It took more questioning, and some interrogators' sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda — including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers — but the cookies were the turning point. "After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans," Soufan says. "Now he was thinking of us as human beings."
The article in Time magazine about how some intelligence professionals feel torture is over-rated in intelligence gathering, hinged on the simple act of giving a diabetic man some sugar-free cookies.
Apparently that was enough to get Abu Jandal to stop ranting about Americans and give up a little information. Well, it was the cookies and the smarts of some resourceful agents.
But the question for me is whether or not this is an anomaly. Did this man just really like cookies? Or is there something in receiving tasty comforting sustenance that just leads a person to relax and open up?
I’m thinking of every cop show that I’ve seen where the lead detective opens the interrogation room and ushers the suspect inside with a wide smile while saying something along the lines of, “Have a seat Strangler Pete. Can we get you coffee? Something to eat?”
Or how about this NSFW (language) clip from the Wire wherein Bunk uses a McDonald’s meal during an interrogation to great effect:
But these examples are straight fiction. The cookie story is not. The whole thing got me wondering… Is there any meal that could make me give up information? Is there any food that has such power over me that I’d sing like a canary just for a taste? I guess it would depend on the circumstances. Hunger can make anything look good after awhile.
What about you Blogtownies? What food could make you snitch?