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Interrogation: Reading Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl had just been released by his “captors” in Afghanistan in exchange for the release of 4 high value Gitmo prisoners when a major media outlet asked me to review some of Bergdahl’s writings.  In particular they wanted to get a sense of Bergdahl the man.

I decided to approach the process of reviewing the limited amount of Bergdahl’s writings from the stand point of an interrogator preparing himself to sit down and talk to the man.  How does he think?  How does he perceive himself? How does he see the world around him?  What drives his behavior everyday and in particular what is his reaction to events that cause him stress and how does he handle himself in those situations? What was his state of mind and was his behavior intentional when his disappeared from his unit June 30, 2009?

Immediately after reading Bergdahl, I was struck by the observation that this is a man who did little more than “dream about life” but had no effort and had no initiative or self discipline to strive to make those dreams come true.  He makes references to himself as a lone wolf in a dark world.  He sees little or nothing in the world that is for him as if he is disappointed with life and wants to find it’s beauty but would barely turn himself in that direction to go find it.  My perception is that looks at himself as a Knight without a Lord or Ronin – the Samurai without a master.

Bergdahl’s problem however with being that Knight or Samurai is that he dreams of the role BUT expects someone or something else to do the work to turn him into those romantic figures.  In a very telling passage in some of his writing Bergdahl berates the Army and the US mission in Afghanistan.  His remarks present the image of himself and his fellow warriors as nothing more than frightened cowards hiding from children behind sandbags.  In all reality, Bergdahl has just described himself.  Bergdahl wanted to “Be all [he] could be” but the blames the Army for not “making” him into that warrior that he doesn’t have the discipline to do himself.

Starting on June 9, 2009, Bergdahl’s writings took on a significant change.  He began writing to his friends stateside in a crude code making remarks that it was not safe to talk about what he was going to happen.  He hints at his plans that he knows are wrong and is concern about how others will perceive those plans.  He was full aware that what he was going to do was wrong and could bring the world down on him. As an interrogator, I will make an analysis of a subject’s behavior on the basis of  “plan of action continuum” that investigators use to analysis everything from serial crimes to active shooters to acts of terrorism:

Conceptualization
Planning
Preparation
Approach
Implementation

In my opinion, Bergdahl’s actions of walking away from his unit on June 30, 2009 was done with well-planned intent.  From June 9 when the dialogue of his writing’s changed until June 30, 2006 when he walked away, Bergdahl planning and preparing.  Almost like a person ready to commit suicide, Bergdahl was saying his good byes, giving away his belongings, tying up loose ends, closing out the books. It was not on a whim but with deliberate intent.  Bergdahl was “suiciding his current life” because it brought him no joy and no one was going to take him by the hand and lead him on the journey to find his dreams – a journey for which he had no initiative to take on his own.

In my opinion Bergdahl was not just some unfortunate soldier that due to some random set of circumstances that wandered into the hands of the enemy.  He finally developed enough initiative to take action and that was to walk away from a situation where no one would “make” him into something and find another situation and give someone else to opportunity to create his life for him.

I’m done reading…time to interrogate the deserter, Bergdahl.

Just my opinion…let me hear yours.

Stan B. Walters
“The Lie Guy®”
TheLieGuy.com

 

False Confessions: Huge Lurking Liability for Businesses

For quite some time we have been deeply concerned and rightfully so, about false confessions that result in wrongful criminal convictions in the criminal justice system. But private businesses are operating in ignorance if they think their interviews and interrogations are also not creating a huge liability for their bottom line as well as their brand, and employee morale.

You may be surprised to know that of the wrongful convictions overturned using DNA, 25% of those cases involve false confessions. Just as shocking is that fact that in 75% of those overturned cases, bad contaminated victim interviews or flawed eye witness interview played a key role in the wrongful conviction.

We shouldn’t be surprised, really. The same flawed methods and tactics taught and used in the criminal justice community are just being carried over to corporate loss prevention and security. Why would we think that false confessions and wrongful dismissals wouldn’t also occur? Just because we carry some form of certification, it doesn’t mean the techniques taught and used are not fraught with scientific flaws and inherently coercive tactics. As a result, corporate entities taking huge losses up to millions of dollars for flaws and coercive techniques being used by their loss prevention and security personnel.

It’s time for corporate loss prevention, security, and safety professionals to pay more attention to their interview and interrogation training. If the techniques they are using or training their personnel to use result in false confession in the criminal justice arena, why would you think it is NOT going to have the exact same results and creat the same liabilities and risks for private corporations? Why not just ahead and write the blank checks because you are going to get burned.

Buyer beware! How about corporate loss prevention beware of the methods and techniques your train your personnel to use. I can’t imagine why your corporate legal department let’s you continue to take those risks with your bottom line.

Just my opinion. But it appears the courts agree with me.

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”
TheLieGuy.com
The3rdDegree.com
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