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Feds to Record All Interrogations

In a huge and very important policy change, the Department of Justice has announced that all federal law enforcement agencies will now record their interrogations of suspects. This is a move that is crucial to making our criminal justice system more just and fair.

The FBI and several other U.S. federal law enforcement agencies will reverse a policy that has long prohibited the recording of interrogations of people held in custody, a Justice Department memo sent last week said.

The new policy, effective July 11, creates a presumption that agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will record video statements made by people who are in their custody prior to appearing in court.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video address on Thursday that the policy change was the result of a thorough review that concluded recordings would ensure an “objective account of key investigations and interactions with people who are held in federal custody.”

Criminal defense lawyers have long advocated that the over 100-year-old ban on recordings be overturned in the interest of transparency.

Unfortunately, there’s a “national security” loophole in the new policy, which as we have seen over the last decade can be used to justify virtually anything. But for the usual criminal suspects being interrogated, having them recorded can help prevent abuses and aid in their legal defense.

Comments

  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    I’m pretty sure all interrogations have always been recorded anyhow – whether officially or unofficially.

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Okay maybe not videoed.

    I reckon a lot will still be classified though.

    Main thing is that the people who need to learn stuff, learn it and are thus able to stop atrocities that would otherwise claim who knows how many innocent lives.

    Why is it always about the terrorists rights with some people and not about the rights of their victims -potential and otherwise – and that could be any and all of us.

  3. matty1 says

    Wow, all over the world huge numbers of people are trying to work who is a terrorist and StevoR can tell us with no other information – if you’re accused you are guilty.

  4. dhall says

    StevoR, why are you making an assumption that this is going to benefit suspected/alleged terrorists in any way, shape or form? It seems to be clear from what Ed said that it probably won’t change much of anything in that regard, that it’s mainly going to impact the usual run of domestic law enforcement, not instances of suspected terrorism. You also seem to be making the assumption that anyone arrested and/or questioned by US law enforcement is guilty of something or knows something. Overall, your #2 comments don’t seem thought out very well.

  5. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    BTW. I think Torture is wrong and unethical and should NOT be done.

    But those people, those brave and smart human individuals who do counter-terrorism?

    They have my utmost respect and they are the the good guys whatever shades of grey there may be.

    Say thanks to them, respect them and understand that they know what they’re doing.

    You or / and those you love probably owe them your lives – never forget that.

  6. D. C. Sessions says

    Why is it always about the terrorists rights with some people and not about the rights of their victims -potential and otherwise – and that could be any and all of us.

    Actually, the whole point of terrorism is to to bring about a reaction in the target society. For instance, inducing a surveillance/police state (thus destabilizing the target.)

  7. says

    It’s a good start but it’s not enough.
    Remember, the CIA recorded waterboarding people – sometimes the recordings get “accidentally” erased. Cops should be on camera all the time and the video should be streamed to a secure logging system where it can be retrieved with a warrant. Or, NSA-style.

  8. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @matty1 : Do you really think people get accused without durn good reason?

    Or the experts in the counter-terrorism field don’t know what they are doing?

  9. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    If you are accused there will be a reason why.

    If its a bad reason the experts will soon learn that and treat you accordingly.

    If the accusation is because of its good reason then ditto.

    I trust those who know more than I do to do just that.

    I trust the counter terrorism agencies to dotheir jobs well.

    Saying otherwise is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. Ya got any o’that?

  10. dingojack says

    Stevo , yes and yes. Clearly you either haven’t been paying much attention or have been living under a rock somewhere since 2006 or so…
    Dingo

  11. Snoof says

    100-year-old ban on recordings

    Now I’m curious as to what prompted the ban in the first place. Anyone know?

  12. dingojack says

    Stevo – So all those people down in Gitmo, how many have been charged? How many convicted? What useful information was extracted from them? How many lives , exactly, were ‘saved’?
    Dingo

  13. dhall says

    Never mind, StevoR. You’re not thinking a lot of this through very well. Like dingojack implied, not everyone is detained for a “durn good reason.” Your implicit trust that any law enforcement agency–or anti-terrorist agency–will make no mistakes and detain only appropriately suspected people is either bizarre or naive. These agencies are made up of human beings, who are anything but infallible.

  14. matty1 says

  15. eternalstudent says

    @SteveoR:

    Richard Jewell

    Steven Hatfill

    Bruce Ivins

    Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi (Boston bombings)

    those are the high-profile cases that come immediately to mind.

    Also see nearly every urban black man ever.

    Especially after an event, the police and feds panic, needing to show they are Doing Something and catching the bad guy. Woe to anyone standing nearby, especially if they are brown.

    Go read Popeat for a while, you might learn something.

  16. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    ,b>Loyalty

    Perhaps an unfashionable word these days.

    You support your nation, your culture, your way of life and values.

    Or you don’t.

    I do.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks7RrRFd-20

    Your choice. What’ll it be.

    Support your nation , your side, or treason?

  17. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Loyalty

    My country.

    My side -the Western one.

    The right one.

    The good guys.

  18. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Support the troops.

    Support those who do counter terrorism.

    Or don’t.

    Undermine and argue against them and defame instead. If you so badly choose.

    You unlike most in the globe have that freedom to so select and act.

    But make no mistake that *is* what you are doing.

    And they are saving your lives whatever you say.

    Whether you like and accept and acknowledge it or not.

    You owe them.

    Don’t betray them.

    Show some loyalty and support.

    They deserve it.

    If you think you know or can do better than than damn well prove it.

    I bet you can’t. I bet none of the commenters reading her will enlist and serve their nation(s) or do or suggest what better alternatives there are that are remotely realistic.

    Prove me wrong.

    If you can or dare.

    The counter terrorism forces of the West from the CIA to ASIO to MOSSAD are goddamn heroes.

    The anti-American, Israel bashing, West hating’ side here – not so much.

    And they should be ashamed of themselves.

    For not at least backing up those who are so much better and braver than they are.

    End of fucken argument.

  19. matty1 says

    OK I’m going to leave this, it is apparent we don’t have enough views in common for a meaningful conversation and there isn’t a lot of point in doing the online equivalent of shouting at each other in different languages.

  20. D Carter says

    StevoR: You may insist that people unwaveringly choose sides at your command, but that doesn’t mean they have to do what you say. My “way of live and values” are not necessarily that of “my nation and culture”. Yours apparently are–good for you. If mine aren’t, let’s just call that freedom.

    Loyalty is strictly secondary to respect for the law. Loyalty is unfashionable for good reasons given abuses of the past 13 years. For my part: I’ll be unwaveringly loyal as soon as the US government becomes unwaveringly respectful of all laws its members voluntarily swore to uphold. Call that disloyal if it blows your dress up–you’re wrong, but whatever.

  21. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    The counter terrorism forces of the West from the CIA to ASIO to MOSSAD are goddamn heroes.

    Big Godamn heroes to quote Mal Reynolds of Firefly fame..

  22. dhall says

    StevoR:
    Never mind. Useless. Don’t misconstrue this as winning the debate. Critical thinking is not your strong suit.

  23. thalwen says

    “Say thanks to them, respect them and understand that they know what they’re doing.”
    No. I will never thank people who torture in the name of the country I live in, to do so would be unpatriotic.
    It is unpatriotic to not question. It is unpatriotic to label ourselves the “good guys,” to ignore the atrocities done by Western culture and countries. You don’t love your country by proclaiming the bad it does as good, you doom it. This is a good move. I’m cynical that it won’t change anything but at least it’s something.

  24. D Carter says

    We support the troops–by bringing the current ones home and then not enlisting more for stupid (however fashionable) wars.

    And we don’t need to “prove you wrong”. Indeed, we thank you for saving us the effort.

  25. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    At my command?

    No.

    At the command of the rest of decent people’s in democratic countries that respect human rights and individuality – yeah.That.

    I support my country I support the West and its values.

    I would die for them.

    Liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness.

    That’s worth something.

    Ain’t it?

  26. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ Thalen :Well aren’t you an ungrateful fucker.

    Your hands are clean. You are alive.

    Because they will do what you lack the courage to do.

  27. thalwen says

    My hands aren’t clean. I live in a country that has committed atrocities and I have not done enough. Hopefully, in my lifetime I will have an opportunity to make things better.
    Freedom and democracy don’t just exist because of something people did 200 years ago or because we’re “Western.” Wars don’t bring democracy, neither do the secrecy and unaccountability of secret interrogations. Those are the tools of totalitarianism, they are antithetical to democracy.

  28. countryboy says

    StevoR, I did that once. Does Vietnam ring any damned bells? Never again. Support our troops? We better because those wonderful Govt agencies don’t. The whole war on terror has become a complete sham and it’s costing our guys big for no good reason. I’d be happy to see all the chickenhawks hang.

  29. karmacat says

    StevoR
    You are seeing loyalty to a country in black and white terms. Loyalty is not either you support the country or you are against it. I am proud of the US for many things and disappointed in some of its actions. I want the US to be better and I want to help make it better (whatever little I can contribute).

  30. jameshanley says

    This is very good news. What it likely will lead to in the long run is a presumption among juries that if the recording was lost, a due process violation is being hidden. I could even see courts eventually ruling that nothing from an interrogation can be admitted into evidence without the recording as documentation that it really was said. Not soon, but within a generation or two (e.g., after Scalia and his naive believe in “new professionalism” are long gone).

    SteoR, everyone’s being too nice to you. Your comments here would justify much harsher responses. You should thank everyone for their forbearance in responding to your ridiculous comments.

  31. colnago80 says

    Re thalwen @ #30

    Wars don’t bring democracy

    Germany, Japan, and Italy after WW 2?

  32. dingojack says

    “I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country — when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’ ”
    – Karl Schurtz. Anti-Imperialistic Conference, Chicago, Illinois (17 October 1899).
    Dingo

  33. D. C. Sessions says

    You or I and those you love probably owe them your lives – never forget that.

    The last time American troops were defending the United States, it was some of my ancestors on one side against some of my other ancestors on the other — both “defending the United States.”

    I won’t complain about the causes that led my grandfather to serve in WWI or my father and uncles to serve in WWII. , They were arguably necessary. But there is no way, no how, that they were defending our lives. Much less so for my classmates who died in Vietnam or my nephews who spent too much time in the hellhole known as “Iraq.”

  34. D. C. Sessions says

    Germany, Japan, and Italy after WW 2?

    One out of three? Not the world’s best track record.

  35. marcus says

    StevoR I recommend taking a cold shower and reading “The People’s History of the United States”. I’m with Modus and dingo on this one. Loving your country also involves fighting the government when it’s wrong.

  36. matty1 says

    Wars don’t bring democracy

    Germany, Japan, and Italy after WW 2?

    One out of three? Not the world’s best track record.

    OK I am no fan of our resident genocidal fantasist but two of those do you consider not a democracy?

  37. says

    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! writes:

    I’m pretty sure all interrogations have always been recorded anyhow – whether officially or unofficially.

    Recorded only in writing by one of the agents conducting the interview in a way that is more likely to facilitate abuses than protect the interviewee from them. It only ensures that there’s only one version of the exchange during the interview: their version.

    See http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2013/05/08/why-you-shouldnt-talk-to-law-enforcement-without-a-lawyer/

    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! writes:

    Why is it always about the terrorists rights with some people and not about the rights of their victims -potential and otherwise – and that could be any and all of us.

    What the hell are you talking about? In any case, we both know that the moment “terrorism” is invoked, an appeal to national security will be made and, with the loophole mentioned by Ed Brayton, the normal lawful rules will no longer apply (giving the state the carte blanche you seem to think they require).

  38. jameshanley says

    A point that hasn’t been brought up in response to Stevo is that even terror suspect interrogations should be recorded, because even if there is information that should never be aired in open court, judges could view them in camera to ensure the veracity of the prosecutor’s account of what was said.

    Really, the logic of Steveo’s argument is that we don’t need courts as a safeguard on the prosecutorial power. He thinks his argument is simply loyalty to the country, but it’s actually quite a radical attack on the American constitutional system.

  39. says

    jameshanley writes:

    Really, the logic of Steveo’s argument is that we don’t need courts as a safeguard on the prosecutorial power. He thinks his argument is simply loyalty to the country, but it’s actually quite a radical attack on the American constitutional system.

    I really have nothing to add to that and am merely quoting for emphasis.

  40. D. C. Sessions says

    Matty, I think we’re in violent agreement: Germany and Italy were, prior to WWII, representative democracies. Which means that Japan was the one out of three that became democratic as a consequence of the war.

    On the other hand, a good bit of eastern Europe went the other direction. I just didn’t see much point in bringing that one up.

  41. matty1 says

    Ah I’m with you now, Germany and Italy returned to democracy rather than becoming democratic for the first time.

  42. thalwen says

    @36 – Ok, three countries became democratic after wars (and a lot of financial and political investment to make sure they stayed that way) but considering all the wars in history, it’s still not the best tool of bringing democracy.

  43. colnago80 says

    Re matty1

    Ah gee, Germany was a democracy in 1939. Who would have thunk it! And Italy was a democracy in 1939. Not hardly.

  44. says

    “Ah gee, Germany was a democracy in 1939. Who would have thunk it! And Italy was a democracy in 1939. Not hardly.”

    I think that both Germany and Italy were undemocratic from about 1925 and 1930 or so, respectively. Prior to that both were newly emergent demoncracies–and both suffered the conseqences of not being ready to be both democratic and strong as a nation in Post WW1 Europe.

    StevoR:

    No.

  45. says

    I bet none of the commenters reading her will enlist and serve their nation(s)

    I keep a scan of my honorable discharge on my website just for jingoists like you. ( http://ranum.com/stock_content/mjr_honorable_discharge.jpg ) if you want it.

    And no, no interest in re-enlisting since I realized that it’s not MY nation. It belongs to and acts on behalf of the interests of an elite minority, including acting illegally under its own laws and international laws. The political controls have been disabled to the point where regaining control is not an option for non-billionaires, so we don’t have any realistic options left to us.

    But that doesn’t mean we have to give fascistic blowhards a pass.

  46. says

    How should we honor our dead vets on memorial day? By not throwing more lives after them! By recognizing that they are the tip of an iceberg: tens of thousands of American dead in Vietnam were incurred in the process of killing hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, tens of thousands in Iraq ditto, thousands in Afghanistan likewise. There is poignancy when we recognize that our involvement in those wars was based on lies told deliberately to the soldiers that went to fight in them – whose white gravestones in Arlington are like wadded-up kleenex used and cast aside by cynical old men in Washington: neatly arranged but disposed of. And Arlington enshrines more than enough REMFs with political clout to participate at the command-from-a-limo level, warriors in name only who perpetuate the myth of the good fight while assiduously getting nowhere near the fucking elephant. Memorial day should be a day for recognizing what a waste it all is: hundreds of thousands of dead in order to return to the status quo ante bellum, imaginary lines on a map that don’t even change, one tin pot dictator overthrown to install another, one more arms merchant enriched. If any question why they died, Kipling’s right: their fathers lied. Memorial day started in a nation that had suffered more war dead in its own civil war than have yet to die in every other battlefield around the world, combined; the only lesson learned from that was to do our fighting in someone else’s back yard, instead. There is no glory in any of this and anyone who says its glorious is just repeating the lies.

  47. matty1 says

    OK world war II did not make Germany and Italy into dictatorships, militarism and blind faith in their leaders did that. Now where have I seen those attitudes recently?

  48. colnago80 says

    Re marcus @ #41

    That piece of crap was written by Communist sympathizer Howard Zinn and is about as authoritative as something written by Herbert Apttheker. Zinn is in the same category as Noam Chomsky.

  49. colnago80 says

    Re Marcus Ranum @ #52

    William T. Sherman: War is all hell. There is no glory in war, only savagery and butchery.

    Unfortunately, sometimes there is no alternative. Somebody had to stop Frankenberger and Tojo.

  50. says

    “Unfortunately, sometimes there is no alternative. Somebody had to stop Frankenberger and Tojo.”

    There are always alternatives, it’s just that many of them are wholly unpalatable to the person getting the shit end of the stick.

    Both Japan and Germany (and to some extent, Italy) were looking to expand their “sphere of influence” (just like the U.S., Russia, France, Great Britain, Holland and Belgium). At the end of both the Sino-Japanese War of the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese were dissed by the Great Powers primarily because of their being non-white and Asian. They had a serious hard on for the West after that.

    Germany got their asses kicked in WWI and then treated badly (they deserved it, to some extent) by the Allies. Hitler might have been the most gifted demagogue of history–absent Teddy Cruz–and he convinced enough people to back and allow his to consolidate power that he was able to become dictator.

    Benito Mussolini was also a guy who knew how to work a crowd. That the Post WWI landscape was pretty conducive to the sort of pitch given by Hitler and Mussolini was not helped by the Great Depression.

    There were lots of reasons for both World Wars (there are almost always lots of reasons for a war) but there were always options until the shells started flying.

  51. eric says

    Why is it always about the terrorists rights with some people and not about the rights of their victims

    Recording interrogations is about the victims. The victims of terrorism include the innocent people brought in to be interrogated.

    I have always been confused by people who use loyalty and jingoism as a reason to abandon good investigative procedures. What sort of illogic is it that says ‘well, this is a really bad crime, so let’s use a different procedure that’s less likely to separate the truly guilty from the truly innocent.”

  52. colnago80 says

    Re democommie @ #56

    I would agree that Frankenberger could have been stopped earlier, particularly at the time of the Munich Conference (in fact, some have argued that he could have been stopped at the time of the occupation of the Rhineland). As I have argued on many occasions, had British Prime Minister Chamberlain stood up to Schickelgruber instead of appeasing him at the Munich Conference, the German General Staff, which considered the latter to be a dangerous opportunist and were contemplating a coup d’etat against, him might have gone ahead with their plot. As it was, Frankenberger was successful and the coup died aborning. Once Schickelgruber got it into his head that Britain and France would never oppose his schemes, WW2 was inevitable.

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