Effectiveness Of Interrogations in Guantanamo

Guantanamo is one of the major strategic interrogation facilities used by the United States. This paper analyzes the effectiveness of interrogations that are conducted in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by looking at the legal and ethical issues that surround such interrogations. Many governments believe that torture is a vital interrogation tool that can be used to gather strategic intelligence. In order to determine the effectiveness if interrogation that are conducted in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, this paper first summarizes the interrogation techniques that are used and the detainees’ reactions towards such interrogations. The paper also identifies why such forms of interrogations are necessary as far as legal and ethical decencies are concerned. The best approaches that can be taken to improve such interrogations have also been addressed in this paper.

In Guantanamo, detainees are interrogated on a daily basis, several times a week for several weeks, before the interrogations could be stopped for some time. The detainees sometimes have to wait for long before they can be taken back to the interrogation booth following a long period of regular interrogations. The interrogations are conducted by multiple teams of interrogators, some in civilian clothing, and others in military uniform. Interrogation sessions occur both during the day and at night1. The main aim of nighttime interrogations is to confuse the prisoners and bring them off balance when they are tired. One of the things that disgust the prisoners is the fact that, various interrogators repeat the same questions over and over again on subsequent interrogation sessions, giving an impression that their previous responses have not been recorded. In addition, each and every interrogator begins his or her interrogation session from scratch, which puts much pressure on detainees2. Officers at the camp employ a variety of techniques to persuade the prisoners to cooperate with the interviewers including denying them such privileges as receiving mails from family members.


These officers even use posters that depict the passage of life in a family such as a young child growing up through childhood, adolescence and marriage before his or her dad can return home. In the posters, it is indicated that the detainees can unite with their families again only if they cooperate. These posters greatly affect prisoners who are fathers as they are continuously moved to tears when they read the passages. Additionally, prisoners who fail to cooperate with the interrogators are even denied access to medical care. Some detainees deliberately withhold their medical information because they fear that the interrogators will use it to humiliate them. In several instances, the detainees are threatened that they will be provided with a professional doctor only if they cooperate with the interrogators3.

The interrogations that are used at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba qualify as torture as far as the standards of international law are concerned 4. Torture during interrogation is a way of inflicting pain on a person deliberately in order to obtain some information. Applying torture during interrogations is therefore unethical because deliberate suffering and pain are inflicted on the detainee without his or her consent. The interrogators a Guantanamo inflict pain and suffering on detainees during interrogations to induce them to give false confessions. In addition, the detainees are made to undergo such kinds of pain and suffering without their consent, a factor that makes such interrogations unethical5.

It is important to recognize that making prisoners to undergo unpleasant experiences can make them disclose accurate information. For instance, when a detainee is confronted with excruciating pain, he manages to speak out what he knows.


However, it is not true that a prisoner will only reveal truthful information if he is subjected to pain and suffering. Ideally, the end result of inflicting pain during interrogations is a mixture of truthful and false information that may not be effective for a criminal investigation6.


The main goal of proving false and mixed information is to please the torturer but not to tell the truth. The interrogators at Guantanamo make the detainees to undergo painful experiences as a way of persuading them to cooperate. Since the interrogators lack omniscience, they cannot distinguish between true and false information. The detainees continue to fabricate information in order to stop the pain but not to tell the truth. This makes such interrogations ineffective because the kind of information they yield cannot assist the criminal investigators. Even though painful experiences may influence a detainee to disclose useful information, the interrogators at Guantanamo are not vigilant enough to realize that better results can be obtained if they employ less coercive forms of interrogations7.

Interrogations that are used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are ineffective because the interrogators do not pay attention to rapport building, thereby leading to disclosure of misleading information. Effectiveness of interrogation techniques chosen my criminal investigators depends on the nature of the relationship between the detainee and the interrogator. This relationship will determine the accuracy and reliability of information provided by the prisoner8. A good relationship between an interrogator and his or her subject enables the detainee to disclose accurate and truthful information while the use of aggressions makes the detainee to say anything just to alleviate discomfort. The great need for highly accurate and reliable information defines the importance of rapport building during interrogations.


Officers in the criminal justice system understand interrogation as a conversation that is being conducted with a purpose. Interrogation sessions will yield positive results only if the interrogator possesses and applies relevant interview skills when cross-examining the subject. Skillful handling of questions during interviews enhances subjects’ participation. In the case of Guantanamo, the interrogators ask detainees similar questions almost every day, and each and every officer begins from scratch in every interrogation session9. This is an indication that the interrogators do not possess the necessary the interview skills. The interrogation techniques that are used in the Guantanamo interrogations create barrier and contaminate the overall relationship between the prisoners and the investigators. It can therefore be concluded that such interrogations are ineffective because they do not provide the desired information, and are therefore conversations without purpose10.

All nations have an obligation to advocate for the national and international human rights treaties, and uphold the human rights requirements highlighted by Physicians for Human Rights and Amnesty International11. In addition, all countries should support international authorities such as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, the United Nations Committee Against Torture, and the International Committee of the Red Cross in their efforts towards monitoring abuses in detention camps. Based on critical analysis, it is clear that torture-based interrogations that are use in Guantanamo should stop with an immediate effect because they are very ineffective at extracting information, and are therefore likely to produce faulty intelligence12.

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