Interrogation, Intelligence And Security

Title:                      Interrogation, Intelligence And Security

Author:                 Samantha Newbery

Newbery, Samantha (2015). Interrogation, Intelligence And Security: Controversial British Techniques. Manchester: Manchester University Press

LCCN:    2015452700

HV8073.3 .N49 2015


  • Examines the origins and effects of the use of interrogation techniques known as the ‘five techniques’. Through its in-depth analysis, the book reveals how British forces came to use such controversial methods in counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and internal security contexts. This book will be of particualr interest to security professionals, academics and members of the public interested in the torture debate, intelligence, the military, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, foreign policy and law enforcement. — P. [4] of cover.


  • 1. The ‘five techniques’ of interrogation and the Aden Emergency, 1963-67 — 2. Aden : results and reactions — 3. ‘The troubles’, policy-making and interrogation, 1969-71 — 4. The government’s response : banning the ‘five techniques’ — 5. The ‘five techniques’, intelligence, and security in Northern Ireland — 6. Basra, Iraq, September 2003 — 7. The impact of the reoccurrence of the ‘five techniques’.


Date Posted:      March 6, 2017

Complied and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake[1]

Samantha Newbery is a lecturer in contemporary intelligence studies at the University of Salford, where she specializes in ethical aspects of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. In Interrogation, Intelligence and Security, she examines the so-called “five techniques” of interrogation developed and used by the British military after 1945: uncomfortable stress position, hooding, loud continuous noise, sleep deprivation, and restricting the quality and amount of food intake. The European Commission on Human Rights branded these techniques as “torture” in 1976, but Newbery “avoids describing the ‘five techniques’ as torture.” She acknowledges the existence of the current debate on torture but focuses instead on the origins of the techniques, their objectives, and their results. (pp. 3-4) She also recognizes that the benefits of interrogation are difficult to measure, even qualitatively.

After reviewing the “five techniques” and some variations often used in various emergencies since 1945, Newbery analyzes their use in three operations for which public reports are available: Aden (1963-67), Northern Ireland (1971), and Iraq (2003). She writes that in Aden “the military and Special Branch were convinced that interrogation was a valuable source of information.” (p. 52) But she acknowledges there were allegations of mistreatment that potentially lessened their value and complicated correlating results with “specific evidence” they may have provided. (p. 52)

Use of the “five techniques” in Northern Ireland was more complex and involved MI5 as well as the military. Complaints from those interrogated created political problems and investigations that led the British prime minister to ban their use in 1972. Newbery devotes a chapter to examples that suggest valuable intelligence was acquired. Nevertheless, she concludes that, overall, there was “a miscalculation.” (p. 125)

That the banned techniques were employed at all in Iraq is surprising. Newbery writes with a hint of cynicism that the directive banning their use “had very largely fallen from corporate memory.” (p. 148) She analyzes three operations—one called the “Temporary Detention Facility Episode,” (TDF) during which a detainee in Basra died under interrogation with the techniques. She shows how the techniques changed since the 1970s and how sensitive the public has become to their use. Another inquiry followed the TDF episode. It called for additional training and specificity about what is permissible in deploying this “method of obtaining intelligence.” (p. 182)

Interrogation, Intelligence and Security concludes with a review of the lessons learned, noting that the “five techniques” were used “because there is a willingness to believe they produce intelligence and enhance security” (p. 196), while stressing that new policy directives must nevertheless be adhered to. This is a thoughtful and valuable book.

[1] Hayden Peake in The Intelligencer (22, 2, Fall 2016, pp.  116-117).  Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Directorate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence. Other reviews and articles may be found online at

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