Wednesday, May 21, 2014

FBI will now record interrogations

This is huge, so I thought I'd blog about this: after a century, the FBI has reversed policy, and will now start recording interrogations.

Prior to this, the FBI policy was to not record interrogations. They worked in pairs (always two there are) with one guy interrogating, and the second quietly writing down what was said. What they wrote down was always their version of events, which was always in their favor.

This has long been a strategy to trap people into becoming informants. It's a felony to lie to a federal agent. Thus, if you later say something that contradicts their version of what you said, you are guilty of lying -- which they'll forgive if you inform on your friends.

I experienced this myself. Two agents came to our business to talk to us about a talk we were giving at BlackHat. Part of it contained the threat that if we didn't cancel our talk, they'd taint our file so we'd never be able to pass a background check and work in government ever again. According to a later FOIA, that threat wasn't included in their form 302 about the conversation. And since it's my word against theirs, their threat never happened.

This is a big deal in Dhjokar Tsarnaev (Boston bombing) case. The FBI interviewed Tsarnaev while near death on a hospital bed. Their transcription of what he said bears little semblance to what was actually said, omitting key details like how often he asked to talk to his lawyer, or the FBI agents denying him access to his lawyer, or the threats the agents made to him.

This policy proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the FBI is inherently corrupt. Now that they are changing this, such proof will be harder to come by -- though I have no doubt it's still true.

Update: other stories have focused on video taping interrogations after arrest, but more importantly, the policy change also covers investigations, when they talk to people whom they have no intention of arresting (such as my case).

Note: I used this in my short story for last year's DEF CON contest. It's interesting that it's now already out of date.

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