Today's Arizona Republic reports, "DOJ reverses no-recording policy for interrogations," by Dennis Wagner. Here's an extended excerpt from the beginning:
Since the FBI began under President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, agents have not only shunned the use of tape recorders, they've been prohibited by policy from making audio records of statements by criminal suspects without special approval.
Now, after more than a century, the U.S. Department of Justice quietly has reversed that directive by issuing orders May 12 that audio recording, preferably with video, is presumptively required for interrogations of suspects in custody, with some exceptions.
There was no news release or news conference to announce the radical shift. But a DOJ memorandum obtained by The Arizona Republic spells out the changes that will begin July 11.
"This policy establishes a presumption that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) will electronically record statements made by individuals in their custody," says the memo from James M. Cole, deputy attorney general, to all federal prosecutors and criminal chiefs.
"This policy also encourages agents and prosecutors to consider electronic recording in investigative or other circumstances where the presumption does not apply,'' such as in the questioning of witnesses.
An accompanying message from Monty Wilkinson, director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, says the change resulted from lengthy collaborative efforts among DOJ and law-enforcement personnel. Media representatives at the Justice Department and FBI did not respond to requests for a more detailed explanation.