Top Interrogators Declare Torture Ineffective in Intelligence Gathering

New York City — Fifteen former interrogators and intelligence officials with more than 350 years collective field experience have declared that torture is an “unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive” way to gather intelligence, in a statement of principles released today.

The group of former interrogators and intelligence officials released a set of principles to guide effective interrogation practices at the conclusion of a meeting convened by Human Rights First last week in Washington. The meeting participants served with the CIA, the FBI and the U.S. military.

The principles are based on the interrogators and intelligence officials’ experiences of what works and what does not in the field. Interrogation techniques that do not resort to torture yield more complete and accurate intelligence, they say. The principles call for the creation of a well-defined single standard of conduct in interrogation and detention practices across all U.S. agencies. At stake is the loss of critical intelligence and time, as well as the United States’ reputation abroad and its credibility in demanding the humane treatment of captured Americans.

The full text of the principles and brief bios of its signers follow below.

The group gathered together in Washington last week for two days to discuss the most effective ways to obtain timely and credible information from suspected terrorists and other individuals who threaten the security of the United States, during which time they also met with Presidential campaign advisors and Members of Congress to discuss these issues.

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Summer, 2008

The principles below were developed by 15 individuals who served as senior interrogators, interviewers and intelligence officials in the United States military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Central Intelligence Agency. The group met at a forum hosted by Human Rights First on June 17 and 18, 2008, in Washington, D.C. to discuss the most effective ways to obtain timely and credible information from suspected terrorists and other individuals who threaten the security of the United States.

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We believe:

1. Non-coercive, traditional, rapport-based interviewing approaches provide the best possibility for obtaining accurate and complete intelligence.

2. Torture and other inhumane and abusive interview techniques are unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive. We reject them unconditionally.

3. The use of torture and other inhumane and abusive treatment results in false and misleading information, loss of critical intelligence, and has caused serious damage to the reputation and standing of the United States. The use of such techniques also facilitates enemy recruitment, misdirects or wastes scarce resources, and deprives the United States of the standing to demand humane treatment of captured Americans.

4. There must be a single well-defined standard of conduct across all U.S. agencies to govern the detention and interrogation of people anywhere in U.S. custody, consistent with our values as a nation.

5. There is no conflict between adhering to our nation’s essential values, including respect for inherent human dignity, and our ability to obtain the information we need to protect the nation.

Signed by:

  • Frank Anderson

Frank Anderson worked for the CIA from 1968 until 1995. He served three tours of duty in the Middle East as an agency station chief, headed the Afghan Task Force (1987-1989), and was chief of the Near East Division. He now runs a consulting practice that focuses on the Middle East.

  • Jack Cloonan

Jack Cloonan served as a special agent with the FBI from 1977 to 2002. He began investigating Al Qaeda in the early 1990’s and served as a special agent for the Bureau’s Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 2002.

  • Colonel (Ret.) Stuart A. Herrington, US Army

Stu Herrington served thirty years as an Army intelligence officer, specializing in human intelligence/counterintelligence. He has extensive interrogation experience from service in Vietnam, Panama, and Operation Desert Storm. He has traveled to Guantanamo and Iraq at the behest of the Army to evaluate detainee exploitation operations, and he recently taught a three-day seminar on humane interrogation practices to the Army’s 201st MI Battalion, Interrogation, during its activation at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

  • Pierre Joly

Pierre Joly has more than 39 years of military intelligence experience. He currently serves as the Vice President of Phoenix Consulting Group where he leads more than 350 employees involved in providing human intelligence training to members of the intelligence community and law enforcement agencies of the United States. Immediately before joining Phoenix he served as the Chief of Controlled Operations at DIA from 2005- 2006 and the Chief of Operations for the Iraq Survey Group in Baghdad from 2003-2004.

  • Brigadier General (Ret.) David Irvine, US Army

General Irvine enlisted in the 96th Infantry Division, United States Army Reserve, in 1962. He received a direct commission in 1967 as a strategic intelligence officer. He maintained a faculty assignment for 18 years with the Sixth U.S. Army Intelligence School, and taught prisoner of war interrogation and military law to soldiers, Marines, and airmen. He retired in 2002, and his last assignment was Deputy Commander for the 96th Regional Readiness Command. General Irvine served 4 terms as a Republican legislator in the Utah House of Representatives, has served as a congressional chief of staff, and served as a commissioner on the Utah Public Utilities Commission.

  • Steven M. Kleinman

Steve Kleinman is an active duty intelligence officer who has twenty-five years of operational and leadership experience in human intelligence, special survival training, and special operations. He has served as a case officer, as a strategic debriefer, and as an interrogator during Operations JUST CAUSE, DESERT STORM, and IRAQI FREEDOM. He previously served as the DoD Senior Intelligence Officer for Special Survival Training and is currently assigned as the Reserve Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance at the Air Force Special Operations Command. As an independent consultant, his engagements have included serving as a senior advisor to the Intelligence Science Board’s Study on Educing Information and as a member of the faculty for the U.S. Army Behavioral Science Consulting Team Course.

  • Dr. George Mandel

Dr. George Mandel, born in Berlin, Germany, came to the US in 1937. He was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1944, and after basic training was transferred to Camp Ritchie, MD, for training in military interrogation because of his knowledge of German. He was then transferred to P.O. Box 1142, outside of Washington, D.C. where he conducted interrogation of German scientists brought to this country as prisoners of war. After a brief stint at Fort Strong, outside of Boston, he returned to 1142 to continue his previous work in military intelligence until the end of the War in Europe. After discharge in 1946 he returned briefly to 1142, and then entered graduate school at Yale University, specializing in organic chemistry. After receiving his Ph.D. he began his career in biochemical pharmacology, at George Washington University School of Medicine, starting as Research Associate in 1949, and promotion to the ranks to Professor. He became chairman of the Department of Pharmacology in 1960, stepped down from that position in 1996 and currently is working there as Professor of Pharmacology & Physiology. His research work has been in drug metabolism, cancer chemotherapy and carcinogenesis.

  • Joe Navarro

For 25 years, Joe Navarro worked as an FBI special agent in the area of counterintelligence and behavioral assessment. A founding member of the National Security Division’s Behavioral Analysis Program, he is on the adjunct faculty at Saint Leo University and the University of Tampa and remains a consultant to the intelligence community. Mr. Navarro is the author of a number of books about interviewing techniques and practice including Advanced Interviewing which he co-wrote with Jack Schafer and Hunting Terrorists: A Look at the Psycopathology of Terror. He currently teaches the Advanced Terrorism Interview course at the FBI.

  • Torin Nelson

Torin Nelson is a veteran Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Specialist and interrogator with 16-years of experience working with military and government agencies. He has worked in major theaters of operation in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Nelson has worked in tactical and strategic environments, both as a soldier and civilian advisor. Primary assignments include the 66th Military Intelligence and 300th Military Intelligence Brigades. He has also worked for the US Army Intelligence Center, Southern European Task Force (SETAF), the On-Site Inspection Agency (OSIA, later DTRA), Combined Joint Task Force 170 (later CJTF-Gitmo), CFLCC (Iraq), CJTF-76 (later -82/-101) (Afghanistan), NATO (IFOR, SFOR, and ISAF), as well as numerous military to military joint training exercises. Mr. Nelson is one of the founding members at the Society for Professional Human Intelligence (SPHI). He is currently working in the Middle East as a senior interrogator and mentor.

  • William Quinn

William Quinn served in the United States Army from 2001 to 2006 as a human intelligence collector, interrogator, and Korean linguist. He was deployed to Iraq from February 2005 to February 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was stationed at Abu Ghraib and Camp Cropper. Will is currently studying International Politics and Security Studies at Georgetown University and is a cadet in Army ROTC.

  • Buck Revell

Mr. Revell served a 30-year career (1964-1994) in the FBI as a Special Agent and senior executive. From 1980 until 1991, Mr. Revell served in FBI Headquarters first as Assistant Director in charge of Criminal Investigations (including terrorism); then as Associate Deputy Director he was in charge of the Investigative, Intelligence, Counter-Terrorism and International programs of the Bureau (1985-91). In September 1987, Mr. Revell was placed in charge of a joint FBI/CIA/U.S. military operation (Operation Goldenrod) which led to the first apprehension overseas of an international terrorist. Prior to joining the FBI, Mr. Revell served as an officer and aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps, leaving active duty in 1964 as a Captain. He currently serves as the President of an international business and security consulting group based in Dallas.

  • Ken Robinson

Ken Robinson served a twenty-year career in a variety of tactical, operational, and strategic assignments including Ranger, Special Forces, and clandestine special operations units. His experience includes service with the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. Ken has extensive experience in CIA and Israeli interrogation methods and is a member of the U.S. Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

  • Roger Ruthberg

Roger Ruthberg served as an interrogator in the U.S. Army for 22 years. He conducted interrogation and counterintelligence operations during Operations Desert Storm, Joint Endeavor, and Iraqi Freedom. He currently works as an instructor in debriefing operations on contract to the Department of Defense.

  • Haviland Smith

Haviland Smith is a retired CIA case officer and Station Chief who served for 26 years. He served in East and West Europe and in the Middle East. He also served for three years as Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff at the Agency, as well as a tour as Executive Assistant to the DDCI.

  • Lieutenant General (Ret.) Harry E. Soyster, USA

Lieutenant General Soyster served as Director, Defense Intelligence Agency during DESERT SHIELD/STORM. He also served as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, Commanding General, U.S. Army, Commanding General, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and in the Joint Reconnaissance Center, Joint Chiefs of Staff. In Vietnam he was an operations officer in a field artillery battalion. Upon retirement he was VP for International Operations with Military Professional Resources Incorporated and returned to government as a Special Assistant to the SEC ARMY for WWII 60th Anniversary Commemorations completed in 2006.


Published on June 24, 2008


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