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Topic Summary - Displaying 7 post(s).
Posted by: Doug Williams
Posted on: Oct 19th, 2016 at 9:12am
  Mark & QuoteQuote
Is there no limit to the arrogance of these charlatans who purport to be able to detect deception with the polygraph and the sheer stupidity of the bureaucrats who rely on the results of this "test"?  Obviously not!  Firing a person simply because some con man polygraph operator accused him of using "countermeasures" goes beyond arrogance and stupidity - it is evil!
Posted by: visitor
Posted on: Oct 18th, 2016 at 7:33am
  Mark & Quote
The article says: " Logan denied the charge, but after several hours under pressure, he amended a written statement to include self-incriminating phrases he alleges were fed to him by the polygrapher."  At the end of the article, it says his statement admitted to using the breathing countermeasures. It looks like the written statement/confession is what got him.  Logan violated one of the key rules of taking a polygraph, never write any confession statements!  Aren't many times polygraph accusations worthless without admissions from the polygraphee?   

The article also says "The FBI’s allegations of countermeasure use have increased noticeably in recent years".   I wonder if, in addition to the Snowden incident, that this has anything to do with the polygraph information being disseminated by telling the public how to beat the, excuse to avoid being falsely accused.

The article says "Logan told the polygrapher he had read a 2003 government-commissioned report about polygraphs and countermeasures. He wrote in his appeal that he read the report for work. But the examiner accused him of reading up on ways to cheat the test."  Why do polygraphers take everything you says and twist it into something negative?!  I'd say you are better off not saying anything.  Don't even mention  stealing pens from work.  Stupid polygraph mind games.

I hope everybody starts using countermeasures in polygraphs.  Everyone.  The guilty and innocent.  Show these polygraphers that we don't give a crappity smack about their rules of engagement and we just want to protect ourselves.  Countermeasures work, they hide the reactions on relevant questions that polygraphers are looking for.  By using them, worst case is the polygrapher can say you are "suspected of using countermeasures", which is just a shot in the dark that you can deny and the polygraphers are left scratching their heads and holding their balls.  The article agrees with me on this: 
"As for countermeasures, the only way to know if someone is trying to subvert the test (shy of a shoe full of tacks) is for them to admit doing so, said Thomas Mauriello, who oversaw polygraph exams at several government agencies, including the NSA. “Anything short of that is guess work by the examiner,” he wrote in a statement on Logan’s behalf."

They should start teaching how to beat a polygraph during college government history and law courses.  Educate our future security clearance holders on how this sham works.

Posted by: George W. Maschke
Posted on: Oct 18th, 2016 at 6:41am
  Mark & QuoteQuote
For more on the story of the FBI employee whose plight is discussed in this message thread, see Huffington Post reporter Jessica Schulberg's article, "The FBI Insists It Doesn't Fire People Over Polygraphs. This Man Says It Happened to Him."
Posted by: Drew Richardson
Posted on: Jul 7th, 2016 at 9:14pm
  Mark & Quote
Bravo, James Comey.  It appears to me that, quite apart from the conclusion that you, your colleagues at the FBI and Justice Department came to, that you had three choices before you in relaying that message to the American public related to Secretary Clinton and her use of a personal email sever while holding the office of Secretary of State.  

You could have privately relayed that message to Attorney General Lynch, who presumably would have concurred with you (as she had recently suggested she would) and announced the agreed upon conclusion and ultimate decision to not seek an indictment.  

You, secondly, could have simply stated the legal conclusion that you had arrived at and stepped off the stage.  

But you choice a third option--to state the legal conclusion and opine about Secretary Clinton’s judgment and non-criminal behavior.  This is the one route guaranteed to lead to confusion, controversy, and your immediate call to a Republican-led House hearing.  In other words you chose to put yourself in the line of fire of partisans in order to tell your story to the American public.  Again I say, Bravo.

I offer this brief review of your actions inasmuch as one more bit of courage is requested of you—end the foolishness that negatively affects the same national security you spoke of today-that foolishness and danger to country and individual alike is the polygraph (lie detection) screening of on-board FBI employees and applicants.  I further ask that you specifically review the matter that I spoke of late last year and provided a declaration to the FBI in behalf of a Bureau employee. (see initial post in this thread)  

I realize that this too will put you in the midst of controversy and perhaps in the line of fire of the polygraph industry and the various captains of your fellow government intelligence agencies where polygraph screening has been a mainstay.  I am quite excited by your skillful testimony today and very much hope that the analytical skills that led to it and the courage that you demonstrated in delivering the message will be shown with the polygraph matters that I have mentioned.

I hope and expect that the preceding note to Director Comey will come to the attention of Bureau employees who visit this site.  Any assistance in bringing this message to him will be more than appreciated.

Drew Richardson
Posted by: Drew Richardson
Posted on: Sep 29th, 2015 at 1:55pm
  Mark & Quote
I am cross posting the following to this thread with the following rationale:  That which has preceded this post has dealt (largely through the circumstances and experiences of one victim) with the severe consequences/costs of polygraph screening.  Although centered around a fictional television episode, the following touches upon and raises the notion of a lack of benefit in a cost to benefit analysis. Reality confirms such notions...

Curiosity led me a couple of evenings ago to watch ABC’s new series "Quantico."  

Thinking back on my own new agent training experience (40 years ago next year) I don't recall a number of things happening that occurred in that first episode.  

Perhaps memory does not serve me correctly but neither do I remember us (my class) being quite as glamorous and diverse (with regard to demographics, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc.) nor do I recall doing aggressive interviews/interrogations/investigations on one another (seeking that which was missed in background investigations) beginning on day one... 

That having been said, the director(s) of the show did conform to reality with a few details...

We did and I presume new agent trainees still do wear blue shirts and khaki-colored pants, holster red handled non functioning pistols (actually revolvers in our case) worn openly around the academy, and not of significance to me then (the policy would not exist for another 20 years), but of some now...

As the polygraph (new agent applicant screening exam) in the new television series didn't catch the terrorist applicant prior to that individual showing up at the training academy, such is true in real life for both the chances of catching a real life terrorist or spy (trainee or employee) with the polygraph--slim to none.
Posted by: George W. Maschke
Posted on: Sep 20th, 2015 at 6:47am
  Mark & Quote

Thank you for this timely post! With respect to federal polygraph examiners' claimed ability to detect countermeasures, I'd like to draw attention to polygraph community documentation leaked to and published by that points to the falsity of such claims:

Polygraph Countermeasures: What Polygraph Operators Say Behind Closed Doors

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

On Eve of Polygraph Trial, Leaked Case Files Contradict CBP Polygraph Chief’s Countermeasure Detection Claim
Posted by: Drew Richardson
Posted on: Sep 19th, 2015 at 6:15pm
  Mark & Quote
The following declaration is one that I recently provided in support of a FBI employee who was administered a routine, periodic reinvestigation polygraph screening exam(s), found to be deceptive, and accused of using respiratory countermeasures.  Despite nearly a decade and a half of meritorious service with the FBI and no history of adverse personnel security occurrences, this employee was suspended without pay and subsequently recommended for security clearance revocation based on the unfavorable interpretations of the polygraph results.  

The declaration was made available/shared with the U.S. Congressional committee investigating the matter and is being furnished to the FBI as part of the employee’s ongoing appeal process.

In order to protect the privacy of this individual, I have changed the name of the victim so as not to publicly reveal the identity or the gender of this individual. Once the matter has been fully adjudicated (administratively, legislatively, and legally) that individual will have the opportunity to tell his/her story as he/she wishes or deems as appropriate.

Obviously this story is known to those in the FBI who participated in this matter and, no doubt, once read here will be known to others within the Bureau hierarchy.  I suppose it will be of some benefit to have this bottom up approach to the spread of information as well as the top down approach that will occur as this material is submitted to the Bureau from various more formal and official sources.

I am posting this here, because I believe the problems addressed in this declaration are relevant to a great many more Bureau and other federal government employees than this one individual.

I am not placing this material as an advertisement and am not seeking business clients.  As indicated in this declaration, I have not and will not charge this individual anything for any services I have or will provide.

I would not have participated in this matter beyond the initial consultation except for this individual's employment by the FBI.  I am particularly concerned about the plight of my former colleagues and the next generation(s) of employees within the FBI who may have their career ruined unnecessarily when the results and mere suspicions of countermeasures are used to sanction an employee with the severity of full-blown clearance revocation.

Although, at this stage of my life, I am not seeking additional consulting and expert witness opportunities, I am happy for this material, should it is found to be helpful, to be used by other experts in support of victims in similar circumstances.

And finally, to the one gentleman best in a position to end the nonsense that we know as employee and applicant polygraph screening:  Director James B. Comey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Should this humble communication come to your attention, as a scientist independently reviewing circumstances surrounding this particular employee, I urge you to reinstate the security clearance of this person given the absence of demonstrated wrongdoing/misconduct independent of meaningless polygraph results and conclusions.

I did not have the privilege of having worked with or for you or your immediate predecessor, but did serve under four previous Directors of the FBI.

That having been said, I am aware of your reputation for clear insight and unhesitating leadership.  Whether it has been with the Bureau's failings with civil rights investigations in the 1960's or with (in recent days in the N.Y. Division) the legacy of J. Edgar Hoover, etc., you have not hesitated to demonstrate that leadership with difficult and controversial matters.  

Like those matters, this matter presents a social injustice, threatening to indict the integrity of loyal Americans doing the people’s work based upon a test that insufficiently proves a lack of integrity or disloyalty.  The FBI stands also to lose major investments made in its employees and the expertise developed from that investment. 

I would suggest that there is no issue causing greater damage to individuals and country alike and few issues which you have the immediate authority to change and lead within the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities than with the issue of polygraph screening.  I appreciate any time and effort you will expend in considering this matter.  I would be happy to elaborate on any of the issues I raise in the following declaration should you or your staff care for me to do so.

My declaration (modified slightly as previously described to protect the privacy of the victim):

Dr. Drew Richardson, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1746, hereby declares as follows:

     1.      I am a person over eighteen (18) years of age and competent to testify. I make this Declaration as a technical expert on human physiology and the contextual elements surrounding countermeasures.  After several extensive direct conversations and interviews of John Smith/Mary Doe (John/Mary) with respect to the letter issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) on xx/xx/201x, notifying him/her of the FBI’s intent to revoke his/her Top Secret security clearance (“LOI”), I write in support of him/her refuting the allegations misconduct and wrongdoing by way of polygraph countermeasures.  

     2.      I believe I am fully aware of the factual allegations against John Smith/Mary Doe and I understand the nature of the concerns raised by the FBI.

     3.      I am a retired Supervisory FBI Special Agent and former FBI Laboratory Examiner/Research Scientist who held a TS security clearance during my tenure. I am a recognized expert in the fields of chemistry, toxicology, physiology, psychophysiology, and chemical biological counterterrorism. I have given sworn expert testimony in all of the aforementioned areas.  I hold degrees in chemistry, forensic science (forensic toxicology emphasis), and a terminal academic degree (Ph.D.) in physiology (cardiovascular/autonomic emphasis) obtained through study at the George Washington University.  I have also completed the coursework requirements for a Ph.D. in pharmacology and was awarded Phi Beta Kappa honors as an undergraduate (chemistry) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  I believe the aforementioned experience gives me a credible basis for evaluating which endeavors within those fields possesses a solid scientific foundation and which do not.

     4.  The balance of this declaration will address the diagnostic validity of lie detection as used to distinguish truth from falsehood and various issues related to the topic of polygraph countermeasures.  I have presented similar invited opinions before the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the annual international meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, etc. and, with particular focus on polygraph screening within the FBI, I have testified before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts). The following is a link to a video recording of this latter testimony (begin at approximately 58 min, 26 sec).

     5.  Polygraph examinations (lie detection) as performed by the FBI have neither diagnostic validity in a general sense nor in a specific (as utilized for national security screening) sense.

     6.  In a general sense, no physiological lie response has ever been identified within the human body.  Furthermore, I believe probable-lie control question test (PL-CQT) polygraphy, a group of polygraph exam formats widely known by the general public as the so-called “lie detector” test and which are commonly used in FBI polygraph examinations, have little to no value as a diagnostic instrument for determining truth and falsehood.  I believe this to be the case for a variety of reasons, one overriding one to be subsequently discussed.  

Previous surveys of the members of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Fellows of the American Psychological Association’s Division I (General Psychology) would indicate that my previously-stated general opinion regarding CQT polygraph testing is shared by a large majority of scientists with relevant scientific backgrounds.

In order to explain why the CQT polygraph test is theoretically flawed (and recognized as such by the relevant scientific community), I need to explain the fundamentals of its operation and associated assumptions of practice.  Essentially, an examinee is asked two types of questions; his physiological responses produced in response to their asking are recorded, scored, and inter-compared.  These two types of questions are relevant and control questions.  If a bank robbery were being investigated, a typical relevant question would be, “Did you rob the bank?” and a typical control question would be, “Prior to the age of 18, did you ever steal something from someone who trusted you?”

If, on average, the polygraph examinee is found to have greater responses to relevant questions, he is found to be deceptive, and is found to be non-deceptive, if again, on average, the responses are greater for control questions.  

The prevailing polygraph theory for how and why a polygraph exam would be expected to work (successfully) is “fear of detection, ” i.e., a guilty examinee will be more concerned about being detected in a lie to relevant questions and an innocent examinee will be more concerned about his truthfulness to control questions.
The reason I believe the above theoretical explanation is badly flawed and is particularly likely to be harmful (i.e., leading to a wrongful determination of deception) to an innocent examinee telling the truth about matters being investigated is what I have previously and publicly referred to as “fear of consequences.”  I believe that it is quite plausible and probable that an innocent examinee will respond to the consequences of being labeled a liar, rather than fear of detection of being caught in a lie.  

These consequences could include (in a criminal matter) further investigation, prosecution, conviction, imprisonment, loss of family, friends, money, reputation, etc.  In an administrative and/or screening setting, an inquiry subsequent to a false positive polygraph result might include loss or denial of employment, loss of income, reputation, and general embarrassment amongst many possible consequences and outcomes.  Again this has absolutely nothing to do with lying, but with an innocent examinee being concerned about the consequences of being branded a liar;  these consequences are those aforementioned and which are clearly associated with the relevant question issues and not the “stealing while in high school” type of control/comparison questions.  

This is perfectly consistent with the autonomic nervous system (ANS) physiology being measured by a polygraph examiner and a variable that cannot be reasonably controlled for by that examiner.  Peer-reviewed research published in the scientific literature has suggested that the false positive rate (falsely accusing an innocent examinee of being deceptive) could be as high as approximately 50 percent (random chance determination).

7.  In a more specific sense, polygraph screening as it relates to security matters (espionage, etc.) does not have diagnostic validity because (in addition to the more general issues previously discussed, e.g., fear of consequences) of a base rate problem.  

Through example, I would like to discuss this base rate problem.  If the FBI at a given time had one spy in its agent population (rounded to 10,000 for purposes of this simplified example) and the accuracy of an individual polygraph exam was generously taken to be 90 percent (as indicated before, it does not come close) across guilty and innocent subjects, the following would exist.  

There would be a 9 out of 10 chance of obtaining deceptive charts for our spy, and for the balance of the innocent population (again approximately 10,000 individuals), 90 percent or 9,000 would be correctly classified as non-deceptive/innocent with 10 percent or 1,000 individuals being incorrectly classified as deceptive/guilty of espionage.  

The one spy would be the proverbial “needle in a haystack” of 1,000 falsely accused but innocent individuals.  The spy would likely not be uniquely identified under such circumstances, and the careers and lives of many innocent individuals would be ruined.  Absent other damning investigative information related to the examinee, John/Mary, in this case, and all other FBI employees compelled to take polygraph screening examinations, are placed in a position of playing this sort of statistical Russian roulette.  

And, of course, this is not done once in the course of an individual’s career, but multiple times, increasing the probability of at least one false positive result for anyone so involved.  Polygraph countermeasures (to be subsequently discussed) aside, our national security and the lives of our employees are too important to risk with such a completely flawed paradigm.

8.  Polygraph countermeasures.  Polygraph countermeasures are deliberate attempts by a polygraph examinee to manipulate the tracings obtained during a polygraph exam, so as to produce what would be scored as an overall non-deceptive exam result.  This can be done by a guilty/deceptive examinee or by an innocent/truthful examinee.  The former’s non-deceptive result would be a false negative result, and the latter’s a true positive result.  The former hopes to “beat” the polygraph exam.  The latter uses polygraph countermeasures because he/she does not want to leave his fate to an invalid diagnostic test in the absence of countermeasures.

These countermeasures are comprised of various combinations of physical, mental/emotional, and pharmacological interventions all designed to produce greater responses to control/comparison questions than to relevant questions.  Some efforts are more likely to be successful than others; some are doomed from the outset to fail, BUT, it is quite clear that properly chosen methods, with a minimal amount of training, will allow the average examinee to produce truthful charts and to do so in such a manner as to not be detected by those administering and/or reviewing the exams.

In addition to polygraph examiners not reliably being able to detect countermeasures, they are (as they would be expected to be) even less successful at accomplishing the more difficult task of proving the negative, i.e., demonstrating the absence of countermeasures.  This is all compounded by simplistic understanding of the underlying physiology by the typical scientifically-untrained polygraph examiner who may well be and may have been chosen for his position simply because he/she is a skilled interrogator.

One aspect of the monitored physiology is that of respiration.  Apparently (I have not seen any chart recordings or any other evidence) the polygraphic recording of John/Mary’s respiration during one or more polygraph sessions led an examiner(s) to conclude that John/Mary had applied some sort of countermeasure for the purpose of affecting that channel.

I believe such a conclusion on the part of John/Mary’s examiner (and more widely in the polygraph community) is a 

(1) a guess/bluff designed to elicit a confession to an act which cannot reliably be detected, and 

(2) a result of a lack of understanding of the underlying physiology.

Polygraph examiners are taught a rather rudimentary version of respiratory physiology in which individuals (examinees), who are not intentionally manipulating polygraph charts, all breathe (inhale/exhale) with (within fairly narrow limits) the same number of breaths and symmetric volumes of air over some given time period.  As a result of such teaching they will frequently tell their examinees to breath “normally,” expecting the above, but not really understanding what “normal” is.

Respiration is largely designed to provide sufficient oxygen to tissues and maintain a proper pressure of carbon dioxide within the blood.  Various aspects of normal physiology and abnormal/patho-physiology in the absence of intentional examinee manipulation/countermeasure application or deception can alter breathing rates and volumes.  The mechanisms for needed variability in respiration are complex and can be activated quite quickly as needed.  There exists substantial variation in “normal” breathing both within and between individuals/examinees.  

Aside from maintaining homeostatic norms, respiration can and will be modified by various cognitive and emotional states, e.g., it is not at all unreasonable to expect that respiration would be modified by the extra attention and focus of an examinee who is listening to the content of questions being presented to him in an unknown order.

The anxiety connected with the previously described “fear of consequences” which is independent of any deception or countermeasure application could readily impact respiration.  

In summary and for the aforementioned reasons, I am highly dubious of any detection of respiratory countermeasure usage during a polygraph exam.

     9.  After interviewing John/Mary and assessing his/her circumstances, I believe the concerns raised by the FBI about his/her trustworthiness, reliability and inability to make good judgment are not supported (and cannot be) by the (polygraph) evidence proffered.  Absent any further, and as yet not offered, supporting investigative information, I strongly recommend that his/her access to Top Secret information be restored.  

     Although I might reasonably be expected to be paid for my services in this matter (e.g., production of this declaration), at my insistence, I have not received any remuneration nor will I for any subsequent work done.  This is not because I have a long standing friendship with John/Mary or any relationship at all prior to being contacted about this matter, but, I feel quite strongly that our nation’s national security is being jeopardized and my former colleagues and the next generation of employees at the FBI are at substantial risk as a result of polygraph screening.  I can do no less when asked for assistance.

I do solemnly affirm under the penalties of perjury and upon personal knowledge that the contents of the above statement are true to the best of my knowledge.

Date: xx/xx/2015
Drew C. Richardson, Ph.D.