“Cuban Spy Passed Polygraph at Least Once”

Miami Herald Washington correspondent Tim Johnson reports. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON – Even though confessed Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes already outwitted a lie-detector test, the government plans to rely on polygraph exams to check her honesty as they debrief her about her 16-year spying career while working for U.S. military intelligence.

Montes took a polygraph examination at least once during her career as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, her attorney says.

”At the time she was polygraphed, she passed it,” said prominent Washington attorney Plato Cacheris, who added that he did not know when the exam was given.

Critics of polygraph exams, which are designed to snare liars, say they are astounded that U.S. officials would rely on them to determine if Montes is telling the truth.

”Isn’t this incredibly ironic?” asked Drew C. Richardson, a retired FBI agent who wrote a doctorate dissertation on polygraph research. “She beats the polygraph and now we’re going to use a polygraph to assess the damage? It’s utterly, unbelievably stupid.”

Montes, 45, is the most senior spy for Cuba ever caught. FBI agents arrested her Sept. 21 at her workplace. In a plea agreement with the Justice Department, Montes confessed March 19 to spying for Cuba and offered to reveal all details of her betrayal to investigators before her Sept. 24 sentencing. If polygraph exams show that she has been honest and candid, she will get a 25-year jail term, with five years of parole.

Montes isn’t the first turncoat in the U.S. intelligence community to beat the polygraph, or lie-detector, exam, and her case is sure to add to controversy over whether the government can rely on the polygraph to catch spies.

Some critics assert that the polygraph tests lure counterintelligence units into a false sense of security, and should be abandoned for other methods.

The Defense Intelligence Agency, which is the preeminent military intelligence arm of the Pentagon, declines to say whether — or when — Montes was given a polygraph exam after her hiring in September 1985. It also refuses to provide details of results of any exams given to Montes.

”All DIA employees are subject to polygraphs,” said an agency spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. James E. Brooks, declining further details.

For discussion of the Montes case, see the AntiPolygraph.org discussion thread Source: Cuban Spy Montes Passed DIA Polygraph.

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