Accused Russian Spy Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins Evidently Beat the Polygraph to Penetrate INSCOM and the DIA

Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins

On Thursday, 20 August 2020, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted former U.S. Army Special Forces officer Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins of Gainesville, Virginia on a single count of “Conspiracy to Gather or Deliver Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government.” Debbins was arrested on Friday, 21 August 2020.

The indictment states that the 45-year-old Debbins graduated from the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at the University of Minnesota in 1997 and served on active military duty from July 1998 until November 2005. During this time, Debbins served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Korea and at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and with the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group in Germany. Debbins was investigated for a security violation during a deployment to Azerbaijan in 2004, as a consequence of which he was relieved of command and his Top Secret/SCI security clearance was suspended. After leaving active duty, Debbins served in the inactive army reserve until 2010.

The indictment alleges that throughout his military service, indeed while still an ROTC cadet, Debbins was working on behalf of a Russian intelligence service. The indictment alleges, among other things, that during a meeting with two Russian intelligence officers in 2003, Debbins provided information about the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, noting at para. 46 that he was instructed not to take a polygraph “test’:

46. During the meeting, RIS 5 and RIS 6 instructed DEBBINS not to take a polygraph and offered to give him training on how to deceive polygraphs. They further encouraged DEBBINS to continue pursuing a career in the Special Forces.

It is not specified whether Debbins ever received such polygraph countermeasure training.

The indictment does go on to note:

60. In January 2010, an Adjudicator with the U.S. Army Central Personnel Security Clearance Facility sent DEBBINS a letter notifying him that he had been granted a TS/SCI security clearance….

The indictment does not state for what purpose Debbins was granted this security clearance, but in a profile of Debbins on the website of the Institute for World Politics he states:

I got a job working at Fort Meade as a Russian analyst and did that for three years. I then transitioned to working as a cyber instructor for CACI for another three years.

If the espionage allegations against Debbins are true—and they seem to be well-documented, including a signed confession—then Debbins necessarily beat the polygraph to work at Fort Meade.

902nd Military Intelligence Group Crest

Debbins’ LinkedIn profile indicates that from January 2011 to March 2014, he worked as a “senior research analyst” for Mission Essential Intelligence Solutions, a government contractor. Debbins’ resume, made public on 27 August 2020 (after this article was first published), shows that this contract work was for the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, a counterintelligence unit falling under the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) and headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland. This position, for which Debbins needed a TS/SCI clearance, would have required polygraph screening.

Thereafter, from April 2014 to December 2015, Debbins indicates that he was an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton, another government contractor that among other things provides services to the NSA. However, Debbins’ resume indicates that his work with Booz Allen Hamilton was as a “Russian cyber analyst” for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Since 1 January 2017, the Defense Intelligence Agency has required that all contractors inside the continental United States with SCI access pass a polygraph “test.” This requirement was extended to contractors outside the continental United States as of 1 July 2017. Thus, it is possible that Debbins also beat the DIA polygraph, though it’s possible that a previously passed army polygraph might have obviated the need for a DIA polygraph.

After that, Debbins indicates that he worked as an instructor for military contractor CACI International, Inc. from January 2016 to September 2017. A statement by DIA Senior Expert for Counterintelligence David L. Tomlinson indicates that this work was with DIA’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Activity.

Accused spy Debbins at RAF Molesworth nuclear bunker, 30 January 2018

Debbins’ profiles on LinkedIn and the Institute for World Politics indicate that after leaving CACI International, he worked through contractor CoSolutions, Inc. as a Russian studies instructor from August 2017 to January 2020.

DIA Senior Expert for Counterintelligence David L. Tomlinson’s statement indicates that the specific organization for which Debbins worked was the DIA’s Regional Joint Intelligence Training Facility (RJITF) at RAF Molesworth. The RJITF is closely associated with the DIA-operated Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe (JIOCEUR) Analytic Center.

In 2015, the U.S. Air Force’s 501st Combat Support Wing produced the following public relations video about the JIOCEUR Analytic Center, commonly called the Joint Analytic Center (JAC):

The DIA’s former top analyst for Cuban affairs, Ana Belen Montes, was a Cuban spy who received instruction in polygraph countermeasures from her handlers and beat at least one DIA polygraph while spying for Cuba. Ironically, in response to Montes having beaten the polygraph, the Department of Defense Inspector General recommended more polygraphs, and the DIA complied.

That spies and security violators are beating the polygraph is not surprising. Polygraphy has no scientific basis to begin with, and as explained in AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, its methodology makes it vulnerable to simple, effective countermeasures that polygraph operators cannot detect.

Debbins’ arrest comes just a week after the espionage arrest in Honolulu of former CIA officer and FBI contract linguist Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, who evidently beat the polygraph to obtain employment with the FBI.

Note: The original version of this article incorrectly assumed that Debbins’ employment at Ft. Meade was with the NSA. This article was updated on 28 August 2020 to reflect new information made public in court filings associated with a detention hearing in this case.

U.S. Army: Polygraph Coaching Is a “Commonly Reported Questionable Intelligence Activity”

The Federation of American Scientists has obtained a copy of U.S. Army Regulation 381-10 (U.S. Army Intelligence Activities) dated 22 November 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act. Included in a list of “Commonly Reported Questionable Intelligence Activities” at section 15-4, para. d.3, is the following:

Coaching a source or subject of an investigation prior to an intelligence polygraph examination in an effort to help the individual pass the polygraph.

Perhaps such coaching is commonplace because U.S. Army intelligence personnel increasingly understand that polygraph testing is a pseudoscientific sham, and that continued reliance on it is detrimental to national security. Indeed, it is polygraphy itself that should be considered a “questionable intelligence activity.”

For more on Army Regulation 381-10, see Army Defines Legitimate and Questionable Intel Activities on the Secrecy News blog. For information on how to pass the polygraph, see AntiPolygraph.org’s free e-book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.

Special Forces Reportedly Using CVSA in Iraq, Afghanistan

A report about Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) on the website of Central Ohio television station WBNS (“Tool Catches Fibbing Suspects”) concludes by mentioning that the Special Forces are using CVSA to interrogate suspected terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. The entire report is reproduced here:

More and more police departments in Ohio are turning to technology used in war zones to question suspected terrorists and to determine if someone is telling the truth.

Critics call it “junk science,” but a central Ohio detective swears it turns suspects into confessors.

When Detective Dave King walks into an interrogation room, he brings a secret weapon. It’s a computer that measures stress in a person’s voice.

Detective King says the computer never lies. “These computers are now used in more than 140 Ohio police departments. At $10,000 a piece, they are actually a cost saver to departments that can’t afford a full time polygraph unit,” says King.

Critics say the voice stress computer is junk science and officers are using trickery to gain confessions.

10-TV Reporter Kevin Landers put the computer to a test.

Detective King hooked a microphone to him, and answered two questions. One question he answered truthfully and one with a lie. King says the results from the machine tell him when Kevin is lying.

King says, “There have been times when people come in and I totally bought their story.”

Then he turns the machine on.

“Had it not been for CVSA, I, and other investigators, would have believed what they told us and they would have gotten away with it,” says King.

Voice stress analyzers are also in use in Iraq and Afghanistan. Special Forces units use them to interrogate suspected terrorists.

The critics who call CVSA junk science are supported by the National Institute of Truth Verification (the company that peddles CVSA) itself, which has reportedly acknowledged in a court filing that CVSA “is not capable of lie detection.”

That the U.S. Government is relying on the junk science of voice stress analysis to interrogate suspected terrorists is corroborated by the testimony of a former Guantanamo detainee. See the AntiPolygraph.org discussion thread, Polygraph & Voice Stress Test Relied on at Gitmo.

“Lie Tests for Spy Suspects”

Niles Lathem reports for the New York Post. This short article is cited here in full:

December 20, 2003 — WASHINGTON – Army counterintelligence agents are forcing many Iraqi employees of the U.S.-led civilian authority in Baghdad to submit to polygraph tests after a list of Saddam Hussein’s spies was discovered in his briefcase, The Post has learned.

Military officials said yesterday “several” Iraqis working as translators and low-level functionaries for the Coalition Provisional Authority and some who have been hired for the police are being given lie-detector tests this week on suspicion they are giving inside information to Ba’athist terrorist cells.

Army counterintelligence officers are investigating whether Saddam’s nest of spies inside the coalition may have helped set up unsuccessful assassination attempts on top civilian leader Paul Bremer and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, military sources told The Post.

Officials said those who fail the test will lose their jobs and will could be arrested and charged as enemy combatants for aiding terrorist campaign to undermine the rebuilding of Iraq.

U.S. officials confirmed a list of double agents who have penetrated the coalition was discovered in documents found in Saddam’s briefcase during his arrest last week.

“We experienced the same problems in Vietnam. And given that the CPA was in such a rush to get set up after the war and was desperately looking for English speakers, it should come as a surprise to no one that there was penetration,” said retired Lt. Col. Patrick Lange, a former Middle East chief for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

That U.S. Army counterintelligence officials would fire and arrest an employee for “failing” the polygraph, or choose not do so because the employee “passed,” evidences the counterintelligence community’s continuing misplaced faith in the lie detector.

Lie Detector “Testing” for Guantanamo Bay Naval Station Employees?

In an article titled, “Investigators open Guantanamo probe,” the Associated Press reports that the commander of the Camp Delta detention center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station is considering polygraph interrogations for personnel working at the facility. Excerpt:

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL STATION, Cuba – Two dozen investigators began searching for possible security breaches yesterday at the U.S. prison camp, where espionage charges have heightened tensions among soldiers.

Investigators from the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command reported here Wednesday, a day after the arrival of five non-American-born Arabic interpreters contracted by the firm that employed an American translator accused of spying.

Sources familiar with the investigation said two more arrests could be imminent.

Investigators will try to establish how a translator already under investigation got secret clearance and was allowed onto the base, and how a second translator managed to leave with classified information. In addition, a Muslim chaplain is under investigation after allegedly leaving with diagrams of the prison layout.

The translators, from San Diego-based Titan Corp., arrived as officials boosted security by closely monitoring e-mail messages, asking troops to report suspicious behavior, and postponing the assignment of another Muslim chaplain.

Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who commands the detention mission, said he is increasing baggage checks and considering lie detector tests.