility. "[4] An additional trap is that it is easy to misapply, since the interrogator naturally falls into a position of dominance, and may attack ego without having a clear plan on how to convert a lowered self-image into the offering of information. [5] In LTG Sanchez' Iraq guidance, interrogators were cautioned not to use it to an extent reasonable for a POW. In at least one reported case, an attempt to break ego with a religious attack, stepping on a Qur'an, led to a riot; this was evidence more of interrogator than prisoner arrogance. [6]


  1. Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of International Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, held in Geneva from 21 April to 12 August, 1949 (12 August 1949), Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights
  2. Jerald Phifer (October 11, 2002), Memorandum for Commander, Joint Task Force 170: Request for Counter-Resistance Strategies, Joint Task Force 170, Department of Defense
  3. Steven Kleinman and Matthew Alexander (March 11, 2009), "Interrogation: Try a little tenderness", International Herald Tribune
  4. , Appendix H: Approaches, Field Manual (FM) 34-52: Intelligence Interrogation, U.S. Army, 8 May 1987
  5. Chris Mackey & Greg Miller (2004), The Interrogators: inside the secret war against al Qaeda, Little, Brown & Co., ISBN 0-316-87112-5, p. 482
  6. Joe Conason (May 27, 2005), "Still to blame: Newly declassified files on detainee abuse include sworn statements by a Pentagon employee about a military interrogator who threw the Koran on the floor and "stepped on it" -- provoking detainees to riot",