Blood from a Stone: Why Rapport Works and Torture Doesn’t in ‘Enhanced’ Interrogations.

Laurence Alison, Susan Giles, Grace McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contrary to the harsh ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques employed during CIA operations on the War on Terror, contemporary research demonstrates that rapport building is a more effective way of achieving positive outcomes in interviews with general offender populations. Comparatively less research has explored the role of rapport with recalcitrant suspects, particularly suspected terrorists. We define a ‘terrorist suspect’ as an individual that a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion of involvement in a terrorist offence, with an ‘investigative interview’/’interrogation’ as the formal questioning of the suspect by one or more police officers following the suspect’s arrest. This paper aims to develop the internal coherence of rapport approaches in interviews with terrorist suspects by providing a review of how and why rapport underpins successful police interrogations with suspected terrorists. We examine the much misunderstood and ill defined concept of rapport and how recent recent research has observed and measured rapport in operational field settings. We then examine the conceptual basis of an emerging research and training tool, ORBIT, and outline the reasons why rapport and tools such as ORBIT should be effective in (i) reducing counter interrogation tactics and (ii) increasing the amount of evidence and information generated. The review concludes by acknowledging the practical implications this has for interrogation and human intelligence practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-23
Number of pages19
JournalInvestigative Interviewing: Research and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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