AMES, Iowa – Christian Meissner is hopeful that the ongoing debate surrounding the Senate Intelligence Committee report will lead to a critical assessment of U.S. interrogation methods. Meissner, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, has spent more than a decade studying various methods used to question detainees and criminal suspects.
For the past five years, Meissner has led a multi-million dollar research program, funded by the U.S. government’s High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, also known as the HIG. The “Intelligence Interviewing and Interrogation” program looks at both criminal and intelligence contexts and is designed to support interrogations that will yield accurate intelligence and strengthen national security.
Of the CIA report, Meissner said, “I hope the government would look to science to develop effective methods. Medical, education and other fields have turned to science and have improved significantly the delivery of health care and education strategies that save peoples’ lives and create a smarter world.
“It’s time for the interrogation and interviewing communities to turn to behavioral science and other sciences to help develop effective, ethical, legal and most importantly diagnostic methods for eliciting information.”
The research program aims to identify existing techniques that are the most effective and develop new techniques to improve the collection of human intelligence in the interrogation booth. Researchers focus on understanding what happens in an interrogation, identifying what makes a good interrogator, investigating the importance of social relationships, helping sources to remember more, assessing truthfulness, setting up an interrogation room, and the impacts of culture and language.
“While our research does not speak to the efficacy of so-called ‘enhanced methods’ or torture – such research would be inappropriate based upon psychological and human subject research principles of ethical conduct – our research clearly shows that ethical, rapport-based approaches to interrogation are more effective than psychologically manipulative, accusatorial methods – a scientific finding that marries with the experiences of many highly skilled interrogators around the world,” Meissner said.
Research topics are identified by HIG executive management and HIG researchers in collaboration with interrogators and analysts. Input and collaboration are also coordinated with training instructors at the FBI Academy at Quantico, the Department of Defense’s Human Intelligence Training Joint Center of Excellence (HT-JCOE) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).
Reporters are welcome to use the accompanying video for their broadcast and online needs. More information about the HIG and Meissner’s research can be found at:
To arrange an interview, you can contact Meissner directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-294-2119. Angie Hunt in the ISU News Service office, 515-294-8986 or email@example.com, can also assist with interview requests.
Iowa State University News Service has a fully equipped, digital broadcast studio, available for live video interviews to broadcast networks.