“Why Doesn’t the FBI Videotape Interviews?”

For the FBI to videotape the interviews it conducts would presumably allow an improvement in accuracy over note-taking, an important issue when statements can lead to criminal conviction (either on underlying charges or on charges of lying to the government). They would also permit improved oversight of how well the FBI does its work. So why did FBI guidelines forbid the practice until 2014, and even now establish a presumption of recording only for custodial interviews? [Alex Tabarrok citing Michael Rappaport, Law and Liberty and Harvey Silverglate 2011]


  • Very simple—the FBI doesn’t like people telling literal but misleading truths. Misleading the FBI isn’t necessarily a crime, but the notes can sure make it look like one.

    The FBI would also probably leak supersensitive questioning as well.

  • If telling them a lie can lead to jail, they d*mn well better videotape it. To do otherwise suggests they want “latitude” to change their story later. It is not good practice.

  • Very simple, so the FBI can lie about what was said during the interview both by the government employee and the citizen.

    If you are smart you would not trust any word out of an LEO’s mouth. They are all trained to lie.

  • A videotape can’t be altered easier!y to allow a fabricated charge of lying to a fed agent.
    If a citizen is deemed undesirable by the gov and deserving of some prison they don’t have to do anything wrong…..except be stupid enough to talk to the FBI without. Lawyers and a recorder. So anytime ANY Fed agent asks any citizen to answer ANY questions the default response MUST be “Sure, at my lawyers office with HIS video camera and stenographer present”. That response will guarantee that magically the agents will no longer need to ask you any questions.