chapter  13
11 Pages

Elite interviews


This chapter shows how elite interviewing can provide insights that cannot be gleaned from documentary analysis alone. It draws on the author’s own experience of interviewing dozens of US Department of Defense offi cials, as well as individuals from high profi le human rights organisations, about the impact that US training of Latin American military forces had on human rights during the Cold War and afterwards. The training, much of which took place at the School of the Americas (SOA), now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), gained notoriety in the 1990s, when training manuals were leaked that showed the USA had advocated methods tantamount to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The chapter introduces readers to some of the challenges of elite interviewing, it discusses some of the thorny ethical questions that need to be considered, and it provides guidance on conducting interviews.