Facts, Lies and Videotaped Interrogations



The Justice Department recently said that the F.B.I. and other federal law enforcement agencies are encouraged to videotape interviews with suspects in most instances. This new policy does not apply in cases where agents need urgent national security-related information that could expose sources or methods or where the interviewed subject request to not be videoed.  This is one of the most significant changes in F.B.I. policy under James B. Comey, who took charge as the bureau’s director in September. Mr. Comey’s predecessor, Robert S. Mueller III, and senior bureau officials had once opposed the video requirement, saying the tapes could reveal agents’ interrogation tactics and discourage witnesses from talking.

The new policy, which goes into effect in July 2014, applies to the F.B.I., the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Marshals Service. These federal law enforcement agencies are also encouraged to use electronic recording in other parts of their investigations, like witness interviews.

The former official, Paul K. Charlton, said federal prosecutors were unnecessarily losing cases because they were unable to present to jurors the most damning evidence available to them: videotaped confessions.

“The most difficult part of proving a crime involves the state of mind, and that is almost always obtained through a statement of the suspect.“

I think this is one of the most significant improvements in the criminal justice system in a long time. Cameras are on neighborhood poles, the corner of big box stores and spread all throughout modern society. Cameras help cops when stops are made. Many Officers now must wear a mini camera on their person. Why would anyone suggest a video-taped interview, hot after a crime would not provide a closer look at the truth, is beyond me.

Of course, I could see how law enforcement would not like the eye in the sky recording their “strategic approach” to obtaining information, confessions and what-have you. Now, the very first time an interviewee asks for a lawyer, the agents can’t just offer the subject a cigarette, cup of bad coffee and hit it again an hour later with some new angle. Now the interview will actually be over. “I want my lawyer…I don’t want to talk anymore!” ACTUALLY means that.

That is Power- and that is good for justice


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