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George W. Maschke
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First FBI Counterintelligence Use of the Polygraph Allowed Nazi Spy Suspect to Escape
Oct 13th, 2001 at 2:03pm
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James Allen Matte describes the FBI's first use of the polygraph for counterintelligence purposes at p. 29 of Forensic Psychophysiology Using the Polygraph (J.A.M. Publications, 1996):

Quote:
The first FBI use of the polygraph in espionage was in 1938. Leon G. Turrou, an FBI agent was fired by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover for botching the case and letting too many German agents escape.
« Last Edit: May 29th, 2007 at 10:36am by George W. Maschke »  

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George W. Maschke
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Re: First FBI Counterintelligence Use of the Polyg
Reply #1 - Dec 15th, 2002 at 4:39pm
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Chapter 15 of Leon G. Turrou's Nazi Spies in America, which describes the use of the polygraph in a 1938 espionage investigation, is now available on AntiPolygraph.org here:

http://antipolygraph.org/articles/article-027.shtml
  

George W. Maschke
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Documentation of the FBI's Polygraph Interrogation of Nazi Spy Suspect Dr. Ignatz Theodor Griebl, M.D.
Reply #2 - May 29th, 2007 at 10:34am
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AntiPolygraph.org has obtained under the Freedom of Information Act documents related to the polygraph examination of Nazi spy suspect Ignatz Theodor Griebl, who in 1938 escaped to Germany after passing two key questions on a polygraph examination that reportedly led the FBI to relax its surveillance of him. These documents may be downloaded as a 4.5 mb PDF file here:

https://antipolygraph.org/documents/griebl-fbi-polygraph.pdf

The file includes the following documents:

1. Letter dated 30 April 1938 from FBI New York Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Reed Ernest Vetterli to Director J. Edgar Hoover suggesting dates for polygraph examinations of several German spy suspects.

2. Memo dated 4 May 1938 from E.P. Coffey, the FBI's first polygraph examiner, to a Mr. Nathan, confirming his plans to travel from Washington, DC to New York on 6 May to conduct the polygraph examinations.

3. Polygraph report for Ignatz Theodor Griebl, M.D. dated 6 May 1938, the results of which are summarized thus:

Quote:
This individual was unusually responsive on the polygraph. His reactions were so pronounced that it is believed they can be definitely isolated and for this reason it is believed that the conclusions are unusually reliable. As a result, it is believed that he was deeply involved in the espionage ring and in direct contact with Doctor Pfeiffer. It is not believed from the questioning that he personally took Lonkowski over the Canadian Border. It is believed that his present cooperation with the FBI Agents is sincere up to a certain point but that he is still withholding much information concerning his own complicity in the espionage work.


The report includes a list of each question asked, followed by zero, one, two, or three asterisks. According to a cover letter from Director Hoover (see the last document in the PDF), "A single asterisk indicates a mild emotional reaction, a double asterisk a strong emotional reaction and a triple asterisk a rather extraordinary emotional reaction."

4. Memo dated 11 May 1938 for the Director by Assistant Director Edward A. Tamm on Griebl's escape on a ship bound for Germany and how he might be extradited. Tamm notes:

Quote:
Grieble [sic] was not placed under any bond because he was thought to be helping the prosecution in this case; several times he had been placed under the lie detector and had been found to be lying.


However, as pointed out by Special Agent Leon G. Turrou in Chapter 15 of Nazi Spies in America, Griebl had shown no reaction to the questions:

Quote:
Q.--Are you double-crossing the agents?

A.--No.

Q.--Are you sincere in present efforts to assist Federal agents?

A.--Yes.


According to Turrou, Griebl's lack of physiological response to these two questions, "made us relax all vigilance, all watchfulness over him."

Assistant Director Tamm instructed that the FBI should not get involved in efforts to extradite Griebl, fearing that in case of failure, "if anyone gets burnt it will be the Bureau." Indeed, Tamm seemed more interested in shielding the Bureau from possible criticism than in securing Griebl's return. Note that Tamm's brother, Quinn, was then assigned to the FBI's Technical Laboratory, which was responsible for the Bureau's incipient polygraph program. Shortly before Griebl's escape, Quinn Tamm had reviewed William Moulton Marston's book, The Lie Detector Test, and his negative views are summarized in a report prepared by E.P. Coffey, the examiner who polygraphed Griebl.

5. Memorandum dated 13 May 1938 from Director J. Edgar Hoover to SAC Vetterli regarding the results of the polygraph examinations administered at the New York office. Hoover expressed mixed views regarding the polygraph:

Quote:
In connection with these reports, your office is cautioned that due to the inherent limitations of the method and apparatus no action should be predicated solely upon the results of the tests nor should the same be considered in the determination of prosecutive action. Subject to this limitation it would appear, however, that these tests were particularly successful on several of the subjects insofar as indicating the possession of further undisclosed information on the part of some and unreliability of at least one.
« Last Edit: May 29th, 2007 at 11:43am by George W. Maschke »  

George W. Maschke
Tel/SMS: 1-202-810-2105 (Please use Signal Private Messenger or WhatsApp to text or call.)
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Postal mail: Van Trigtstraat 53, 2597 VX The Hague, The Netherlands
Personal Statement: "Too Hot of a Potato"
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