AntiPolygraph.org has obtained and is publishing a copy of a “For Official Use Only” video produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2006 about the Ana Belen Montes espionage case. This never-before-published video, titled The Two Faces of Ana: Model Employee/Cuban Spy, includes interviews with Montes’ colleagues at DIA. The video mentions (at 16:31) that she used polygraph countermeasures to pass a 1994 DIA polygraph screening “test,” which facilitated her espionage:
The polygraph test in 1994 made her even more dangerous. By deflecting suspicion away from her, she was freer to pursue her espionage. And to pass the polygraph, she had used a countermeasure taught to her by the Cubans.
On Friday, 21 September 2001, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s senior analyst for Cuban affairs, 16-year veteran Ana Belen Montes, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage for Cuba. News that Montes had beaten the polygraph while spying for Cuba was first reported here on AntiPolygraph.org by one of our forum members. That Montes beat the polygraph is confirmed by retired DIA counterintelligence investigator Scott W. Carmichael, who writes “She had successfully completed DIA’s counterintelligence scope polygraph examination in March 1994, seemingly with flying colors.”1
The Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General conducted a review of the Montes case and on 16 June 2005 produced a top secret report titled, “Review of the Actions Taken to Deter, Detect and Investigate the Espionage Activities of Ana Belen Montes.” An unclassified version of the report (15 MB PDF) with major redactions has been publicly released.
The DoD IG reviewed over 250,000 pages of documentation2 but evidently failed to review the National Academy of Science’s (NAS) 2003 landmark report, The Polygraph and Lie Detection, which concluded, among other things, that “[polygraph testing’s] accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies.” The NAS report is nowhere mentioned in the Montes review.
The 180-page report devotes just a single page3 — half of which is redacted — to Montes’ having beaten the polygraph.
The Montes review makes several recommendations with respect to polygraph policy. In short, it calls for more research into polygraph countermeasures, retention of polygraph charts for 35 years, and requiring polygraph screening for everyone at DIA.
Faced with a Cuban spy who beat the polygraph, DoD consulted not the scientific literature on polygraphy, but rather turned to those with the most to hide — the federal polygraph community — and decided that more polygraphs is the answer.
Retired DIA counterintelligence officer Scott W. Carmichael notes that Montes was hardly the first Cuban spy to beat the polygraph:
Indications of a spy’s presence [within the DIA] were manifest. There was the CIA’s persistent difficulty in running Cuban agents. It seemed that every operation was doubled back against the CIA by an incredibly effective Cuban Intelligence Service as agent after agent defeated CIA polygraph examinations.4
One of the Cuban spies who beat the polygraph was the late Nicolas Sirgado, who beat a polygraph test administered by now retired CIA polygrapher Alan B. Trabue.
The DoD IG’s decision to ignore the science on polygraphs was presaged by a 2002 memorandum on polygraph policy by then Assistant Secretary of Defense John P. Stenbit, who completely disregarded the National Academy of Sciences’ key finding that reliance on polygraph screening is unjustified, and even dangerous to national security.
By systematically ignoring the science on polygraphs and instead increasing its reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy, DoD has shortchanged national security.
Below are the DoD IG’s specific recommendations regarding polygraph policy:
3 b (U//FOUO) We recommend that the Director, Counterintelligence Field Activity5:
(i) (U//FOUO) Research polygraph countermeasures and then collaborate with polygraph manufactures to develop, produce, and distribute new countermeasures detection devices for use by polygraph community consumers.
(ii) (U//FOUO) Develop comprehensive polygraph standards for the DoD polygraph community to increase the effectiveness of polygraph countermeasures [sic].
(iii) (U//FOUO) Establish a comprehensive polygraph countermeasures course at the DoD Polygraph Institute that requires all DoD polygraph examiners to attend the course within 1 year of graduation from initial polygraph training and thereafter requires them to attend refresher training at least biennially.
(iv) (U//FOUO) Direct all DoD polygraph programs to report to the DoD Polygraph Institute all polygraph examinations in which countermeasures are confirmed.
4 (U//FOUO) We recommend that the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Counterintelligence and Security continue working with Congress to change DoD polygraph provisions in 10 U.S.C. section 1564a, and, once the law is changed, to advise us of the update to DoD Directive 5210.48 and DoD Regulation 5210.48-R.6
5 (U//FOUO) We recommend that the Director, Defense Intelligence Agency use pre-employment Counterintelligence Scope Polygraph examinations for every Defense Intelligence Agency position that requires access to Top Secret material.7
6 (U//FOUO) We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence direct all DoD entities with polygraph programs to digitize and retain for a minimum of 35 years all Counterintelligence Scope Polygraph examination charts.8
7 (C) We recommend that the Director, Defense Intelligence Agency institute a coordinated employee vetting program that uses personnel specialists, security officials, polygraph examiners, and psychologists to determine the suitability of prospective employees.9
Carmichael, Scott W. True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy. Naval Institute Press, 2007 at p. 41. [↩]
See p. 2 of the report, p. 14 of the PDF file. [↩]
On 25 April 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed the existence of a previously sealed indictment (455 kb PDF) against former U.S. Agency for International Development employee Marta Rita Velázquez, who is charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit espionage. The indictment alleges that it was Velázquez who recruited Ana Belen Montes, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s senior Cuba analyst who in 2002 pled guilty to spying for Cuba. The indictment was secretly issued on 5 February 2004, and an arrest warrant was issued the following day. According to Jim Popkin of the Washington Post, Velázquez lives in Sweden, whose extradition treaty with the United States “does not allow extradition for spying.”
The indictment recounts details of an alleged trip to Cuba that Velázquez and Montes made together in 1985 to received training from the Cuban Intelligence Service, including the following item:
(19) In or about early April 1985, while clandestinely in Cuba, defendant VELÁZQUEZ, with Montes, asked the Cuban Intelligence Service to give them “practice” polygraphs so that they would be able to pass polygraphs they might have to take in connection with future United States government employment.
The indictment provides no further details regarding any polygraph instruction received, but a recent Washington Post magazine feature article (also by Jim Popkin) about Ana Belen Montes indicates that such training was indeed provided:
Her tradecraft was classic. In Havana, agents with the Cuban intelligence service taught Montes how to slip packages to agents innocuously, how to communicate safely in code and how to disappear if needed. They even taught Montes how to fake her way through a polygraph test. She later told investigators it involves the strategic tensing of the sphincter muscles. It’s unknown if the ploy worked, but Montes did pass a DIA-administered polygraph in 1994, after a decade of spying.
Miami Herald Washington correspondent Tim Johnson reports. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON – Even though confessed Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes already outwitted a lie-detector test, the government plans to rely on polygraph exams to check her honesty as they debrief her about her 16-year spying career while working for U.S. military intelligence.
Montes took a polygraph examination at least once during her career as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, her attorney says.
”At the time she was polygraphed, she passed it,” said prominent Washington attorney Plato Cacheris, who added that he did not know when the exam was given.
Critics of polygraph exams, which are designed to snare liars, say they are astounded that U.S. officials would rely on them to determine if Montes is telling the truth.
”Isn’t this incredibly ironic?” asked Drew C. Richardson, a retired FBI agent who wrote a doctorate dissertation on polygraph research. “She beats the polygraph and now we’re going to use a polygraph to assess the damage? It’s utterly, unbelievably stupid.”
Montes, 45, is the most senior spy for Cuba ever caught. FBI agents arrested her Sept. 21 at her workplace. In a plea agreement with the Justice Department, Montes confessed March 19 to spying for Cuba and offered to reveal all details of her betrayal to investigators before her Sept. 24 sentencing. If polygraph exams show that she has been honest and candid, she will get a 25-year jail term, with five years of parole.
Montes isn’t the first turncoat in the U.S. intelligence community to beat the polygraph, or lie-detector, exam, and her case is sure to add to controversy over whether the government can rely on the polygraph to catch spies.
Some critics assert that the polygraph tests lure counterintelligence units into a false sense of security, and should be abandoned for other methods.
The Defense Intelligence Agency, which is the preeminent military intelligence arm of the Pentagon, declines to say whether — or when — Montes was given a polygraph exam after her hiring in September 1985. It also refuses to provide details of results of any exams given to Montes.
”All DIA employees are subject to polygraphs,” said an agency spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. James E. Brooks, declining further details.
Knight-Ridder Washington correspondent Tim Johnson reports in an article published in the Miami Herald on the guilty plea of DIA analyst Ana Belen Montes, who was recruited by Cuban intelligence even before she began her DIA career. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON – A senior U.S. intelligence analyst, Ana Belen Montes, admitted in federal court on Tuesday that she was a longstanding spy for Cuba, burrowing a long and deep tunnel through the ranks of the U.S. intelligence community and unmasking at least four U.S. covert agents to Havana.
In new revelations, the Justice Department said Montes was already working for Havana when she began as a junior analyst at the DIA in 1985, suggesting that Cuban spy-masters may have directed her career to the most sensitive sanctuaries of U.S. intelligence.
Her recruitment, when she was in her late 20s and still a graduate student, and her climb to senior ranks of the DIA, where she helped draft a 1999 finding that Cuba no longer presents a military threat to the United States, revealed the meticulous tradecraft of Cuban intelligence in directing her, experts said. Still unanswered is how she could have remained undetected so long as a spy in the DIA.
After the arrest last year of FBI Robert Hanssen — who gave intelligence to the Soviet Union, and Russia, while running U.S. counter-intelligence operations at the bureau — FBI investigators were chagrined to learn that he had never been given a polygraph test.
The FBI is now seeking about $7 million from Congress to hire more polygraph test experts, and require every FBI employee granted a security clearance to take one.
Tim Golden of The New York Timesreports on the case of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Ana Belen Montes, who according to court documents was already working for the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence when she joined the DIA in September, 1985. If Montes was ever subjected to a counterintelligence-scope polygraph “test,” then it would appear that like CIA spies Aldrich Ames and Larry Wu-tai Chin, Montes beat the polygraph. Reporter Golden notes that Montes “is obliged to submit to extensive debriefings and lie-detector tests by American intelligence and law-enforcement officials who will try to assess the damage she caused to national security.”