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Interrogation: What Do Biden and Bad Interrogators Have In Common?

Really! What does V.P. Joe Biden and a bad interrogator have in common?  Think about the question and Biden’s performance in the recent Vice Presidential debate. Now think about how a poorly trained, bad interrogator carries out an interrogation. The parallels are obvious.

My question is not meant to be a political statement on V.P. Biden or the current presidential campaign.  If however, you look at the analysis of Biden’s behavior and demeanor during the debate by some communication experts and social scientists there are several very strong parallels.

First, Biden was criticized for the fact he would not even listen to any responses by Ryan before he began his rebuttal. The poor interrogator approaches the interview with the preconception that they already have all the facts they need and have already reached a conclusion about the subject’s innocence or guilt regarding the issue at hand. In the past, I have referred to this as the “preconception assassin syndrome.”  See Duke LaCrosse rape case and the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

Second, Biden was criticized for trying to force his conclusions on Ryan. The interrogator intends to enforce their conclusions on the subject they are interviewing.  They will not accept any other explanations.  The interrogator will accept no rebuttals and makes sure that the subject understands that it is futile to do so. God forbid that he or she should spend a little more time listening to their subject because they might learn something or hear some facts that disagree with their preconceived conclusions!

Third, Biden was criticized for being rude, dismissive, and condescending toward Ryan. The interrogator behaving the same way has little or no respect for the subject and will gain little or no rapport or cooperation or compromise with the subject.  The interrogator intends to prove that they are superior to the subject. The subject is an underling and beneath the station of their interrogator and therefore should know their place or certainly they will be put in their place by the interrogator. “Just who do you think you are?” “How dare you question me or challenge me?”  In the end this is an affirmation in the mind of the  interrogator that they are the superior individual in the conversation. Of course this works real well when you are trying to develop “rapport” with a subject and apply ethical influence or persuasion tactics that encourage cooperation and compliance.

Finally, for many viewers, Biden left the audience with a poor impression of who he is and what he stands.  In short, his message was lost because of what many observers called extreme, over the top, erattic behavior.  This type of interrogator will wind up being blindsided when the true facts of the case are revealed, or when a case is lost, a conviction is overturned, or when an innocent person is the victim of injustice, or the victim of the crime is not protected.  Of course the interrogator’s response is invariably the system failed, the judge or jury just doesn’t understand, there was nothing wrong with “my” work, etc.  One of my favorite statements is “I don’t interrogate innocent people.” Another is “that’s the way I or we have always done it.”

Can you say “coerced confession?”  Repeat after me “contaminated witness statements.”

It’s time we weeded out these type of interviewers and keep them out of our interview rooms and away from our witnesses.  It is also time we took a critical look at how we are training our interrogators because the accusatory tactics and mythological deception cues we teach during interview and interrogation training are the real genesis of these types of interrogators.

Regarding V.P. Biden… draw your own conclusions and vote accordingly!

Of course, this is just MY opinion!

Stan B. Walters,
“The Lie Guy®”
The Interview Room
Stan B. Walters Speaks


Lying: Governments and Weiners Lie! Really?!

Defense Secretary Gates tells Congress that governments lie and that's just the way business is done.  Congressman Weiner admits he lied and resigns from Congress.  It amazes me how many people act surprised.  What doesn't surprise me as how may people missed all the lies and lying done by both.

First, if we are the victims of lies and liars, 50% of the fault lies with us.  Think about it.  Lies are only successful because somebody has to believe them.

Second, people miss at least 50%of the lies that happen right in front of them.  Why?

  1. We are looking for the wrong lie cues.  Ah, er, um uh, bad eye contact, eye movement left or right, fidgeting, crossing arms or legs, playing with clothes or grooming behaviors are just a few of the human behaviors wrongly identified as signs of lying.
  2. We miss the very few signs of deception. Micro expressions that demonstrate contradictions in messages, memory lapses, skipping blocks of time, surgical denial do have some statisical link to deception.
  3. Finally, the biggest reason we misidentify honesty and deception in others is personal bias.  We don't believe the person / government / politician could or would lie to us OR the person / government / politician would do nothing but lie to us.

What really hurts in the long run however is the damage that is done by deception.  Think of the major decisions made by governments, their leaders, and their people as the result of failing to spot deception or wrongly assuming that they are the victims of deception.

On a personal level, how many critical decisions do we make every day?  Are we making those decisions based on information given to us by someone who intentionally means to deceive or mislead us?  How many decisions would be different if we knew at that moment that someone was lying to us?  

Whether governments, the "Weiners", political leaders, sports figures, business leaders, friends, associates, Hollywood stars, we will always be targets for those who want to deceive us..

Until we learn how to accurately spot deception and acknowledge that even the people we respect are capable of lying to us, we will continue to be victims of deceit.

Just my thoughts…

Stan B. Walters, CSP
"The Lie Guy®"