At a time when recording a conversation is as easy as whipping out a cellphone or iPod, the FBI policy on electronic recording of witness interviews is: “agents may not electronically record confessions or interviews, openly or surreptitiously, unless authorized by the SAC or his or her designee.” Instead FBI agents take notes and later type up a summary report called a form 302. The interview takes place with two FBI agents and the single interviewee. The FBI has eschewed the objective for the subjective.
This policy has proved problematic in numerous cases. District court judge Charles B. Kornmann in South Dakota lamented that he was forced to hear: “another all too familiar case in which the FBI agent testifies to one version of what was said and when it was said[,] and the defendant testifies to an opposite version or versions.”