This Is How They Interrogate Kids In The United States


Keep in mind as you watch Brendan Dassey’s interrogation at the hands of Fassbender and Wiegert that this rough treatment is routine in the United States and considered to be perfectly acceptable by investigators.  If you look at the kid in the video who is only 13, you swiftly realize that Brendan had it comparatively easy.

If you are the kind of person who has a short attention span, and just want to go to the section of the video where the interrogation begins, fast forward to about the 2 minute mark.

The kid shown, by the way, is not developmentally delayed, and has a perfectly normal IQ, but this doesn’t save him from a turbulent emotional and psychological breakdown.

For a little background on the story from which the video originates, the boy has a sister who, from birth onward, had a form of autism which rendered her unable to use words communicate.  Her parents, looking for anything which might help her, found out about something called FC, or Facilitated Communication, which was a technique, briefly popular and accepted, whereby a “facilitator” would take the hand of a child and move it around a computer keyboard to spell out messages one letter at a time.  Often the child would suddenly begin to “communicate” all sorts of things, including, in this case, allegations of sexual abuse.

FC has been discredited for a long time, but while it was still the darling of some child experts, the impact that it had on the live’s of some families was devastating and ruinous.  The kid in the video, for example, is essentially being pressured to implicate his father as someone who has been sexually abusing his beloved sister.

On a very personal note, seeing this video fills me with utter despair, not just because of the fact that it happened, but because it still happens, and because there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it.  This video has probably been available online for years.  Have any changes been made in the department where it occurred, let alone systemic changes?  Am I the only person who is sick of feeling powerless?

The crux of the argument that Luke Berg, the counsel for the State of Wisconsin made was essentially that the United States doesn’t consider the interrogation of a child (like Brendan Dassey) to any way be an exceptional circumstance, and all of the past federal and state rulings, Berg argues, back up his claim.  On these merits, Berg probably actually does have the stronger argument, and that is why Berg, during oral testimony, encourages the attending judges to mainly consider precedent, and to consider the case within the narrow confines of habeus rulings (or so I gathered without any legal background or expertise).

Laura Nirider, on the other hand, was given the task to make the case that there was something unique about Dassey’s case that put it elsewhere from directly underneath the umbrella of the cases that have come before it.