|John P. Stenbit|
The following is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) John P. Stenbit's response to the National Research Council (a branch of the National Academy of Sciences) report on polygraph screening. Note that Stenbit completely disregards the report's key finding that reliance on polygraph screening is unjustified, and even dangerous to national security. Nor did the NRC/NAS report characterize polygraphy as "the best tool currently available to detect deception," as Mr. Stenbit erroneously asserts. The report merely notes that "[s]ome potential alternatives to the polygraph show promise, but none has yet been shown to outperform the polygraph" (p. 8-4). Regarding the performance of the polygraph, the report notes that "[t]here is essentially no evidence on the incremental validity of polygraph testing, that is, its ability to add predictive value to that which can be achieved by other methods" (p. 8-2). To download this memorandum as a scanned PDF file, click here.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
6000 DEFENSE PENTAGON
WASHINGTON, DC 20301-6000
NOV 5 2002
MEMORANDUM FOR SECRETARIES OF THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS
CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
UNDER SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
DIRECTOR, DEFENSE RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING
ASSISTANT SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DIRECTOR, OPERATIONAL TEST AND EVALUATION
ASSISTANTS TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT
DIRECTOR, FORCE TRANSFORMATION
DIRECTOR, NET ASSESSMENT
DIRECTORS OF THE DEFENSE AGENCIES
DIRECTORS OF THE DOD FIELD ACTIVITIES
SUBJECT: Continued Use of Polygraph Techniques
I have recently reviewed the report of the National Research Council on the existing scientific evidence on the validity of the polygraph technique. While the report contained many findings that may ultimately lead to improved methods for the detection of deception, I think it is important to emphasize that the National Research Council found that none of the potential new technologies for the detection of deception showed any promise of supplanting the polygraph technique for screening purposes in the near term.
As the Department continues to research alternative technologies in this critical area, I believe it is important to remember that the National Research Council Report determined that the polygraph technique is the best tool currently available to detect deception.
In the coming months, our country will face many unique challenges to our national security. The polygraph technique remains an important tool to detect deception in selected national security and law enforcement matters. Where appropriate and authorized, I recommend that we continue to use the polygraph technique as an important tool in our total decision-making process.
John P. Stenbit