“DOE Agrees to Fund Bingaman-Urged Polygraph Validity Study”

A press release from Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Excerpt:

Bingaman first suggested a comprehensive review of the science behind polygraphs last year when he opposed DOE’s plans for expanded polygraph testing of its employees. In October 1999, Bingaman proposed and won Congressional approval of an amendment to a key appropriations bill calling for the National Academies to study DOE’s polygraph rule. Afterward, he reached an agreement with DOE Secretary Bill Richardson that DOE would fund this National Research Council study.

“Aldrich Ames Speaks Out on Polygraph Testing”

Steven Aftergood reports in today’s edition of the electronic newsletter Secrecy News:


“The U.S. is, so far as I know, the only nation which places such extensive reliance on the polygraph…. It has gotten us into a lot of trouble.”

That is the verdict of convicted spy Aldrich H. Ames, who is serving a life sentence at Allenwood federal penitentiary in White Deer, Pennsylvania. During his career at the CIA as a spy for the Soviet Union and for Russia, Ames was notoriously successful in evading detection by the counterintelligence polygraph exam.

Ames provided extensive comments on polygraph testing in a November 28 letter to the Federation of American Scientists that he wrote in response to a recent essay on the subject in Science Magazine.

“Like most junk science that just won’t die (graphology, astrology and homeopathy come to mind), because of the usefulness or profit their practitioners enjoy, the polygraph stays with us.”

“Its most obvious use is as a coercive aid to interrogators, lying somewhere on the scale between the rubber truncheon and the diploma on the wall behind the interrogator’s desk. It depends upon the overall coerciveness of the setting — you’ll be fired, you won’t get the job, you’ll be prosecuted, you’ll go to prison — and the credulous fear the device inspires. This is why the [congressional] Redmond report ventures into the simultaneously ludicrous and sinister reality that citizens’ belief in what is untrue must be fostered and strengthened. Rarely admitted, this proposition is of general application for our national security apparatus,” Ames wrote.

“The national security state has many unfair and cruel weapons in its arsenal, but that of junk science is one which can be fought and perhaps defeated….”

The full text of the letter from Ames is posted here:


30 to 50 Percent of Phoenix Police Department Recruits Fail Polygraph

Kevin Johnson of USA Today writes in an article entitled, “Police struggle to find next generation”:

Phoenix recruiting officer Ron Meraz estimates that 30% to 50% of recruits in that city fail the polygraph test. ”I think there are some people who think they can actually beat the background check,” city personnel analyst Adele Luffey says. ”It’s amazing sometimes.” (emphasis added)

“Polygraph’s Failure Fuels Debate”

Cincinnati Post staff writer Kimball Perry writes in part:

A polygraph test that failed to detect the lies of convicted murderer Denise Lipscomb may kill attempts to routinely use the tests in Hamilton County courts.

In documents unsealed Friday at the request of The Post, Ms. Lipscomb’s attorneys, in preparing her defense, noted she passed a polygraph test in which she denied shooting Silverton cab driver John Arcady to death last year.

2,000+ Polygraphs Likely at Los Alamos

Jennifer McKee of the Albuquerque Tribune writes in part:

More than 2,000 Los Alamos National Laboratory employees may have to take lie-detector tests as part of an anti-spying program included in the Defense Authorization Bill signed into law this week.

The program, which expands polygraph tests to as many 20,000 employees throughout the Department of Energy, has sparked criticism from many, including President Clinton, who called the program “unrealistic” and “impractical.”

President Clinton Criticizes Expanded Department of Energy Polygraph Screening

In his statement regarding his signing of H.R. 4205, the “Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001,” Mr. Clinton writes:

…I am deeply disappointed that the Congress has taken upon itself to set greatly increased polygraph requirements that are unrealistic in scope, impractical in execution, and that would be strongly counterproductive in their impact on our national security.

“China Spy Probe Shifts to Missiles”

Walter Pincus and Vernon Loeb of the Washington Post report that the FBI does not believe that the 1995 Chinese defector whose information led to the spy hunt at the national laboratories was a double agent, as the CIA concluded. It appears that the CIA believed the defector to be a double agent primarily (if not solely) because he “failed” a polygraph “test.” See George Maschke’s commentary on the the AntiPolygraph.org message board.

“Energy Department Polygraph Program Expanded”

Walter Pincus of the Washington Post reports:

Rejecting pleas from Energy Department officials, Congress has approved a provision that will require polygraphs for 5,000 additional employees of the department’s nuclear weapons complex, raising to near 20,000 the overall number that will be tested.

The new language, part of the fiscal 2001 defense authorization bill that Congress passed Thursday night, requires the department to polygraph all employees with access to “sensitive compartmented information” (SCI)–highly classified intelligence data, produced under supervision of the CIA, that include data from electronic intercepts.

(read full story on washingtonpost.com)