An applicant for employment with the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department has filed a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint in connection with a pre-employment polygraph screening “test” administered by that department. Anthony M. DeStefano reports for Newsday. Excerpt:
An NYPD officer from Nassau County trying to get a job with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority police is accusing the agency of racial and disability discrimination in a government filing.
Jonathan Kyle Carter, 29, of Uniondale, alleges in a complaint that a conditional job offer he received from the MTA to join its police force in late 2020 was rescinded after he took a polygraph test.
Carter, a five-year NYPD veteran, claimed in his filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the MTA used polygraph tests to “suppress the hiring of African American (Black) police officer candidates. “
“This racially motivated invidious discrimination is done to facilitate a covert policy and procedure by MTA that denies black candidates equal opportunity, among other reasons, in favor of white applicants with family already employed by the MTA, that is nepotism, at the expense of the constitutional rights of black candidates,” Carter alleged in his filing.
His attorney, Peter Crusco of Farmingdale, said the EEOC will investigate the case and either decide to mediate the matter or give Carter the right to sue the MTA for discrimination.
A spokesman for the MTA said in a statement that as a matter of policy the agency doesn’t comment on personnel matters or “matters of pending litigation or that could become litigation.”
EEOC official said under federal law they can’t confirm or deny whether any complaint is filed.
In the filing, Carter said that he completed several parts of the MTA police application process, including an interview on Jan. 13, 2020. He said he was given a conditional offer of employment for a police officer position on Nov. 3, 2020. The employment was conditioned on a medical exam and the polygraph test, he said.
In an interview with Newsday, Carter said that he wanted to switch to the MTA police because it offered a better work schedule and better quality of life. Carter, who works for the city’s Transit Police, has 43 arrests with the NYPD, records show.
Carter said that during the polygraph exam he mentioned to the examiner that he had been diagnosed with “White Coat Syndrome,” a condition in which he gets nervous in any kind of clinical situation.
“My heart and my blood pressure goes up, so usually when I take any kind of medical exam I usually fail the initial one,” said Carter.
The polygraph examiner then became hostile when Carter mentioned White Coat Syndrome, telling him it wasn’t a real medical condition, Carter’s filing said.
On Dec.11, 2020, after the polygraph test, Carter said he received notification from an MTA employment manager that the agency was rescinding its offer because of the results of the polygraph test.
Based on the polygraph result, “the MTA had determined that you do not meet the requirements of the MTA police officer position, ” the letter from the agency stated, according to the EEOC complaint.
Polygraph screening provides government agencies perfect cover for unlawful discrimination in hiring. A suppressed study by the federal polygraph school showed innocent blacks failing the polygraph at a significantly higher rate than innocent whites.
Texas DPS Director Col. Steven C. McCraw, a retired FBI agent who once headed the Bureau’s Inspection Division, gave the graduation address, portions of which AntiPolygraph.org has transcribed. In remarks that are often ungrammatical, McCraw expresses an evidently sincere belief in the pseudoscience of polygraphy, condescension for those who oppose it, and at the same time a recognition that polygraphy is all about interrogation and obtaining confessions. He expresses no concern for potential harm to innocent persons:
I do believe that this is such a important part, discipline, law enforcement discipline, without question. I’ve seen the benefit of it and in a world where crime is transitory—I know the sheriff and I were talking a little bit about it—you know it’s, wherever you’re at, whether it’s North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, certainly Louisiana or Texas, I mean what happens somewhere happens somewhere else. And we recognize that we’re working pretty much the same criminal organizations, the same criminals, and this, this thing, as long as there’s an unending demand for sex with children, we’re, we’re plagued with this depravity of mankind when we talk about what’s going on.
And, and at the end of the day, your job is to get the truth, and of course, we’re, we’re very proud about the school, and pleased that we’re able to produce it, but it’s only as good as the people you put into it, plain and simple. I mean, you are sitting here, there’s a good reason. You’ve exhibited throughout your career not just integrity, but good judgment, and interview, interview skills. I mean you have, already have the tools to get the confessions. You’ve demonstrated that. So you, whether you have a tool or not, but having the science behind it and the tool to help is so vitally important.
From the department’s standpoint, I guess from our standpoint, and I can tell you an example, if nothing else, pre-employment polygraphs. It’s amazing what people will walk into a door wanting to be a state trooper. I mean, we’ve got pedophiles, okay, obviously, we have, we have people who are planning armed robberies of a, an armored vehicle, we’ve had individuals that were thinking about fragging their leadership in Afghanistan. So there’s some, there’s criminals out there applying, and if not for, because the background looked good, everything looked good, if not for those pre-employment, you know, interviews, during confessions that many times those confessions happen even before the interview, before their polygraph is given, because of the quality of our people that are providing that uh, that pre-polygraph interview that they’re conducting, going over the particular facts. And it’s amazing, you know, how we’ve been saved.
While law enforcement applicants sometimes make disqualifying admissions, polygraph screening also results in many honest, well-qualified applicants being wrongly branded as liars and blacklisted. There is no evidence that law enforcement agencies that polygraph applicants have a more honest workforce than those that don’t. Notably, state and local law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon are prohibited by law from polygraphing applicants and employees.
So there’s people that don’t really like the polygraph in the legislature, in some other parts of the judicial system, but they don’t understand it, or haven’t seen it, and don’t recognize that, how productive it is.
McCraw’s supposition that those who “don’t really like the polygraph” don’t understand it is ill-founded. Those who understand polygraphy the best tend to oppose it. For example, the National Academy of Sciences conducted a thorough review of the scientific evidence on the polygraph and likened polygraphy to superstitious lie detection rituals in primitive societies.
As the late Dr. Stephen Fienberg, who led the National Academy of Sciences’ polygraph review committee observed, “Polygraph testing has been the gold standard, but it’s obviously fool’s gold.”
McCraw goes on:
At the end of the day, no one goes to jail on a polygraph. There’s got to be corroborating evidence. But there’s so many times where it’s a he said, she said, and you don’t know. And I can say even from a disciplinary standpoint as a director, when you’re looking at somebody that, you know, has, has compromised their integrity, but they’re consistent they had not, and you know, you don’t want to lose a good employee, or employee that appears to be a good employee, that’s worked so hard, you invested in, and you know, you don’t wanna, just based upon, you know, circumstantial evidence remove somebody, but at the end of the day, the polygraph is the great separator.
I mean that then, was it last week when someone I swore was telling me the truth. I moved finally, I thought that somebody that’s telling me something, here’s, here is a candidate we’re firing and it’s just unfair, uh, because clearly, he didn’t do it. Guess what? He lied, okay? And I wouldn’t have been able to know that unless there was a polygraph given in that regard.
Tactical polygraphs. Whoever came up with a tact—who’s idea was that anyway? Matt, did you have something to do with that? Yeah, somebody conspired. That’s a cool name, right? Not a strategic polygraph, but a tactical polygraph, okay? It implies that you’re, you know, proactive, you’re out there, you’re in the field, and you’re getting your hands dirty, you’re where it’s at. And that’s exactly what it’s about.
A so-called “tactical polygraph” is a polygraph “test” administered to a suspect promptly after arrest in an attempt to obtain admissions to crimes beyond those for which the suspect has been arrested. The suspect’s “failing” may be a pre-scripted part of the interrogation plan.
The “Matt” to whom McCraw called out is Texas Department of Public Safety Captain Matthew Mull, a polygraph operator and advocate of this coercive interrogation technique.
You know, we don’t do our, our sex trafficking operations without, without a polygrapher on site. I’ve been even lobbied by ICE HSI on more than one occasion to increase the number of polygraphers that we have, you know in the Rio Grande valley because of how productive it has been. Of course, it’s productive. And if, at the end of the day, you know it’s not only in terms of finding evidence to support, you know, putting them where they need to be, but it’s also identifying victims, other victims in that regard. And you are in a position to be able to do that.
You know there’s, not now, when you hit the day, first day running, you’re going to be in a position to do something that other people won’t be able to do. I mean, you’ve already got that skill to interview on top of that, you’ve got this, then you have the opportunity, because they’re being funneled into your presence, and you have an opportunity to make a difference. And sometimes, you know, patience is important, I know. You know, I don’t have it. But I know you have it, because sometimes you have to listen and empathize—for hours—with someone that you’re disgusted by.
I’m always, always reminded of someone that worked for me in, in my FBI days and we had the Tohono O’odham reservation in Arizona, and there was such pervasive child molestation on the, on the “res,” that, you know, how do you get the confessions? What do you, if someone does one, they do fifteen. How do you able to gonna elicit that infor—, you know how do you, and it’s about empathizing, and she was able to do that again and again and again, and followed up with a polygraph that always, you know, produced results in a way that we’re sparing the children from having to testify, which is brutal when you do so.
So there’s so many good things that you’re going to be doing, you know, whether it’s murderers, [unclear], whatever it is, you know, that cross your career, and, you know, and you’ll also, again, you know, in another discipline, ’cause people are understand that, hey, law enforcement is data based, scientific based, we don’t, we don’t, it’s not voodoo, okay, it’s about science, it’s about things that work.
Col. McCraw’s assertion that law enforcement is “scientific based” does not hold true when it comes to its reliance on polygraphy—a thoroughly discredited pseudoscience. “Voodoo science” is not an inapt characterization of polygraphic lie detection.
It’s about, you know, evidence-based strategies. It’s in policing it is, is in fact a profession, and a very important, critical profession. There’s nothing more important that government does is protect its people, and you’re a key part of that with what discipline that you have that fits into it. And we’ve got an obligation to use all the tools that we can, and you’re, you’re a very important tool…
Law enforcement has no obligation to use tools such as the polygraph that are known to be scientifically baseless. McCraw’s remarks help to illustrate how deeply entrenchedbelief in the century-old, cop-invented pseudoscience of polygraphy is in American law enforcement.
Video of the Texas DPS Polygraph School Class 29 graduation ceremony is available on the Texas DPS YouTube channel here:
Since 2002, the CIA has used the pseudonym “Molly Hale” to respond to selected public inquiries. Since 2019, such inquiries may be directed to the CIA’s Twitter or Facebook accounts using the hashtag #AskMollyHale.
On 3 March 2021, Molly Hale replied to the following inquiry:
I would really love to work for CIA, and think I would be a great candidate, but I’m nervous about taking a lie detector test. It’s not that I have anything to hide, I just feel like my results wouldn’t be accurate because of my crazy nerves! What do you recommend I do?
Nerves of Jello
Among other things, Molly Hale writes:
I’m here to tell you that the actual polygraph is far less intimidating than your mind might make it out to be. We’re talking less Jason Bourne and more Meet the Parents, if cinema is your thing. But seriously, the polygraph isn’t a strategy to ‘psych out’ potential officers….
This is a lie. The polygraph is precisely a strategy to psych out potential CIA officers. Specifically, it is intended to convince them that the polygraph operator can read their minds (lie detection is a form of mind reading), and that deception is futile. In fact, polygraphy has no scientific basis (it’s a century-old, cop-invented pseudoscience), and polygraph outcomes have no clear connection with whether one has spoken the truth.
In the pre-employment polygraph screening technique used by the CIA, applicants are typically accused of lying or withholding information during the initial polygraph session and are badgered for admissions. If no disqualifying admissions are made, they are typically invited back for one or more follow-up sessions.
Molly Hale continues:
…It is a tool, which is leveraged to assess a person’s strength of character, trustworthiness, honesty, and reliability; nothing more, nothing less. Given the access to sensitive information afforded to CIA officers, it is important we use every tool at our disposal to determine a person’s suitability for employment.
Ouija boards and astrological charts are also at the CIA’s disposal. Should they use these, too? Molly Hale goes on:
To your point about nerves affecting the outcome of the test, understand that CIA polygraph examiners are some of the world’s most capable security professionals. They are well-trained in the use of polygraph instruments and are skilled in properly assessing the results. That is to say, they know how to distinguish nerves from deception. If you’re concerned that the examiner might conflate the two, let me ease your worries: our examiners are incredibly good at what they do.
Molly Hale’s claim that CIA polygraph operators “know how to distinguish nerves from deception” is patently false. The fundamental weakness of polygraphy is that it cannot distinguish between people who are nervous because they are lying and those who are nervous but telling the truth.
In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences completed a thorough review of the scientific evidence on polygraph screening and concluded that “its 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 CIA is willfully ignoring the science on polygraphs.
Molly Hale has yet another lie to tell:
If I haven’t been up to this point, let me be very clear: if you want to work for CIA, don’t let a fear of the polygraph be the one reason that stops you. We’re not looking for perfect people, we’re looking for honest people. If you are candid and forthright through the process, the polygraph will not be an issue.
Many candid and forthright CIA applicants end up being falsely branded as liars and disqualified based on polygraph chart readings. (Some have shared their stories here.) In fact, retired CIA polygraph operator John F. Sullivan has opined that “an honest subject has no better chance than a dishonest subject of getting through the process.”
Molly Hale concludes:
So take a deep breath, calm your nerves, and submit that application!
Before you submit that application, we recommend that you educate yourself about the pseudoscientific means by which the CIA will pretend to assess your honesty and integrity. Our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, is a good starting point.
On 8 October 2020, the FBI filed a under seal a criminal complaint and supporting affidavit against former federal employee Brian Jeffrey Raymond in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia , charging him with a single count of violating 18 U.S.C. §2422(a), alleging that he “[k]nowingly induced an individual to travel for the purpose of engaging in any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense.”
On 31 December 2020, the FBI filed an additional criminal complaint against Raymond, charging him with further sex-related crimes. In a supporting affidavit, FBI Special Agent Erin L. Sheridan details evidence, including photographs and videos, that Raymond had a years-long history of drugging women and sexually abusing them while they were unconscious. An earlier Motion for Pre-Trial Detention states that “[t]he videos and photographs show at least 21 different unconscious women, all appearing to be adults.” Raymond’s internet search history, recovered from a laptop computer, suggests an interest in such criminal behavior dating back at least as early as 2010.
The 44-year-old Raymond had been a federal employee for some 23 years and had most recently worked at the United States embassy in Mexico City.
While the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI have avoided mentioning the specific U.S. government agency that employed Raymond, circumstantial evidence strongly indicates that it was the Central Intelligence Agency.
In a Motion for Release with Conditions filed on 15 October 2020, Raymond’s counsel mentioned that he had taken and, to his knowledge, passed polygraphs throughout his career, and that the most recent one “addressed allegations against him.”
9. At regular intervals throughout his tenure in public service, as well as shortly after the launch of the current investigation, Mr. Raymond has taken polygraph tests. To his knowledge, he has passed every one of the more than 10 such test [sic], including the most recent one, which addressed allegations against him. Those results were shared with the Department of Justice. He’s taken over 10 polygraphs during his career.
Employees of the U.S. Department of State are not routinely required to submit to polygraph screening. But CIA employees, who often work under diplomatic cover, are.
is extremely comfortable living, working and traveling overseas, to an extent that few others could relate. Indeed, he has lived and worked in multiple foreign countries across the globe. He speaks Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. He has worked in or visited over 60 different countries in all regions of the world….
Another indication of Raymond’s affiliation with the CIA is the presence of a hardcover copy of Gentleman Spy, Peter Grose’s 641-page biography of CIA director Allen Dulles, on his bookshelf in the above social media photograph released by the FBI in connection with a public request that other potential victims come forward.
The CIA uses a “full scope” polygraph screening technique that includes the question, “Have you ever committed a serious crime?” In light of the compelling nature of the evidence against him, it seems likely that Brian Jeffrey Raymond beat the polygraph at least once during his CIA employment.
In an eerily similar case, the CIA station chief in Algeria, Andrew Marvin Warren, in 2008 came under investigation for drugging and raping two women. Warren ultimately pleaded guilty to “charges of abusive sexual contact and unlawful use of cocaine while possessing a firearm” and in March 2011 was sentenced to 65 months in prison.
In 2013, in one of his last stories, the late investigative reporter Michael Hastings profiled Warren in a Rolling Stones article titled, “The Spy Who Cracked Up in the Cold.” Warren was released from prison on 14 January 2015 whereupon he began serving a 120-month term of supervised release.
In the commission of his crimes, Warren, like Raymond, was undeterred by the prospect of periodic polygraph screening.
On Friday, 11 December 2020, Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), which provides oversight for the country’s intelligence agencies, issued its annual report for 2019. Among other things, the report is highly critical of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS’s) reliance on polygraphy to screen applicants and employees, noting that the Security Intelligence Review Committee (NSIRA’s predecessor agency), “recommended in 1985 that CSIS should cease using the polygraph.”
The NSIRA report notes that “future reviews will examine the polygraph’s use outside of CSIS, and based on the information assessed, NSIRA will make a definitive determination about the legality and utility of this instrument.”
In its future assessments, NSIRA should be mindful of the late University of Toronto professor of psychology John J. Furedy’s work on lie detection. Furedy astutely likened polygraphy to the ancient Roman divination ritual of haruspicy (entrails reading).
It is also worth noting, as documented in a recent post to the AntiPolygraph.org message board, that CSIS discourages applicants from researching polygraphy. A recent CSIS applicant was told:
We do conduct a polygraph exam. We advise that you do not do any research. If you’ve done some research in the past that’s ok, but if you are going to continue with the process we advise that you don’t do any research, because that could have an impact on your candidacy.
NSIRA should demand that CSIS explain the rationale for such an instruction.
82. A final observation relates to the government’s use of the polygraph for screening security and intelligence employees. Commonly referred to as a lie detector test, the polygraph is a technology that measures and records several physiological indicators such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration and skin conductivity while a person responds to a number of questions. “Deceptive” answers produce physiological responses that can, so it is alleged, be differentiated from those associated with “non-deceptive” answers.
83. The TBS Standard on Security Screening, created in 2014, cites the use of the polygraph as an appropriate tool, among others, for assessing candidates seeking an Enhanced Top Secret (ETS) clearance. CSIS, in conducting security assessments for its staff, uses the results of the polygraph as a determinative element when granting ETS clearances, rather than an instructive element, to be considered as part of a series of relevant factors. If an outside candidate, employee or individual contracting with the Government of Canada is denied a security clearance that is necessary to obtain or keep federal employment or a contract, the individual can make a complaint to NSIRA pursuant to section 18 of the NSIRA Act. If NSIRA’s jurisdiction is established, the complaint would be investigated by an NSIRA member. This could include, for example, a complaint where a CSIS employee was terminated solely because of the revocation of a security clearance, and the Deputy Head of CSIS could have based the decision to revoke the clearance on the results of a polygraph test. Given the highly invasive and controversial nature of this technology, NSIRA decided to examine the use of the polygraph within our latest safeguarding review of CSIS. We sought to determine the justifications for its use, and the extent to which such determinations are reasonable and necessary.
84. Several key observations were derived from this analysis. First, this tool can have profound negative impacts on an employee’s mental health if not used appropriately. Second, CSIS was unable [sic] justify the merits of examiners — who are not medical practitioners — to ask medical-related questions of the people they examine. Third, the outcomes or consequences for polygraph exams conducted on external applicants compared with CSIS employees differed. [ Text removed – As of November 20, 2020, NSIRA and CSIS could not agree on how all of the facts of this review should be presented in an unclassified, public document]. Essentially, a successful polygraph is a determinative factor for external applicants in obtaining an ETS clearance through CSIS. Fourth, CSIS requires policy clarity for cases where employees fail the polygraph examination. Finally, CSIS did not conduct a privacy impact assessment (PIA) for the use of the polygraph, despite a PIA being required by government policy when a department or agency is dealing with “personal information.”
85. These issues raised in the CSIS context are related to a much broader consideration: namely, the extent to which the government’s overarching policy document, the Standard on Security Screening, provides adequate guidance for departments and agencies when they implement this safeguarding measure. For example, this standard requires the use of the polygraph for all ETS clearances, but it is silent on any guidance on the implementation of this requirement, including the conditions for the reasonable use of the polygraph. Rather, such key considerations are left to the discretion of specific departments and agencies.
86. The OPC has also raised concerns with TBS as to how the polygraph examination is used as an enhanced screening requirement under the 2014 Standard on Security Screening. In July 2017 correspondence, for example, the OPC noted particular concerns surrounding its effectiveness, sensitivity and privacy implications, and the potential adverse consequences associated with polygraph examinations.
87. These contemporary observations are not new. In seven consecutive annual reports, ranging from 1985–86 to 1991–92, SIRC requested that CSIS stop using the polygraph. One of the key concerns raised by successive committees were SIRC’s “grave doubts” about the use of the technology, pointing to the fact that test results could be wrong 10% of the time or more. As well, Canadian courts have refused to admit the results of a polygraph as evidence in criminal trials. The Supreme Court of Canada has found that they are unreliable and risky, and would not assist the Court in determining a person’s guilt or innocence.
88. After consideration of the foregoing, on December 12, 2019, NSIRA sent a letter to TBS seeking access to the legal advice prepared for Treasury Board on how the polygraph complies with Canadian legal requirements, as well as a summary of the evidentiary basis used to establish the requirement for using the polygraph, and any assessments of how the use of the polygraph achieves its intended goal. The TBS response failed to answer NSIRA’s questions. However, the letter did acknowledge that the next round of security policy modifications was under way.
89. When SIRC recommended in 1985 that CSIS should cease using the polygraph, it was meant to allow the government time to reach definitive conclusions about whether this technique should be employed by Canadian agencies and, if so, under what circumstances and under what rules. SIRC requested what sound government policy instruments should always require: namely, that there are consistent approaches across government; that risks are managed; and that policies exhibit public service values such as probity, prudence, equity and transparency. NSIRA has not been provided with evidence that suggests that the use of the polygraph meets all of these policy requirements. To this end, future reviews will examine the polygraph’s use outside of CSIS, and based on the information assessed, NSIRA will make a definitive determination about the legality and utility of this instrument.
AntiPolygraph.org has previously reported and commented on U.S. government efforts to foist the pseudoscience of polygraphy on other countries and on local employees at U.S. diplomatic facilities. For example:
Now, for the first time, a victim of such efforts has publicly shared his story with AntiPolygraph.org. An officer in the Afghan Ministry of the Interior who specialized in anti-corruption efforts relates, among other things, how he and some 40 of his colleagues had their careers arbitrarily sidelined in 2018 when they were required to submit to polygraph screening conducted at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. His statement helps to document the ongoing harm caused by America’s stubborn reliance on this pseudoscience. See the Polygraph Statement of Sherzai Sulimany.
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.
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):
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.
On Thursday, 13 August 2020, FBI Special Agent Chris Jensen filed under seal a criminal complaint against Alexander Yuk Ching Ma of Honolulu, Hawaii, charging him with “Conspiracy to Gather and Communicate National Defense Information of the United States to a Foreign Nation.” On Monday, 17 August 2020, the complaint was unsealed.
In an accompanying affidavit, SA Jensen adduces evidence that Ma, a 67-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Hong Kong who worked for the CIA from 1982-1987, acted as a “compromised asset” of the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) “at least by early 2001.”
The evidence against Ma appears to be strong, consisting in part of a video recording of meetings he and an unnamed 85-year-old relative who worked for the CIA from 1967-1983 held with “at least five (5) MSS intelligence officials in a Hong Kong hotel room” from 24-26 March 2001. The 85-year-old relative “suffers from an advanced and debilitating cognitive disease,” and the FBI has therefore not sought his arrest.
SA Jensen’s affidavit states at paras. 22-26:
22. Following the March 2001 Hong Kong meetings, MA continued to remain in contact with MSS officials and to work on their behalf. The investigation has revealed that as a mechanism to once again give himself access to U.S. government information, MA applied for employment with the FBI. On December 26, 2002, MA applied for the position of “Special Agent.” On or about December 30, 2002, after being advised by the FBI that he did not meet the age requirements for the FBI Special Agent position, MA submitted an online job application to the FBI for a “contract linguist/monitor/tester” position.
23. On or about April 14, 2003, MA submitted a written application for a contract linguist position, in Chinese languages, at the FBI Honolulu Field Office, in Honolulu, Hawaii. On or about April 21, 2003, MA used a prepaid calling card to call his MSS handlers to notify them of the status of his efforts to gain FBI employment.
24. On or about May 20, 2004, MA was notified that his background investigation for the contract linguist position was complete and that an employment contract would be ready for review in several weeks. MA agreed to continue the hiring process.
25. On or about August 10, 2004, one day before reporting to work with the FBI, MA telephoned a suspected accomplice and stated that he would be working for “the other side.”
26. On or about August 11, 2004, MA reported to work with the FBI….
Left unsaid in the affidavit is that as a condition of FBI employment, Ma necessarily sat for and passed a pre-employment polygraph “test.” The counterintelligence portion of the polygraph procedure used by the FBI includes relevant questions such as “Have you been involved in espionage or terrorism against the US?” and “Have you had any unauthorized foreign contacts?”
If, as seems likely, the criminal allegations are true, then Ma beat the polygraph to penetrate the FBI.
It is to be noted that around the time Ma applied for employment with the FBI, the Bureau had a roughly 50% polygraph failure rate for special agent applicants, with many honest persons being wrongly branded as liars and barred for life from FBI employment.
SA Jensen’s affidavit goes on to chronicle instances of Ma’s alleged espionage against the FBI up to 30 November 2010. It is possible that Ma faced a second, periodic polygraph screening “test” some time during his FBI employment.
It is not surprising that Ma could have fooled the polygraph. As documented in Chapter 4 of AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (which Ma might have easily found online in 2003), polygraphy is vulnerable to simple, effective countermeasures that polygraph operators cannot detect.
Ma would not be alone in having beaten the FBI’s pre-employment polygraph “test.” On 26 April 2004, Marine Corps veteran Leandro Aragoncillo, acting for current and former officials in the Philippines, beat an FBI pre-employment polygraph “test” to gain employment as an FBI analyst.
In 2002, some two years before Ma and Aragoncillo beat the polygraph, the National Academy of Sciences advised 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.”
Sadly, in the aftermath of 9/11, federal agencies ignored this advice. How many more catastrophic failures like the Ma case will it take before the U.S. government terminates its misplaced reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy?
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained and published two previously unavailable Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polygraph unit policy documents.
The LAPD Polygraph Unit Examiner Reference Guide dated November 2018 and marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive” includes rules for scoring polygraph charts as well as question sequences for the various polygraph techniques used by the LAPD polygraph unit, including the Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test format used for screening applicants.