A formerly secret CIA report (PDF) provides derogatory information about three prominent polygraph operators of the mid-20th century. The report was declassified and publicly released pursuant to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
The subject of the two-page report, dated 14 August 1968, is Chris Gugas (1921-2007), a former CIA intelligence officer and staff agent. According to the document, during an undercover assignment in Turkey from 1951-1952 in connection with a secret program called Project Endomorph, Gugas “was a source of constant embarrassment in his contacts with Turkish police officials,” adding that “[h]e was boastful, indiscreet, lacking in sound judgment, knew little or nothing in the fields in which he was self-professedly an expert and was guilty of security breaches in failing to maintain his cover.”
The CIA report also alleges that Gugas misrepresented his qualifications, stating:
Subject professed to be an expert in his knowledge of the polygraph machine and claimed he had two years’ experience with the Los Angeles Police Department prior to his employment with the Agency. However, it was developed that instead of this claimed experience, he had actually spent one or two weeks in a detective school connected with the Los Angeles Police Department where he received below average grades.
The CIA report goes on to detail additional indiscretions by Gugas and notes that after a 1953 assessment by a CIA psychologist, he
…was found to be egotistical, emotionally unstable, possessed of a need to build himself up in the eyes of others and gave either exaggerated or completely erroneous information as to his past positions. His intelligence quotient was found to be comparatively low in relation to those of other Agency employees.
The report notes that Gugas’ termination was recommended, and that he resigned from the CIA on 29 April 1953.
Gugas would go on to become a founding member and eventual president of the American Polygraph Association.
The CIA’s Gugas report goes on to note that J. Kirk Barefoot (1927-2017), another founder of the American Polygraph Association—and its first president—in April 1964
…informed the [Central Intelligence] Agency he had been a witness to unauthorized disclosures of classified information made by a group in a cocktail lounge in Omaha, Nebraska. The individual making the disclosures about ENDOMORPH activities abroad under Agency sponsorship was identified as Leonard HARRELSON. Subject [Chris Gugas], who was then Director of Public Safety for the City of Omaha, Nebraska, was one of the group and it was believed that he was responsible for supplying the classified information to HARRELSON about ENDOMORPH activities.
The report notes that the informant, J. Kirk Barefoot, “was disapproved for Agency employment in 1951 because of falsification of his [Personal History Statement], and questionable maturity, judgment, discretion and honesty.”
Barefoot won the American Polygraph Association’s Alec E. Greene Award in 1973 and its John E. Reid Award (“for distinguished achievements in polygraph research, teaching, or writing”) in 1985.
Leonard H. Harrelson (1924-2004), whom Barefoot alleged disclosed classified information, ran the now defunct Keeler Polygraph Institute in Chicago—the first polygraph school ever—from 1955 until his retirement.
Regarding Harrelson, the CIA report notes:
Leonard HARRELSON is a private investigator specializing in hypnotism and the use of the polygraph machine. In 1964 he was employed by the Keeler Polygraph Company in Chicago, Illinois. In 1954 HARRELSON was in partnership with Lloyd B. FURR in a private detective agency known as the American Bureau of Investigation, Tower Building, Washington, D.C….
HARRELSON is believed to be a person of poor morals. He was given a medical discharge from the Army as a psychoneurotic in 1949 and had been court-martialed twice for impersonating non-commissioned officers of a rank higher than he possessed. In his business partnership with FURR, HARRELSON would misrepresent himself as being with the FBI by covering the word “American” when presenting his credentials and just showing “Bureau of Investigation”.
Harrelson won the American Polygraph Association’s David L. Motsinger Award in 2000, its Al & Dorothea Clinchard Award in 2002, and its Leonarde Keeler Award (“for long and distinguished service to the polygraph profession”) in 2003.
A cover note to the CIA report wryly observes, “These undesirables all seem to make each other’s acquaintance in some way or other.”