Thesis Title

Defending the Methods That Defend Us From Terror: U.S. Interrogation Policy and Overcoming Its Negative Implications

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Bradley Thayer


The central question posed by this study asks whether the negative image of the U.S. interrogation policy is the result of overly-intense techniques or rather a consequence of poor perception management in the War on Terror. This study will argue that the policy and methods used by U.S. interrogators are not excessively harsh and that the bad reputation they have received is due primarily to Washington's inability to manage the perception of these activities. This issue is important because relatively minor abuses and isolated incidents (e.g. the Abu Ghraib prison scandal) have managed to manipulate opinion to the extent that effective policies such as coercive interrogation are in danger of being discontinued. The United States needs to better protect its image and prevent its opponents from derailing its policies. Current U.S. interrogation policy, one which employs coercion, is not only successful in fighting terrorism, it is indispensable. Without it, intelligence capabilities become diminished and the United States is left vulnerable, like it was on 9/11. Interrogation may be a dirty business at times, but terrorism is a far darker enterprise. Despite this fact, terrorists and other enemies have undermined interrogation efforts and demonstrated that they can manipulate U.S. policy.


interrogation, coercion, abuse, torture, perception management

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


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