Harvey Silverglate’s May 11 op-ed “Unrecorded testimony” informs us that the FBI depends on interview notes while refusing to record interviews electronically. If an interviewee’s account of what he said is different from the FBI’s account, the interviewee could be prosecuted for changing his story, with no recourse to an impartial record.
As a former reporter and editor, I know that people vary enormously in their ability to put oral communication on paper. Most bureaucracies accept that. When police take a theft report or an unemployment clerk does an interview, the interviewee can review the report and edit it. In my experience, these reports often do require correction. But the FBI does not show interviewees its notes. Instead, in an area where errors are typical, it claims infallibility.