High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group

Resized picture of Director Comey at HIG Symposium.

Director Comey addresses the audience at the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group’s fifth annual research symposium, held October 23, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

The High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) is a three-agency entity—FBI, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Department of Defense (DoD)—established in 2009 that brings together intelligence professionals from the U.S. Intelligence Community to conduct interrogations that strengthen national security and that are consistent with the rule of law. High-value targets are nominated by U.S. intelligence agencies and must be approved by appropriate partner (FBI, CIA, and DoD) agency leadership.

The director of the HIG is an FBI representative and is assisted by two deputies—one from the DoD and the other from the CIA. Full-time HIG members are augmented by part-time HIG-trained professionals from U.S. Intelligence Community agencies.

Though the HIG is administered by the FBI, it is a multiagency organization whose principal function is intelligence gathering—not law enforcement—and it is subject to oversight through the National Security Council, Department of Justice, and Congress. However, the actions of HIG teams are carefully documented, evidence is preserved in the event of a criminal prosecution, and its members are prepared to testify in court if necessary.

Interrogations 

The HIG deploys expert Mobile Interrogation Teams (MITs) to collect intelligence that will prevent terrorist attacks and protect national security. Since the HIG’s creation, MITs have been deployed both within the United States and abroad. Deployment teams generally consist of a team leader, interrogators, analysts, subject matter experts, linguists, and other personnel as needed. HIG interrogators are chosen for—among other attributes—their extensive interviewing and interrogation experience and their willingness to adapt to evolving interrogation techniques based on the latest scientific research.

HIG personnel do not engage in any unlawful interrogation practices. They use authorized, lawful, non-coercive techniques that are designed to elicit voluntary statements and do not involve the use of force, threats, or promises. For more information, read the HIG’s August 2016 Interrogation Best Practices Report, which summarizes best practices for interrogation that do not involve the use of force.

Research 

The goal of the HIG’s Research Program is to study the effectiveness of interrogation approaches and techniques by identifying and testing existing techniques, and by developing new lawful techniques that may be more effective. The HIG identifies research gaps in the interrogations field and commissions research contracts to fill those gaps.

To carry out the research, the HIG contracts with world-renowned Ph.D.-level scientists known for their expertise in interrogations and other related fields.To date, the HIG has funded more than 100 interrogation research projects on topics such as interviews with expert interrogators, social influence tactics, the impact of interpreters, the cognitive interview, the strategic use of evidence, and science-based methods of detecting deception. All HIG research is conducted in compliance with international laws and U.S. laws concerning the protection of human research subjects.

Training 

The HIG works to develop and disseminate best practices to its own interrogators and part-time personnel and to other U.S. Intelligence Community and law enforcement partners and allies within the U.S. and abroad.