Normal Topic Edward Lee Howard: A CIA "Polygraph Spy" (Read 11737 times)
Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Edward Lee Howard: A CIA "Polygraph Spy"
Jul 26th, 2005 at 10:03am
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In an on-line discussion in 2001, Washington Post reporter Vernon Loeb mused, "I think it's only a matter of time, by the way, before we get our first 'polygraph spy'--that is, someone who is so pissed off at the way his career has been unfairly ruined by polygraphers that he gets his revenge by betraying his country."

In fact, it appears that this has already happened. In 1983, the CIA forced officer Edward Lee Howard to resign after he "failed" a polygraph screening "test," and he defected to the Soviet Union some two years later. Howard described his experience in a 1995 autobiography titled, Safe House. Chapter 4, which recounts his polygraph experience, may be read here:

http://antipolygraph.org/articles/article-049.shtml
« Last Edit: Jul 26th, 2005 at 11:00am by George W. Maschke »  

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Re: Edward Lee Howard: A CIA "Polygraph Spy&q
Reply #1 - Jul 27th, 2005 at 1:15am
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What Edward Lee Howard did is reprehesible.  But so is the use of polygraphs.  Certainly not an excuse for what he did.

It's on record that the polygraph has never captured a spy; but in this case it appears to have contributed to the creation of one.
  
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Re: Edward Lee Howard: A CIA "Polygraph Spy&q
Reply #2 - Jul 27th, 2005 at 9:00am
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Hey guys,

Still busy as ever, but couldn't let this one pass.  The fact that spies have been caught by polygraph is a matter of public record.  The diatribe you keep regurgitating here is totally false.  Here is a  post from the American Federation of Scientist website:

A Rejoinder on Polygraph

Dear Mr. Aftergood:

Having been a polygraph examiner with the CIA for thirty-one years, I have been reading with interest the material you have been presenting re polygraph.

At the 10 October 2002 press conference announcing the results of the NAS study on polygraph, Dr. Kathryn Laskey made the statement that no spy has ever been caught as a result of polygraph testing. Dr. Laskey was quoted in The New York Times (twice), The Washington Post, Washington Times and Wall Street Journal on the following day.

Drew Richardson seemed to embellish Dr. Laskey's quote in commenting that not only had no spy ever been caught, but none ever would be caught through the use of polygraph. Richardson also noted that Laskey's comments were echoed by many of the other panel members. Re Richardson's latter comment, to my knowledge, Dr. Laskey's comment was not echoed by anyone at the press conference.

In Doctor Zelicoff's 27 May 2003 "Polygraphs -- Worse Than Worthless," which appeared in The Washington Post, he also alluded to this quote.

In an attempt to try and set the record straight, I called Dr. Laskey. When she did not return my call, I wrote to her. Ultimately, I did speak with her. When I told her that I took exception to her comment, her immediate response was, "As soon as those words were out of my mouth, I wanted to take them back."

I advised Dr. Laskey that incidents in which spies have been caught through polygraph are a matter of public record, specifically, Sharon Scranage and Jim Nicholson. There are others, but those two were featured in The Washington Post stories.

Dr. Laskey claimed that she had never heard of Sharon Scranage, and I found this surprising. Before ending our conversation, Dr. Laskey, said, "I guess I will have to write a letter."

I am still waiting.

My attempts to "set the record straight" with The Washington Post and William Safire of the NY Times failed. I then wrote to Dr. Paul Stern at NAS. Dr. Stern said that he didn't know whether Dr. Laskey's statement was true or not, and that the NAS study did not speak to the issue of any spies being caught through the use of polygraph.

My reply to Dr. Stern asked two questions: To what issue and for whom was Dr. Laskey speaking when she made her comment? And, if you don't know whether or not her statement was true, in the name of intellectual honesty, how can you let it stand?

Dr. Stern did not reply.

Aldrich ("Rick") Ames' letter to you also got my attention. I knew and worked with Ames. In my book Of Spies and Lies, I cite a test that I did for him in which I caught a Czech double agent who had been trained to beat the polygraph. I tested and identified another of Ames' agents who turned out to be a double agent. In the book, I also cite a test in which one of my colleagues caught a Bloc agent who had applied to work for the CIA.

Dr. Zelicoff's comments re Ames in his "The Polygraph vs. National Security" are a little off the mark. To my knowledge, Ames was tested three times, not more than five, as Dr. Zelicoff states; once, before he began spying for the Russians and twice after. It should also be noted that Ames did more than 90 percent of the damage he did in the interval between his first and second tests. I know of no security procedure that would have stopped Ames' first venture into espionage.

Dr. Zelicoff's comment , "Scientists objected strongly, as they knew that polygraph had never caught a spy," is in error. Dr. Paul Stern didn't know whether or not a spy had ever been caught by a polygraph test, and he ran the NAS study.

I do not question Dr. Zelicoff's sincerity, but his statement includes a degree of hyperbole as well as factual errors, as described above.

Mr. Aftergood, I am not a rabid proponent of polygraph and know, better than most, its limitations, but there is another side to the polygraph story which, in all fairness, deserves a hearing.

Yours truly,

John F. Sullivan
Author of OF SPIES AND LIES: A CIA Lie Detector Remembers Vietnam




  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: Edward Lee Howard: A CIA "Polygraph Spy&a
Reply #3 - Jul 27th, 2005 at 1:06pm
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Tasercop,

Actually, scant official documentation of the role that the polygraph may have played in the unmasking of Sharon Scranage and Harold Nicholson as spies has been made publicly available. Perhaps Mr. Sullivan's forthcoming book on the CIA's polygraph program will provide new detail in this regard.

It should be noted, however, that John Deutch, who was the CIA's director at the time of Nicholson's arrest, publicly denied that the polygraph was "the initiating piece" in the Nicholson investigation. See the discussion thread, Did the Polygraph Catch Nicholson?

As I noted in that thread, Edward J. Curran, who was in charge of the CIA's counterintelligence efforts at the time of Nicholson's arrest, doesn't seem to think that the polygraph caught him, either, in light of the following exchange which occurred during the CBS 60 Minutes II segment "Final Exam":

Quote:
Pelley: To your knowledge, in a routine screening, of the general population of agents or employees, has a spy ever been caught by a polygraph examination?

Curran: Not that I know of. Fairness to myself, by saying, you know, have you ever caught anybody, well, we haven't really polygraphed everybody either.


Recently retired CIA officer Melissa Boyle Mahle also maintains that the polygraph has yet to catch a spy in her book, Denial and Deception. (See, Melissa Boyle Mahle on CIA Polygraph Policy.)

In any event, any candid assessment of the utility of polygraph screening must necessarily include the negative utility of such screening. The case of Edward Lee Howard might be considered Exhibit A in this regard.
  

George W. Maschke
I am generally available in the chat room from 3 AM to 3 PM Eastern time.
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Edward Lee Howard: A CIA "Polygraph Spy"

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