Leaked Documents Further Confirm Polygraph Community’s Inability to Detect Sophisticated Countermeasures

NCCAIn September 2014, retired Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence agent Scott W. Carmichael accused Donald Krapohl, then the number two official at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA, the federal government’s polygraph school), of violating the Espionage Act by indirectly making classified information about the U.S. government’s methodology for polygraph countermeasure detection available to the government of Singapore. Carmichael alleged that the classified information was contained in a document published under the name of retired FBI Special Agent Robert Drdak that was in fact plagiarized from a 2003 NCCA paper authored by Dan Weatherman and the late Paul Menges1.

AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of the document in question (14 MB PDF), which is currently distributed to purchasers of the Lafayette Instrument Company’s polygraph software. Although the document purports to be copyrighted, if, as Scott Carmichael credibly asserts, the document is in fact plagiarized from an NCCA paper, any copyright claim is without foundation.

The allegedly NCCA-derived document further confirms that the polygraph community has no coherent methodology for detecting sophisticated polygraph countermeasures such as those outlined in Chapter 4 of AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector or in Doug Williams’ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph.

It should be noted that the countermeasure “detection” criteria outlined in the allegedly NCCA-derived document are so vague and ambiguous that any polygraph operator reviewing a recorded polygraph examination might find “indications of countermeasures,” if desired:

There are verbal and non-verbal cues commonly observed in examinees who prove to be deceptive. The examiner should be observant during the entire testing process for these non-chart related markers of deception:

  • The examinee made an attempt(s) to avoid taking the polygraph examination
  • The examinee was late arriving for the examination without a legitimate excuse
  • The examinee tries to limit the length of the polygraph session
  • The examinee expresses distrust or non-belief in polygraph
  • The examinee tries to dominate the conversation and talks incessantly
  • The examinee complains of some physical ailment or medical condition prior to being asked about his health and physical condition
  • The examinee is quick to volunteer information regarding medications and then asks “will that effect the test”
  • The examinee tries to oversell his honesty / truthfulness / character / reputation, etc.
  • The examinee gives excuses why he might fail the examination
  • The examinee’s story is absurd, illogical or in direct conflict with case facts
  • The examinee provides little details regarding critical parts of his story
  • The examinee uses memory qualifiers to excess when answering questions
  • The examinee answers relevant questions with half-truths
  • The examinee minimizes the seriousness of the allegation / crime
  • The examinee blames the person making the allegations or victim and provides reasons why he has been wrongfully accused
  • The examinee avoids answering direct questions about the relevant issues with “yes” or “no” and provides evasive answers to those questions
  • The examinee answers with a question
  • The examinee tries to buy thinking time before answering relevant questions
  • The examinee uses defensive statements when asked a direct question
  • The examinee exhibits excessive physical indicators of unconscious stress relief such as yawning, stretching, knuckle cracking, throat clearing, sniffling, burping, etc.
  • The examinee is “overly” anything
  • The examinee deviates from his norm at critical times
  • The examinee exhibits clusters of non-verbal cues
  • The examinee makes small admissions designed to cloud the relevant issue
  • The examinee exhibits an unusual interest or knowledge about polygraph

How Orwellian that any expression of distrust or non-belief in polygraphy may be interpreted as an indication of countermeasure use (and thus result in permanent blacklisting). That polygraphy is without scientific basis is well-established and not controversial among educated persons.

AntiPolygraph.org has also received and is making public the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Polygraph Countermeasure Handbook (3.2 MB PDF). This document, authored by the late AFOSI polygraph examiner Larry Victor Streepy (1933-2007), appears to have been authored in the mid-1980s and is the most candid governmental assessment of polygraph countermeasures that AntiPolygraph.org has yet reviewed. Streepy acknowledges (at pp. 2-3):

Examiners should not become complacent by holding to the idea that all countermeasures will be readily distinguishable. They should, instead, recognize that it may be difficult to identify countermeasures use…

AntiPolygraph.org welcomes both commentary and submission of relevant documents. Information on how to contact us securely is available here.

Update: There is a discussion of this article on Slashdot.org. For additional documentation of the polygraph community’s doctrine on polygraph countermeasures, see The Countermeasure Files.

  1. In 2002, Menges argued in a paper published in the American Polygraph Association’s quarterly publication, Polygraph, (then edited by Donald Krapohl) that it is unethical to make information about polygraph countermeasures available to the public and suggested that it should be made illegal. See AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke’s public response to Menges’ piece. []

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