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hyzmarca
The following is something that I felt compelled to post to a TVGuide discusion about Jack Bauer's absurdly effective interrogation methods, reformatted as a shadowtalk post.

>>>>>[The dichotomy between conversational and pain-assisted interrogation is a false one. What most people don't understand about torture is isn't about using pain or the fear of pain to get information. When people try it that way, it rarely works. Most individuals are smart enough to just give plausible disinformation. Those who aren't will eventually catch on. No, the point of torture is to build an emotional bond, to make them love you, and they'll want to tell the truth because they do love you. In this way, when done correctly, it is simply an extreme version of conversational interrogation.

It is human nature to love the people who abuse them, up to a point. We see it all the time, and it even has a name, battered person syndrome. Every day across the world men and women are beaten by people whom they love, usually partners or spouses, and they return to it again and again in spite of ample opportunities to gain freedom because the abuse builds a degree of emotional dependency that is usually absent in non-violent relationships.

By taking advantage of this psychological mechanism, as well as capture-bonding, so called Stockholm syndrome, a torturer can build a strong positive emotional bond with his captive, and that bond can be used to gain information.

But it isn't as simple as just breaking fingers and asking questions, it is a long drawn out process that requires a total control environment and genuine real kindness in addition to the infliction of pain or discomfort, with pain being the least important of the three. Most of all, this sort of tactic requires time, which isn't available in the hypothetical ticking-bomb situations that are normally used to justify torture.

In the many of cases, pain isn't required at all. With capture-bonding alone being sufficient to build a significant emotional bond. And even when discomfort or pain is necessary, extreme suffering is rarely required. The idea is to destabilize the person's emotional defenses so that he is ready to accept love and kindness from anyone offering, even an enemy. That doesn't usually require much, often times stress positions and sensory deprivation, which may or may not be classified as torture depending on who you ask, are sufficient to break down emotional barriers. In any case, it must not be excessive since excess is likely to build resentment and resentment is the last thing that you want to build.]<<<<<
-Justine (10:53:47/9-19-2071)
Earthwalker
>>>>>[While I agree with the sentiment I feel that most trid show producers will ignore any real world practicalities in favour of plot. It would hamper Karl Combat Mage if the hour long show was entirely devoted to him building trust with the shadowrunners, instead of simple zapping them till they told him what he wanted to know.
Of course for a better example of Stockholm syndrome and practical torture I would recommend the reality trid, House Guest. The attachment the normal house mates have to the appointed house controller always gets a laugh. It also shows a good example of how power corrupts. It is still showing on Horizon 27 after the pit fighting.
I would imagine that for torture being able to tell if a person was lying was the more complicated aspect of interrogation. Applying pain is something anyone can do.
I would like to talk more about the applications of tortured used on trid, the streets and under more ideal circumstances but my stories are about to start.]<<<<<
TridWatcher(10:59:11/9-19-2071)
Blade
>>>>>[Good point. I've seen a lot of Trolls who thought they could get answers just because they were big and striked hard. They were right, mind you. They did get answer. The problem is, they mostly got wrong ones. When tortured, the victim just wants the torture to stop. So even if he doesn't really want to lie or hide something, he won't say the truth: he'll say whatever he thinks will make the torture stop. Sometimes it'll be the truth, sometimes it'll just be whatever he figures the torturer wants to hear. Actually, torture can be very useful in that way to make someone confess something he didn't do.

That doesn't mean it's totally useless. For example if you quickly beat up some ganger and ask where his boss is or where he hides something, chances are he won't lie. The key here is the speed of execution. If you're quick enough, doesn't realize what situation he's in and will do the first thing that comes to his mind: answer the question.

Then comes long-term torture, or reprogramming through torture, as Justine talks about. Please note that most of the time, you can get the same result with friendlier cons or bargains. I know I'd prefer to sleep with the secretary (or blackmail her at worst) to get access to something than to torture her, however it's done. Except if the victim identifies you as an enemy from the start and can't change this opinion, torture will take as long as friendlier approaches and won't give you anything more.

But then comes another question: why bother with this? In an age of mind manipulation magic, of computer-assisted brain programming, of perfectly functional truth serum there are a lot of ways to get the same result better or faster, and sometimes both. Sure it's fun to spend a week or a month to earn one's trust and get some data, some people might find it fun to spend a week or a month torturing someone, but why bother with that when all it takes is one mage with the right spell, or a few milliliters of something?]<<<<<
Slick(13:33:28/9-19-2071)
Daddy's Little Ninja
It has been repeatedly proven that under duress people will say what they think the controller wants them to say in order for it to stop. Cause enough pain and fear and they will confess to killing Dunkelzahn if they think it will save them. Such proceedures are good for trid drama and for an organization that wants to be feared but is not practical for true intrelligence work. Want to close a case and have a signed confession? it is great. want to really get the truth, not just what you already believe the truth to be, less good.

To achieve the elvel of trust that the target requires to really spill the goods, drugs are far faster than the long term 'winning' process.They reduce the target's inhibitions. for example torture me and I would say I had a trog for a brother, I don't, if I thought it would make the pain stop. Hit me with the right dope and I might confess to having watched a Neil the Ork Barbarian sim.
hyzmarca
>>>>>[Magic? That's a good one. As much as I cringe over Karl Kombatmage's inconsistent use of magical telepathy, I absolutely hate the ease with which he can pluck any piece of relevant information from a person's mind when he does use it. It isn't just unrealistic, it's stupid. I've seen have half-hooped interrogators nearly kill themselves trying that trick and I've cleaned up after too many of them. I've lost jobs to those drek-brained motherfraggers because some Johnsons actually believe in that drek but they always come crawling back to the real professional when the wizboy frags it up.
There are three things you should know about non-consensual magical telepathy, what the laymen call "mind probe."

The first thing that you need to know about "mind probing" is that the vast majority of magicians out there can only do it well enough to scan surface thoughts. Beating this is easy, way too easy. The second thing they teach you in SERE school, after how to make a nutritious broth from bamboo shoots and your own soiled underwear, is how to not think about vital information. It is really easy to do, you just have to fill your mind with something else, Name, Rank, and Serial Number are the most popular among the regulars, but us guys who don't actually exist tend to go for some catchy jingle or cadence. You'd be surprised how many Oscar Meyer Wieners there are among the Tir Ghosts. This tactic also works on the most basic ASIST based scanning techniques.

The second thing you need to know about "mind probing" is that there are ways to hide your memories, even from the telepathic senses of competent magicians. It isn't easy and it isn't safe, but it can be done. All you need is a hot-SIM unit and the correct psychotropic program. With the help of psychotropic ASIST, you can train yourself to forget certain things at will and then bring them up again when you need them.

The third thing that you need to know about "mind probing" is that even if the magician a master who can is enough to make a sense that can look into your hidden memories (without killing himself), it only works if the person rummaging through your brain knows what he is looking for. That is the biggest weakness of magical telepathy. The vast majority of interrogation is about discovering what relevant information your prisoner has. If you don't already have the answer to that question, then magic is useless. You can't "probe" for something that you don't know is there.

Not long ago, I worked for an organization that will remain nameless in a Near Eastern country that will remain nameless interrogating "holy warriors", who will remain nameless. These guys were true believers, ready to die for the cause at the drop of a hat, willing to let their families die for the cause too. They operated in a semi-hierarchical cell structure, so the footsoldiers knew nothing. The cell leaders had information, but they all used the psychotropic training I mentioned earlier to hide it, so even when the half-hooped mage they saddled me with could cast a sufficiently powerful spell without passing out, there was nothing there to find. And even if he could break through that barrier (he couldn't) we weren't sure what we were really looking for, anyway.
Getting a PAB unit was out of the question; I was working on a budget. (Everybody knows how that is, right?) And even if I could afford one and the guy to operate it, months of work would have been required to sift through the prisoner's memories. Instead, we used sensory deprivation and time distortion to just make it seem like months most of them happily renounced their God by the end of it. A quarter million holiday shoppers own their lives to my old-fashion tactics, though they'll never know it.]<<<<<
-Justine (16:21:12/9-19-2071)
psychophipps
I remember reading that the best way to get a VC or NVA prisoner to talk was to feed them a decent meal right away. The first real meal they've probably had on a year or so and they open right up once they realized that they weren't going to be Saddamed like their propaganda said they would be.

I fail to see how this wouldn't work for most bullied, dirty, half-starved insurgents in another part of the world...
Daddy's Little Ninja
keep it in character and SR topic.
Pyritefoolsgold
>>>>>[Thing is, chummer, there is a spell that helps that process. The popular name is "Influence". It makes the unreasonable seem reasonable, injects doubt into certainty, and lays the foundation for unearned trust. Of course, it takes cleverness to work around really effective brainwashing, but that's true of most techniques.]<<<<<
-Nighteyes (19:42:04/9-19-2071)
hyzmarca
>>>>>[I've known magicians who can do that. I've even used them. And you're right, for a quick and dirty interrogation of a weak-willed subject it is fairly effective - if you already know what question to ask. Issues arise when facing people who have been trained to resist it. Such suggestions aren't implanted firmly enough to avoid scrutiny; all you need is a reason to scrutinize it.

The buddy system is the standard paramilitary tactic for avoiding magical suggestion, since your friend can point out to you that you are acting inappropriately. But this isn't a luxury in an interrogation unless the interrogator is a total idiot. Isolation is standard. Resisting magical influence without assistance is extremely difficult, but if you train yourself to thoroughly evaluate the appropriateness of your actions when in such a situation, you can quickly talk yourself out of acting on the implanted suggestion. For this reason, it is paramount that an interrogator who chooses to use such a tactic force the subject into his fight-or-flight mode, so that he will act on instinct without the capacity to scrutinize his decisions.

You can't use magic for this; while magic can produce fear and anger, these artificial emotions do not trigger the production of adrenalin and other chemicals that characterize a fight-or-flight response. No matter how strong the magical emotion is, the subject's body remains perfectly calm and, with the exception of spirit induced terror, which is not appropriate for use in interrogation for other reasons, he retains the ability to think clearly. Instead of magic, you have to goad the subject into a physically combative state, so that he is reacting without thinking, and then apply the suggestion.

But, as stated, this only works when you know what question you want to ask. While you can compel him to blurt out a specific piece of information, if he knows it, suggesting that he give you general information about a subject is extremely unwise. Once , a magician I was working with had the brilliant idea to compel a weak-willed subject to tell us "everything". The result was a very long expository rant that started with the Big Bang and ended somewhere around the formation of the moon. It was hilarious, but it wasn't useful. I've found that most attempts to magically compel very general information go the same way, with the subject starting the least relevant information possible and breaking the suggestion long before getting to anything useful. And once the suggestion is broken, you have to start all over again.

But the really interesting stuff happens when you attempt to use magic to compel people to tell you things that they honestly don't know. Some people, it just breaks their brains; they either go catatonic until the suggestion is removed or they start spewing forth random gibbering nonsense. But others, probably around half, will simply make something up. And what they make up is usually plausible. And for a short time afterward, about ten or fifteen minutes, they'll actually believe that the drek they just pulled out of their hoop is real and true.

And although it can be very useful when you need specific information fast, it isn't even slightly appropriate in a long-term trust building situation. Mind control is the worst violation of a person's integrity and sense of self that one metahuman can inflict on another. It is such mental violation is extremely traumatic, far more so than sexual violation, and makes it extremely difficult to forge any sort of trust between interrogator and subject.

"Influence" has it's place in interrogation, but it isn't a catch-all. You need to be very sure of a great deal before using it.]<<<<<
-Justine (20:13:04/9-19-2071)
Wounded Ronin
>>>>>[LOL, it's Justine. STFU you never had any idea what you were talking about.
-Juliette (23:43:01/9-19-2071)
Pyritefoolsgold
>>>>>[I guess I never really put a whole lot of thought into that sort of thing, but I guess my dealings have always been a bit messier than that. And you're right that the trust thing doesn't last, of course, since it usually becomes pretty damn obvious that they shouldn't trust you if you're in the sort of situation in which you'd use the spell. I've mostly used it for calming people down and getting people to leave me alone and move on.

Though now it strikes me that it would probably be pretty useful as a part of another, bigger, lie. Getting them to think their friends betrayed them, that sort of thing. Of course it really helps if they're more the paranoid sort than the trusting.

I've never seen much of a traumatic reaction to the influence spell, like you would get with more obvious mind control or possession. Then again, there was this one time I tried to get info out of a guy about why he attacked me, and some mental programming he had wiped his memory for a while when I used it. Dude went wandering alone into the Barrens. Sure was awkward when I ran into him again.]<<<<<
-Nighteyes (23:57:04/9-19-2071)
hyzmarca
>>>>>[Sister, I've never fucked the Pope, and that may be a detriment to my experience, but you've never experienced true agony. You happily murder and mutilate without understanding the significance of the suffering that you cause, preferring decadence, amorality, and sacrilege to serious examination of yourself or others.]<<<<<
-Juliette (01:03:02/9-20-2071)
Blade
>>>>>[You have a point about the randomness of magic and the limits of the mind rape spell but I still think that a good BTL or some drugs can be as effective, even on "holy warriors". I don't underestimate the power of sensory deprivation or other such techniques, but they just take more time than we often have to spare. If you want that guy to become your friend, just slot him with the right BTL... Or just use some old-fashioned con tactics to get him to tell you the data you're looking for while thinking he's doing the right thing for his cause.]<<<<<
- Slick (11:26:32/9-20-2071)
Earthwalker
>>>>>[Why does everyone keep saying that Karl the Kombat Mage isn’t realistic ? If anyone bothered to record and then read the info blurb at the end of the show you would know that all magical effects on the show are certified as possible according to a group of magical theorists. People like Horizons own in house Magical Media Research Group and the Magical Institute of Colorado. Back in season one and two this was one of the big selling points. Of course they stopped having the magical specials after the show around season 7, any way once again I digress.
Getting back to the subject of torture and interrogation, I would say you only need to put in enough effort what you want to get out. Personally I find it easier getting information I want out of computers then peoples heads, unless they have computers in their heads that is. That said the standard approach that has been taken with runner groups I am with is for the big guy to say, “Tell me what I want to know or I will hurt you?. I then use a software package I downloaded linked to a few sensors to tell if he is lying. This has worked for us in the past but it would be true to say we have never encounter anyone close to a “True Believer?.
I fear if we did we would be either hiring out additional talent.
Has anyone heard of something built on what has been mentioned here, a premade chip (BTL) that will break a subject for you if you can keep it plugged in and attached to VR ? Not that I am trying to replace professionals like Juliette with technology]<<<<<
-TridWatcher (12:34:42/9-20-2071)
Pyritefoolsgold
>>>>>[I wasn't sure whether to laugh or throw up when you said you believed that drek about that show (Decided to laugh 'cause good food is too expensive). It's not just that Karl can throw fireball after thunderbolt, without so much as stopping to take a breath unless the plot demands it, It's not just that he can throw spells through opaque walls when he needs to, or that he can still cast the same spells he usually does in high background count areas, at the same power level, by concentrating real hard. It's the way his friend the dog shaman has no damn personality of his own and explains everything with "dog told me to be here" or some drek. If I waited around for Wolf to lead me around by the nose I wouldn't get a damn thing done.]<<<<<
-Nighteyes (14:12:42/9-20-2071)
Warlordtheft
>>>>>[As an aforementioned expert on said mind probing techniques, they do work most of the time. But the variables in the standard equation involve usually just the side target that has no spec ops training. He is lucky enough to have gone through his corps magic 101 just to know he's fragged. You can get their intermost thoughts and secrets the deeper you go. Against professional people and the like minded folks, get a good hacker or technomancer and go through his commlink, barring he's got an SOP and is paranoid you'll need to find his real link. Not hard to do under a mind probe when you start asking about a commlink for him to think where his is and then lie about it (can't lie about any old place). Of course if he thinks of his disposable then well, you push for the real one. This is more an art than a science.

What I'm meandering about is that a Mind Probe effectiveness depends on the information you're looking for and the subject your dealing with. Though in some cases it will be less reliable than your standard information gathering techniques, in others it can get the information right quick. Not all persons are willing to die for the cause, (in fact I'd say 99% aren't, and a good 60-99% are just in it for the money, depending on cause.

Juliette, I agree there are other methods more scientific and understandable to the mundane, but why limit the tools in your tool box? You can use mundane interrogation techniques, as well as magic, as well as electronic.]<<<<<
-Der Nacht (14:30:38/20-09-2071)
hyzmarca
>>>>>[I'm not. You should use whatever tools are appropriate to the situation. But most people don't know what the appropriate situation is. In the post-crash reboot, we see Karl torturing and mind-probing hardened terrorists every other week and getting information in seconds. And then real highly underpaid cops who watch the show try to do the same to Terra First suicide bombers and their ilk without success and they don't understand why.]<<<<<
-Juliette (20:11:22/20-09-2071)
JFixer
>>>>>[Please. I am a thaumaturgist from MIT&T, and pre-2.0 I had several degrees and published works that lent a great deal of leverage at the bargaining table when it came to my 'second profession'. I've seen the tripe they try to pass on in 'Karl Kombatmage' and truly, it's laughable. Anyone trying half the stunts shown on that show would have their brain levered out through their ear in the process sheerly from the lethal backlash of overcasting. Wes Schneibel is a decent mage (the Magical Consultant on the show) but he's tossing his hands up in exasperation behind the scenes every other episode or so. Anyone recall the twin shamans in season two who, in concerted casting, tore the front off the bank with their Powerbolt spells? That would have made such a mess on the pavement.
As for mental manipulations, a properly set up Runner magician or dedicated military magician is going to know how to easily draw information from their subject. There isn't a non-awakened humanoid in existence who can resist an Emotion Spell, Agony, Ecstasy, and a dedicated Mind Probe. I personally use a fetish to assure substantial returns from the spell without causing undue trauma, but once truly past the barriers, you can dredge up memories the subject didn't even know they were carrying. Door codes, overheard schedules, the details of schematics only glimpsed in passing. The human brain is a wonderful device that doesn't actually ditch any information, but simply re-prioritizes to such an extent that certain stimuli are locked in what you might consider 'long term storage'. Such buried information is difficult for the recipient to draw up, but a truly skilled magician can attack the receptors in the correct sequence, pulling forth even an iron-minded dwarf's spelling errors on a third grade history exam.
The terrifying efficiency of Mind Probe in a skilled users hands aside, a few infinite return foci will allow a user to set fire to your nail beds, lance your eyeballs, puncture your eardrums, slice the underside of your tongue, fill your nose will sulpheric acid, chew off your feet in a meat grinder, and then as soon as you agree to cooperate, turn all that sensation off without leaving so much as chafing on your delicate wrists. For a truly effective 'trip', combine hot-sim 'BlackSense' programs with sensation spells as mentioned above, giving them the full range of psychological tortures... And begin their mind probe /then/.
It's what I do.
-Sigma (2:55:31/21-09-2071)
Pyritefoolsgold
>>>>>[It should be a rule of the sixth world: don't assume that just because you've overcome your ignorance that anyone else has. The thing about stating the obvious is that there's at least one guy out there who doesn't get it. And that guy's probably on your team, about to do something really, really dumb because there's something really obvious he doesn't know or understand.]<<<<<
-Nighteyes (2:56:31/21-09-2071)

>>>>>[Re:Sigma. Omae, you scare me.]<<<<<
-Nighteyes (3:01:31/21-09-2071)
JFixer
>>>>>[All too often, Nighteyes, that's the way it goes. I've had two rather dedicated deckers sit down to teach me hacking, because I can't stand watching some of the baboons I run the shadows with muck things over again, and again. Too many runners think that metal substitutes for brains, and Seattle isn't the kind of place you can get away with that. The Emerald City has sharp corners. You're absolutely right about the run of the mill magician not knowing what they're doing in this situation, however. Mental manipulation was my thesis. Most magicians aren't going to have the stomach or the right formulae to tackle really punching through someone's mental defenses. They key is preparation, preparation, preparation. There's a reason these spells are tightly controlled and monitored.
-Sigma (3:08:00/21-09-2071)
Pyritefoolsgold
>>>>>[I just hope I'm never in a position having to learn this firsthand from you. After reading that I understand why spy-types carry suicide pills.]<<<<<
-Nighteyes (3:45:31/21-09-2071)
Warlordtheft
>>>>>[Don't sweat it. It's only temporary, though you may want to consider psycho therapy to forget it ever happened.

Also the use of illusion can do wonders if set it up as a con rather than a brute force interrogation. You fake you're subjects escape, or other plausible scenario, and befriend him or pretend to be his best bud/girlfriend. Tricking him into cooperating is more fun anyway, at least for me it is.

Highly controlled spell,Sigma? You're funny. How do you control or prohibit those trying to understand a natural process of mana manipulation. Also, don't take it personally but you lack a certain amount of finesse in your methodology.]<<<<<
-Der Nacht (4:15:31/21-09-2071)
Sir_Psycho
>>>>>[I learned my techniques on the streets, but I've still got my two nuyen to slot. The ability to shift your bones and flesh across your face, and stimulate melagin production, or melomin - skin colour, anyway - has quite a few applications in squeezing some-one. I've had masters before, and I know that if some-one controls your life and instills within you the fear of ownership, threats of pain and death mean nothing. Well, a lot less, anyway.

A team I was running with picked up a Shestiorka, a ruskie bagman who stashed some chips we needed, so drek-scared his lieutenant would do worse than we ever could if he talked. We locked him in a dark room and I hit the streets, watching his man. A few days later I had his face and movement just right, and had a friend make me up some contacts to hide my own... distinctive set. My team dragged me into the room by the hair and staged an execution with a Browning, some blanks and some blood packs. Once his master was dead to him, so was his fear, and we got the info we needed, and I didn't even have to blow anyone.

The vor was found floating in the sound within the week. Must have been surprised when his dead boss cut him open.]<<<<<
-Rentboy (4:46:23/21-09-2071)
Warlordtheft
>>>>>[Now that is what I call finnesse. No cop or vory after you, no loose ends. And heck you don't even the nagging concious that you killed someone. Well done! (golf clap)]<<<<<
-Der Nacht (5:10:23/21-09-2071)
Sir_Psycho
>>>>>[My conscience went out when my oral slasher went in.]<<<<<
-Rentboy (5:12:01/21-09-2071)
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