Normal Topic WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes   (Read 8901 times)
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WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
May 1st, 2006 at 5:55am
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This is a huge story from the Washington Post. It is actually the lead story for tomorrow.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/30/AR2006043001006....
  
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #1 - May 1st, 2006 at 6:51am
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Good story.  Interesting stat about 1,600 false positives and 2 false negatives trying to catch the 10 spies out of 10,000.  Where else would a 16 to 20 percent failure rate for a technological device be acceptable?

Also interesting that the FBI director of security states that 25 percent of applicants fail the polygraph.  If he admits to that number, I bet its higher -- maybe closer to the 50 percent quoted on this board.  Of course it would not make the FBI look good if they reported a number that high because no one would believe that 50 percent of applicants are lying, unworthy scum.

In any case, taking the conservative estimate of 16-20 percent error rates and 25 percent failure rate, the numbers shake down to something like this.  The article states that the FBI gives 8000 polys a year.  If half of those are new applicants (4000) then approximately 640 (4000 x .16) applicants are erroneously rejected.  That means that about 360 (4000 x .09 -- the remaing portion of the 25 percent failure rate) applicants are correctly rejected.  And perhaps 90 (based on the 20 percent false acceptance rate) "bad guys" slip through.

Again those are conservative numbers and it is entirely likely that by using countermeasures, an even higher number of bad guys can get through and an even higher number of good guys get rejected.  That means they are disporportionately hurting themselves with the rejections of people who could help bring about much-needed improvements, while accepting people who really shouldn't be there.
  
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #2 - May 1st, 2006 at 6:51am
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opp,

This should cause some concern to our illustrious PDD examiners ... hmmmm  no validity opinion, printed in a national newspaper.  Don't you just love it. Just like the polygraphers at CIA who got the leaker ... Seems to be conflicting information now ...

Regards ...
  

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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #3 - May 1st, 2006 at 3:16pm
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good article. unfortunatley not damning enough, no word on how CMs can beat the poly, and no mention of the push to ban polygraph testing in pre-employment screening.
  
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #4 - May 1st, 2006 at 5:08pm
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #5 - May 1st, 2006 at 6:49pm
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FBIReject:

Actually the article is encouraging to the polygraph industry.  The opening paragraph states that the feds are using polygraph more than ever. According to the CIA McCarthy is no longer working for them because she was found to be deceptive duringa poly test. I question the validity of the so called test that included 10 spies and only 8 were caught but without the poly these 8 would never have been caught  so the poly was of great service to the intelligence community.
  
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #6 - May 1st, 2006 at 8:25pm
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But at what price were those 8 caught?  If 1600 innocent people are impacted (fired, put on leave, reassigned etc.), how much does that hold back national security?  Of course spies have to be caught, but using the polygraph is a bit like using a nuclear bomb to get those 10 bad guys, where surgical airstrikes might be better.
  
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #7 - May 1st, 2006 at 9:37pm
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FBI-Reject wrote on May 1st, 2006 at 8:25pm:
But at what price were those 8 caught?  If 1600 innocent people are impacted (fired, put on leave, reassigned etc.), how much does that hold back national security?  Of course spies have to be caught, but using the polygraph is a bit like using a nuclear bomb to get those 10 bad guys, where surgical airstrikes might be better.


It should be noted that Eggen and Vedantam quoted the NAS report out of context. They failed to mention that in the example they cited, the NAS assumed, for the sake of argument, a 80% accuracy rate for polygraphy and set aside the issue of countermeasures in order to illustrate the base rate problem. The NAS did not conclude that polygraphy has a 80% accuracy rate and did not postulate that 8 out of 10 spies would actually be found deceptive by the polygraph.
  

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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #8 - May 1st, 2006 at 11:42pm
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George, you should write an editorial....

polywantahcracker
  
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #9 - May 2nd, 2006 at 12:53am
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retcopper wrote on May 1st, 2006 at 6:49pm:
FBIReject:

Actually the article is encouraging to the polygraph industry.  The opening paragraph states that the feds are using polygraph more than ever. According to the CIA McCarthy is no longer working for them because she was found to be deceptive duringa poly test. I question the validity of the so called test that included 10 spies and only 8 were caught but without the poly these 8 would never have been caught  so the poly was of great service to the intelligence community.


Yes 2 caught 8 free and you only have to fire 16% of your workforce to catch them.  

I postulate that if you fire 100% of your work force you will absolutely have zero spies.


Edit--
Here is what I figured out using Sixth Grade math:

Let me offer a little sense of proportion:

Assuming 50,000 CIA employees undergo a 5 year periodic screening (which Mahle’s polygraph probably was not).  You would have 10,000 polygraphs a year.  I don’t know the exact year the CIA started polygraphs but lets assume 1976 just to make the math easy.

You have a total of (10,000 polygraphs a year X 30 years) 300,000 polygraphs and the best you have to show for it is an employee who may or may not have leaked information to a reporter.  It will be interesting to see if any criminal prosecution follows.

Also please keep in mind most of the information in the original story was derived from open source flight logs.  The role of any person leaking information is far from clear.

In baseball you'd be batting 3.333 X 10E-6 (The E-6 means you put 6 Zeros in front of the 3)
« Last Edit: May 2nd, 2006 at 6:36am by Mr. Mystery »  
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #10 - May 2nd, 2006 at 1:31am
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Really you have caught 1600 spies, and unless you fire all of them you will need to investigate all 1600 to find the 2 actual spies.......

I highly doubt our two spies would admit under polygraph interrogation that they are spies....being a offence punishable by death and all.....

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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #11 - May 5th, 2006 at 6:13am
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" Actually the article is encouraging to the polygraph industry."


You notice how retcopper could care less about all the innocent people?  He seems to only care about his career.  this is the sense I get from the pro-polygraph people.  I find it a bit chilling that we have people in law enforcement who are completely driven by personal gain.
  
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Re: WP: CIA, FBI Defend Test's Use in Probes  
Reply #12 - May 10th, 2006 at 5:27pm
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I especially enjoyed this chestnut from the president of the American Polygraph Association, Terrence V. "TV" O'Malley:

Quote:
"It's kind of like confessing . . . to a priest: You feel a little better by getting rid of your baggage," O'Malley said. "The same thing often happens with a polygraph examination."


This has been added to the quotes on the AntiPolygraph.org home page. "Father" O'Malley's words remind me of the following gem from the late Len Harrelson, former head of the Keeler Polygraph Institute in Chicago (cited at p. 114 of the current edition of TLBTLD):

Quote:
…the imagination and the role-playing ability of the examiner is given free reign. This approach would include such tactics as suddenly shutting off the instrument in the middle of a test, removing the attachments from the subject and requesting that he get down on his knees to join you in praying for his soul and courage to tell the truth. This approach, if used with sincerity and conviction, can carry a tremendous psychological impact on certain subject types.


Those seeking absolution had best see a priest, not a polygrapher.

Grin
  

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