Normal Topic Drugs, Polygraphs, & Doubletalk from Polygraphers (Read 3782 times)
Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Drugs, Polygraphs, & Doubletalk from Polygraphers
Mar 29th, 2001 at 12:33pm
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On Wednesday, 28 March 2001, CBS Evening News reported that some scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are refusing to submit to polygraph screening. The report is available on the CBS News website at:

http://www.cbsnews.com/now/story/0,1597,282238-412,00.shtml

CBS News correspondent David Martin interviewed senior scientist Alan P. Zelicoff, who stated, "What has precipitated the crisis within the Department of Energy is that the polygraphers are asking individual subjects what medications they're taking despite their promises not to do so." Some might wonder what all the fuss is about, and I'd like to share here some information about this topic that should help shed light on the situation.

As anyone who has submitted to a polygraph interrogation is no doubt aware, it is standard operating procedure for polygraphers to ask subjects during the "pre-test" interview what medications they are taking. Most no doubt answer the question without a second thought, thinking that it is important for the polygrapher to know this information because it could somehow influence the outcome of the "test."

But Dr. Gordon Barland, formerly chief of countermeasures research and instruction at the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (DoDPI) and recently retired, is reported to have claimed at a "technical briefing" on polygraphy held on 7 September 1999 at Sandia National Laboratories that there are no medications that have any effect on the utility of polygraphy. Speaking at the Department of Energy's public hearing on polygraph policy at Sandia National Laboratories on 16 September 1999, Dr. Zelicoff stated:

Quote:
...Dr. Barland's [sic] stated that there were no medications that have any effect on the utility of polygraphy, and he claimed to have a reference. I'd like to know what that reference is. I've been unable to find such a reference after looking through Science Citation Index, which includes 15 million review articles. There is not a single article that has both polygraphy and drug effects either in the abstract title or full text.


A transcript of the 16 September 1999 hearing cited above may be downloaded in PDF format (190kb) at:

http://antipolygraph.org/hearings/doe-1999/9-16hear.pdf

If there are no medications that have any effect on the utility of polygraphy, then why do polygraph examiners routinely ask subjects what medications they are taking?! And if, on the other hand, Dr. Barland's claim was untrue, and medications can indeed influence the outcome of a polygraph "test," then what medications produce what effects? And what specific steps do polygraphers take to factor in the effects of specific medications in scoring polygraph charts? And what peer-reviewed scientific research supports any such practice? (Dr. Barland, if you're reading this, any light you could shed on this question would be most welcome.)

For further (and highly illuminating) reading, see Dr. Zelicoff's forthright comments to former DOE security "czar" Eugene Habiger and his correspondence with Dr. Andrew Ryan of DoDPI, which are available on the Society of Professional Scientists and Engineers website at:

http://www.spse.org/Polygraph_comments_Zelicof.html
« Last Edit: Jul 5th, 2001 at 11:34am by George W. Maschke »  

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Re: Drugs, Polygraphs, & Doubletalk from Polygraph
Reply #1 - Mar 31st, 2001 at 8:20am
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The case of Liborio "Barney" Bellomo provides some interesting insight here.  The reputed former acting boss of the Genovese crime family was accused of the 1991 slaying convicted drug dealer Ralph DeSimone. 

Jerry Capeci on Barney Bellomo and the Polygraph

Bellomo passed an FBI polygraph in which he denied having any involvement in the DeSimone killing.  Did submitting to the polygraphs help to absolve him of suspicion?  Hardly.

Quote:
A party of FBI agents, bearing razors and a court order, dropped in on Liborio (Barney) Bellomo for a nice warm chat at the federal prison in Otisville, N.Y.

During the brief visit, which wasn't particularly social, they turned the reputed acting boss of the Genovese crime family into a skinhead.

They shaved his head and helped themselves to some hair from his legs and arms. The agents were looking for lithium, a psychoactive drug that a jailhouse informant said Bellomo had taken to help him pass three polygraph tests in July and August.

With confident smiles, the agents carefully packed the hair samples in plastic bags and left.

One would think that the FBI wouldn't have bothered to waste its time and that of Mr. Bellomo if there were "no medications that have any effect on the utility of polygraphy" as Dr. Barland would have us believe. Surely the FBI has access to the classified information held by DoDPI regarding polygraph countermeasures.   

In addition to providing some pretty strong evidence to refute the proposition that drugs have no effect on the outcome of polygraph "tests," the Bellomo case is an excellent lesson for those accused of a crime that are considering submitting to a polygraph at the request of police.  Bellomo "passed" numerous times, yet the prosecution didn't back off of him one bit.

  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: Drugs, Polygraphs, & Doubletalk from Polygraph
Reply #2 - Apr 1st, 2001 at 1:52am
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I have an idea of what Dr. Barland may have had in mind when he spoke of drugs not having any effect on the utility of polygraphy. He was at Sandia to give a briefing about polygraphy with regard to the DOE's then-proposed (and now adopted) polygraph regulation, and he was no doubt speaking of "control" question "test" (CQT) polygraphy (as opposed to the guilty knowledge test, which is fundamentally different), since the polygraph technique used by DOE, the so-called "Test" for Espionage and Sabotage, is a CQT technique. In CQT polygraphy truth vs. deception is inferred based on the relative strengths of the subjects physiological responses to the "control" vs. the relevant questions. Thus, for a drug to change the outcome of the procedure from a pass to a fail or a fail to a pass, the drug would presumably have to differentially influence physiological reactions to one type of question. Certainly there are drugs that effect the physiological responses recorded by the polygraph instrument, but it seems likely that any drug taken would tend to produce the same effects with regard to all questions asked. It also seems plausible that a drug which inhibits physiological reactions might tend to increase the likelihood of an inconclusive outcome (where reactions to both relative and "control" questions are about the same), but I don't know if this is supported by research. (In any event, meaningful research would be made difficult by the fact that CQT polygraphy lacks standardization and control to begin with.)

Regarding the Barney Bellomo case, Gino wrote:

Quote:
One would think that the FBI wouldn't have bothered to waste its time and that of Mr. Bellomo if there were "no medications that have any effect on the utility of polygraphy" as Dr. Barland would have us believe. Surely the FBI has access to the classified information held by DoDPI regarding polygraph countermeasures.


I suspect the FBI would have taken hair samples to test for the presence of lithium whether or not lithium were known to have any effect on the physiological measurements recorded by the polygraph instrument, and whether or not any such effects were known to enable deceptive persons to pass the "test." Here's why: the important thing is that if, as the jailhouse informant indicated, Mr. Bellomo had taken lithium in the belief that it would help him pass, then if the Bureau could have found evidence of his having taken lithium, it could have used it to undermine Bellomo's credibility.
« Last Edit: Apr 1st, 2001 at 10:12am by George W. Maschke »  

George W. Maschke
Tel/SMS: 1-202-810-2105 (Please use Signal Private Messenger or WhatsApp to text or call.)
E-mail/iMessage/FaceTime: antipolygraph.org@protonmail.com
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Personal Statement: "Too Hot of a Potato"
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Drugs, Polygraphs, & Doubletalk from Polygraphers

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