Lying in Wait: Al Qaeda “knows that polygraphs are unreliable and has an idea of how to beat them,” says a former U.S. Army linguist.
George W. Maschke, a translator fluent in Arabic and Farsi, discovered an article on an al Qaeda-linked Web site last week that instructs followers on specific countermeasures to use when U.S. interrogators hook them up to polygraph machines.
“There are many tricks for fooling the device,” says “The Myth of the Lie Detector,” originally posted on the al-Tawhed Web site in 2004. “We must realize that the idea of the device is based on measuring the body’s physiological changes. Thus, if the mujahid [holy warrior] is able to control these changes, it will enable him to fool the device.”
The article goes on to describe numerous methods a prisoner can use to control his breathing and blood pressure, evidently taken from articles and discussions challenging the science behind polygraphs posted by former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement personnel at an anti-polygraph Web site in the United States.
Maschke, who also worked with the FBI on terrorism cases in the 1990s, posted the original Arabic version along with his translation at the site.
He and other former intelligence personnel, including a retired senior FBI scientist, maintain that certain kinds of polygraph tests are unreliable and can be defeated easily. U.S. interrogators have been using them in Iraq with mixed results.