File and Dossier interrogation techniques

From Citizendium
Revision as of 08:25, 22 April 2009 by imported>Howard C. Berkowitz
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and subject to a disclaimer.
For more information, see: Interrogation.

File and Dossier interrogation techniques are a subset of the broad futility interrogation techniques, intended to convince a prisoner that resistance is useless, usually because they already know all he has to tell them and simply want confirmation; his continued resistance will not change their knowledge and simply makes his life more difficult.

They can complement We Know All interrogation techniques, which tend to focus on verbal displays of omniscience, differing from classic We Know All interrogation techniques that rely on verbal convincing that the questioner is omniscient and resistance is futile. File and dossier, which seems to be called "false document" in the Guantanamo guidance.[1]

The technique does require substantial preparation and biographical intelligence, even if ruses are used to intensify impact, such as "Careful arrangement of the material within the file may give the illusion that it contains more data than what is actually there. The file may be padded with extra paper, if necessary. Index tabs with titles such as education, employment, criminal record, military service, and others are particularly effective."[2]

Documents, which may be real, false with known errors, and extra paper not shown to the prisoner, can complement Establish Your Identity interrogation techniques. Again, any documents actually shown to the prisoner must seem authentic, so it is most wise to falsify papers in the format of one's own side. Especially when the prisoner belongs to a large, bureaucratic organization, even a minor error in an allegedly captured document can warn him it is a forgery. In an Establish Your Identity approach, he might point out errors as part of his defense, but that, in and of itself, will give the interrogators knowledge on how better to prepare the next forged document — unless a very sophisticated prisoner is engaging in deliberate disinformation to damage future document-based interrogation methods.

Some of the most effective materials, in this application, is presenting the detainee with papers captured with him or in immediate proximity to his capture; he will have a much harder time with denying these, even if they are used out of context.

While international law is not specific on the use of false documents, it is reasonable to assume that if certain identities are forbidden to interrogators, documents that purport to be from a source of the same identity also are forbidden. Under the Geneva Conventions, this most clearly, forbidden ruses include to anything claimed to be from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or its affiliates.

In addition, current U.S. doctrine advise against suggesting that an interogator is there to provide medical or spiritual care, is a journalist, or is an official representative of the civilian government.[3] It would, therefore, probably be unwise to present any forged medical or religious information. Fake news reports, however, are generally accepted, with due regard that a bad forgery of a news report, other than perhaps as part of Establish Your Identity interrogation techniques, is probably unwise.


  1. Jerald Phifer (October 11, 2002), Memorandum for Commander, Joint Task Force 170: Request for Counter-Resistance Strategies, Joint Task Force 170, Department of Defense
  2. , Appendix H: Approaches, Field Manual (FM) 34-52: Intelligence Interrogation, U.S. Army, 8 May 1987
  3. US Department of the Army (September 2006), FM 2-22.3 (formerly FM 34-52) Human Intelligence Collector Operations. Retrieved on 2007-10-31, p. 8-4