Cruel Joke: U.S. Exports Polygraphy to Iraq

AFP: An American solider sits strapped to a lie detector during a press conference in Baghdad's secure 'Green Zone'In an article titled, “Iraq Turns to Lie Detectors to Outsmart Al-Qaeda,” Agence France Presse (AFP) reports on the graduation of the first class of U.S. Government-trained Iraqi polygraph operators. But to outsmart Al-Qaeda, doesn’t one need to be smarter than Al-Qaeda? As has documented, Al-Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents — unlike the U.S. and Iraqi governments — understand full well that the lie detector is a pseudoscientific sham. See Al-Qaeda Documentation on Lie Detection and The Myth of the Lie Detector for the proof.

Iraq turns to lie detectors to outsmart Al-Qaeda

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Faced with infiltration of state organs by wily insurgents and Al-Qaeda jihadists, Iraq’s government has turned to a detection method highly favoured by the United States — polygraphs.

The first eight officials of the defence and interior ministries to be trained by US experts in the use of sophisticated lie detection equipment graduated last month after a six-month course.

“It is vital that we ensure that our employees in key services are trustworthy,” General Hamier, of the national police force, said at a small graduation ceremony in Baghdad’s highly-fortified Green Zone.

“Until now we have made employees fill in questionnaires on paper, and then we questioned them. It is very easy to lie. But now (with the new equipment) that will be much more difficult,” said Hamier.

Because polygraphy has no scientific basis to begin with and is vulnerable to simple countermeasures, it is not at all clear that it will be much more difficult for liars to get hired by the Iraqi government. Making matters worse, polygraph screening is inherently biased against the most truthful persons and is likely to screen out the very kind of straight arrows the Iraqi government desperately needs. Continue reading Cruel Joke: U.S. Exports Polygraphy to Iraq

“Lying in Wait”

Congressional Quarterly national security editor Jeff Stein discusses a jihadist article on polygraph countermeasures recently discovered and translated by

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.

Al Qaeda Studied Polygraph Countermeasures

New York Times correspondent David Rohde, in an article titled, “In 2 Abandoned Kabul Houses, Some Hints of Al Qaeda Presence,” reports that documents seized in two Kabul houses formerly used by members of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda organization include Arabic language instructions on how to pass lie detector tests.

With the FBI making heavy use of polygraph interrogations in the PENTTBOM investigation, it is crucial that the seized Al Qaeda documentation of polygraph countermeasures be translated and independently analyzed by those whose livelihoods and professional reputations do not depend on the perpetuation of polygraphy.