In the 29th episode of his true crime Light ‘Em Up podcast, host Phillip L. Rizzo speaks with AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke. Topics discussed include Maschke’s personal experience with the polygraph, the scientific shortcomings of polygraphy, polygraph policy, and countermeasures.
In a public relations video posted to Facebook on 24 April 2020, LAPD polygraph operator Michael Ward explains for applicants the special procedures in place for polygraph screening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the video is straightforward and non-controversial. However, in two segments, Ward makes false and misleading claims about polygraphy that call for comment.
In his scripted interview with LAPD recruiting officer Roseann Adams, Ward denies that nervousness in any way affects polygraph results:
Roseann Adams: So, I know a lot of candidates are nervous to take the polygraph exam. Does being nervous affect the result in any way?
Mike Ward: Aah, great question. Probably the top question that we get asked in the polygraph unit. The answer is absolutely not. My best advice to you is don’t be nervous about being nervous. Expect it. Being nervous just proves you’re normal, and it has absolutely no effect at all on your ability to successfully complete the polygraph exam. So relax.
Ward’s claim that nervousness does not in any way affect polygraph results is simply not true. If the subject is more nervous when answering the relevant questions than when answering the so-called “control” questions (answers to which are secretly expected to be untrue), then the subject is likely to fail the polygraph, whether or not she answers the relevant questions truthfully.
Second, Ward denies that any polygraph countermeasures work:
Adams: There is a lot of things on the internet on how to beat the polygraph exam, like sticking a thumbtack in your shoe. Is this true, and do any of these tactics work?
Ward: Heh heh. Well, don’t try that at home, I guess. Umm, you know, we have this saying around here for police officers that take their advice from the internet: give it a rest. Listen, there’s only two ways you can fail the polygraph exam. The first one is of course, if you lie, the test will definitely detect that. It’s what it’s designed to do. Two, if you try to manipulate or regulate your physiology during the test, you will also get a negative result.
We always ask candidates not to look for tips on how to pass a polygraph, because the internet is full, of course, of bad advice that if followed will by itself cause a candidate to fail their exam, even if they were truthful.
The examiner will give every candidate very easy and clear instructions that are easy to follow. If a candidate does not follow those instructions and instead resorts to internet gimmicks or tricks to try and beat the polygraph, they will end up, quite frankly, with an unfavorable result. The best advice is, give that countermeasures stuff a rest.
This response by Ward contains multiple untruths. While sticking a thumbtack in one’s shoe is indeed inadvisable as a countermeasure, Ward’s claim that there are only two ways to fail the polygraph—lying and manipulating one’s physiology (a euphemism for using polygraph countermeasures)—is a lie. Because polygraphy has no scientific basis, it is common for honest applicants who do nothing to manipulate their physiology to fail, and pre-employment polygraph failure rates tend to be high. Shortly after the LAPD mandated pre-employment polygraph screening in 2001, then Chief Bernard C. Parks acknowledged the failure rate to be 50%.
For examples of truthful persons who failed the LAPD polygraph despite not “manipulating their physiology,” see the following personal statements:
- George W. Maschke (a volunteer technical reservist and a co-founder of this site)
- J. Daine (an LAPD officer polygraphed in connection with an assignment to a specialized unit)
- “Eyes Wide Open” (an applicant)
- “Not a Yoga Master” (an applicant)
Ward lied in stating that the polygraph will “definitely” detect if you lie. False negatives (an untruthful person passing) do occur in polygraphy. One of the most notorious examples is CIA officer Aldrich Hazen Ames, who passed the polygraph twice while committing espionage against the United States.
Ward’s claim that “if you try to manipulate or regulate your physiology during the test, you will also get a negative result” is not necessarily true. No polygraph operator has ever demonstrated any ability to detect the kinds of countermeasures outlined in AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector. Moreover, the available scientific literature supports the view that polygraph operators are unable to detect such countermeasures.
Contrary to Ward’s claim, the reason that the LAPD polygraph unit “always ask[s] candidates not to look for tips on how to pass a polygraph” is not because they don’t work, but precisely because they do. A second reason polygraph operators don’t want applicants to research polygraphy is that the procedure is entirely dependent on trickery. An educated subject ruins the trick.
Truthful applicants may wish to learn and use polygraph countermeasures to protect themselves against the high risk of a false positive outcome. The Lie Behind the Lie Detector is a good primer. For further reading on the LAPD polygraph unit’s policies and procedures, see our 2020 report, “LAPD Polygraph Policy Documents Disclosed” and the message board thread, “LAPD Polygraph Questions Disclosed.”
On a final note, polygraphy is not the only pseudoscience Michael Ward practices. The LAPD video introduces him as “Dr.” Michael Ward but doesn’t mention whether he is an M.D. or a Ph.D. In fact, he is neither. Dr. Michael Ward is a doctor of chiropractic, “a pseudoscientific complementary and alternative medicine.”
The LAPD recruitment video is mirrored below:
It is with deep sadness that we report that longtime polygraph critic Douglas Gene Williams died on Friday, 19 March 2021, after an illness. He has been cremated.
Williams, a former polygraph operator with the Oklahoma City Police Department, quit his job in 1979 and began publicly campaigning for the abolishment of polygraphy from the American workplace. In 1985, he testified against polygraphy before the U.S. House of Representatives in a hearing that helped bring about passage of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988.
Williams featured prominently in the CBS 60 Minutes report, “Truth and Consequences,” which aired on 11 May 1986 and documented workplace polygraph abuse.
In 1997, Williams launched Polygraph.com, a website through which he sold his manual, “How to Sting the Polygraph,” which explains how to pass a polygraph “test” whether or not one is telling the truth. Williams later offered in-person training on the methods outlined in his manual.
Williams’ manual soon became the core of the federal polygraph school’s course on polygraph countermeasures. So concerned was the federal polygraph community about the public availability of the kind of information Williams taught that a senior instructor at the federal polygraph school, then called the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute, publicly suggested that teaching it should be outlawed.
In 2012, federal agents targeted Williams for entrapment in a sting operation dubbed Operation Lie Busters, as a consequence of which he was criminally charged in 2014. Ultimately pleading guilty, Williams was sentenced to two years in prison followed by three years of supervised release during which time he was prohibited from engaging in any polygraph-related activity.
Also in 2020, Doug Williams’ life story, as told to writer Jack Straw, was published under the title, False Confessions: The True Story of Doug Williams and His Crusade against the Polygraph Industry. (A review by AntiPolygraph.org is available here.)
Williams is survived by his mother, Doris, of Chickasha, Oklahoma and a sister, Janet. He was preceded in death by younger brothers Michael and Donald.
In season 7, episode 6 (The Lie Detector part 1) of Pretend, a true crime documentary podcast, Javier Leiva interviews Doug Williams on topics ranging from his experience as a police polygraph operator, his 1979 decision to publicly come out against polygraphy, and how to pass or beat a polygraph “test.” They also discuss Operation Lie Busters, the federal sting operation that targeted Williams for entrapment.
This podcast also includes audio from the final undercover operation that preceded Williams’ arrest.
AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke was also interviewed for this podcast.
On 29-30 October, the Dr. Phil show aired its first polygraph episode since the death of the show’s longtime polygraph operator, Jack Trimarco, in 2018. For that purpose, Dr. Phil brought on John Leo Grogan, whom Trimarco had denounced as “nothing more than a fraud,” but whom host Phil McGraw presented as “one of the most respected polygraph examiners in the country.”
On 19 & 22 February 2021, the Dr. Phil show aired its second polygraph episode since Trimarco’s death. It is seemingly no accident that this two-part polygraph episode, like the previous one, aired during a Nielsen sweeps rating period, a crucial time for advertising revenue. The Dr. Phil show has historically used the revelation of polygraph results at the end of an episode to build suspense and boost viewership.
This episode’s guest is Jeremy Dewitte, who operates a funeral escort service in Florida, where he has been criminally charged with impersonating a police officer. Phil McGraw introduces the polygraph segment thus:
Dr. Phil: Is Jeremy playing cop or just doing his job? He insists he is not impersonating a police officer and wanted to take a polygraph test to show that his state of mind was not to try to imply to people that he was doing so. I recommended against it. I didn’t want him to do it. I, I’m not a big fan of these things, but he, he insisted. We’ll find out the results together. Be right back.
Although Phil McGraw states that he recommended against the polygraph and is “not a big fan of these things,” in an interview with AntiPolygraph.org, Jeremy Dewitte stated that it was a producer of the show who first broached the topic of a polygraph “test,” asking if he would be willing to do one. Dewitte states that he told the producer that he had no problem doing so, and that no one from the Dr. Phil show attempted to discourage him from doing so.
This time, the show did not re-engage John Grogan’s services but instead introduced a new polygraph operator, Gil Witte of San Diego:
Dr. Phil: Jeremy says he wanted to take a polygraph, uh, to clear his name. Uh, now we reached out to world-renowned police polygraph examiner, instructor, publisher, and speaker, uh, Gil Witte. Now, Gil has over seventeen years of experience. He’s conducted thousands of polygraph tests and is the current president of the California Association of Polygraph Examiners.
To AntiPolygraph.org’s knowledge, the 41-year-old Witte is not particularly renowned, nationally or internationally. He has worked as a civilian polygraph operator for the San Diego Police Department and as an instructor for a Florida polygraph school. As for his being a “publisher,” he has co-authored a single article that appeared in Polygraph, a non-scientific quarterly trade journal published by the American Polygraph Association.1 Witte is indeed the current president of the California Association of Polygraph Examiners, a relatively insignificant organization. It would seem that Witte’s greatest claim to fame to date is his appearance on the Dr. Phil show.
McGraw goes on to characterize Witte as a “countermeasures expert,” and Witte implies that he caught Jeremy Dewitte attempting to use polygraph countermeasures:
Dr. Phil: …Gil, when it comes to polygraph exams, you’re also a, a countermeasures expert. Explain what countermeasures are.
Witte: Uh, countermeasures are behaviors that you can do during specific questions on the exam to enhance physiology on those areas and appear as a truthful individual. That’s why we have activity sensors to the floor for your feet, activity sensors on the chair for core movements, and the rubber tubes that go over your chest and your stomach do record upper body movements, so upper body activity. So if you were to try to manipulate any of those, we actually have the sensors that tell us, this data’s true, this data’s not true.
Dr. Phil: Did that play into the test yesterday?
Witte: Yes it did.
It should be noted that no polygraph operator has ever demonstrated any ability to reliably detect sophisticated polygraph countermeasures (the kind that anyone who understands polygraph procedure would employ), and the available research suggests that they can’t. Extensive polygraph community documentation obtained by AntiPolygraph.org confirms that polygraph operators have no coherent methodology for countermeasure detection.
To AntiPolygraph.org’s knowledge, Gil Witte, who holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Nova Southeastern University, has conducted no research and published nothing on the topic of polygraph countermeasures, and his website provides no documentation of any such expertise. As of this writing, Witte has not responded to an inquiry from AntiPolygraph.org regarding the basis for his being characterized as a “countermeasures expert.”
Witte does not explain what Dewitte did that he construed to be polygraph countermeasures. However, Dewitte told AntiPolygraph.org that in order to stay calm during the polygraph, he breathed slowly and deeply. Such breathing is not uncommon when people are in a stressful situation. However, it is not something that anyone who understands polygraph procedure would actually do in an attempt to pass or beat the polygraph. Nonetheless, polygraph operators often call slow and/or deep breathing a polygraph countermeasure.
Dewitte told AntiPolygraph.org that during the polygraph session, conducted in early November 2020 in a hotel conference room, Witte provided no indication that he suspected he was employing polygraph countermeasures.
According to Dewitte, the relevant questions asked on the show were chosen by the show’s producers, and not by himself:
All three of these relevant questions go to Dewitte’s state of mind. He could have sincerely believed that his denial to each of these questions was truthful, while a reasonable person looking at the available evidence could reach a different conclusion. Because of the subjective nature of the selected relevant questions, it is unlikely that the accuracy of the polygraph results could ever be independently confirmed or disconfirmed.
As it turns out, Witte deemed Dewitte deceptive with respect to all three relevant questions, stating that he scored -37 (a particularly low “failing” score).
However, given polygraphy’s complete lack of scientific underpinnings, Witte’s assigned polygraph score is without evidentiary value and provides no meaningful indication of whether Dewitte acted with mens rea.
Given that Dewitte had been indicted for allegedly impersonating a police officer, it is hardly surprising that the three relevant questions would have produced a strong emotional response, whether or not he answered them truthfully.
Asked by AntiPolygraph.org what other polygraph questions Witte had asked him, Dewitte recalled two probable-lie “control” questions: “Have you ever lied to a loved one?” and “Have you ever represented yourself to be something you’re not?” Dewitte did not appear to understand that these were “control” questions, or the function they serve. (A person who has studied polygraph countermeasures would presumably know this. For an explanation of “control” questions and effective polygraph countermeasures, see Chapters 3 & 4 of our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.)
Dewitte told AntiPolygraph.org that he was never provided with nor shown his polygraph report, and that he would not object to Witte providing AntiPolygraph.org with a copy of the computerized data file associated with his polygraph examination so that we could conduct an independent review. At the time of writing, Witte has not responded to our request that he send us that data.
- Witte, G., Senter, S. and B. Blalock, “Impact of Interview Route Maps: Single Examiner Case Study,” Polygraph, 2016, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 117-124. [↩]
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.
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.
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.
AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke’s talk, “Polygraph ‘Tests’ and How to Beat Them,” presented on 31 July 2020 at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) 2020 conference, may be viewed online here:
On 25 September 2015, federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange sentenced Doug Williams, who pled guilty after he was entrapped in a federal sting operation called “Operation Lie Busters,” to two years of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release “[u]pon release from imprisonment.”
Williams had taught two undercover federal agents how to pass or beat a polygraph “test.”
Williams was released from prison on 26 July 2017, and thus his three years of supervised release expired on Sunday, 26 July 2020. Williams’ terms of supervised release had prohibited him from participating “in any form of polygraph-related activity during the period of supervision.”
Williams plans to resume offering training on how to pass or beat the polygraph, and his website, Polygraph.com, now includes the following notice:
Now accepting clients. There will soon be a sign up form to set a time and date for the training.
AntiPolygraph.org has today published a collection of documents associated with the National Center for Credibility Assessment’s training courses on polygraph countermeasures. These documents, which date to circa 2013, describe the U.S. government’s best efforts to detect polygraph countermeasures. Key revelations include:
- In a secret 1995 study, 80 percent of test subjects who were taught polygraph countermeasures succeeded in beating the U.S. government’s primary counterintelligence polygraph screening technique. The training took no more than an hour. NCCA officials have concealed this study from the National Academy of Sciences and the American public;
- The federal government’s methods for attempting to detect polygraph countermeasures are conjectural in nature and were developed by two non-scientist polygraph operators at the federal polygraph school;
- The U.S. government’s polygraph countermeasure detection training is centered on countering information found on two “anti-polygraph websites” (including this one) run by U.S. citizens (one of whom was entrapped and sent to prison and the other of whom was targeted for entrapment). Minimal attention is paid to foreign intelligence services.
The core of the U.S. government’s training for polygraph operators on how to detect countermeasures is a 40-hour “comprehensive” course taught by the National Center for Credibility Assessment’s Threat Assessment and Strategic Support Branch (TASS). The course, called “CE 839,” is restricted to federally certified polygraph operators. The NCCA website, which disappeared from the Internet shortly after the 2016 presidential election, described the course thus (PDD is short for “Psychophysiological Detection of Deception,” a buzzword for “polgyraphy”):
This 40-hour course prepares the PDD examiner to deter and detect employment of polygraph countermeasures in criminal and intelligence testing environments. The course presents background information for a foundation in concepts, theories, and research data related to polygraph countermeasures. Laboratory exercises are included to enhance skills and provide hands-on experience. Detailed discussion of numerous case studies involving examples of confirmed countermeasures. Law enforcement and intelligence PDD examinations are used to demonstrate methods of detecting and defeating this threat. Information provided includes discussion of threats posed by foreign intelligence services, terrorist organizations, and other criminal elements attempting to defeat law enforcement and intelligence PDD examinations. This course is intended as the primary polygraph countermeasures course for criminal and security screening PDD examiners or as a periodic refresher course for examiners supporting intelligence operations. The course included daily directed reading assignments followed by classroom discussions and quizzes.
A note to slide 7 of the first block of instruction (18 MB PDF), dubbed “Back to Basics,” chides AntiPolygraph.org for publishing two Arabic-language jihadist documents on polygraph countermeasures with English translations, averring that “For the Anti-polygraph crowd the ‘end justifies the means’ – they are willing to compromise national security in their quest to rid the world of polygraph.”
No explanation is provided as to how AntiPolygraph.org’s documenting of jihadist literature on polygraph countermeasures (and in the process bringing it to the attention of the federal polygraph community) constitutes our compromising national security. We would counter that NCCA is compromising national security through its embrace of the pseudoscience of polygraphy and its mulish resistance to independent review of its “research” findings.
This “Back to Basics” presentation also includes a suggestion (at slide 22) to overinflate the blood pressure cuff (which causes pain) to punish examinees who breath more slowly than the polygraph operator would like:
Block 2 (11.4 MB PDF) of the comprehensive course (“Physiological Features”) is what NCCA considers to be the core of the course. It identifies features of polygraph tracings that NCCA believes are indicative of polygraph countermeasure use. Although none of the NCCA documents provided to AntiPolygraph.org are marked as being classified, the presenter’s notes for slide 5 state that the discussion will be classified “secret”:
The presenter’s notes for the concluding slide (52) bemoan the fact that “Today we have many performing high level CM. The average person can go on-line and find not only the test technique that will be used in their polygraph but the questions asked.”
You are at the right site to find that kind of information.
The presentation for the fourth block of instruction (4.5 MB PDF) includes some of the information we found most interesting. It documents a secret U.S. government countermeasure study conducted by Gordon H. Barland circa 1995 in which (including inconclusive results) 80% of test subjects taught to beat the polygraph were successful in doing so. Countermeasure training lasted no more than an hour and consisted of telling the examinee, upon hearing a “control” question, to pick a number over 600 and count backwards by threes.
Slides 7-9, with presenter’s notes, are reproduced below (you can click on the images to view them in a larger size):
Barland’s study strongly suggested that polygraph screening is highly vulnerable to polygraph countermeasures. The U.S. government has concealed this study from the public, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council, which in 2001-2002 conducted a review of the scientific evidence on the polygraph. In its report, The Polygraph and Lie Detection (10.3 MB PDF), the Council noted (at p. 118, emphasis added):
“…we were advised by officials from [the Department of Energy] and [the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute, since renamed the National Center for Credibility Assessment] that there was information relevant to our work, classified at the secret level, particularly with regard to polygraph countermeasures. In order to review such information, several committee members and staff obtained national security clearances at the secret level. We were subsequently told by officials of the Central Intelligence Agency and DoDPI that there were no completed studies of polygraph countermeasures at the secret level; we do not know whether there are any such studies at a higher level of classification.”
NCCA deliberately misled, and concealed relevant documentation from, the National Research Council.
With respect to the mention of officials of the Central Intelligence Agency, note that the most influential person at DoDPI/NCCA at the time was Donald J. Krapohl, a career CIA agent and polygraph operator who for many years was the éminence grise at DoDPI/NCCA.
The presentation goes on to document how two non-scientist NCCA staff members, Paul M. Menges and Daniel V. Weatherman, devised a system that purports to identify those who employed countermeasures in Barland’s study by examining the polygraph tracings. Their scheme identifies a number of “physiological features” that are posited to be evidence of polygraph countermeasure use. The criteria are so broad that any polygraph operator could likely find indications of countermeasure use in any particular set of polygraph charts if he looks hard enough. Slide 13 notes that when Weatherman applied his “global scoring” approach to detect countermeasures, only 47% of the innocent were correctly identified.
The entire NCCA comprehensive countermeasure course is centered on these two non-scientists’ unpublished, un-peer-reviewed “research.”
Slide 36 notes: “Software unable to identify CM.” This is not surprising, given the conjectural, “I know them when I see them!” nature of Menges’ and Weatherman’s countermeasure “detection” methods.
It’s worth noting that around the time Menges and Weatherman were attempting to devise a technique for detecting polygraph countermeasures, Menges authored an article published in the American Polygraph Association quarterly, Polygraph, suggesting that teaching polygraph countermeasures to the public should be outlawed.
A decade later, Doug Williams, who runs Polygraph.com, which features prominently in NCCA’s polygraph countermeasure training, was targeted for entrapment in Operation Lie Busters and ultimately sentenced to two years in federal prison. He has since been released but is prohibited from providing in-person training on how to pass a polygraph “test” until July 2020. AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke was also targeted for entrapment during Operation Lie Busters but was not charged with any crime. Contemporaneous evidence suggests that AntiPolygraph.org was additionally targeted for surveillance by the NSA.
The fifth block of instruction (5.7 MB PDF) covers suggested supplemental polygraph counter-countermeasure techniques such as the “Repeat the Last Word Test,” the “Focused CM Technique,” the “Yes/No Test,” and the abandonment of the “control” question “test” (CQT) in favor of the Concealed Information Test.
On a final note, recall our 11 October 2014 blog post, “Senior Official at Federal Polygraph School Accused of Espionage.” Then recently-retired Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence investigator Scott W. Carmichael said this about these documents in an e-mail message to retired FBI polygrapher Robert Drdak:
The study conducted by Dan [Weatherman] and Paul [Menges] drew on raw data collected by Dr. Gordon H. Barland and the classified report of his earlier study of mental countermeasures dated in 1994. Dan, Paul and Dr. Senter performed their work as employees of DoDPI. Your old colleague and former business partner Don Krapohl provided oversight for their work and edited the report submitted by Dan and Paul back in CY2003. The entire effort was official, and it was based on a classified study.
Dan and Paul believed their findings constituted a new, reliable, and therefore extremely valuable diagnostic tool. Dr. Senter tested the tool and determined that, sure enough, the specific diagnostic features identified by Dan and Paul through their study correlated with a high degree of probability to the employment of countermeasures. As you may know, the U.S. government now requires all federal polygraph examiners to receive 40 hours of instruction on polygraph countermeasures to become certified as federal examiners; and, to receive 4 hours of polygraph countermeasures refresher training every year to maintain their certifications. DoDPI/DCCA [sic, correct NCCA] is so confident in the diagnostic tool developed by Dan and Paul, they decided to use the new tool as the very foundation for the 40-hour instruction and the annual 4-hour refresher training.
Again, Dr. Barland’s 1994 study, which formed the basis for Weatherman and Menges’s study, was classified. By definition, then, and by DoD Instruction, Weatherman and Menges’s study and findings, were therefore also classified.
But DoDPI did something stupid. They committed a security violation. In fact, they did so repeatedly. They found it inconvenient and unwieldy to carry classified briefing slides around with them as they traveled to various parts of the country to teach the diagnostic tool to examiners – and, when they found it necessary to brief uncleared personnel on the tool, rather than follow routine but bothersome administrative procedures which would have enabled them to do so, they elected to simply not stamp their briefing slides at all. Instead, they stamped their materials as Unclassified/FOUO – while handling and treating their materials as though they were classified, in order to ensure their tool did not fall into foreign hands. Why? Because anyone who learns how the entire US government now detects the employment of countermeasures, will be able to device [sic] methods to defeat the US government examination process.
Additional NCCA countermeasure training materials, with brief descriptions, are available for download here.
Gordon H. Barland, Ph.D. worked at the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (now the National Center for Credibility Assessment) from 1986 until his retirement in 2000. During this period, he conducted research on polygraph countermeasures, and by his own estimation, “[p]rior to his retirement from DoDPI, he was the Federal Government’s primary authority on polygraph countermeasures.”
In July 2003, Dr. Barland presented a week-long course on polygraphy including polygraph countermeasures at the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses in Mexico City. According to an NCCA timeline on polygraph countermeasures, “[t]he course was presented by Barland after being approved by the National Security Agency.”
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of the 397-slide PowerPoint file Dr. Barland used in this presentation, which we are also making available as a PDF file. All are invited to download the file and to review it slide by slide. We present here only a few highlights.
The title slide:
Slide 42 discusses common polygraph operator doctrine about countermeasures and admits that it only applies to “naïve” countermeasures, that is, the sort of thing that someone who doesn’t understand polygraph procedure might attempt. In this slide, “E” is shorthand for “examiner”:
In slide 54, Dr. Barland’s mentions his fear, in the aftermath of the National Research Council’s damning 2003 report (10.3 mb PDF) and referencing a federal lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed on procedural grounds, that the United States Congress might outlaw polygraph screening:
Dr. Barland was particularly concerned with two websites that he said polygraph operators needed to monitor regularly: www.polygraph.com, run by former Oklahoma City Police Department polygrapher Doug Williams, who turned against polygraphy and began offering the public information about polygraphy’s shortcomings and how to pass or beat a polygraph “test,” and AntiPolygraph.org. The CAAWP listserv mentioned in the presentation is defunct:
Regarding Williams’ motives, Barland paints a very different picture of Williams than did the federal officials behind Operation Lie Busters, who set out to entrap, arrest, and incarcerate him:
Barland goes on to discuss Williams’ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph, at length.
Slide 148 suggests interrogation approaches for getting a polygraph examinee to admit to having used countermeasures:Barland also addresses AntiPolygraph.org and characterized our book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector as “an excellent polygraph manual, with an extensive chapter on [countermeasures]”:
Absent from the presentation is any clearly stated, effective method for reliably detecting the kinds of countermeasures outlined in How to Sting the Polygraph and The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.