AntiPolygraph.org has published a set of documents concerning the San Diego Police Department’s polygraph practices. These documents, which date to 2017, focus primarily on pre-employment polygraph screening.
“DLST” stands for “directed-lie screening test.” Directed-lie “control” questions are ones in response to which the examinee is told to “lie,” unlike probable-lie “control” questions, in which the operator attempts to manipulate the examinee into lying. For more on directed-lie “control” questions, see Chapter 3 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (beginning at p. 107 of the 5th edition).
The pre-employment script shows that the “test” consists of a “Subtest A” and a “Subtest B.” The relevant questions on Subtest A are:
R1 As an adult, have you received any (other) formal discipline at work?
R2 As an adult / In the last 10 years, have you had any (other) personal involvement with illegal drugs?
There is also an unscored “sacrifice relevant” question:
SR Do you intend to answer the formal discipline and drug involvement questions truthfully?
The directed-lie “control” questions are:
C1 Did you ever lose your temper?
C2 Did you ever violate a minor traffic law?
There are also two irrelevant, or in SDPD’s parlance, “neutral” questions. These are not scored:
N1 Are you now in San Diego?
N2 Are the lights on?
Subtest B includes the following relevant questions:
R3 Have you ever committed any (other) serious crime?
R4 Have you ever committed any (other) sex crime?
The sacrifice relevant question for Subtest B is:
SR Do you intend to answer the “serious crime” and “sex crime” questions truthfully?
The directed-lie “control” questions for Subtest B are:
C3 Did you ever say anything about someone that wasn’t true?
C4 Did you ever violate a rule or regulation?
And finally, the irrelevant questions for Subtest B are:
It should be borne in mind that polygraphy has no scientific basis, and it is common for truthful people to wrongly be branded as liars. If you are facing a polygraph “test,” be it with the San Diego Police Department or any other agency, be sure to download a copy of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector for more on polygraphy’s scientific shortcomings, the simplistic methodology on which it relies, and pointers on what you can do to mitigate the risk of wrongly failing when you’re telling the truth.
In July 2018, the so-named National Institute for Truth Verification (NITV) of West Palm Beach, Florida, which markets a scientifically baseless lie detector called the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA), filed in Florida a federal lawsuit against competitor Dektor Corporation and its sole proprietor, Arthur Herring III, of Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. Dektor markets a similarly scientifically baseless voice-based lie detector called the Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE).
Among other things, NITV alleged “false advertisement, unfair competition, and product disparagement under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)” and “deceptive and unfair trade practices under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.”
On 17 May 2019, a magistrate judge granted a default judgment to NITV after Dektor failed to timely reply to a motion. Among other things, the judge ordered that Dektor and Herring “immediately remove from public view/unpublish the www.NITVCVSAexposed.com website in its entirety.” The aforesaid website, which contained a great deal of unflattering but apparently true documentation about NITV and its founder, Charles Humble, has been taken down in compliance with the court order, although a mirror of the banned website as it appeared on 18 May 2019 remains available.
Evidently not satisfied with its success in removing criticism of itself from the internet, on Saturday, 1 June 2019, NITV, through its lawyer, threatened Dektor Corporation’s IT consultant, Matt Vanderhoff of Center Valley, Pennsylvania, with a federal lawsuit that would be filed in Florida if he did not within four days agree to “the transfer of any ownership or use rights [he] may have in the PSE software/intellectual property/source codes etc. to NITV” and to enter “into a permanent injunction that prohibits [him] from further assisting Mr. Herring with his anti-NITV activities.”
The threat evidently worked, as in reply to a request for comment, Mr. Vanderhoff stated, “Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, due to being forced to an agreement my lawyer and NITV’s lawyer’s [sic] have jointly worked up I am unable to disclose any details. It is very troubling to say the least but I am not in the position to fight an enemy that has deeper pockets.”
Dektor proprietor Arthur Herring III told AntiPolygraph.org that while Mr. Vanderhoff has been his IT consultant for some ten years and had programmed his software and designed and hosted his (Herring’s) websites, he (Vanderhoff) had no ownership interest in Dektor Corporation or its software. Herring expressed concern that the source code he had paid Vanderhoff to program for him would be lost to him and handed over to his competitor, NITV.
NITV’s legal threat to a rival’s IT consultant seems extortionate. AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of the e-mail that NITV’s lawyer, Daniel DeSouza of Fort Lauderdale, Florida sent to Matt Vanderhoff on 1 June 2019, and believing it to be newsworthy, we reproduce it here in full:
This e-mail is sent pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 408 and is for settlement purposes only.
I recognize and respect your prior e-mails asking that we not contact you further regarding this matter, but unfortunately this e-mail needs to be sent and it is my hope that you review it carefully (preferably with your own legal counsel). Through our review of the documents produced during the forensic investigation, conclusions reached regarding the ‘damaged’ hard drive, and positions taken by Mr. Herring concerning ownership of the PSE intellectual property, it is our intention to file a Complaint against both you and Vanderson Corporation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida for aiding and abetting Mr. Herring in his tortious activities and for conspiring with him to engage in such activity. Please note I am not sending this e-mail to convince you that we are right or to argue the point with you back and forth – the bottom line is that our client has pushed for a lawsuit to be filed against you and your company for some time now and we agree with our client’s position.
That said, I am not looking for my client to spend more money on this matter than necessary. My expectation is that the lawsuit with Mr. Herring will soon be over, with a monetary judgment against both Dektor and Herring and a permanent injunction entered. We are awaiting dismissal of Mr. Herring and Dektor’s bankruptcy cases before we proceed in that manner. Given the above, we have 2 choices on how to proceed here. The first option is you ignore this e-mail (your right to do so) and we proceed with suing you in Florida as we did with Mr. Herring. The second option (which I sincerely hope you give serious thought) is that we enter into a settlement agreement wherein NITV will exchange mutual releases with you and Vanderson (with no money to be paid by you or judgment entered against you) in exchange for: (a) the transfer of any ownership or use rights you may have in the PSE software/intellectual property/source codes etc. to NITV and (b) the agreed entry into a permanent injunction that prohibits you from further assisting Mr. Herring with his anti-NITV activities (with a liquidated damages provision in the event of a violation). We would need to agree on the language and other material terms, but that is the gist of what my client will accept in lieu of filing a lawsuit against you and seeking a money judgment therein. The above would also be contingent on the Court allowing entry of an injunction against you as a non-party – if not, we would probably need to file a lawsuit with agreement to immediately dismiss it upon entry of an injunction.
Again, I encourage you to review this with counsel, but understand that we are poised to move forward with the lawsuit if you are not willing to settle along the above terms. If you are interested, please let me know by Wednesday, June 5 at the latest. If I do not hear back from you by then, we will proceed with the lawsuit.
Daniel DeSouza DeSouza Law, P.A. 3111 N. University Drive | Suite 301 | Coral Springs, FL 33065 (Mailing Address)
101 NE Third Avenue | Suite 1500 | Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Longtime polygraph critic Doug Williams, himself a former police polygraph operator, is scheduled to testify as an expert witness against the admissibility of polygraph evidence in a New Mexico court hearing scheduled for 30 May 2019.
Dr. Alan Vaughn Emamdee of Farmington, New Mexico faces an 11-count indictment for alleged sexual abuse of patients and seeks the introduction of polygraph “test” results as exculpatory evidence.
Williams, who has been subpoenaed to testify by prosecutor Michael P. Sanchez of New Mexico’s 11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, can explain how anyone, innocent or guilty, can pass or beat a polygraph “test” using simple, effective techniques that he has been teaching since 1979.
Federal polygraph operators so feared Doug Williams’ teachings that in 2012 they targeted him with an undercover entrapment operation dubbed “Operation Lie Busters,” which culminated in his serving a two-year prison sentence. Williams was released from federal prison in July 2017 but remains under a three-year period of supervised release with a condition that he not engage “in any form of polygraph-related activity.”
The U.S. Department of Justice objected to Williams’ being permitted to testify for the prosecution in the New Mexico case, but United States District Judge Robin J. Cauthron nonetheless ordered the modification of Williams’ conditions of supervised release to permit him to “comply with the subpoena and testify in the New Mexico proceeding.”
The hearing in which Williams is to testify commences on Thursday, 30 May 2019 at 08:30 AM with judge Lyndy D. Bennett presiding. The case is State of New Mexico vs. Alan Emamdee, docket number D-1116-CR-201701042.
Update: On 29 May 2019, the defense rested in State of New Mexico vs. Alan Emamdee without introducing any polygraph evidence. As a result, Doug Williams was not called on to testify. Joshua Kellogg reports on what transpired in the courtroom for the Farmington Daily Times.
Update 2: On 30 May 2019, a jury acquitted Dr. Emamdee on all 11 counts.
Electrical engineer Byron Johns, “a polygraph victim who was constantly recruited and rejected from CIA, NSA, FBI, DOD contractors, and later resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service,” tells his story in a blog titled, The U.S. Intelligence Community Reject.
Converus Inc. of Lehi, Utah, which markets EyeDetect, claims without proof that it can detect lies with 86% accuracy. Mark Harris takes a critical look at this claim. Excerpt:
Sitting in front of a Converus EyeDetect station, it’s impossible not to think of Blade Runner. In the 1982 sci-fi classic, Harrison Ford’s rumpled detective identifies artificial humans using a steam-punk Voight-Kampff device that watches their eyes while they answer surreal questions. EyeDetect’s questions are less philosophical, and the penalty for failure is less fatal (Ford’s character would whip out a gun and shoot). But the basic idea is the same: By capturing imperceptible changes in a participant’s eyes—measuring things like pupil dilation and reaction time—the device aims to sort deceptive humanoids from genuine ones.
It claims to be, in short, a next-generation lie detector. Polygraph tests are a $2 billion industry in the US and, despite their inaccuracy, are widely used to screen candidates for government jobs. Released in 2014 by Converus, a Mark Cuban–funded startup, EyeDetect is pitched by its makers as a faster, cheaper, and more accurate alternative to the notoriously unreliable polygraph. By many measures, EyeDetect appears to be the future of lie detection—and it’s already being used by local and federal agencies to screen job applicants….
In “The Dangerous Junk Science of Vocal Risk Assessment,” Ava Kofman of The Intercept examines “Remote Risk Assessment,” a voice stress analysis application being marketed by AC Global Risk, a San Francisco-based company led by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Alexander Martin. The company characterizes Remote Risk Assessment as “a sophisticated system that uses unique voice analytics processes to evaluate and quantify distinct characteristics of the human voice related to risk.” Excerpt:
AC Global Risk declined to respond to repeated requests for comment for this article. The company also did not respond to a list of detailed questions about how the technology works. In public appearances, however, Martin has claimed that the company’s proprietary analytical processes can determine someone’s risk level with greater than 97 percent accuracy…. Several leading audiovisual experts who reviewed AC Global Risk’s publicly available materials for The Intercept used the word “bullshit” or “bogus” to describe the company’s claims. “From an ethical point of view, it’s very dubious and shady to give the impression that recognizing deception from only the voice can be done with any accuracy,” said Björn Schuller, a professor at the University of Augsburg who has led the field’s major academic challenge event to advance the state of the art in vocal emotion detection. “Anyone who says they can do this should themselves be seen as a risk.”
The NSA (@NSAgov) has blocked AntiPolygraph.org (@ap_org) from following and viewing the NSA’s tweets:
Curious about what may have prompted this action, we used Google to search twitter.com for matches including both “ap_org” and “NSAGov.” We found two replies that we posted to tweets the NSA made on 9 July 2018. Here is the first reply:
Wired has published a major investigative article on law enforcement’s use of pre-employment polygraph screening. In The Lie Generator: Inside the Black Mirror World of Polygraph Job Screenings, science/technology writer Mark Harris (@meharris on Twitter) reports based on, among other sources, data gleaned from numerous public record access law requests filed with police and sheriff’s departments across the United States. Excerpt:
Data obtained by WIRED showed vast differences in the outcomes of polygraph tests depending on the examiner each candidate faced. Consider another law enforcement agency that uses polygraphs in its employment process: the Washington State Patrol (WSP). Between late October 2011 and the end of April 2017, the WSP conducted 5,746 polygraph tests on potential recruits. This was the largest data set WIRED received, including copious data on both applicants and examiners. While one examiner failed less than 20 percent of candidates, others failed more than half the applicants they screened. And while two examiners disqualified just four people in more than 1,000 applicants for supposedly having sex with animals, one of their colleagues failed more than 10 times as many for bestiality—around one in 20 of all job seekers. The same examiner was also twice as likely as the rest of his peers to fail applicants on the grounds of child pornography.
There were no further hearings trials for these supposed crimes, and no jury to convince or judge to adjudicate, just scores of otherwise qualified applicants who would now not become Washington state troopers.
“We don’t know which, if any, of the examiners are accurate, but the disparity between them suggests the test is not being used in a way that is at all reliable,” says John Allen, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona. And tests that are not reliable, Allen says, cannot be valid.
The 17-page report’s findings are summarized on page 5:
Review of CBP’s Polygraph Complaints
We reviewed 157 complaints to determine whether CBP had an effective process and whether the complaints were true. The complaints fell into three categories — those missing information or otherwise too vague to review; those which were not true (the allegation was not substantiated by an audio review); and those which were true (the allegation was substantiated by an audio review). Of the 157 complaints, we determined that:
130 (83 percent) were either not specific or did not have enough information to review;
21 (13 percent) were not true based on the allegation; and
6 (4 percent) were true.
We determined CBP did not adequately address five of the six substantiated complaints. For the complaint it addressed adequately, CBP conducted an audio review and allowed the applicant to retest.
What stands out is that 83% of complaints were judged as either “not specific” or “did not have enough information to review.” No breakdown is provided between these two categories, and no examples of such complaints are provided. However, it seems likely that DHS OIG would have placed in this category any complaint by any CBP applicant who alleged she told the truth yet was accused of lying by her CBP polygraph operator , simply because one cannot prove the negative in such a situation. That is, there is no way any CBP applicant falsely accused of lying can prove that she did not lie. It appears DHS OIG therefore dismisses such complaints out of hand. Yet complaints of being falsely branded as a liar by CBP polygraph operators are by far the most common ones heard.
The above citation also shows that “CBP did not adequately address five of the six substantiated complaints.” A more informative title for this DHS OIG report would be “CBP Dismisses 5 out of 6 Valid Complaints Against Its Polygraph Operators.”
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of a 2005 PowerPoint presentation prepared by former U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) Supervisory Agent and American Polygraph Association past president and past chairman of the board of directors Milton O. “Skip” Webb, Jr.
Titled “Nailing the Pre-Test Interview: The key to reducing no opinion tests,” this presentation has been a favorite at polygraph conferences for years.
With a focus on specific issue polygraph interrogations conducted in criminal investigations, the opening slides offer a candid acknowledgement of the sort of examiner bias and error that can beset polygraph “tests.” This documentation may be useful to any attorney who needs to challenge the reliability of a client’s polygraph “test.” The following slides speak for themselves: