Normal Topic Arson suspect fails poly (Read 5347 times)
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Arson suspect fails poly
Dec 18th, 2004 at 7:00am
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http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,141835,00.html

Although the story mentions the failed poly and mentions FBI statements, it doesn't directly say the FBI administered the poly.

I guess one can only wonder what kind of interrogation he went through. But then again, he did admit to being involved through association with those who were planning these fires, so he probably deserved whatever he got.

Randy
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: Arson suspect fails poly
Reply #1 - Dec 18th, 2004 at 1:57pm
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Randy,

Arson suspect Aaron L. Speed was polygraphed at the Charles County Sheriff's Office in La Plata, Maryland, though it's not clear whether it was a sheriff's office or an FBI polygrapher who conducted the polygraph interrogation.

The federal criminal complaint filed against Mr. Speed by FBI Special Agent G. Joseph Bradley is available on-line here:

http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/arson/usspeed121704cmp.html

It appears that investigators had good reason to suspect Mr. Speed before polygraphing him, as statements he allegedly made regarding his whereabouts around the time the fires were set are apparently contradicted by cell phone records.

It is to be hoped that Mr. Speed's polygraph examination was audio- and/or video-recorded. The FBI has a deliberate policy of not recording polygraph examinations, which gives polygraphers carte blanche to use coercive interrogation techniques that the Bureau would be embarrassed to have to defend in court. Such unethical tactics can lead to false confessions while leaving an innocent suspect without any way of challenging the means by which the false confession was obtained. Given Mr. Speed's apparent history of emotional problems, he might be more prone to make a false confession than others. If Mr. Speed's post-test admissions are indeed  true, then I suspect that more arrests will follow soon.

On a side note, it seems unusual to me that federal, rather than state, charges have been filed in this arson case. For federal law to apply, the housing development would have to have been somehow "used in interstate or foreign commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce." That seems a stretch.
  

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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Ray
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Re: Arson suspect fails poly
Reply #2 - Dec 28th, 2004 at 3:21am
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IMO, this is an excellent example of how effective the polygraph can be.

George - please explain to me what you believe  constitutes an "unethical" interrogation tactic.  What do you believe is acceptable and what crosses the line in your eyes?  If an interrogation is coercive, does that make it unethical?

I believe you are mistaken in your assumption that the FBI would be embarrassed to defend a coercive interrogation in court...that is not the case.  It's not a matter of embarrassment or having to defend anything...the tactics taught to and used by law enforcement interrogators have been deemed completely acceptable and ethical by the courts.  The problem surfaces when a jury, not versed in interrogation methods or ethics, views a taped interrogation.  The methods employed by interrogators (legal and ethical) can often make a jury sympathetic to a defendant.

Your assumption appears to be that the FBI often crosses an ethical line....just curious where you feel that line is. Specific examples would be great.
  
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Re: Arson suspect fails poly
Reply #3 - Dec 28th, 2004 at 5:22am
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Ray wrote on Dec 28th, 2004 at 3:21am:
IMO, this is an excellent example of how effective the polygraph can be.

George - please explain to me what you believe  constitutes an "unethical" interrogation tactic.  What do you believe is acceptable and what crosses the line in your eyes?  If an interrogation is coercive, does that make it unethical?

I believe you are mistaken in your assumption that the FBI would be embarrassed to defend a coercive interrogation in court...that is not the case.  It's not a matter of embarrassment or having to defend anything...the tactics taught to and used by law enforcement interrogators have been deemed completely acceptable and ethical by the courts.  The problem surfaces when a jury, not versed in interrogation methods or ethics, views a taped interrogation.  The methods employed by interrogators (legal and ethical) can often make a jury sympathetic to a defendant.

Your assumption appears to be that the FBI often crosses an ethical line....just curious where you feel that line is. Specific examples would be great.


It's only a good example of effectiveness if the guy really did it.

But let's blame those damned uneducated juries who aren't as informed as the elite police.  If only they knew what the police considered acceptable, they'd convict everybdoy the police brought to trial.  Afterall, only guilty people are indicted.

I believe in an open system.  The police should not have to explain or justify their tactics to the public.  Their tactics should stand on their own merits.  If the public determines that police tactics are inappropriate then they probably are.
  
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Re: Arson suspect fails poly
Reply #4 - Dec 28th, 2004 at 6:10am
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Jeff,

The investigation at this point clearly indicates the suspect who failed the poly had some level of involvement in the arson.  See the facts laid out by the case agent.

Quote:
Their tactics should stand on their own merits. If the public determines that police tactics are inappropriate then they probably are.


Agreed but the interrogation tactics I speak of have been deemed appropriate by the courts. In other words, they stand on their own merits.

I just want to know what tactics George believes the FBI unethically employs.  You missed the point and I'm not really interested in explaining to you how a defense attorney attempts to make a mountain out of a molehill in order to sway a jury comprised of people like you (see OJ Simpson trial). 

Why don't you jump in here and answer the question I posed to George...



  
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Re: Arson suspect fails poly
Reply #5 - Dec 28th, 2004 at 7:40am
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Just because things are approved by a court doesn't mean they are morally corect, and doesn't mean that a sympathetic jury of ones peers will tolerate those actions.

Having not been interrogated by the FBI, I can't comment on their tactics, but having taken a polygraph, I would be a very sympathetic juror.

And your comment of "people like me"?  What kind of people is that?  People who are repulsed by the thought that innocent people can be accused by the polygraph, or people repulsed by the thought that criminals can easily defeat it?
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: Arson suspect fails poly
Reply #6 - Dec 28th, 2004 at 10:24am
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Ray wrote on Dec 28th, 2004 at 3:21am:
IMO, this is an excellent example of how effective the polygraph can be.


Based on the news reports thus far, I'm inclined to agree that the polygraph seems to have been effective as an interrogational aid in this case. The evidence of the cell phone records may well have been enough to get a confession, even without the polygraph, however.

Quote:
George - please explain to me what you believe  constitutes an "unethical" interrogation tactic.  What do you believe is acceptable and what crosses the line in your eyes?  If an interrogation is coercive, does that make it unethical?


Yes, I believe that coercive interrogation is generally unethical and unbefitting of a democracy. Coercive interrogation techniques such as threats (explicit or implicit), sleep deprivation, and false promises of leniency are apt to produce false confessions.

Quote:
I believe you are mistaken in your assumption that the FBI would be embarrassed to defend a coercive interrogation in court...that is not the case.  It's not a matter of embarrassment or having to defend anything...the tactics taught to and used by law enforcement interrogators have been deemed completely acceptable and ethical by the courts.  The problem surfaces when a jury, not versed in interrogation methods or ethics, views a taped interrogation.  The methods employed by interrogators (legal and ethical) can often make a jury sympathetic to a defendant.


If the FBI is not embarrassed to defend a coercive interrogation in court, why does it have a general policy of not recording such interrogations? A recording is the best way of producing an objective record of the circumstances that led to a confession. All custodial interrogations should be recorded. There is no legitimate excuse for not doing so.

Quote:
Your assumption appears to be that the FBI often crosses an ethical line....just curious where you feel that line is. Specific examples would be great.


I don't know how often FBI interrogators cross the line of ethical conduct. But a policy of routinely recording interrogations in their entirety would be an effective safeguard against such abuses.

Specific instances of unethical interrogation tactics used by the FBI include the alleged use of sleep deprivation and false promises in the interrogation of Dr. Thomas C. Butler and implied threats against family members during the interrogation of Abdallah Higazy.
  

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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Ray
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Re: Arson suspect fails poly
Reply #7 - Dec 28th, 2004 at 10:31pm
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Jeff,

When I refer to "people like you" I mean people who probably tend to border on being anti-law enforcement.  People who are skeptical of the way law enforcement officers serve this nation...people who feel that tactics employed by law enforcement are not "morally correct," even though those tactics have been given a mandate by our nations legal system.  My statement is not meant to be a put down of you or your beliefs...it's just a fact...and it's certainly an obstacle law enforcement has to deal with.

George,

I agree that interrogation tactics such as false promises of leniency and threats are absolutely unacceptable and unethical.  I'm on the fence as far as the sleep deprivation tactic...it's not an option in my outfit although in some circumstances, particularly when employed by military forces in the field, I can see it's benefit.  When I say sleep deprivation I mean complete lack of sleep...being forced to stay awake by adjusting one's enviroment. 

There are some great examples of interrogator abuse which are clear....I believe the state of Illinois had some serious problems where police where beating "confessions" out of murder suspects who were often underage and mentally limited. 

IMO, the example of Dr. Butler does not appear to be a clear case of a false confession.  He commited crimes as defined by the government, knew he had done so and was eventually convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.  The judge also ruled there was no evidence of coercion.  I don't doubt Butler was tired, but he was certainly given an opportunity to eat and rest.  They sent him to his own house for that purpose.

As for his claim made to CBS, that the agents told him he would not be charged, I found that more to be a claim made by a man looking to make himself into a sympathtic defendant.  What else would you expect him to tell CBS?  That the agents were great guys?  It's an easy defense...put the police on trial.  I also doubt his claim that the agent told him he would go home if he signed the statement...the FBI charged him with over 60 counts and lying to the government was just one portion of the indictment.  I do believe that they told him they wanted to conclude the investigation and reassure the public...they may have told him this could all be over right now and he could make it right if he just told them what happened...a completely ethical minimization tactic. 

I guess I take issue when, anytime an article hits the net regarding a confession that places the law enforcement or polygraph in a positive light,  you insinuate that a false confession was obtained.  George, false confessions are the exception not the norm especially in today's enviroment.

I don't think you're wrong in your cry for all interrogations be taped...I certainly see your point.  I just think it creates more problems for law enforcement.  If you've never been a criminal investigator it may be hard for you to fully understand.  Here's where I agree with you 100 percent...shocking I know...I do think all pre-employment exams should be audio taped.  It protects the applicant and the examiner.
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: Arson suspect fails poly
Reply #8 - Dec 29th, 2004 at 12:13pm
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Ray,

Ethical and legal considerations aside, a key problem with using sleep deprivation as an interrogation technique is that a sleep-deprived person is apt to provide unreliable information. A good example is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service's documented use of sleep deprivation against petty officer Daniel M. King. It didn't produce any investigatively useful information and resulted in a gross injustice. It is worth noting that but for the existence of audio tapes that helped document the conditions under which King's "admissions" were obtained, an innocent man might well have been convicted of espionage.

Regarding the case of Dr. Butler, I would just note that had his interrogation been videotaped, his account of events could have been fact-checked. That the judge found no evidence of coercion is not dispositive, considering that the FBI's deliberate policy of not recording interrogations ensured that no such evidence would be created. Because the FBI chooses not to create an objective record of its interrogations, when it could easily do so, I am inclined to give the benefit of any doubt to Dr. Butler. Apparently so, too was the jury, because they acquitted Dr. Butler of all charges connected with his supposed "confession" to FBI polygrapher Dale Green.

You correctly note that recording of pre-employment polygraph examinations protects both the applicant and the examiner. But I would argue that this is a fortiori the case in criminal investigations, where the stakes may run as high as life and death.
« Last Edit: Dec 29th, 2004 at 3:42pm by George W. Maschke »  

George W. Maschke
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