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’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.

Defense Intelligence Agency Polygraph Policy Disclosed

DIA seal has obtained an unredacted copy of the regulation governing the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) polygraph program. The document, marked “For Official Use Only” and titled “Credibility Assessment Program” is DIA Instruction 5200.002 dated 3 July 2014. Of special note is Section 4.22, which seemingly provides for the possible removal of DIA personnel based solely on failure to pass a polygraph screening “test.”

To our knowledge, this policy document has not previously been made public. has also obtained a redacted copy of an earlier version of this document dated 23 March 2010.

DIA Video on Ana Belen Montes Espionage Case 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.

Regarding the significance of the Montes case for DIA polygraph policy, see Ignoring Science After Cuban Spy Ana Belen Montes Beat the Polygraph, DoD IG Recommended More Polygraphs. Regarding the ineffectiveness of DIA’s polygraph countermeasure detection efforts, see Leaked Documents Point to DIA’s Inability to Detect Sophisticated Polygraph Countermeasures.

You may also download this video as a 138 MB MKV file.

DIA to Require All Contractors with SCI Access to Pass Polygraph

DIA sealOn 1 November 2016, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director of security Michael P. Londregan published a notice that beginning in 2017, all DIA contractors whose work requires access to sensitive compartmented information will be required to pass a polygraph “test.” Excerpt:

1 November 2016

Security Notice
(From the Director of Security)

Subject: Contractor Counterintelligence-Scope Polygraph Screening

On Jan. 1, 2017, DIA will begin implementing a phased change to its polygraph policy. All contractors or employees of contractors identified to perform work for DIA, and where the work requires access to sensitive compartmented information, must either successfully complete a counterintelligence-scope polygraph (CSP) examination (in accordance with Intelligence Community Policy Guidance 704.6 and Security Executive Agent Directive 2) or have on record a reciprocally acceptable polygraph examination from another federal agency prior to being granted unescorted access to DIA systems, facilities or information.

DIA will implement this policy change using the following schedule:

  • 1 January 2017: National Capital Region (NCR) approximately 50-mile radius extending outward to Ft Meade, MD and Charlottesville, VA
  • 1 April 2017: Continental United States (CONUS) including NCR contractors
  • 1 July 2017: Outside CONUS including CONUS contractors and NCR

Regardless of geographical assignment, all polygraph testing will be scheduled through the special security officer (SSO), unit security officer (USO) or your contracting officer representative (COR), respectively, to the DIA Central Processing Center, Reston, Virginia.

Refusal without reasonable cause (as determined by the Director of Security for DIA) to undergo polygraph examination; failure to cooperate during a polygraph examination; or purposeful noncooperation during a polygraph examination — including confirmed use of polygraph countermeasures — could result in additional review or an adverse security determination.

Individuals affected by this policy may wish to review “The Lying Game: National Security and the Test for Espionage and Sabotoge” for a critique of the completely invalid polygraph screening technique used by the U.S. Department of Defense. In the past, it appeared that one could pass the DoD counterintelligence-scope polygraph simply by not making any significant admissions. It is unclear to what extent this remains true.

It’s worth noting that the DIA polygraph screening program has never caught a spy. In 2001, DIA’s senior analyst for Cuban affairs, Ana Belen Montes, was arrested for, and ultimately pled guilty to, having been a Cuban spy. She had been trained by Cuban intelligence how to fool the polygraph, and she did precisely that throughout her DIA employment.

DIA contractors should pay special attention to the notice that “purposeful noncooperation during a polygraph examination — including confirmed use of polygraph countermeasures — could result in additional review or an adverse security determination. If, for example, you breath slowly and deeply during your polygraph “test” in an attempt to remain calm, your polygrapher may accuse you of attempting to use polygraph countermeasures. If you then acknowledge that you were breathing slowly and deeply in an attempt to remain calm so you could pass, that simple admission may be taken as “confirmed use of countermeasures.”

DIA polygraph case files leaked to suggest that DIA is unable to detect sophisticated polygraph countermeasures, that is, the kinds of things that an actual spy like Ana Belen Montes might be expected to employ. Instead, the “confirmed countermeasure cases” consist entirely of people doing things that no one who understands polygraph procedure would actually do.

For more on the pseudoscience of polygraphy, including tips on how to protect yourself against the random error associated with it, see our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.

Ignoring Science After Cuban Spy Ana Belen Montes Beat the Polygraph, DoD IG Recommended More Polygraphs

dod-ig-seal-officialOn 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 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

More recently, it has been revealed that Montes and a friend, Marta Rita Velázquez, received training in polygraph countermeasures in Cuba before Montes started working for the DIA in 1985. Montes is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.

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.

Ana Belen Montes
Ana Belen Montes

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

Cuban Interior Ministry Officer Nicolas Sirgado (1935-2013)
Cuban Interior Ministry Officer Nicolas Sirgado (1935-2013)

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.

While the DoD IG called for more countermeasure training for polygraph examiners, DIA polygraph records leaked to indicate that DIA polygraphers remain unable to detect sophisticated polygraph countermeasures.

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


  1. Carmichael, Scott W. True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy. Naval Institute Press, 2007 at p. 41. []
  2. See p. 2 of the report, p. 14 of the PDF file. []
  3. p. 30, p. 42 of the PDF []
  4. True Believer, p. 29. []
  5. p. 83 ff, p. 95 ff of PDF []
  6. p. 86, p. 98 of PDF. []
  7. p. 88, p. 100 of PDF []
  8. p. 91, p. 103 of PDF. []
  9. p. 93, p. 105 of PDF. []

Leaked Documents Point to DIA’s Inability to Detect Sophisticated Polygraph Countermeasures

Defense Intelligence Agency documents (40 MB .zip archive) obtained by suggest that the agency lacks the ability to detect sophisticated polygraph countermeasures1 and that spies, saboteurs, and terrorists will have little difficulty deceiving its polygraph operators using techniques such as those described in’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 MB PDF) or in Doug Williams‘ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph. The U.S. Government is so concerned about the effectiveness of such techniques that it has targeted Doug Williams for criminal prosecution and may have attempted to entrap co-founder George Maschke.

Ana Belen Montes
Ana Belen Montes

It should be noted that the DIA polygraph screening program has never caught a spy. In 2001, the DIA’s senior analyst for Cuban affairs, Ana Belen Montes, was arrested, charged, and ultimately convicted of spying for Cuba. She had in fact been acting as a Cuban agent from the very beginning of her DIA employment: she had been trained by Cuban intelligence how to fool the polygraph, and she succeeded in doing precisely that throughout her DIA career.

A 2006 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report documents the fact that three fabricators with Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress also passed DIA lie detector tests.

Despite these monumental failures of the polygraph, and in utter disregard of the National Research Council’s conclusion 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 DIA has in recent years moved to expand and outsource its polygraph screening program.2

The documents provided to consist of 18 sequentially numbered “confirmed countermeasure” case files involving 17 examinees (one was polygraphed twice) from late 2013. Confirmed countermeasure cases are those in which the examinee has admitted to doing something in an attempt to manipulate the outcome. Federal agencies routinely forward such case files, stripped of the examinee’s identity, to the federal polygraph school, the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA), at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for study purposes.

Countermeasure admissions, when they occur, typically result from an accusation by the examiner followed by interrogation in an attempt to elicit an admission. Countermeasure admissions are rare and are a feather in the cap for polygraph examiners, who are typically rated based on the admission rates they obtain. By examining the polygraph charts from these representative cases, we can infer what activity by an examinee is likely to arouse the examiner’s suspicions, leading to an accusation of countermeasure use (and ultimately, perhaps, an admission).

We will analyze each case in turn, but the bottom line is that the key tip-offs that lead to countermeasure accusations appear to be 1) physical movement that shows up on the seat and/or foot pad tracings and 2) deep breathing. Neither of these are techniques that any knowledgeable spy, terrorist, or saboteur would employ. Nor are they consistent with the techniques for passing the polygraph documented in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector and How to Sting the Polygraph.

Instead, the countermeasure attempts that DIA polygraphers are “detecting” are so-called “spontaneous countermeasures” (attempts to influence polygraph outcomes with little or no forethought or planning). Moreover, none of these confirmed countermeasure cases appear to involve anyone who has actually committed an act of espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. Indeed, it appears, based on the sorry state of countermeasure “detection,” that the DIA polygraph unit has little prospect of ever unmasking a genuine spy, terrorist, or saboteur.

Moreover, because DIA polygraph examiners receive their training at the same school as do all other federal polygraphers (NCCA), it is likely that DIA’s shortcomings in polygraph countermeasure detection also beset other federal agencies.

A case-by-case analysis of the files follows. To follow along, download and extract the archive (40 MB .zip file). In it, you will find 18 folders, each with a sequential serial number (from #26 to #43) that includes the date the examination was conducted and (in all but one case) the examiner’s initials. Each folder contains the data associated with the examination, which is readable using the Lafayette Instrument Company‘s LXSoftware. In addition, you’ll find a Microsoft Word document with a brief description of the case, and a folder titled “Documents” which contains a PDF file for each polygraph chart collection associated with the examination. Each PDF chart file includes at the end a list of the actual questions asked. Continue reading Leaked Documents Point to DIA’s Inability to Detect Sophisticated Polygraph Countermeasures

  1. In this context, “sophisticated” doesn’t mean that the countermeasures are complicated or difficult to learn. They’re not. It simply means that they are the kind of countermeasure that a subject with knowledge of polygraph procedure–and its vulnerabilities–would choose to employ. Polygraph subjects are not supposed to know about polygraph methodology, in particular, the true function of the so-called “control” or comparison questions. []
  2. A contributor to the message board has recently alleged, with documentation, that “[s]ince March 2010, The Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA) Chief of Credibility Assessment, Brett Stern, has spent over 40 million dollars of US Tax Payer money funding a polygraph contractor…whose institution in addition to their entire current management team…have each been [civilly] charged with committing numerous counts of financial fraud….” []

Federal Polygraph School May Classify Training and Research Materials

NCCAMcClatchy Newspapers investigative reporter Marisa Taylor reports that the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA), which trains all federal polygraph operators, is proposing that certain training and research materials be classified or subjected to limited distribution. An NCCA internal draft memo dated 2 December 2013 obtained by McClatchy notes that “there is almost nothing about the polygraph, PCASS, and the emerging credibility assessment technologies that remains to be classified” but nonetheless proposes additional secrecy:

Proposal for the Protection of NCCA-unique Information

Tradecraft and technologies unique to the intelligence community (IC) must be shielded from disclosure to American adversaries, a stance recognized and strongly supported by the NCCA. NCCA  proposes that it consider the following categories of information classified:

  1. New countermeasure detection methods developed through classified projects by the NCCA or other government entities.
  2. Disclosure that particular US intelligence, counterintelligence or security programs use a specific type of polygraph technique.
  3. NCCA research on new credibility assessment technologies and analytical methods to be used solely by intelligence or security agencies.
  4. Information deemed classified by any NCCA customer agency, irrespective of recognition by DoD as being classified.
  5. Research into new technologies designed for covert applications.

There remains a category of information that is sensitive, but not classified. This type of information may be necessary for state and local law enforcement polygraph examiners serving, for example, on the Joint Terrorism Task Force where there are demonstrable US interests. However, disclosure of this same information to foreign governments or the media would still be prohibited except as approved through appropriate channels. Sensitive information of this type would include:

  1. Methods for detecting and thwarting countermeasures.
  2. Research into new polygraph testing methods.


Note that NCCA seems particularly keen on keeping anything about polygraph countermeasure detection a secret. Polygraph community documentation obtained by suggest that the polygraph community has no reliable methodology for detecting polygraph countermeasures, and that countermeasure “detection” consists largely of guesswork and badgering the examinee for an admission.

Professor Charles R. Honts indicates that one supposed countermeasure detection technique used by the federal government is invalid. The technique involves looking for the breathing reactions illustrated in former police polygraphist Doug Williams’ manual, “How to Sting the Polygraph.” In a laboratory experiment, Honts found that those same reactions are exhibited in roughly equal proportions by both truthful and deceptive examinees, including those with no knowledge of polygraph countermeasures.

By keeping supposed countermeasure detection techniques secret, NCCA would prevent the kind of scrutiny that Honts was able to bring. That might save NCCA embarrassment, but it’s hard to see how that’s in the interest of America’s national security or public safety.

NCCA also floats the idea of classifying the fact that a “particular US intelligence, counterintelligence or security programs use a specific type of polygraph technique.” This is a particularly bad idea. To the extent that polygraphs are administered to individuals without security clearances, for example, to job applicants, information about the polygraph techniques used by federal agencies cannot be kept secret. For example, knows, from examinee reporting, that the NSA and CIA persist in using the (thoroughly discredited) relevant/irrelevent technique for applicant screening (documented in Ch. 3 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector), while DoD and DOE use the directed-lie Test for Espionage and Sabotage and federal law enforcement agencies use the probable-lie Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test (PDF). This kind of information simply cannot be kept secret, and it’s pointless to try.

In short, classifying polygraph training and research materials will simply serve to shield more bad science from critical review.

McClatchy has also published a bulletin dated 13 December 2013  from the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Director of Security, Stephen R. Norton, warning against the use of polygraph countermeasures. Norton writes:

13 December 2013

SUBJECT: Attempts to Undermine DIA Administered Polygraph Examinations

The Office of Security’s Credibility Assessment Program helps to protect national security through the use of the polygraph examination. The polygraph vetting process is a critical element in protecting the safety and security of this Agency and the United States of America. We have seen examples of when examinees attempt to employ tactics designed to undermine the polygraph. Attempts are not likely to be successful due to sophisticated detection devices. Any attempt to undermine a polygraph exam will be viewed — regardless of motivation — as a threat to this Agency and national security.

DIA employees or DIA-affiliated persons who engage in purposeful and deliberate tactics to alter the outcome of a polygraph examination will be the subject of administrative or disciplinary action. This can include suspension, loss of security clearance, or even removal from federal service. The same penalties may apply to any DIA or DIA-affiliated person who coaches or collaborates with others to deliberately undermine a polygraph examination. Contractors who undermine a polygraph examination place their livelihood in jeopardy.

Bottom line: It is a dangerous game to play with your career and with the national security of the country you serve.

Thank you for your cooperation and support of the Office of Security’s mission to protect the Agency’s people, property, and information.

Stephen R. Norton
Director of Security agrees with Norton that it is a dangerous game to play with national security. But it is DIA that is playing with national security by relying on scientifically baseless polygraph screening to assess the honesty and integrity of its employees. We note that Ana Belen Montes, the most notorious spy in DIA’s history, beat the polygraph. And in 2009,  DIA fired analyst John Dullahan after a (wrongly) failed polygraph.

We invite DIA employees, and all who may face polygraph screening, to educate themselves about this unreliable procedure and learn how to protect themselves against the risk of a false positive outcome. Our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 mb PDF) is a good place to start.

U.S. Government Circulates Watch List of Buyers of Information on How to Pass a Polygraph Test

cbp-ia-emblemMcClatchy investigative reporter Marisa Taylor reports that a list of 4,904 individuals whose names were derived from the customer records of Doug Williams and Chad Dixon, both of whom were targeted in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection-led criminal investigation called Operation Lie Busters, has been circulated to nearly 30 federal agencies including the CIA, NSA, DIA, DOE, IRS, and FDA. Exerpt:

WASHINGTON — U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books.

Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests. The officials then distributed a list of 4,904 people – along with many of their Social Security numbers, addresses and professions – to nearly 30 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

Although the polygraph-beating techniques are unproven, authorities hoped to find government employees or applicants who might have tried to use them to lie during the tests required for security clearances. Officials with multiple agencies confirmed that they’d checked the names in their databases and planned to retain the list in case any of those named take polygraphs for federal jobs or criminal investigations.

It turned out, however, that many people on the list worked outside the federal government and lived across the country. Among the people whose personal details were collected were nurses, firefighters, police officers and private attorneys, McClatchy learned. Also included: a psychologist, a cancer researcher and employees of Rite Aid, Paramount Pictures, the American Red Cross and Georgetown University.

Moreover, many of them had only bought books or DVDs from one of the men being investigated and didn’t receive the one-on-one training that investigators had suspected. In one case, a Washington lawyer was listed even though he’d never contacted the instructors. Dozens of others had wanted to pass a polygraph not for a job, but for a personal reason: The test was demanded by spouses who suspected infidelity.

The unprecedented creation of such a list and decision to disseminate it widely demonstrate the ease with which the federal government can collect and share Americans’ personal information, even when there’s no clear reason for doing so.

It’s well worth reading the rest of the story. In addition, a DoD response to a McClatchy Newspapers inquiry indicates that Operation Lie Busters remains an ongoing investigation. In declining to answer whether it had checked names on the list against its records, DoD wrote:
The Department of Defense (DoD) has an active criminal investigation, working with US Customs and Border Protection, into the potential training of DoD civilian polygraph examinees in the use of countermeasures and making false statements. Because this is an active criminal investigation, we cannot provide any further information at this time.
Taylor also reveals that NSA whistleblower Edward J. Snowden “underwent two polygraphs for his NSA job” and that “he wasn’t found to have used polygraph-beating techniques to pass them.” Of course, that’s hardly surprising. No polygraph operator has ever demonstrated any ability to detect polygraph countermeasures. A collection of polygraph community countermeasure training materials published by earlier this year documents that the polygraph community has no coherent methodology for detecting the kind of countermeasures explained in Doug Williams’ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph, or in’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (PDF). Indeed, the very existence of Operation Lie Busters speaks to the federal government’s frustration in this regard. Taylor’s article does not mention whether Snowden’s polygraphs came before or after he began collecting the documents that he ultimately provided to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.

John Dullahan, DIA Analyst Fired After Failing Polygraph, Profiled in Washington Post

Washington Post staff writer Peter Finn reports in an above-the-fold front page article on the case of retired army lieutenant colonel and Defense Intelligence Agency analyst John Dullahan, whose security clearance was suspended in February 2009 after he failed three polygraph “tests.” Then DIA director LTG Michael D. Maples fired Dullahan in March 2009 (his last month as director).

DIA refuses to state its reasons for terminating LTC Dullahan, averring that “the interests of the nation do not permit disclosure to the employee of specific information about the reasons for his removal from federal service,” and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has not responded to an appeal Dullahan submitted some 18 months ago.

Continue reading John Dullahan, DIA Analyst Fired After Failing Polygraph, Profiled in Washington Post

Former Aide to Colin Powell Accused of Espionage, Fired Based on Polygraph Results

DIA sealA recently filed federal lawsuit documents how a veteran intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was accused of espionage and summarily fired after failing a series of polygraph “tests” (a procedure roundly rejected by scientists as being without scientific basis). The following is an excerpt from the statement of complaint (160 kb PDF) filed on 7 January 2010 by attorney Mark S. Zaid in behalf of Lieutenant Colonel John Dullahan, United States Army (retired) against the DIA and others:

19. Dullahan retired from the Army in 1992 as a Lieutenant Colonel after more than two decades of distinguished military service, including airborne and Ranger training, with the 82ndAirborne Division, and combat in Vietnam as an artillery forward observer. During his career, Dullahan learned German, French, and Arabic, became both a European and Middle Eastern Foreign Area Officer, and served in various capacities for the U.S. government in Europe and the Middle East.

20. In September 1997, Dullahan returned to DIA as a civilian employee. In the course of his work for DIA, he successfully completed a polygraph examination during which no issues surfaced.

21. In early 2008 two FBI agents asked Dullahan if he would participate in a special program, subject to approval by then-Director of DIA LTG Michael Maples. In or around February 2008, Dullahan willingly participated in an FBI polygraph as a condition of his participation in the special program.

22. During the polygraph examination, the FBI examiner alleged that Dullahan’s participation in Ranger, Airborne training, and combat duty (as well as his enjoyment of hang-gliding) demonstrated “risk-taking” behavior which made him more likely to seek contact with a foreign intelligence service. The polygraph examiner accused Dullahan of meeting “Soviet handlers” when he had visited — twenty years earlier — East Germany in the early 1980s, during his U.N. assignment in Syria, and on his numerous official trips to Europe while on the Joint Staff, including trips with General Powell.

23. The polygraph examiner also alleged Dullahan had adopted the Communist beliefs of his liaison counterparts merely by associating with them. The polygraph examiner’s supervisor likewise accused Dullahan of spying for the Soviets. After the exam was complete, FBI officials informed Dullahan he had “failed” the polygraph and was “in big trouble.” At no time did Dullahan make any unfavorable admissions during the course of the polygraph examination that would justify such conclusions. Upon information and belief, the only “evidence” that allegedly existed to support the FBI’s apparent conclusions was, if anything, the technical results of the polygraph examination.

24. Both Dullahan and his wife, who was then and still remains at the time of filing a senior DIA employee, immediately reported the alleged FBI polygraph results to their respective DIA chains of command. Dullahan further requested that DIA conduct an extensive background investigation to clear his name.

25. Shortly thereafter, two FBI officials, Alexis LNU and Carlos LNU, showed Dullahan an outdated 1985 report that contained adverse accusations about his activities and informed him that they understood his probable anxiety about the incident, had no concerns with his foreign contacts, and that a second polygraph would likely resolve the issue. They opined the alleged FBI polygraph failure was unlikely to present an obstacle to Dullahan’s participation in the special program.

26. In or around February 2008, the FBI administered a second polygraph examination to Dullahan and again claimed that he “failed”. At no time before, during or after the examination did Dullahan make any admissions that could be construed as adverse to his interests.

27. Dullahan then sent separate letters to DIA Director LTG Maples and the FBI protesting what he believed was an unfair process and that the polygraph results were inaccurate. He reiterated his willingness to participate in the special program as the FBI had requested. No written responses were ever received.

28. Shortly thereafter, FBI Special Agents Alexis LNU and Carlos LNU again interviewed Dullahan. During this second meeting, the two Special Agents asked Dullahan why he had not previously reported an unspecified foreign intelligence service “offer.” Apparently, Dullahan had mistakenly typed in one of the letters referenced above the sentence “I went to the home of the Soviet offer [sic].” The word “offer” should have been “officer” and the error was being misinterpreted as if he had gone to a Soviet home and received some form of recruitment “pitch” or “offer”. Special Agents Alexis LNU and Carlos LNU now accused Dullahan of trying to conceal and/or lie about this nonexistent foreign intelligence overture. In fact, Dullahan had received no such pitch or overture but his explanation, however, appeared to fall on deaf ears.

29. On October 1, 2008, Dullahan wrote another letter to the FBI. In it, he once again protested what he believed was an unfair process and that the polygraph results were inaccurate. He again reiterated his willingness to participate in the special program as the FBI had requested. Dullahan requested a personal meeting with the deciding authority and offered to re-take another polygraph examination. No written response was ever received.

30. In November 2008, Dullahan applied for another DIA position on the Joint Intelligence Task Force Combating Terrorism. A DIA counterintelligence official informed him that the two “failed” FBI polygraphs would have to be resolved before Dullahan could receive another position within DIA.

31. On or about December 18, 2008, Scott C. and Cassie LNU, two DIA counterintelligence officers, interviewed Dullahan. They initially appeared satisfied with Dullahan’s explanations and stated that resolving the issue was likely to be a relatively simple matter of administrative action. Furthermore, they also noted that Dullahan was not the first DIA person to experience difficulties with the FBI’s polygraph examinations. They stated that the alleged FBI polygraph failures were unlikely to present a further obstacle to Dullahan’s career and expressed their belief that a DIA polygraph, which was reputedly “fairer,” was likely to clear the matter up. Dullahan willingly agreed to undertake whatever examination DIA deemed necessary to resolve the issue.

32. On February 3, 2009, Dullahan underwent a third polygraph but this time performed by a DIA polygraph examiner. The polygraph examiner informed Dullahan he detected deception. No details were provided to Dullahan to explain the polygraph results, and absolutely no adverse admissions were made by him during the course of the examination.

33. On February 17, 2009, Dullahan was placed on administrative leave and his clearance was suspended without explanation. Upon information and belief, DIA took this action based solely, or at least predominantly, as a result of the technical results of the polygraph examinations.

34. On March 17, 2009, DIA Director LTG Maples personally issued two letters stating that Dullahan’s employment with DIA was terminated and his SCI access was permanently revoked. No substantive or detailed reason was given for Dullahan’s termination or clearance revocation.

It should be noted that both the FBI and DIA have willfully ignored the 2002 finding of the National Academy of Sciences 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.” In fact, both agencies have substantially increased their reliance on polygraphy over the past decade. In 2008, the Associated Press reported that the DIA was implementing a major increase in its polygraph program, despite the polygraph’s failure to catch the DIA’s most notorious double agent and the success of Iraqi fabricators in fooling the DIA’s polygraph operators. will follow the case of LTC Dullahan closely and provide updates as further information becomes available.