FBI to reverse no-recording policy for interrogations of suspects in custody



Since its inception in 1908, the FBI has prohibited audio or visual recordings of statements made by criminal suspects, unless agents obtain special approval. "Now, after more than a century, the U.S. Department of Justice has quietly reversed that directive by issuing orders May 12 that video recording is presumptively required for interrogations of suspects in custody, with some exceptions."
More at the Arizona Republic, and you can read the DoJ memo here [PDF].

There was no news release or press conference to announce the radical shift. But a DOJ memorandum —obtained by The Arizona Republic — spells out the changes to begin July 11.

“This policy establishes a presumption that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) will electronically record statements made by individuals in their custody,” says the memo to all federal prosecutors and criminal chiefs from James M. Cole, deputy attorney general.

“This policy also encourages agents and prosecutors to consider electronic recording in investigative or other circumstances where the presumption does not apply,” such as in the questioning of witnesses.

[via Emptywheel]

Notable Replies

  1. What sort of insane logic ever justified not recording? Surely an investigative body would want to preserve all relevant materials by reasonable means, no?

  2. jaf says:

    If I remember correctly, the specific reason was the agent got to write the notes on the interrogation. Then if the suspect (or even interviewee) later contradicted whatever the agent wrote down, they had a perjury case.

  3. Thes recordings will take away one of law enforcement's most important tools: their ability to just make stuff up.

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