28 February 2002 Senators Call for Expanded FBI Polygraph Program
Associated Press writer Jesse J. Holland reports in an article published in the Washington Post under the title, "Senators Call for FBI Oversight Legislation." Excerpt:
WASHINGTON ญญ Two senators called for sweeping changes in the FBI Thursday, including mandated lie detector tests of people working with sensitive information, letting Justice Department investigators independently look at the agency and protecting whistle-blowers.
"We hope to have a better FBI as a result," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A bill by Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, includes proposals to make clear that the Justice Department's inspector general has jurisdiction over the FBI, inclusion of FBI employees under the Federal Whistleblower Act, creation of an FBI internal security division and additional reporting requirements to Congress.
"This bill and continued oversight work are about restoring law and order inside the FBI so that public confidence and public safety and security can be restored on the outside," Grassley said.
Under the senators' proposals, FBI employees working with sensitive information would be required to take periodic polygraph tests. Leahy said lie detector tests aren't perfect, but one might have caught FBI spy Robert Hanssen.
"When you don't have them at all, that's a major mistake," he said.
Actually, Senators Leahy and Grassley are making a major mistake by supposing that a polygraph test might have caught FBI spy Robert P. Hanssen, as Dr. Richardson explained in an unheeded memorandum to former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh titled, "Polygraph Screening in Light of the Robert Hanssen Espionage Investigation."
For more on this new bill, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board thread "Polygraphy and the FBI Reform Act of 2002."
28 February 2002 FBI Uses Polygraphs in Anthrax Investigation
In an article titled "Officials look for link in anthrax samples from labs," the Associated Press reports that the FBI has used polygraph interrogations in its investigation of last year's anthrax letter attacks. Excerpt:
The FBI believes the anthrax letters were the work of a single scientist, and some of the scientists fit aspects of the agency profile of the likely attacker, the officials said.Because polygraph "testing" has no validity and is easily defeated through the use of countermeasures, no one can be excluded as a subject by virtue of having passed a polygraph "test."
But no single suspect has emerged from among the group, and some of the scientists under scrutiny have passed polygraph exams, officials said.
23 February 2002 "Polygraph, shrink for executioner"
Jeannette Andrade reports for the Manila Times regarding the use of polygraphy in the Philippines in a high-profile terrorism case. Excerpt:
The man caught on video beheading Abu Sayyaf captives will go through a lie-detector test and psychiatric evaluation to determine if he qualifies as a state witness to pin down other executioners.
Jun Peñaflor, 32, a former farm worker in Basilan, submitted himself Thursday to the protective custody of the provincial police after the controversial tape was aired by TV networks.
Beheading at gunpoint
Peñaflor said he was forced by the Abu Sayyaf at gunpoint to behead fellow captives in 1995. Now he wants protection against possible vendetta from both Christians and Muslims.
Yesterday, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Leandro Mendoza said he gave orders to Police Regional Office 9 Director Chief Supt. Simeon Dizon to administer the tests to find out Peñaflor's mental condition and determine the veracity of his story.
Mendoza said investigators have not finished the background check on Peñaflor, although his case has been referred to the Zamboanga City Prosecutor's Office.
He said that although Peñaflor could be held liable for taking part in the execution of Abu Sayyaf captives, he could still make it as a state witness.
Justice Secretary Hernando Perez said murder charges would be filed against Peñaflor.
Malacañang is skeptical of Peñaflor's story, noting that other executioners in the video were toting firearms. The Palace seemed to be supporting the Southern Command, which insists the farm worker was not forced into the act.
It is a mistake to place any reliance on the results of pseudoscientific polygraph "tests," all the more so in such serious matters as determining the credibility of a key suspect and potential witness.
20 February 2002 "Allow lie detector results, lawyers say"
Nichole Monroe Bell reports for the Charlottesville Observer regarding a capital murder trial in South Carolina. Excerpt:
YORK - The judge handling the capital murder retrial of Sterling Spann is considering a motion to admit the results of two lie-detector tests that defense attorneys argue show their client is innocent.
According to documents filed in S.C. Supreme Court, Spann's attorneys contend he has passed two polygraph examinations administered at the request of the defense lawyers. Since his arrest in 1981, Spann has maintained he is innocent in the rape and slaying of 81-year-old Melva Harper Niell of Clover.
Polygraph tests monitor a subject's breathing, sweat glands, blood pressure or heart rate to indicate whether the person is telling the truth. Although police routinely use polygraph tests to investigate criminal cases, results of the tests historically have been deemed inadmissible in court because some experts question their reliability.
Circuit Judge J. Derham Cole hasn't yet ruled on whether to allow jurors to hear the results of the test. Cole has issued a gag order barring lawyers from discussing motions in public and has ordered that the motions be sealed in Circuit Court. The seal does not apply to records in the S.C. Supreme Court.
Spann was convicted of murder in 1982 and sentenced to death, but the S.C. Supreme Court granted him a new trial, saying evidence not available during the first trial might have changed the outcome.
Spann, who spent 17 years on death row before his release on bond three years ago, is scheduled to receive a second trial beginning March 4.
He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Defense attorneys stated in court records that they believe the polygraph clears their client and should be admitted. Spann's attorneys have argued that another man killed Niell.
"There simply is no doubt that the results of polygraph examinations, especially favorable results, are admissible in South Carolina..." a letter from defense attorney Diana Holt said.
Prosecutors disagree, according to court records.
"Polygraph tests have never been admissible in the criminal courts of this state," they argued. "The only clear result of this motion is to place in the public record the results of an irrelevant test."
20 February 2002 "Police Look for Liars at City Hall"
Annette Phillips reports for the Kingston Whig-Standard of Kingston, Ontario, Canada regarding a polygraph dragnet at City Hall. Excerpt:
Local News - Councillor Don Rogers says he will not take a lie-detector test to help police trace the leak of a confidential council document.
"I find the idea of being subjected to a lie-detector test truly offensive," Rogers said yesterday.
"I have co-operated with the police investigation, but I will absolutely not, under any circumstances, in any investigation, take a lie-detector test."
The Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets squad is continuing its investigation into how documents from an Oct. 9 in-camera council meeting were leaked to The Whig-Standard.
Council authorized Mayor Isabel Turner to launch a probe into the leak. The mayor handed the investigation over to police, who are questioning councillors and asking for fingerprints and lie-detector tests.
Rogers said he was asked to attend an interview with OPP officers last week, at which time he was asked to submit to the polygraph machine.
He took a lawyer to the meeting, found out that he was not legally required to take the lie-detector test, and refused to do so.
He acknowledges that some might perceive his actions as those of a guilty man.
"I would certainly hope the public would perceive me as a councillor who is not going to permit his civil liberties to be eroded," Rogers said.
20 February 2002 "Polygraph Says DiCicco Told Truth"
Mark McDonald reports for the Philadelphia Daily News. Excerpt:
AFTER AN inconclusive result on his first lie-detector test of the day, City Councilman Frank DiCicco late last night passed a second test, giving weight to his allegation that colleague Rick Mariano made an ethnic slur against Irish-Americans.
Mariano, refusing to submit to a polygraph himself, has steadfastly maintained that he never labeled Irish-American residents in Kensington's 31st ward as "trailer-park Irish trash."
A two-term Democrat, Mariano said that he's half Irish-American and a member of an Irish fraternal organization, and that he would never make such a crack.
But DiCicco's test results, according to examiners, suggest that his recollection of the meeting during which Mariano allegedly made the comment was accurate and that Mariano, who has put his foot in his mouth on many occasions in the past, made the comment.
DiCicco, who has been warring with Mariano's patron, Electrician's Local 98 boss John Dougherty, said that Mariano uttered the comment during a Dec. 20 meeting with him, Mayor Street and Councilman Darrell Clarke.
Wearily emerging from the Locust Street office of Keystone Intelligence Network after the second test, DiCicco said: "It is grueling, but your life and reputation is in the hands of a machine. I know he said it and people can now decide."
He urged Mariano to take a polygraph to put the issue to rest. But upon hearing that DiCicco passed the test, Mariano reacted testily.
"It doesn't say I'm lying, because I didn't take a lie-detector test," Mariano said. "It says he thinks he's telling the truth. Make sure that gets in there."
Nathan Gordon, the polygrapher who tested DiCicco, said flatly, "I think he's telling the truth."
Nathan Gordon's opinion may be right (or wrong), but it has no scientific basis, and the Philadelphia Daily News' decision to sponsor this polygraph "test" and make a front page story of it is a shameless exercise in yellow journalism.
19 February 2002 "Philadelphia Councilman Takes Second Lie Detector Test"
WPVI.com provides an Associated Press report on Philadelphia Councilman Frank DiCicco's polygraph examination as well as a RealPlayer video file with reporter Dann Cuellar's news story. Excerpt from the Associated Press report:
PHILADELPHIA - February 19, 2002 -
Maybe Frank DiCicco should start raising campaign funds on ABC's "The Chair." DiCicco, a Philadelphia councilman, seems to relish high-pressure test questions with the glare of TV cameras, money on the line and a few electrodes thrown in for fun.
"I may be changing my position on capital punishment," DiCicco joked as a private investigator strapped wires to his chest and hands in preparation for a lie-detector test Tuesday that was sponsored by the Philadelphia Daily News.
DiCicco had put himself on the hot seat, so to speak, by alleging that a rival on council insulted Irish-Americans in a closed-door meeting over redistricting. Results of the first lie detector were inconclusive, but the test was taken again on Tuesday night and showed DiCicco was telling the truth, according to the paper.
The alleged speaker, who is half-Irish, denied debasing his people. "It never happened," Richard Mariano said. "I got my way on redistricting and he didn't."
The results from the second test taken late Tuesday night showed that DiCicco had been telling the truth, said Kurt Heine, the newspaper's city editor. "Now we know he's telling the truth," Heine said.
19 February 2002 "Feuding Phila. Council Members: 'Sez You!'"
Tony Romeo reports for KYW news radio. This short article from the KYW website is cited here in full:
Results are inconclusive following a lie detector test administered to a Philadelphia city councilman who accused another councilman of an ethnic slur
The spat between First District councilman Frank DiCicco and Seventh District councilman Richard Mariano stems from the bitter dispute over council redistricting.
In a December meeting in Mayor Street's office, DiCicco alleges that Mariano called some residents of Kensington's 31st ward "trailer park Irish trash." Mariano denies it.
Enter the Daily News. A la mayor Frank Rizzo in 1973, the paper arranged for DiCicco to take a polygraph test.
But the results of the test are inconclusive. City editor Kurt Heine says the polygraph operator asked the operative question three different ways:
"In this case, each time he asked the question, the results stayed in a range that were inconclusive. It didn't go the positive or the negative that would allow him to make a conclusion."
But it's not over yet. Heine says DiCicco has agreed to another polygraph test.
19 February 2002 "No lie, DiCicco's taking a polygraph"
Mark McDonald reports for the Philadelphia Daily News. Excerpt:
DID CITY Councilman Rick Mariano refer to residents of Irish descent in the 31st Ward in Kensington as "trailer-park Irish trash?"
Councilman Frank DiCicco is so sure of it, he's taking a Daily News-sponsored lie-detector test today to prove it.
DiCicco says Mariano made the remark during a meeting with Mayor Street, Councilman Darrell Clarke and others.
Mariano denies it. Clarke says he never heard the comment. A mayoral source said Street had not heard the comment either.
Still, DiCicco is so sure of himself that he'll be strapped to a polygraph today. The test will be administered by Nate Gordon of the Keystone Intelligence Network.
19 February 2002 "Jordanian testifies about alleged abuse in Sept. 11 probe"
Chicago Tribune national correspondent Evan Osnos reports on the pre-trial testimony of Osama Awadallah, who faces federal perjury charges. Excerpt:
Awadallah, a permanent U.S. resident whose trial is set to begin May 20, testified that the government's intimidation began with his earliest conversations with the FBI on Sept. 20, when, he said, 15 to 20 agents pressured him into an interview at FBI offices without an attorney. The following morning, he said, authorities also dissuaded him from bringing an attorney to a polygraph test.
The agent said, "`Look, you don't need your lawyer. It's going to be a short test,'" said Awadallah, a college student. "`You are going to take it and go back to your home and we won't bother you anymore.'"
In earlier testimony, several FBI agents had estimated the total number of FBI and local police officials to be less than 10 at the time of Awadallah's initial contact. They also testified that they repeatedly told Awadallah he was not under arrest.
After the polygraph test on Sept. 21, Awadallah said, agents told him he had lied on a question that indicated prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 plot.
"They told me, `You did it. You are one of the terrorists,'" Awadallah said during questioning by his attorney Jesse Berman.
Polygraph "testing" is often little more than a cynical ploy to interrogate a suspect without the benefit of legal counsel, as seems to have been the case here. The suspect is deliberately misled into believing that he is simply agreeing to submit to a scientific test, but is surprised with a hostile interrogation after being informed that he "failed" the "test."
19 February 2002 "Strip-Search Jordanian: FBI Trampled My Rights"
William R. Gorta reports for the New York Post. Excerpt:
February 19, 2002 -- A Jordanian charged with lying to a grand jury recited to a federal judge a list of alleged law-enforcement abuses at his pre-trial evidence-suppression hearing yesterday.
Osama Awadallah, 21, said he was physically abused by jail guards, denied access to a lawyer, forced to strip in front of women and denied food that complied with Islamic dietary laws.
He testified he was stopped on Sept. 21, 2001, by FBI agents outside his home in San Diego and questioned for several hours. He said he was allowed to return home that night after agreeing to a lie-detector test the next morning.
But when he tried to delay the polygraph until he could speak to a lawyer, agents told him [that] would mean he was hiding something and he would be arrested after they obtained a warrant, Awadallah testified.
"I find there is no choice but to take the test," said Awadallah, who was informed by the FBI polygraph expert he failed the test. "I felt threatened and under great stress."
18 February 2002 "Jordanian Student Testifies in Court"
Associated Press correspondent Larry Neumeister reports on Osama Awadallah's courtroom testimony. Excerpt:
NEW YORK (AP) - A Jordanian student testified Monday that FBI agents accused him of being one of the Sept. 11 terrorists after saying he failed a lie detector test.
Osama Awadallah, 21, said agents told him he would be freed but after he'd completed a voluntary polygraph test Sept. 21, they said it proved he'd lied and had advance knowledge of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center .
"`You did it. You were one of the terrorists,"' Awadallah said he was told by one agent. "`You knew they were going to do it."'
The student at Grossmont College, in El Cajon, Calif., who is free on $500,000 bail, said he denied being a terrorist and responded: "I tell the truth all the time."
On Saturday, FBI polygrapher J. Antonio Falcon testified that the results of Awadallah's polygraph examination "appeared to be consistent with deception."
When FBI polygrapher J. Antonio Falcon testified that Awadallah's polygraph examination "appeared to be consistent with deception," he made a claim that has no scientific basis. Because polygraphy lacks both standardization and control, it can have no validity or diagnostic value.
17 February 2002 "FBI agent says Jordanian student was deceptive"
Associated Press correspondent Frank Eltman reports on the case of Osama Awadallah, who faces perjury charges stemming at least in part from an FBI polygraph interrogation. Excerpt:
NEW YORK (AP) - An FBI agent testified Saturday that a Jordanian student with alleged links to two of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers was deceptive during a polygraph examination that was given before his arrest.
Osama Awadallah voluntarily took the polygraph test while being questioned by FBI agents over a two-day period in September, agent Frank Teixiera said in federal court.
"He stated that he was quite certain that he would pass the polygraph," Teixiera said.
But Awadallah's answers about whether he had any knowledge of people planning to commit acts against the United States , or whether he had any knowledge about anyone planning the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, led agents to believe there were "inconsistencies and discrepancies" in Awadallah's story, Teixiera said.
Also Saturday, FBI polygrapher J. Antonio Falcon said the results of Awadallah's polygraph examination "appeared to be consistent with deception."
Falcon said he administered the polygraph to Awadallah, who had read and signed a release for the examination and a list of his Miranda rights. The tone of the FBI's interactions with Awadallah turned from cooperative to combative after the polygraph examination, Falcon said.
The testimony came on the second day of a hearing on whether evidence against Awadallah should be thrown out.
Awadallah, 21, a student at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif., is charged with twice lying to a grand jury in New York . If convicted, he could get 10 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the evidentiary hearing after suggesting last month that Awadallah "may have been the victim of coercion and intimidation."
16 February 2002 Alabama Governor Seeks Polygraph "Testing" of State, Federal Prosecutors
Tom Gordon reports for the Alabama News in an article titled, "Siegelman hires criminal lawyer." Excerpt:
Gov. Don Siegelman has hired a prominent Birmingham criminal defense lawyer to investigate who leaked information about subpoenas issued for the governor's personal financial records.
David Cromwell Johnson, who represented former Gov. Jim Folsom eight years ago in an ethics investigation, on Friday suggested, but stopped short of charging, that leaks could have come from the offices of Republican Attorney General Bill Pryor and Montgomery U.S. Attorney Leura Canary. Canary and Pryor's offices have been investigating no-bid contracts issued by the Siegelman administration.
The Birmingham News reported Sunday that state and federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the governor's financial records.
Johnson mailed letters Friday asking Pryor and Canary to investigate possible leaks in their offices and to give polygraph tests to all members of their staffs.
11 February 2002 Polygraph Dragnet in Fraud Probe at Namibian Bank
In an article titled, "Boss or unionist?" Max Hamata reports for The Namibian on a polygraph dragnet that has led to the suspension of five employees for failing their "tests." Excerpt:
A TOP union official has been accused of exposing himself to a conflict of interest after the bank he chairs subjected six employees to lie detector tests as part of a fraud probe.
Ranga Haikali, who is both Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) and Chairman of City Savings and Investment Bank (CSIB), has backed the tests for bank employees suspected of fraud.
CSIB suspended five employees after they failed lie detector tests instituted with the agreement of the bank's board.
Some of the employees who volunteered to take the polygraph or lie detector tests said they were promised that the findings of the tests would not be used as conclusive evidence or lead to them being suspended or dismissed.
However, they were shocked when to subsequently letters stating that they had been suspended for their involvement in "irregularities".
The letters did not specify what kind of irregularities.
The Namibian later published under the title "Polygraph Is Fraud" a letter from AntiPolygraph.org's George Maschke written in response to this article.
10 February 2002 "German passes polygraph test on Pinatubo killing"
Ric Sapnu reports for the Philippine Star on the use of polygraphy in a high-profile murder case in the Philippines. Excerpt:
Sr. Supt. Ismael Rafanan, Pampanga police director said that Siegfried Wittman, 68, a German national, earlier a suspect in the killing of American tourist Brian Thomas Smith, passed the lie detector test conducted by the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Olivas.
But, according to PNP Crime Lab regional officer, Chief Inspector Alma Villasenor, the result of polygraph tests on Wittman is not conclusive, although she believes that Wittman is telling the truth.
Rafanan said Wittman underwent a polygraph test last Thursday to prove his claim that an armed small black man indeed perpetrated the said ambush.
Wittman earlier told police probers that a lone guman, whom he described as a small, black man, shot him and Smith last Jan. 31, from a distance of 200 meters.
But the autopsy conducted by the PNP Crime Lab on the body of Smith showed the presence of "tattooing," meaning he was shot at close range in the nape, directed upwards.
The findings run counter to Wittman's statement that they were shot by the gunman from an elevated portion of the hill 200 meters away.
9 February 2002 LAPD Chief Admits 50% Pre-Employment Polygraph Failure Rate
Los Angeles Times staff writers Jill Leovy and Matea Gold, in an article titled "Parks Defends Record on Crime, Consent Decree," mention that Police Chief Bernard C. Parks acknowledged a 50% pre-employment polygraph failure rate in a meeting with reporters on Friday, 8 Feb. Excerpt (emphasis added):
On recruiting, Parks argued that factors outside his control have made it more difficult for the LAPD to expand its ranks. These include the city's slow adoption of his recommended changes to the pension system, a tight labor market for police officers nationwide, and higher standards for recruits, he said. A new polygraph test, for example, eliminates half of all applicants, he said.
"There is not an unlimited reservoir of people who not only want to be police officers, but who are qualified to be police officers," he said.
LAPD's new polygraph requirement is not a "higher" standard: it is an arbitrary standard that is costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as the service of the many truthful applicants who are being falsely accused of deception and denied due process. See George Maschke's Los Angeles Daily News op-ed piece, "LAPD polygraph test results don't tell full truth," and for discussion of LAPD polygraph policy, see the California Polygraph Reform Initiative forum of the AntiPolygraph.org message board.
9 February 2002 "Police using voice stress analysis to detect lies"
Associated Press writer Michael Rubinkam reports on the pseudoscience of voice stress analysis. Excerpt:
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Police want to know if a suspect is lying, but the polygraph test comes back inconclusive.
What's an exasperated interrogator to do?
Increasingly, law enforcement agencies are using a technology that measures "voice stress" -- small frequency modulations in the human voice that supposedly occur whenever someone is lying.
Some police officials swear by the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer -- a laptop computer, software and microphone package that promises to catch deception.
Proponents call it just as reliable as a polygraph but more portable, less intrusive and easier to use. Additionally, law enforcement in some states can surreptitiously record a suspect's voice, then run the tape through the analyzer.
The industry hopes to get a boost from the new federal aviation safety law, enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. A provision of the law calls for the use of "voice stress analysis, biometrics or other technologies" to prevent terrorists from boarding airplanes.
But how well does it work? Studies suggest that voice stress analysis is no better than chance at detecting deception. It is banned in several states and, like the polygraph, it is not admissible in any court of law.
"There is no scientific evidence to validate it," said Victor Cestaro, a retired biological psychologist who conducted research on voice stress for the U.S. Department of Defense Polygraph Institute.
Nevertheless, the National Institute for Truth Verification, the West Palm Beach, Fla., company that makes the market-leading Computer Voice Stress Analyzer, says it has sold the devices to 1,100 law enforcement agencies across the country.
The cost: more than $11,000 for the analyzer and a six-day training course.
Another company, Diogenes, sells a similar device called the Lantern for about $4,700, plus $950 for one week of training.
Voice stress analysis, like polygraphy, is junk science. See the CVSA forum of the AntiPolygraph.org message board for discussion of this pseudoscience.
9 February 2002 "Diogenes' New Lamp"
Rebecca Sloan Slotnick discusses recent detection of deception research involving functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and thermal imaging in this article published in the March-April 2002 issue of American Scientist. AntiPolygraph.org's George Maschke was among those interviewed for this article.
7 February 2002 Polygraphs May Be Used in Ohio School Arson Investigation
In an article titled "Madison-Plains arson probe is heating up," Madison Press (London, Ohio) staff writers Steve Smith and Jim Boggan report. Excerpt:
LONDON -- Out-going Madison-Plains Superintendent Adam Miller has provided what he called "an alibi" as investigators increase their efforts to solve the Nov. 29 arson fire on the campus in Paint Township.
A modular structure near the middle school was deliberately burned. The fire destroyed files and computers and Miller said at the time that the arsonist may have "targeted" the district's computer servers. No damage estimate has been provided, but the losses were all covered by Nationwide Insurance.
The Madison County Sheriff's Office and the state Fire Marshal continue to investigate but have yet to solve the case.
The Fire Marshal's office has increased the amount of manpower assigned to the investigation and officials have begun the process of asking individuals to take polygraph examinations. That list may include Miller and former high school principal Richard Sykes, who was terminated by Miller the day before the blaze, but "it's not just those two," sheriff's Lt. Jim Sabin said Monday.
"There was a mutual agreement at this point in the investigation to offer polygraph examinations to various individuals to give us more guidance on where to go on this investigation," Sabin added.
Sykes has had no comment on whether he was asked to take a polygraph or whether he agreed to do so. Miller said he was not asked.
The exams are routinely performed at the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and it takes time to get an appointment so no testing has been administered yet.
On Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 30, the day before Miller submitted his written resignation to school board President Sherry Kuehnle, sheriff's Sgt. Doug Crabbe and Fire Marshal's Investigator Rick Smith visited Miller at the Madison-Plains administrative offices.
"The state Fire Marshal said his goal was to eliminate as many people as he could and to narrow down his search," Miller said of the meeting.
He said Smith told him that seeking polygraphs was a "normal process" in an arson investigation. "He did not say 'I want you to take one,' " Miller said. Crabbe said the investigators did not ask Miller to take the polygraph because Smith became more interested in Miller's alibi.
Miller told The Madison Press on Tuesday, and said he told the investigators on Jan. 30, that his white car was being serviced at Hugh White Honda in Columbus at the time of the fire. Crabbe said a white car was seen leaving the scene of the fire and that represents one of the few clues available to investigators.
Miller said he picked up his son the afternoon of the fire at a daycare site in Grandview Heights and took the child home before going to get his car serviced. Miller said he got the first cellular telephone call from Larry Kimbler, head of school maintenance, telling him there was a fire while he "was literally sitting in the waiting room at Hugh White Honda."
Miller said Smith told him that the alibi was "good enough," but the sheriff's office confirms that investigators are seeking to corroborate the story.
"I provided him a copy of the service record at Hugh White Honda proving my whereabouts," Miller said, adding that after hearing his story Smith "didn't ask me to do anything concerning a polygraph."
Miller said he went to the car dealership about 7:30 p.m. that night and was there until 9 p.m. The blaze was reported just before 8 p.m. when a student and his father were leaving a percussion class with teacher Michael Courtright. The three alerted a middle school custodian, Matt Clickner. In addition to the Central Townships Fire Department and the sheriff's office, Clickner contacted Kimbler, who in turn called Miller.
Sabin said Monday that others will be asked to take polygraph examinations.
He added that refusing to take a polygraph does not mean that a person has something to hide. Some people are "uncomfortable" with a polygraph or "have concerns" about the mechanism, which is more commonly called a "lie detector."
"It's just another tool that we utilize," Sabin added.
Anyone accused of a crime -- whether innocent or guilty -- should refuse to submit to a polygraph "test": the "test" has an inherent bias against the truthful and is little more than a fraudulent ploy used to interrogate suspects in the absence of legal counsel.
7 February 2002 "Nothing but the truth" Xu Xiaomin writes about polygraphy in China for the English language Shanghai Star. Excerpt:
You can remain silent, or everything you say may be subjected to a lie detector test, whose value is still suspect.
Generally speaking, perspiration is easiest to control by individuals attempting to cheat the polygraph, but pulse, blood pressure and especially skin resistance are very difficult to master.
PICK a card, any card from four and do not reveal it to others. Next answer several questions in the affirmative or negative, and Lu Baoqing will tell you which card you are holding.
This is not magic or fortune telling. This is polygraph technology, according to Lu - a teacher from the detection department of the Shanghai Police.
"It is just a small trick," Lu said. "Polygraph tests have much more important uses in detective work."
This article provides information that suggests that Shanghai police make use of the Guilty Knowledge Test, which is theoretically sounder than the pseudoscientific "Control" Question "Test" widely used in the United States. But even the Guilty Knowledge Test has not been validated by peer-reviewed research and remains susceptible to countermeasures.
7 February 2002 Sheriff's polygrapher winked for boss' daughter
Palm Beach Post staff writer Bill Douthat reports on alleged impropriety in the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. The allegations involve polygrapher Harold Thomas Sorensen, a member of the Florida Polygraph Association. Excerpt:
A sheriff's polygrapher who gave a lie detector test to the daughter of his boss failed to properly report her deceptive answers about past drug use, an investigation has concluded.
Reviews of the polygraph chart of Lori DeMario "clearly indicate deception," an internal affairs report says.
DeMario, who took the test as part of her application for a sheriff's office job, is the daughter of Frank DeMario, who was internal affairs commander in January 2000 when the test was administered by Harold Sorensen, a deputy who worked under DeMario.
After doing the polygraph, Sorensen noted there was "no significant information nor any consistent deceptive responses," the internal affairs report says.
But two re-readings of the polygraph chart by veteran polygraphers shows deception on two questions of past drug use, said investigator Sgt. Steven Thibodeau.
"The professionals said it was blatant, that it just jumped out on the pages," Thibodeau said.
The investigation, released this week, found Sorensen committed official misconduct and violated the sheriff's code of ethics for overlooking Lori DeMario's deceptive answers. Because Sorensen, 56, retired last July, he's not subject to any discipline.
Sorensen has done nothing wrong, said his attorney, Michael Salnick. "I've never seen a police officer so badly slandered in a IA (internal affairs report) than this one," Salnick said. "This is a good guy who, for some reason, is being victimized."
Lori DeMario, 30, who was hired as a drill instructor at the sheriff's Eagle Academy for troubled teens, was not cited for any wrongdoing.
The Internal Affairs report noted that Frank DeMario recommended in September 2000 that Sorensen attend a three-month school at Fort Jackson, S.C. The training, which was not required for Sorensen's position, cost the sheriff's office $12,169, the report said.
In November 2000, a month before he left the sheriff's office, DeMario recommended a one-time special merit increase in pay for Sorensen, adding $153 a month to his salary.
5 February 2002 De Klerk Accused Fails Second Polygraph Test
The South African Press Association reports on the polygraph interrogation of Luyanda Mboniswa, who is accused in the strangulation and stabbing death of Marike de Klerk, the ex-wife of former South African president F.W. de Klerk. Excerpt:
The man accused of murdering former first lady Marike de Klerk, Luyanda Mboniswa, failed a second polygraph test within a week at Cape Town's Pollsmoor Prison on Tuesday.
This was confirmed by his lawyer, Mpumelelo Nyoka.
"What this means is that the sensational chapter on lie-detecting is finally closed, but the one on truth-finding is enticingly open," Nyoka said.
Tuesday's test was conducted by the vice president of the Polygraph Association of Southern Africa (Pasa), David Johnstone, after a rival association criticised the first test.
Nyoka said Johnstone had told him Mboniswa showed a "marked physical reaction" to questions on the killing, and on whether an accomplice was involved, and that this was not consistent with telling the truth.
Johnstone had said this was a provisional result, and that the charts from the test would be sent to the United States for verification.
"But I must hasten to say this doesn't mean it (the result) will change," said Nyoka.
He said he would continue to represent Mboniswa, even though he himself did not know where the truth lay.
"The lie detector test does not displace the foundation of criminal justice, which is that everyone has to be presumed innocent until found guilty," he said.
"I'm not a priest who says I will not act for someone, he's lying, I am a lawyer and I must give him legal representation. As a lawyer I must be a fighter, and fight for my client.... I've got to ensure he gets a fair trial at the end of the day.
"I cannot withdraw from the case just because of this. Otherwise we go back to the dark ages. The right of the accused is the right to a fair trial, and the presumption of innocence."
Last Thursday Mboniswa, 21, failed a polygraph test administered by Paul van Niekerk, a polygraphist from the Cape Town-based company Polygraph and Truth Verification Services. He apparently answered four questions untruthfully.
Pasa spokesman Daan Bekker said, after the validity of the first test was queried, that Pasa was approached by a private investigator hired by Mboniswa's lawyer to carry out another test.
Van Niekerk said earlier he welcomed the repeat test, and that his results had already been verified by three other polygraph experts.
"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind what the results (of the second test) will be. I just want to put this thing to rest," Van Niekerk said.
Passing or failing a pseudoscientific polygraph "test" is evidence of nothing, and it is in the interest of anyone accused of a crime --innocent or guilty--not to submit to polygraphic interrogation.
5 February 2002 "Lying Technology: Now in Morgan County [Missouri]: New-age lie detector measures micro tremors"
Marsha Paxson gullibly reports on Computerized Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) for the Lake Sun Leader of Camdenton, Missouri. Excerpt:
MORGAN COUNTY - The same type of lie detection machine used to test former President Bill Clinton when he claimed not to have had sex with Monica Lewinksy is now being used in the arsenal against crime in Morgan County and Laurie.
Morgan County Sheriff's Department Investigator Greg Martin said he and three Laurie police officers are now certified to use a Computer Voice Stress Analyzer.
"It is a specially-designed program that works on a Toshiba laptop computer," Martin said. "Each machine has one key that is required for operation. No other key can open it and only trained eyes can decipher what the test markings mean."
A small microphone with a clip is attached to the suspect's clothing while the tester asks questions.
"While a standard lie detector measures physiological changes when a subject gives an answer, the CVSA registers micro tremors in the human voice," Martin said. "We can determine deception when there is a lack of FM frequency in the voice."
CVSA, like polygraphy, has not been proven by peer-reviewed research to work better than chance under field conditions. While confessions elicited from naive and gullible suspects may be useful, it is irresponsible for law enforcement officers to place any reliance on the results of these pseudoscientific "tests."
4 February 2002 FBI Pre-Employment Polygraph Failure Rate Pegged at 20%
In an article titled, FBI Flooded With Applicants," Los Angeles Times staff writer William Overend reports that about 20% of special agent applicants who make it as far as the polygraph fail it. Excerpt:
Mike Hilliard, who retired three years ago after 21 years as the chief recruiting agent in Los Angeles, estimated that about half of those who take the written test pass it and advance to competitive oral interviews.
Then comes a physical exam and an FBI polygraph test, mostly on national security and drug use questions. (A serious drug history disqualifies a candidate, but very limited drug experimentation doesn't.)
Hilliard said that about 20% of those who make it to the polygraph stage fail the test.
4 February 2002 A Failed FBI Polygraph Dragnet in the Dallas P.D. Narcotics Unit
In a Dallas Morning News article titled "Narcotics unit has troubled past," Robert Tharp reports on a massive but fruitless polygraph dragnet conducted by the FBI in the Dallas Police Department's narcotics unit in 1996. Excerpt:
The FBI investigated the narcotics division in 1996 at the request of former Chief Ben Click following the disappearance of $50,000 from a narcotics bureau safe inside a locked office.
More than 120 officers took polygraph tests and submitted to questioning, but no suspects were ever caught. Following the investigation, department commanders revised the division's procedures, tightening access to money in the safe.
January 2002 "What Goes Around Goes Around Again"
Ken Brownlee writes about voice stress analysis for Claims magazine. Excerpt:
My wife came back from shopping yesterday and told me she had been listening to Clark Howard, the nation's Number One Cheapskate, on WSB, an Atlanta radio station. She told me that he had said that Lloyd's of London had decided to take statements from insureds and run them through a truth machine, and if the machine said the insured was telling the truth, they'd pay the claim. "Great idea!" she said. "Why didn't you think of that?"
It sounded a bit like a deal millionaire Clark Howard, who showed up a few months ago for his New York morning television show debut in a $15 suit after spending the night in a $29 hotel room, might endorse. As Atlanta's own Consumer's Superman (I wonder if his middle name is Kent), Howard has some great ideas and bargains, but I suspect that even he might choke up a little on this one.
I said to my wife, "Wait here." I ran upstairs and copied my Iconoclast column from April 1980 (in what was then called Insurance Adjuster Magazine, the predecessor of Claims), titled "The CIA Syndrome." It was about this very subject, the little black box, voice stress analysis machine, which operated on the principles of psychological stress evaluators (PSE). "Don't tell me that old gig is coming back into fashion," I remarked. "I thought we'd killed that monster twenty years ago."
Now I don't know exactly what Clark Howard did say, or what the good underwriters at Lloyd's are up to, but I do know what I learned back in 1979, when voice stress analysis machines were being advertised in practically every business magazine, and insurers were attempting to use them to screen claims for fraud. Our company undertook a research project, which I spearheaded, contacting every state attorney general and insurance commissioner in the nation. The answers were almost universal: "You'd better not get caught playing with one of those gizmos in our state!"
23 January 2002 "Inmate admits he is not serial killer" (But He "Passed" Two Lie Detector "Tests")
Donna J. Robb reports for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Excerpt:
- A Summit County inmate admitted yesterday that his headline-grabbing claim of being a serial killer was an elaborate lie.
Jason Roland West apologized to the public and to sheriff's detectives for sending authorities on a sweeping but fruitless investigation that has dragged on for more than three months.
"Everything I have said to everybody over the last four months is false," West said in a telephone interview from the Summit County Jail.
Officials will also ask a judge to order West to repay the county for the cost of the investigation: two lie detector tests, psychological evaluation, a five-day trip to Arizona and 3,000 hours of detective work. Detectives and a university archaeologist spent Tuesday digging for a woman's hand that West said he had buried in the woods behind Roswell Kent Middle School, near Ina Ave.
West passed the lie detector tests, but detectives found no evidence to substantiate his claims.
23 January 2002 "Brain Fingerprinting" Project at University of Arizona
Eric Swedlund reports for the Arizona Daily Star in an article titled, "UA on Security's Cutting Edge." Excerpt:
John Allen, a psychology associate professor, will try to answer this question: "Is Brain 'Fingerprinting' Ready for Prime Time?"
Conventional polygraphs measure factors such as heart rate and sweaty palms to determine nervousness or anxiety, but "brain fingerprinting" examines brain waves for particular responses associated with recognition.
The technique is currently being used to assess memory, but it has potential applications in criminal investigations.
Allen will test subjects in a mock crime scenario and note how recognition of a specific fact will elicit different brain activity. Applications could involve testing spies to determine if they recognize particular acronyms, pictures or phone numbers.
Allen said the procedure must accurately identify guilty people without incriminating the innocent. Tests thus far indicate about 90 percent accuracy on both accounts.
"In any attempt to increase homeland security, you have to protect the citizenry against false accusations," Allen said.
23 January 2002 "$4M project at UA targets deception"
Eric Swedlund reports for the Arizona Daily Star on a taxpayer-funded research program at the University of Arizona. Excerpt:
To boost national security, the Defense Department is paying for a $4 million UA research project on detecting deceit in communication.
In the electronic communication age, the military faces more challenges because analysts cannot always rely on conventional models of lie detection.
"We know deception is commonplace everywhere," from daily conversations to military endeavors, said Judee Burgoon, the principal investigator.
Burgoon said the project's significance "has grown astronomically" since Sept. 11. "Obviously it's extremely timely."
"How might we have been able to possibly . . . provide earlier intelligence" about attacks? she asked.
"Information power is more important than firepower."
Military intelligence officers and criminal investigators would like to have fully automated tools, Burgoon said. There was great hope for the polygraph and other devices, but none are fully reliable.
"The best hope is a highly trained human augmented by tools," Burgoon said. "Humans are extraordinary information processors, especially when they're well-trained."
Burgoon, a communication professor and director of human communication research at the University of Arizona's Center for the Management of Information, reports to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research on the five-year project.
Collaborating with Burgoon and her UA team are researchers at Florida State University, Michigan State University and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
One goal is to devise computer software or hardware tools that could detect potentially deceptive patterns or characteristics in electronic transmissions such as e-mail or cellular phone conversations.
Computer software could offer alerts at different levels of danger by searching for words or phrases that warrant further investigation. Such a program could offer only a probability of truthful discourse and couldn't determine if a particular message or person is deceptive.
20 January 2002 "Virtual lies face foolproof software"
Fiona Harvey of the Financial Times reports on new software that purports to detect deception in electronic text messages. Excerpt:
Software that can detect when people are lying in their e-mails sounds a bit far-fetched, but its manufacturers declare it is true.
SAS Institute, which makes fraud-detection systems for banks and phone companies, will on Monday announce a product that can sift through e-mails and other electronic text to catch elusive nuances such as tone.
"The patterns in people's language change when they are uncertain or lying," says Peter Dorrington, business solutions manager at SAS. "We can compare basic patterns in words and grammatical structures versus benchmarks to detect likely lies."
Perhaps SAS business solutions manager Peter Dorrington's claims regarding this new software should be scanned for likely lies.
18 January 2002 "Vocal stress can betray you in a lie"
Julie Novak uncritically reports on Computerized Voice Stress Analysis in this single-source Narragansett Times article. Excerpt:
NARRAGANSETT - If you want to tell a lie, don't tell it to Narragansett Police Lt. Vincent Carlone.
The department's head of detectives has learned how to analyze vocal stress, and with the assistance of a laptop computer he's prepared to play "Truth or Consequences" with any suspect who's brought in for questioning.
Last Friday, Carlone completed an Advanced Examiners Course at the National Institute for Truth Verification in West Palm Beach, Florida. Carlone was among 120 participants from all over the country, and the only one from Rhode Island, in the week-long course.
The program trains only members of the law enforcement community in how to use the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer, an investigative tool that assesses the amount of stress in a subject's voice to indicate deception.
"I'm currently the only certified examiner in the department, but we have plans to train more personnel," Carlone said. "This really is a wonderful tool."
The Stress Analyzer requires no wires be attached to a subject being questioned. A multi-functional laptop computer, the analyzer requires only a microphone plugged into the system. As the subject speaks, the computer displays each voice pattern in the form of a graph, numbers it, and saves each chart to a specific file.
"The graphs are activated by the discreet changes in the human voice," Carlone explained as he demonstrated the equipment Tuesday.
Micro tremors, he said, are tiny frequency modulations in the human voice. When someone is lying, the automatic, or involuntary nervous system, causes an inaudible increase in the micro tremor's frequency. Once the Stress Analyzer detects, measures, and displays changes in the voice frequency, they are processed graphically and display a picture of the voice patterns.
"An angular and steep pattern is good, but a horizontal or box-like pattern indicates stress or deception," Carlone said.
In the advanced course, Carlone learned to use new and different patterns of questioning, called formats. The Stress Analyzer has built-in questioning formats, but also allows an investigator the freedom to create his or her own line of questioning.
"You use different types of formats depending on what the investigation is," Carlone said. "I can tailor my questions so they are applicable to the situation.
"Sometimes you have to be graphic so a subject understands what you're getting at. If I asked a subject if they sexually assaulted someone, they might not understand what that means so I would have to ask about specific details."
The Stress Analyzer is not restricted to yes or no answers and is able to accurately analyze recordings of unstructured conversations.
Wary of giving away any "trade secrets," Carlone said that using a variety of questions allows investigators to make comparisons and evaluate specific lines of questioning applicable to an investigation.
First introduced in 1988, the original Stress Analyzer was an analog computer. It has progressed into its current digitized form and is effective in all investigative situations such as homicide, sex crimes, robbery, white collar crimes, as well as pre-employment examinations for background investigators.
"This machine has really made the difference for us in serious investigations," Carlone said.
Cases of sexual assault and breaking and entering and larceny in Narragansett have been cleared up easily because of the Stress Analyzer, Carlone said.
"What I like best about it is clearing innocent people. You can have a group of people pointing the finger at someone, but if they come out fine on the test then you can clear them. It's nice to be able to clear someone from blame."
It is an unsettling thought that the head of detectives of a municipal police department would believe that suspects can be cleared (or not cleared) based on a pseudoscientific voice stress analysis "test." Narragansett Times reporter Julie Novak's unquestioning parroting of Detective Carlone's claims is evocative of the uncritical early 20th century reporting that helped to entrench polygraph "testing" in popular American mythology.
18 January 2002 "Cops seek voice of truth"
Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania Press Enterprise writer Michael Reich reports on Computerized Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA). Excerpt:
HAZLETON -- When someone lies to police here, a "truth verification" machine might be able to sense the fib by recording changes in a person's voice.
Hazleton Police Chief Edward Harry says the machine has led to confessions in 75 percent of the roughly 500 cases it has been used in here over the years. The national average is 35-40 percent, he said.
"That just shows how many times that we've got confessions and made arrests on cases that we wouldn't have been able to do that," the chief said.
But some have criticized the computer voice stress analyzer (CVSA) for inaccuracy. A 1996 Department of Defense review found it had a success rate of only 49.8 percent on 109 test subjects, some of whom took part in a mock crime that involved the theft of $100, according to the Web site www.voicestress.com.
Like polygraph lie detector tests, results from a CVSA are inadmissible as evidence in court. But more and more departments are turning to the machine, Harry said.
"Other departments are starting to see that this really works," he said.
CVSA, like polygraphy, is a pseudoscientific fraud and only "works" to the extent that it elicits confessions from naive and gullible suspects.
17 January 2002 "Debate surrounds value of polygraph"
Cape Cod Times staff writers Karen Jeffrey and Emily C. Dooley report. Excerpt:
Asking a murder victim's father to take a polygraph test is not an unusual tact for police, according to experts on both sides of the polygraph issue.
Family and close associates of a victim are the first people police should look at during a homicide investigation, said David Lykken, a leading critic of polygraphs and author of the book "A Tremor in the Blood."
"Where I diverge from police is in the use of a polygraph in general," said Lykken, a professor emeritus from the psychology department at the University of Minnesota. "Polygraphs are not accurate indicators of truthfulness."
Christopher Worthington, father of Truro murder victim Christa Worthington, is one of several people police will ask to take what is commonly known as a lie-detector test.
Another potential candidate for a polygraph could be Tony Jackett, the father of Worthington's 21/2-year-old daughter, Ava.
16 January 2002 Murder Victim's Father Asked to Submit to Polygraphic Interrogation
In an article titled "Two others in case arrested on drug charges," Cape Cod Times staff writers Karen Jeffrey and Emily C. Dooley report on the investigation of the murder of fashion writer Christa Worthington, whose body was discovered on 6 January 2002. Excerpt:
The father of Christa Worthington will be asked to take a lie-detector test as the investigation into his daughter's murder continues.
Christopher Worthington, 72, is among a number of people who will be asked to undergo a polygraph examination, according to police sources.
Worthington, a lawyer and former assistant state attorney general, was not available for comment last night.
Also yesterday, two people connected to the investigation through Christopher Worthington, one of whom has been described as his girlfriend, were arrested in Boston on drug charges. Elizabeth Porter, 29, and her companion, Edward Hall, 38, had previously undergone polygraph testing in the homicide investigation.
Police sources were not specific why Christopher Worthington and others are being asked to undergo polygraph tests.
"We're looking at a lot of people and what they have to say," one investigator said. "No one person is at the forefront."
16 January 2002 "No lie: Paroled sex offenders get polygraphs"
Staff writer Bryn Mickle of the Flint Journal reports on post-conviction polygraph "testing" of sex offenders in Michigan. Excerpt:
Hooked up to a machine that measured his body's response to questions, a convicted Burton sex offender spent about 45 minutes Tuesday answering "yes" or "no" to queries about his activities in the month since he was released from a prison in Muskegon.
After serving 8 years for fondling an 8-year-old Genesee Township girl, the man knows that if he gets caught in a lie, he could be headed back to jail.
"It forces a guy to be honest," the man said. "If you do something wrong, you're more or less forced to come forward with it and deal with it up front."
The man, 52, who asked not to be identified, is among more than 60 sex offenders on parole in Genesee and Lapeer counties who are getting lie detector tests to help determine whether they are telling the truth.
The state Department of Corrections has been using polygraph tests locally since March to test the honesty of sex offenders. Sex offenders also are given polygraphs in Detroit and Muskegon.
By relying on a pseudoscientific fraud to monitor sex offenders' compliance with the terms of their parole, public officials give recidivists who take the time to learn how to beat the polygraph the opportunity to escape serious scrutiny.
14 January 2002 "Medical Detection of False Witness"
Brandon Spun reports in the 4 February 2002 issue of Insight magazine on experimental detection of deception/concealed information techniques. Spun specifically addresses Dr. Larry Farwell's "brain fingerprinting" technique, Dr. Daniel Langleben's fMRI research, and Dr. James Levine and collaborators' thermal imaging technology.
11 January 2002 "Possible plot to kill Florida Gov. Jeb Bush under investigation"
Manny Garcia, Peter Wallsten, and Amy Driscoll of the Miami Herald report of reliance on polygraphy in determining the credibiliy of statements made by an informant. Excerpt:
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI are investigating a possible plot to kill Gov. Jeb Bush with a truck bomb in Tallahassee, law enforcement officials confirmed Thursday. . .
The investigators were skeptical. The inmate supplying the information has failed at least five lie-detector tests during the past eight to 10 days conducted by the Secret Service and the FBI. The inmate was specifically asked about the alleged plot against the governor when he failed, prompting some agents to characterize him as ``51 percent pathological liar, 49 percent truthful.'' He has been jailed since July 2001.
Characterizing someone as a liar or truthful on the basis of polygraph "test" results is foolhardy. Unfortunately, many American law enforcment agencies continue to allow polygraph results to inflence their decisions despite the fact that these "tests" are easily beaten and have not been proven to determine truth from deception better than chance in a peer-reviewed study conducted under field conditions.
02 January 2002 "Thermal Camera May Detect Lying"
United Press International (UPI) reports on the development of a new system that purports to detect lies. Excerpt:
An experimental new lie detector that measures sudden flashes of heat from around the eyes may soon provide another line of defense against terrorism . . .
"On the other hand, when thinking about the possibility of someone with explosives in his shoes boarding a plane, given the technology's security potential, I think most of us would want this application to be accelerated as quickly as possible," Levine added. "We're making advances in science, and I think the ethical issues need to be dealt with when the advances are being made. Otherwise ethics gets left behind," he said.
The device consists of a high-definition thermal imaging camera the size of a shoebox. The scientists also have developed a miniaturized version of the camera, roughly the diameter of a postage stamp. Both are hooked up to a filing cabinet's worth of computer hardware.
"As people lie, there is a massive increase in blood flow around the eyes, and associated with that there is sudden warming around the eyes, where the color changes to white in the thermal imaging system," Levine explained.
The research team had 20 volunteers commit a mock crime and then assert innocence under experimental conditions at the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute in Fort Jackson, S.C.
Eight of the volunteers stabbed a mannequin and stole $20 from it, while the rest had no knowledge of the crime. The device accurately detected lying roughly 80 percent of the time, a precision level comparable to standard lie detecting polygraph tests performed by experts.
Even if the device discussed in the article were 80% accurate, the extremely low base rate of terrorists would make it completely useless as a tool to screen airline passengers.
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