An ex-FBI agent on deception, espionage, interrogation, and reading people.

Some Things You Just Can't Hide

Research tells us that detecting lies is a fifty-fifty proposition, so what can we use to evince the truth? Here are some methods based on techniques I used for over 25 years in the FBI. Read More

Another Excellent Column

I especially appreciate the fact that you said even an FBI agent can't always pick the good guys from the bad guys. I wish people in mental health would be willing to admit the same thing. This one is ready to be released but that one isn't. What nonsense. It's like flipping a coin.

Anyway, I wanted to ask you about torture. Now while there are a few feet I'd personally like to put to the fire, I feel my government should be above such behavior. But the question is, do you think it's an effective means of gathering information?


Another Column

Steve, as I have stated in various forums, torture guarentees pain, it never guarentees the truth. Amateurs, the unskilled and psychopaths use torture because of ignorance or because it benefits them.

We in the FBI and most LE agencies have never had to use it and we still get results. It is also a matter of efficacy, traditional methods garner cooperation, torture garners compliance. Something the Nazis learned and we must not repeat. They ended up having to kill whole villages.

You will not hear FBI agents or Secret Service agents ask for these methods because our training insures that we dont need it. It is those who have never conducted an interview (or worse tv personalities) who ask for these methods because somehow it makes us tougher. This is nonsense, it makes us weaker.

I can tell you that stress undermines an interview and the production of facts in the same way that stress makes us forget where the keys were left.

I am opposed to it and so is the FBI, which has never asked for those techniques. The human brain remains the same, nothing changed on 9/11, it is still about psychologically getting in someone's head, very subtly, very efficiently, through proven methods that preserve whatever information is there. JN

Thank You

You've done a great deal to reinforce my faith in the training agents such as yourself receive.


Very nice job!

Thank you for a great article! The article was very clear, and the examples did a great job of reinforcing the basic concepts. I just re-read What Every BODY is Saying yesterday, so this is all fresh in my mind. The article gives a lot of light on some of the ideas in the book. Both are very helpful!

I particularly enjoyed looking at how the interview process works from the perspective of a criminal investigation. My job involves interviewing and hiring people, so the more I know about interviewing, the better I can do. The aspect of looking for the truth of the matter is also very good, something I need to work on.

Keep up the great work!

Russ Conte

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

Joe Navarro is a former FBI Counterintelligence Agent and is the author of What Every Body is Saying. He is an expert on nonverbal communications and body language.


Subscribe to Spycatcher

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.