Electrical engineer Byron Johns, “a polygraph victim who was constantly recruited and rejected from CIA, NSA, FBI, DOD contractors, and later resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service,” tells his story in a blog titled, The U.S. Intelligence Community Reject.
On 4 February 2011, the US Department of Defense published an amendment (PDF) to Directive 5210.48 (“Polygraph and Credibility Assessment Program”). The amended directive reflects the transfer of DoD polygraph program management from the defunct Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) to the director of the Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC), a sub-unit of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). This
The directive also reflects the re-naming of the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment (DACA) the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA).
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.
Joel Mowbray writes for the Washington Times. Excerpt:
To a number of civilian employees at the Pentagon, a New York Times story on June 3 came as quite a jolt: Some of them apparently already had been polygraphed as part of an investigation into Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi.
But it never happened. Nearly three weeks later, it appears that the implicated civilian employees at the Pentagon have not been polygraphed.
And the Times is unapologetic in the face of substantial evidence that it got the story wrong.
As you may surely remember, Iraqi Governing Council member and longtime U.S. ally Ahmed Chalabi was all over the news late last month and early this month for allegedly passing classified information to Iran. According to various news accounts, an Iranian intelligence agent in Baghdad supposedly cabled Tehran to inform officials that Mr. Chalabi had tipped them off that the United States had cracked their code — a message sent using the same cracked code.
The Times scored a significant scoop, running the details of the code scandal on page one on June 2. The following day, the paper of record had the scoop of the follow-up, reporting that the FBI had started polygraph examinations on a “small number” of civilian employees at the Pentagon.
Common knowledge inside the Beltway is that the Times’ story identification of the “small number” of “civilian employees” was a thinly veiled reference to people working for Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz or in the policy shop, headed by Undersecretary Douglas Feith. (Most in that group are political appointees and were hawks on Iraq.)
The practical result was a smear of State’s and CIA’s political enemies — Mr. Chalabi and the Pentagon’s hawks. That’s undoubtedly the exact outcome for which the Times’ sources hoped.
In fairness to the Times, it appears that the FBI has initiated some sort of investigation, including limited use of polygraph testing — but on people who were based in Baghdad.
June 1, 2004 – The Investigative Support and Forensics (IS&F) subgroup of TSWG began a DHS-funded task for the development of a polygraphy chair and associated software. Atlas will develop a standoff measurement system that can unobtrusively gather physiological and/or behavioral data in real-time and characterize the level of potential threat based on the recorded measures.
Atlas Researches, Ltd., Hod Hasharon, Israel, will receive $744,528 for the 16 month effort.
Oded Hermoni reports for Ha’aretz:
The American government is funding the development of new technology for a polygraph machine that is capable of identifying whether a person is telling the truth, without physically attaching him to the equipment. There are also plans to develop a mat of sensors that will be used in airports to test the answers of passengers during questioning.
The technology, developed by an Israeli high-tech company, uses external sensors that cause minimum physical discomfort to the person being interrogated.
The Technical Support Working Group of the American Homeland Security authorized a grant of $750,000 earlier this week to fund the project, a joint venture of the Israeli Atlas and the American Whizsoft. The research and development stage is expected to be completed in 16 months with a single prototype that will be tested.
Atlas, an Israeli R&D company operating since 1977 which specializes in the analysis of psychophysiological phenomena and their impact, works mostly in outsourcing functions for medical equipment for both Israeli and foreign companies, but also for the Defense Ministry.
Atlas is joining the wave of dual-use technologies whose origins are in medical treatment and are also being used in the development of anti-terror equipment.
According to Gideon Miller, an adviser to Atlas in the project, what is unique in this project is the ability to process the information in real time and the ability of the sensors to evaluate from a distance the condition of the person interrogated.
This $750,000 grant seems to be made in connection with a Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) Broad Agency Announcement that was reported in Polygraph News on 23 October 2001. That announcement stated in relevant part:
R-111 Ports of Entry Passenger Screening Aid
Develop a deception detection device for use with counterterrorism based structured interviews for passengers of the various modes of transportation. The system should apply known relationships between electrodermal activity and the detection of deception in a polygraph to a portable device. Consideration will be given to alternate approaches and sensors. Emphasis should be placed on processing time.
The quest for a non-invasive lie detector for screening passengers seems to have been a knee-jerk reaction to the events of September 11, 2001. The TSWG should heed the finding of the National Academy of Sciences that polygraph screening is completely invalid and that further investments in polygraph research are likely to produce at best only modest improvement.
In their “Inside the Ring” column, Washington Times reporters Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough question a recent New York Times report that the FBI has begun polygraphing DoD civilians regarding an alleged leak of classified information:
The breathless headline in a major daily newspaper read yesterday, “Polygraph Testing Starts at Pentagon in Chalabi Inquiry.”
Trouble is, no one at the Pentagon with whom we checked knows of anyone in the building being polygraphed by the FBI. Nor has the Pentagon been notified by the FBI that it is investigating the supposed leak of classified information to Ahmed Chalabi, who heads the Iraqi National Congress.
“No official has been polygraphed or told to expect to be polygraphed,” a Pentagon official said. The official and others said there has been no notification from the FBI that anyone is under investigation and needs to be questioned, in the Chalabi matter.
The case broke open when the United States intercepted a cable from an Iranian spy in Baghdad to Tehran saying that Iran’s code had been broken by the Americans and that Mr. Chalabi was the source for this information.
An FBI spokesman said he did not know whether anyone at the Pentagon had been questioned. He said the bureau is investigating whether any government official leaked classified information to Mr. Chalabi or his group that found its way to Iran.
Why, ask Pentagon officials, would the Iranians disclose such a development in a cable they know will be read by the United States? Some suspect the whole episode is a plot by Tehran to discredit Mr. Chalabi, a Shi’ite who opposes Tehran’s hard-line, Shi’ite theocracy.
David Johnston and James Risen report for the New York Times. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON, June 2 — Federal investigators have begun administering polygraph examinations to civilian employees at the Pentagon to determine who may have disclosed highly classified intelligence to Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi who authorities suspect turned the information over to Iran, government officials said Wednesday.
The polygraph examinations, which are being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are focused initially on a small number of Pentagon employees who had access to the information that was compromised. American intelligence officials have said that Mr. Chalabi informed Iran that the United States had broken the secret codes used by Iranian intelligence to transmit confidential messages to posts around the world.
Mr. Chalabi has denied the charge. On Wednesday, his lawyers made public a letter they said they had sent to Attorney General John Ashcroft and F.B.I. Director Robert S. Mueller III repeating Mr. Chalabi’s denials and demanding that the Justice Department investigate the disclosure of the accusations against Mr. Chalabi.
The lawyers, John J. E. Markham II and Collette C. Goodman, said in the letter, “The charges made against Dr. Chalabi — both the general and the specific ones are false.”
They also said, “We ask that you undertake an immediate investigation to find and hold accountable those who are responsible for these false leaks.”
Officials would not identify who has taken polygraph examinations or even who has been interviewed by F.B.I. counterespionage agents. It could not be determined whether anyone has declined to submit to a polygraph test.
No one has been charged with any wrongdoing or identified as a suspect, but officials familiar with the investigation say that they are working through a list of people and are likely to interview senior Pentagon officials.
The F.B.I. is looking at officials who both knew of the code-breaking operation and had dealings with Mr. Chalabi, either in Washington or Baghdad, the government officials said. Information about code-breaking work is considered among the most confidential material in the government and is handled under tight security and with very limited access.
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.
A COMPENDIUM OF DARPA PROGRAMS
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been battered and bruised by controversies surrounding several of its more questionable programs, including the defunct Terrorism Information Awareness.
But the Agency has not received the credit to which it is arguably entitled for conducting those programs in an unclassified form, in which they can be freely debated, criticized and attacked.
Now DARPA has published a complete descriptive summary of all of its (unclassified) programs, where they can be reviewed in some context. It is an intriguing collection, with numerous items of interest.
Describing its “Deception Detection” initiative to develop new “lie detector” methods, for example, DARPA renders an unusually harsh official judgment concerning the polygraph:
“Current screening techniques are flawed, enabling many deceivers to avoid detection and falsely accusing large numbers of innocent people. An effective method to assess intent will decrease both the missed detections and the false alarms.” (Page 49).
See “Fact File: A Compendium of DARPA Programs,” August 2003 (thanks to GP):