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In the season 2 opening interview of “The David Johnson Show”, David talks with  Eric Maddox, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Baghdad interrogating members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle. 

In this clip, Eric shares his secrets to getting prisoners to talk, from his work in more than 2,500 interrogations during the Iraq war.

“All I do in interrogations is I flip the script and say, “If you cooperate with me, I help you. I’m going to get you out of here. If you don’t cooperate with me, you’re never going anywhere.” “Wait a second, Eric, what if they’re guilty?” They all know something.”

“If you do not cooperate with me, you’re guilty of one thing, not helping me. I don’t care what you do out there. I can’t control what you did. I can’t control what I can prove. All I can prove is what you’re going to do for me here. You know something that helps me. As long as you give me everything I need, I’m getting you out of here.”

“The David Johnson Show” is a national voice that talks about points of interest in the American military and veteran subculture. Each show episode showcases a different guest with a different story. Sign up to get notified of new episodes at https://thedavidjohnsonshow.com and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript:

Eric Maddox:  …decisions. If you give me a prisoner, I’m going to give them two choices. My job is to give them two decisions. One’s to help me, one’s not to help me. I need to make it brutally obvious and clear that helping me is much better for them than not helping me.

David Johnson:  They have to feel if they help you, they’re somehow going to be protected? They’re not going to get thrown out on the streets [laughs] of Fallujah or Tikrit and get beheaded in the streets? What does helping you mean?

Eric:  It’s a great question. People want to say, “Eric, why have you done more interrogations, had a higher level of success than any other interrogator in the history of the United States military?” It comes down to one, I do one thing. You want to know the secret sauce. You’re going to learn more about interrogations right now than you ever thought you knew. I do this one thing.

When somebody cooperates in a typical setting, if you get pulled over by the cops and you’re a drug dealer, if you get captured where you were in Iraq, if you confess, do you stay in prison longer or shorter? Longer.

David:  Longer.

Eric:  Longer. You cooperate, you get punished. If you keep your mouth shut, as we know, these prisons are crowded, they’re over flooded, we have to release people. If we think you’re innocent, we’re going to release you. That means if you’re guilty and you keep your mouth shut, you get to get released. Is that good for you or is that bad for you? You don’t help me, that’s reward for you.

All I do interrogations is I flip the script and say, “If you cooperate with me, I help you. I’m going to get you out of here. If you don’t cooperate with me, you’re never going anywhere.” “Wait a second, Eric, what if they’re guilty?” They all know something.

“If you do not cooperate with me, you’re guilty of one thing, not helping me. I don’t care what you do out there. I can’t control what you did. I can’t control what I can prove. All I can prove is what you’re going to do for me here. You know something that helps me. As long as you give me everything I need, I’m getting you out of here.”

The trick, David, is like, “Ah, OK, if somebody cooperates, you release them. People may know that they did that and they’re going to kill him.” Absolutely. My chore was to make sure that I could protect the identity of all the prisoners that help me. The beautiful thing is there were prisoners who didn’t help me.

Understanding psychological communication that through these prisons, people talk. For the prisoners who didn’t help me, I fed information around the community, around the prisons, that they were the ones helping. For the prisons who did cooperate with me, we never went directly. The first raid we got off of a cooperative prisoner was never anyone that was directly connected to them.

I would always have them take us to a location. They’d say, “Eric, I know some other guys. Nobody else knows I know where they are.” They know the primary people I take you to. I can hide their identities there. It’s the only thing you do. They cooperate, help them. They don’t cooperate, punish.

David:  It’s obviously in their best interest to help you.

Eric:  That’s it…

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