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29 June 2002 Lie Detector "Tests" for St. Louis Parking Division Employees Doug Moore of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports in an article titled, "City fires three employees, charges them with stealing from meters." Excerpt:

Three St. Louis city workers have been fired and charged with stealing quarters from parking meters. As a result, the treasurer's office is asking some of its other employees to submit to lie detector tests and may make the testing a requirement for all new employees in the parking division.

26 June 2002 Anthrax Probe "Person of Interest" Dr. Steven Hatfill Reportedly Failed Security Clearance Polygraph
In an article titled, "Who is Steven Hatfill" published on the American Prospect website, freelance writer Laura Rozen reports that Dr. Steven Hatfill, whose home the FBI recently searched in its ongoing anthrax investigation, allegedly lost his security clearance following a failed polygraph examination (although he reportedly passed an FBI polygraph interrogation regarding last year's anthrax attacks). Excerpt:

In January 1999, Hatfill went to work for Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a large defense contractor. As a specialist in biological defenses working on contract for various government agencies, Hatfill continued to have access to the Fort Detrick lab; the Army's chemical weapons defense testing facility in Edgewood, Maryland; Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah; and other government labs and military facilities depending on his assignments.

While colleagues at SAIC say that Hatfill's clients adored him, some of them grew concerned about Hatfill this February, after The (Baltimore) Sun ran a story -- not mentioning Hatfill -- about a scientist who was seen taking biosafety cabinets from USAMRIID, at the same time that Hatfill lost his government-issued security clearance and consequently his job at SAIC. Why did he lose his clearance? One military official recounts the story he says Hatfill told him. In this telling, the difficulties began last summer, when Hatfill allegedly applied for a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI) security clearance in order to bid for a top-secret contract with a government agency, perhaps the CIA.

To qualify for this clearance, he was reportedly required to take a polygraph test. Hatfill allegedly told the military official that he failed the polygraph on questions concerning his activities in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The people conducting the polygraph were amateurs, Hatfill allegedly complained to his interlocutor; they couldn't understand what Cold Warriors like himself had to do in Rhodesia. The military official recalls Hatfill as saying that his father-in-law had been killed by rebels in Rhodesia, and that he had consequently undertaken some actions that caused concern when he was given his polygraph test.

21 June 2002 "Search for truth: New technology for catching liars could put more people's honesty to the test"
Associated Press writer Christopher Newton reports. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The world is becoming a trickier place for people who tell lies -- even little white ones.

From thermal-imaging cameras, designed to read guilty eyes, to brain-wave scanners, which essentially watch a lie in motion, the technology of truth-seeking is leaping forward.

At the same time, more people are finding their words put to the test, especially those who work for the government.

FBI agents, themselves subjected to more polygraphs as a result of the Robert Hanssen spy case, have been administering lie detection tests at Fort Detrick, Md., and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, bases with stores of anthrax. Nuclear plant workers also are getting the tests in greater numbers since Sept. 11.

"There has been a reawakening of our interest in being able to determine the truth from each other," said sociologist Barbara Hetrick, who teaches a course on lying at the College of Wooster in Ohio. "As technology advances, we may have to decide whether we want to let a machine decide guilt or innocence."

The new frontiers of lie detection claim to offer greater reliability than the decades-old polygraph, which measures heart and respiratory rates as a person answers questions.


Critics say failure on any lie detector test can have unfair consequences, regardless of what the truth may be.

Mark Mallah says he was suspended and put under 24-hour surveillance after failing a routine polygraph test in 1994, when he was an FBI counterintelligence agent.

He was finally cleared and reinstated 19 months later. He quit.

"They never produced any evidence or came forward with anything, but the polygraph still undermined my career," said Mallah, who practices law in San Francisco.

In the CIA, routine polygraphs led to the suspicion of dozens of agents in the 1980s. Many were kept in professional limbo for years, according to an FBI report.

"We should try to avoid a society where suspicion is based on a machine and not on evidence," said Dale Jenang, a sociologist and philosophy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. "Guilt and innocence are too important to leave to a machine."

21 June 2002 "FBI calling off Vegas threat probe after man fails polygraph"
The Associated Press reports. Excerpt:

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The FBI said Friday that a southern Nevada man's claim that his cellular phone picked up people talking in Arabic about a planned terrorist attack was "not credible."

"The results of the investigation to date do not substantiate these allegations," said Ellen Knowlton, special agent in charge of the Las Vegas FBI office.

Michael Hamdan, 54, told The Associated Press that he failed a polygraph test during a 4-hour interview at the FBI office in Las Vegas. He blamed lack of sleep and mental fatigue after many media interviews in the past 48 hours. He said it was his first polygraph test.

"It was not 100 percent," Hamdan said by cellular telephone as his wife drove him to their home in suburban Henderson. "They told me everything was OK, but there was some uncertainty about a few things."

FBI Special Agent Daron Borst, spokesman for the FBI Las Vegas office, called the investigation "substantially complete." He declined to discuss the results of the lie-detector test or any information agents gathered from Hamdan's cellular telephone records.

Borst said a southern Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force involving the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Las Vegas police and the U.S. Air Force would wrap up the case in the next several days.

"They'll follow up the remaining leads, but that's it," Borst said.

Hamdan, who was born in Lebanon and speaks Arabic, stuck by his story during a later interview with the AP.

He had said that last Saturday his cell phone intercepted a call in which a group of Arabic-speaking men said to another man, "We are in the city of corruption, the city of prostitution, the city of gambling, the city of unbelievers."

Hamdan said he believed the men were referring to Las Vegas and that one saying, "we are going to hit them on the day of freedom" meant a terrorist attack was planned for July Fourth.

He said he authorized the FBI to get his phone records and that agents asked him eight questions during his polygraph interview - including whether he was telling the truth, whether he was a United States citizen and if he hoped to gain anything by telling his story.

"I'm sticking with my story 100 percent because I heard it and it's true," said Hamdan, who expressed disappointment with the FBI decision.

"I came to them with something that I heard on my cell that could not be ignored," he said. "I cannot tell them what to do."

The outcome of pseudoscientific polygraph "tests" should never be made a factor in determining whether such citizen's reports are credible. Polygraph "tests" have no scientific basis, have an inherent bias against the truthful, and yet are easily defeated by the deceptive.

20 June 2002 Polygraphs for Congressmen in Leak Probe?
In an article titled, "AG Asked to Hunt for Sept. 11 Leaks," the Associated Press reports that the House and Senate intelligence committees have asked the U.S. Attorney General to investigate a press leak regarding NSA intercepts of Al Qaeda communications. The article notes: "Asked if lawmakers would submit to FBI interviews and polygraphs, [House Permanent Select Committee on Intellingence Chairman Porter] Goss said they 'will cooperate with the FBI in any way possible.'"

20 June 2002 "Polygraph tests given in case of missing Utah girl"
The Associated Press reports. Excerpt:

SALT LAKE CITY - Police have administered polygraph tests to a number of people both inside and outside 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart's family, authorities said Thursday.

Sixteen days into the investigation of Elizabeth's apparent abduction, police say they still have no suspect. The girl reportedly was taken from her bedroom at gunpoint in the early hours of June 5.

Police Chief Rick Dinse wouldn't elaborate on what the polygraph tests found.

20 June 2002 "Detective Questioned on Bone : Levy Family Investigator Says D.C. Police Wanted Polygraph Test"
Washington Post staff writers Allan Lengel and Sari Horowitz report. Excerpt:

Joe McCann, a private investigator who found one of Chandra Levy's leg bones in Rock Creek Park this month, was happy to provide D.C. police detectives with details of the discovery.

But on Friday, during an interview at police headquarters, the detectives asked McCann if he would submit to a polygraph test and seemed to question the veracity of his story, according to sources familiar with the incident.

McCann, a former D.C. homicide detective hired by the Levy family's attorney, was insulted by the request -- and declined.

Yesterday, D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said it is standard procedure in major cases to ask witnesses with crucial information to take a polygraph. He said there was no reason to believe that McCann moved the bone to the spot or fabricated his account.

"We're not trying to make a big deal" of this, Ramsey said. "The question was not meant to challenge his integrity. . . . We're crossing every 't' and dotting every 'i' and doing what we normally do. It's just a standard question."

But former law enforcement officials who know McCann said the polygraph request was insulting and a possible way to divert attention from the real question: Why didn't D.C. police find the bone during an earlier search of that section of the park?

"It's not routine" to ask for a polygraph in instances such as McCann's, said defense lawyer Louis H. Hennessey, who headed the D.C. police homicide unit in the mid-1990s. "I think they're looking like fools and they're trying to cast aspersions on other people."

19 June 2002 "2 FBI Whistle-Blowers Allege Lax Security, Possible Espionage"
James V. Grimaldi reports on allegations made by fired FBI contract linguist Sibel Edmonds regarding possible espionage by a co-worker on behalf of a Middle Eastern organization targeted for electronic surveillance by FBI counterintelligence. Edmonds states that the co-worker herself claimed to be a member of the targeted organization and also tried to recruit her into it. Grimaldi mentions that "[g]overnment officials familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified said that both Edmonds and the woman were given polygraph examinations by the FBI and that both passed." If Edmonds' allegations are true, the FBI may have been penetrated by a double agent who beat the polygraph.

17 June 2002 Ex-Deputy Who Alleges Wrongful Firing Allegedly Declined "Opportunity" to Take Polygraph
Pseudoscientific polygraph "tests," which may be conveniently rigged against the examinee, are a favorite bureaucratic tool of intimidation. In an article titled, "Sheriff says broken trust led to firing," Beth Velliquette of the Durham, Chapel Hill, and Research Triange region Herald-Sun reports on the case of fired Chatham County, North Carolina sheriff's deputy Dan Phillips, who has filed a civil suit alleging wrongful termination in retaliation for his "trying to bring to light allegations of racism at a Chatham County high school and because he took an informant to the FBI on a missing-marijuana case." Excerpt:

In [Chatham County Sheriff Ike] Gray's affidavit, he said he fired Phillips on January 18, 2001, for an incident that occurred the day before in [Chief Deputy Randy] Keck's office. Gray said he was in his office when he heard loud voices from Keck's office.

"It was apparent that some type of confrontation was occurring," he said.

"As the voices quieted and Mr. Phillips left, Deputy Keck told me that Mr. Phillips had said that we (meaning the sheriff's department) didn't know what we were doing, that we better 'back off,' that all of this was going to be a political issue, and that if we didn't back off, he had an attorney that was going to sue me," Gray said.

In Keck's affidavit, he stated that he offered Phillips the opportunity to take a lie detector test, but that Phillips became agitated and said he was not going to take the test.

"He then said he had been in touch with the NAACP, who had hired him a lawyer, and then made a threat about bringing a lawsuit against the sheriff's department," Keck said.

Phillips contended in previous court papers that he was told to take a lie detector test, but he said he would only take one if the person who spoke out against him would submit to a polygraph test, as provided in the sheriff's standard operations procedures manual.

It appears that a law enforcement officer who merely excercised his procedural rights has been unfairly smeared with the insinuation that he declined the "opportunity" submit to a lie detector "test" (with the unspoken implication that he "must have had something to hide"). Abuses of this kind can be prevented by ending the governmental and other exemptions to the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act.

For further reading on the missing marijuana incident, see reporter Beth Velliquette's 18 June article, "Chatham County deputy shocked at discovering marijuana missing" and her 19 June article, "Chatham missing pot trail traced."

15 June 2002 "Polygraph tests not flawless"
Joe Bauman of the Deseret News reports in this single-source article on polygraphy:

The accuracy of polygraph tests compares well with that of other forensic techniques but sometimes emotions can short-circuit the results, a national expert says.

The tests record physiological responses to questions. The queries usually cover both a crime under investigation and matters that are irrelevant or simply technical such as: Is today Friday? Responses to these comparison questions are checked against responses to relevant questions.

But if a subject is overwrought, the responses may not be significantly different between the two types of questions.

Take a case where a homicide occurred and the victim's spouse is to be questioned, said Frank Horvath, professor in the School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing. A past president of the American Polygraph Association and an avowed proponent of the validity of the tests, he was interviewed by telephone on Friday.

In that theoretical case, if an examiner were to "test the living spouse the day after the crime occurred, there would be an awful lot of emotion intermixed with this and that would not produce a useful outcome."

The result could be inconclusive, he noted. "Sometimes there's just no way around it."

Horvath said a way to resolve that might be to test later, when emotions have settled down.

Polygraphs are not lie-detectors, he emphasized. The machine records physiological reactions to questions, and trained examiners usually can tell if the subject's responses are truthful.

The machine records reactions to three conditions, all of which can change under stress, including the stress of lying: breathing; blood pressure and pulse; and skin electrical conductivity.

During a pretest interview, the examiner carefully discusses the case and goes over every question. The subject must know what the questions are, word for word, so he is not surprised by anything. He must not give a startled, and therefore misleading, response.

Usually the test consists of 10 or 11 questions that can be answered by yes or no. Of these, three or four are relevant to the investigation and the rest are irrelevant or comparison questions.

During testing, when the subject is connected to the monitors, "that list of questions is repeated," usually three or four times. Pauses of 20 or 30 seconds separate the questions, allowing the physical response to occur and subside.

"We look for consistency of responses to the same questions," Horvath said.

Usually when a person is telling the truth about a crime he will "produce more dramatic and consistent responses to the comparison questions," he said.

"If they're not telling the truth, the opposite occurs."

But if the responses to both types of questions are about the same, "that's an inconsistent outcome." The data might not be strong enough for an examiner to reach a conclusion about truthfulness .

"Sometimes there could be confusion, sometimes the person is emotionally distraught," he said. "We don't know everything that produces inconclusive" results.

Usually that happens when a subject is not properly prepared for the testing, he believes.

Child abductions are common throughout America, he said, and so is the use of polygraph testing in those cases.

"In this kind of case, polygraph testing plays an extremely critical role."

The tests are used daily with great success. The public should not consider a polygraph test to be a last-ditch investigation when all else has failed.

How accurate are the tests?

"This is an issue that has not been resolved, and we have very strongly polarized views," Horvath said. Nobody says they are perfect, and nobody says they don't work.

Professor Frank Horvath is dead wrong when he claims "nobody says [polygraph tests] don't work." Since September 2000, has been working to alert the public to the fact that polygraph "testing" is a pseudoscientific fraud that only "works" to the extent that it succeeds in eliciting admissions/confessions from the naive and the gullible. Among the gullible is reporter Joe Bauman, whom Frank Horvath evidently misled into believing that irrelevant questions such as, "Is today Friday?" are used as comparison (or "control") questions, when such is not the case, as readers of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector are well aware.

15 June 2002 "Polygraph Experts Say Test Really Can Help"
Greg Lavine reports for the Salt Lake Tribune. Excerpt:

Academic experts who study lie detection say that polygraph tests can play a useful role in cases such as the abduction of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, but the scientific community remains divided over whether such examinations can accurately determine guilt or innocence.

At least two family members, including Elizabeth Smart's father, Edward, are known to have taken polygraph tests. Investigators have left the door open to test other family members.

Polygraph testing can be especially useful in cases involving limited physical evidence, said Frank Horvath, a professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University.

"This is exactly the kind of case where polygraph testing can play the greatest role," said Horvath, who runs the Research Center for the Detection of Deception, funded in part by the American Polygraph Association.

So-called lie detectors can clear potential suspects as opposed to pinning the crime on an individual, he said. This would probably be among the first tools investigators would deploy from their forensic arsenal.

William Iacono, a University of Minnesota psychologist and noted polygraph critic, said he sees some benefits to the test in abduction cases.

But he cautioned that the tests alone do not indicate guilt or innocence, and studies have shown that innocent subjects can "fail" a polygraph test about 45 percent of the time. Polygraph test results are not admissible in Utah and most other U.S. courts.

Undergoing a polygraph test can get subjects to open up to questions they might otherwise not answer, said Iacono, who runs a psychopathology laboratory. A significant physiological response to a certain question may indicate unease with that topic. Investigators can explore that avenue, which could lead to other areas of focus.

Horvath and Iacono agree that there is no such thing as the perfect liar. Several studies indicate that no one can beat a polygraph test by simply spinning lies.

Iacono said there are other methods that can fool polygraph tests, many of which are available on the Internet. Some methods can be as simple as tongue biting.

Lavine fails to note that Professor Iacono has also argued the "control" question "test" (CQT) polygraphy has no scientific basis. The benefits of CQT polygraphy are the admissions/confessions that are sometimes obtained from naive and gullible subjects. For more on Professor Iacono's views on polygraphy, see his article, "Forensic 'Lie Detection': Procedures Without Scientific Basis."

14 June 2002 on Polygraph Use in the Elizabeth Smart Case reports in an article titled, "License plates found in missing girl case." Excerpt:

Investigators looking for Elizabeth returned to her home Thursday with police dogs and questioned for a fifth time the younger sister who witnessed the abduction. They said they have used polygraph tests in their questioning of numerous people, including family members.

A law enforcement source told CNN the results of a lie-detector test on an extended family member were inconclusive. Asked about the implications, the source said, "You want to keep looking at the person."

The source said police will see if the person has an alibi for the night Elizabeth disappeared.

All polygraph tests have been administered to males, including Ed Smart, the girl's father, the source said.

14 June 2002 Polygraph Raises Suspicions in Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping Case
In an article titled "Sister Didn't See Face of Abductor," Salt Lake Tribune reporters Kevin Cantera and Michael Vigh detail developments in the Smart kidnapping case. Excerpt:

On Thursday, police continued to say they had not ruled out any suspects, including members of Elizabeth's family. The girl's June 5 disappearance sparked a large-scale search and has made headlines around the globe.

David Smart, Elizabeth's uncle, told reporters Thursday the family understood that its members were a necessary focus of the probe and they were willing to sit for lie-detector tests. "If they did not investigate us, they would be negligent," he said.

The Tribune has confirmed an NBC report Thursday that the responses given by one member of Elizabeth's extended family during a polygraph test raised investigators' suspicions about his alibi.

Police have refused to comment on lie-detector tests they have administered in the case, except to say that Elizabeth's father, Edward Smart, was tested Sunday.

His brother, Tom Smart, appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Wednesday night and said he, too, had been tested.

Tom Smart characterized the polygraph test administered to Edward as "four hours of hell."

"We've been ripped apart by our polygraph[s]," Tom Smart told CNN. "We've been ripped apart to the core."

13 June 2002 Australia: "Bosses use lie tests on staff"
Fiona Hamilton reports on polygraphy in the workplace in Queensland, Australia in this article published in the Courier-Mail. Excerpt:

LIE detector tests are the latest weapon for Queensland employers in vetting prospective employees and investigating workplace thefts and frauds.

Insurers are also using lie detectors to check the veracity of claims, offering to pay if claimants pass the test.

Paul Woolley, an examiner with Brisbane polygraph testing company, Australian Lie Detection, said he had been hired by employers to scrutinise workers for everything from pre-employment checks to questioning over fraud and theft incidents in the workplace.

The emerging trend has been slammed by privacy and legal experts who said employees could be bullied into taking tests against their wishes. They said the tests were an invasion of workers' privacy.

The practice is illegal in NSW [New South Wales], and the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties yesterday called for the Queensland Government to make similar changes to legislation before the testing procedure was misused.

QCCL president Ian Dearden said lie detector tests were a breach of workers' rights and believed employees could be easily pressured into taking a test for fear their employment might be terminated.

12 June 2002 The Polygraph as a Tool of Intimidation in the Overland, Missouri Police Department
In an article titled "Squeal Like a Pig" published in the Riverfront Times, Bruce Rushton reports on the Overland Police Department's alleged retaliation against employees who complained of sexual harassment. This detailed investigative report includes an account of how the threat of a polygraph interrogation was used as a tool of intimidation against Overland police officer Leonard Sylcox after he complained of sexual harassment by his male supervisor, who was a friend of the chief. Excerpt:

About the same time, Sylcox was summoned to [director of professional standards and head of internal affairs Captain Walter] Bunt's office and ordered to take a polygraph examination. When Sylcox twice asked the subject of the inquiry, he says Bunt twice answered, "Everything." Sylcox asked why this was necessary now that Miller [whom Sylcox had accused] was gone. He also reminded Bunt that [director of field operations Captain Robert] Morrissey had told him that he wouldn't have to take a polygraph, but Bunt was adamant. The next day, Sylcox received a written order to appear for a polygraph test in one week.

The stress on Sylcox was obvious to [Sylcox's partner,] Gibson. On the day Sylcox received his polygraph order, Gibson asked him what was bothering him. Sylcox told his partner that he had been ordered to take a lie-detector test, but he couldn't say anything more. "What is going on, you never tell me what's going on," Gibson responded. "You obviously have issues with our command staff, and they obviously have issues with you." Gibson then confessed that he had been sent to the storefront as a spy.

Sylcox contacted a lawyer, and the polygraph was canceled. When he asked Bunt why, he says the captain responded, "You got an attorney so we canceled it. That's what the chief [Colonel James Herron] wanted."

12 June 2002 CNN Interview with Tom Smart
On CNN's "Larry King Live" show, Nancy Grace interviewed Tom Smart, brother of Ed Smart, whose daughter Elizabeth was kidnapped last week. The following is an excerpt from the show transcript:

GRACE: A lot of focus has been placed on your brother, Edward Smart. We all know he's taken a polygraph. What was his response to that?

SMART: He said it was four hours of hell. And he's willing to go do a polygraph. He didn't know that -- he didn't volunteer that. But somehow a polygraph -- something got out and I said, "Ed what about a polygraph?" And he just went, yes I've been through four hours of hell -- and whatever.

The entire family is willing to take polygraphs. We'll do whatever you want. I don't know who has and who hasn't. But the family's -- the family will do anything. Just...

GRACE: I'm trying to imagine my own dad strapped to a polygraph for four hours trying to answer questions, the whole time, wondering where the heck his daughter is, you know, taken in the middle of the night. Did he pass the polygraph?

SMART: Yes. I was told that he passed the polygraph. When you do a polygraph, and I know because I've done one just recently -- I should never say that...

GRACE: Hey, hey, hold on. Why did you have to take a polygraph?

SMART: Everybody is suspect on this. So, it's the police's job to question everybody in this situation.

GRACE: Well, Tom, that is not unusual. Police start with the family and the friends and they go outward from there because statistically, very often when a child is abducted, it is someone the child is related to or knows. It is not unusual at all that you or Ed have been asked to do a polygraph. What's unusual is when parents refuse to take a polygraph. That's what strikes me as unusual. So I was very happy to hear that Ed had taken the polygraph.

11 June 2002 Father of Missing Girl Calls Polygraph Interrogation "Four Hours of Hell"
In an article on the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case titled, "'We are going to get you,'" Derek Jensen of the Deseret News briefly discusses the polygraph interrogation of her father, Ed Smart Excerpt:

Elizabeth Smart's father also submitted to a polygraph test Sunday, but authorities won't say what questions were asked, whether he had an attorney present or what the results showed.

"When asked by law enforcement I fully cooperated because I have nothing to hide. We are doing everything in our power to bring back Elizabeth," Edward Smart said in a statement released Monday evening.

Edward Smart's brother, Deseret News photographer Tom Smart, said his brother described the polygraph test as "four hours of hell."

Police said the lie detector test is a common tool used by investigators.

As of Tuesday morning, Elizabeth's father was the only family member who'd taken a polygraph test, police said.

"I think that's a normal thing," Elizabeth's grandmother Dorotha Smart told NBC's "Today Show" Tuesday morning. "It's all right. Any one of us would be happy to go through with that."

10 June 2002 "Polygraph Test for Missing Girl's Father"
The Associated Press reports. Excerpt:

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) The father of missing teenager Elizabeth Smart was given a polygraph test, police said Monday.

"(Edward Smart) did submit to a polygraph yesterday and that's being reviewed by the FBI," said Salt Lake City Police Capt. Scott Atkinson.

Police won't say why they asked Smart to take a the test.

''It's not uncommon'' for police to give such tests to parents, or to do several interviews, said Salt Lake City Detective Jay Rhodes.

Monday was the sixth day of the search for 14-year-old Elizabeth, who police said was abducted from her home. Authorities are no closer to finding the teen and say they are baffled by the case that is quickly growing cold.

10 June 2002 "True Fit: Polygrapher A Puzzle Solver"
Freelance writer Roger Calip profiles West Hartford, CT police polygrapher Paul Melanson in this puff piece for the The Hartford Courant. Excerpt:

West Hartford Police Sgt. Paul Melanson's detective abilities cover a wide spectrum.

His skills range from the step-by-step deduction required for a field investigation of a kidnapping or homicide to the careful analysis needed to administer a polygraph test.

When he's investigating a case, "a lot of it is putting together a puzzle that you don't have all the pieces to," Melanson said.

When he's doing a lie-detector test, the puzzle involves what Melanson describes as "an accurate interpretation of the physiological changes that indicate anxiety" and are recorded on a polygraph chart when a person lies.

Melanson's career accelerated four years ago when he deduced that the department needed a polygraph unit. He recognized that the department's procedures for processing applicants for police jobs were cumbersome and time-consuming.

State law requires that all applicants get a background check, part of which involves passing a polygraph test. A private polygrapher would administer the test.

Melanson put together a proposal for a polygraph unit at the police station. His superiors accepted the idea, and they created the unit in January 1999.

During the first four months of that year, Melanson trained at the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute in Fort McClellan, Ala.

The training consisted of master's level courses on anatomy, physiology and psychology, Melanson said, and "after that, it involved instrumentation and test-question construction and administering these tests to actual military recruits."

Now Melanson not only tests prospective police officers, but also suspects in criminal cases. Here's how he does it.

After seating a suspect on a plain, gray upholstered chair (which eerily resembles an electric chair), he attaches electrodermal activity plates to one of the person's fingers; the plates are designed to measure sweat gland activity.

He places a pneumograph tube on the suspect's abdomen; he puts another on the thoracic cavity. The tubes record upper-body movements and perspiration. Lastly, a cardio cuff is wrapped around the suspect's arm to record the heart rate and blood flow.

The instruments record bodily changes that occur during questioning, and that can indicate anxiety in the suspect.

"When a person lies," Melanson said, "there's a conflict within the brain, and there's some anxiety with telling the lie."

The recordings associated with the bodily changes, he said, "are sent to a sensor box, which digitizes the information coming in, and then sends it to the computer."

Melanson analyzes a chart that is projected onto his computer monitor. When the line on the graph reacts to an answer to a question by shooting upward - creating the highest point, compared with other points on the chart - it indicates "a physiological change that is caused by anxiety about the response," Melanson said.

"The subject is lying."

Some people try to fool the device by taking countermeasures that make the polygraph fail to record bodily changes, he said. They breathe in and out heavily or move their upper body, distorting the readings on the chart.

The result, Melanson said, is that no changes in blood flow or heart rate or other physiological activity are picked up. The test ends up being inconclusive.

These days, polygraphers receive training in detecting the countermeasures that some people resort to.

"I can tell by looking at the chart," Melanson said, "if you're trying to beat the polygraph."

Perhaps Sergeant Paul Melanson would be willing to accept Dr. Richardson's polygraph countermeasure challenge?

30 May 2002 Condit Lawyer: Lie Test OK
Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News Washington bureau reports. Excerpt:

Insisting Chandra Levy was randomly attacked while jogging, Rep. Gary Condit's lawyer said yesterday he would advise him to take an FBI lie detector test -- if asked.

"Yes, I'd strongly consider an FBI polygraph," said Mark Geragos, Condit's third lawyer. "If they thought that was going to help, I would say cooperate."

Geragos said he hadn't mentioned it to Condit because police have not made a request. "Nobody's asked me," he said.

Condit fueled suspicions last year by refusing to take an FBI lie detector test. Instead, he paid a private polygrapher to administer a test, which he passed. Police, however, said it was of no value.

24 May 2002 Annual Polygraph Report Published
Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy in Government Project reports in today's Secrecy News electronic newsletter:


The Department of Defense this week released its Annual Polygraph Report for 2001, reaffirming the Department's commitment to polygraph testing as an instrument of counterintelligence and criminal investigations as well as for security screening.

The Report provides a fresh set of anecdotes in which polygraph tests helped resolve criminal cases or uncover security violations, and sets forth an ambitious research program intended to bolster the technology's widely disputed credibility.

The latest Report, obtained today under the Freedom of Information Act, is available here:

In recent years, polygraph testing has become the target of increasingly focused and sophisticated criticism, notably from George Maschke and his colleagues at See:

Yet agency reliance on polygraph testing has hardly diminished. Most recently, the FBI indicated that it would ask at least 200 workers at Fort Detrick and Dugway Proving Grounds to take polygraph tests as part of the search for the elusive anthrax terrorist. See "Anthrax Probe Turns to Polygraph" by Megan Garvey and Eric Lichtblau in the May 22 Los Angeles Times:

A noteworthy critique of the polygraph was offered by Aldrich Ames in a November 2000 letter that he wrote to the Federation of American Scientists from Allenwood Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, where he is serving a life sentence for espionage. See:

22 May 2002 "Anthrax Probe Turns to Polygraph"
Megan Garvey and Eric Lichtblau report for the Los Angeles Times. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON -- The decision by the FBI to administer polygraph tests to hundreds of federal workers at two top military research facilities marks a new effort by investigators to smoke out individuals who might have information about last year's deadly anthrax attacks.

Seven months after the first victim died from the bioterrorist attack launched by mail, officials still have been unable to identify a suspect through intensive scientific and other law enforcement techniques.

However, suspicion has focused on two military laboratories, at least one of which has weapon-grade anthrax stocks available. Scientists analyzing the genetic sequence of the spores used in the attacks-- which came from a strain known as Ames-- said earlier this month that they were able to rule out some laboratories as the source of the spores that killed five people and sickened at least 13 others. Federal investigators characterize the unusual plan to begin polygraph testing of large numbers of employees at Ft. Detrick in Maryland and Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah next month as "another step in the investigation."

"What you've got is a universe of individuals who could have the knowledge, ability and wherewithal to do this--and how do you separate them? How we're doing that here is by asking them to submit to voluntary polygraphs," said a federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified.

Army officials said Tuesday that they are continuing to cooperate with federal investigators.

"We expect our folks to comply with the laws and share any information that FBI is asking for," said Army spokeswoman Karen Baker.

Although the anonymous FBI source characterizes the planned polygraph interrogations as "voluntary," any Army employees who, in compliance with the law, refuse to submit to this pseudoscientific ordeal seem likely to face retaliation.

21 May 2002 "Police Applicants No Longer Face Lie-Detector Tests"
Thomas J. Gibbons, Jr., reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Excerpt:

In a major policy shift, candidates for the Philadelphia Police Department will no longer have to pass a lie-detector test to be accepted to the force, according to a directive from Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson.

The order takes effect immediately, affecting a new list of prospective officers who have yet to complete their qualifications for the department.

"We just have a brand-new list [of candidates], and I've talked to the deputy commissioner of Internal Affairs indicating that I want nobody on that list to be polygraphed," Johnson said in an interview yesterday.

The commissioner said he made the decision after a review of the policy by a panel that included Fraternal Order of Police president Richard Costello; Maureen Rush, vice president of public safety at the University of Pennsylvania; and city lawyers.

"What I am trying to do is make our system fair and consistent for everyone," said Johnson, discussing the policy that was first implemented in the late 1970s, several years before the force began reeling from major corruption probes that reached into the highest ranks.

"I think that there are a lot of applicants who we've lost who would have made outstanding police officers that, because they couldn't pass the polygraph, were rejected," the commissioner said.

A city official involved extensively in department corruption probes disagreed with the commissioner's decision, however, saying that the testing was helpful in catching bad candidates.

"I'm disappointed to see it go," said the official, who asked not to be named.

Costello said he agreed with Johnson's decision, saying that those who advocate use of a polygraph "never took one themselves."

"Johnson is from the old school, where police work is done by police officers and not by trinkets," Costello said.

Costello said he favored extensive background investigations of candidates to reveal character flaws. He called the polygraph "nothing more than a gadget."

"It's unreliable. It does not measure truth or falsehood. It measures nervousness," Costello said.

21 May 2002 "Police Drop Polygraph as Hiring Tool"
Gloria Campisi reports for the Philadelphia Daily News. Excerpt:

The Philadelphia Police Department is scrapping the polygraph test as a hiring tool.

Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said yesterday more intensive background checks would replace the lie detector test, which has been in use here for more than 20 years.

The action was hailed by a police union official who called the lie tests as reliable as "tarot cards and ouija boards."

Johnson said Philadelphia was the only large city still using the controversial tests, required for admission to the Police Academy.

Once in the academy, some recruits who passed the lie tests have been determined to have been involved in illegal activities that would bar them from the force, he said.

In a lawsuit filed in the late 1980s challenging the tests, American Civil Liberties Union official Barry Steinhardt said people turned down for the police force because of negative polygraph results numbered "in the hundreds, and probably more than 1,000."

The test reportedly relies heavily on questions about drug or alcohol use and personal matters.

Rich Costello, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union, hailed Johnson's action, calling the tests "inherently unreliable."

"An awful lot of people are not officers today [because of] this toy," Costello said.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson has taken a courageous step in scrapping polygraph screening. Unfortunately, Philadelphia was not the only large city still using polygraph screening. For example, Los Angeles adopted it in February, 2001, and since that time, about half of those applicants "tested" have "failed."

21 May 2002 "FBI to polygraph workers in Md., Utah on anthrax"
Scott Shane reports for the Baltimore Sun. Excerpt:

The FBI will soon begin giving polygraph exams to scores of employees at the Army's bio- defense center at Fort Detrick in Frederick and at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to see if a government insider mailed the anthrax that killed five people last fall, an FBI official confirmed last night.

In the course of the eight-month investigation, lie- detector tests have been given to a small number of scientists who had access to anthrax, including about 10 people at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick.

But the new polygraph initiative, first reported last night by ABC News, would go much further. It might cover up to 200 current and former employees of the two Army research facilities, the FBI official said.

Fort Detrick sources say that about 80 current employees have had access in recent years to the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks.

The number of people with access to anthrax at Dugway Proving Ground is probably considerably smaller. But scientists at Dugway, unlike Fort Detrick, have manufactured for research purposes small quantities of fine-grained, weapons-quality anthrax resembling the powder in the envelopes sent to news organizations and two U.S. senators last fall.

Experts inside and outside the government said last night that the planned polygraph campaign might indicate that investigators are out of leads and casting a wide net in hopes of tripping up the perpetrator.

"It looks to me like desperation," said a scientist at Fort Detrick. "The trail has kind of gone cold."

Several Fort Detrick employees said the FBI, whose agents spent months interviewing workers and reviewing records, has not been active on the military base lately.

But some nongovernment scientists said the FBI polygraphs may be designed to probe new leads that could narrow the field of possible suspects.

A third possibility is that investigators have a suspect or suspects at Fort Detrick or Dugway but are planning to polygraph a large number of people to keep from tipping their hand. They may fear that the perpetrator could flee or attack again.

"Maybe they really have one or two specific people and they're covering it with a large number of polygraphs," said Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a molecular biologist at the State University of New York who has followed the investigation closely.

Rosenberg believes the anthrax attacker probably worked at Fort Detrick and welcomes the polygraph program. "It's about time," she said.

But Fort Detrick employees - many of whom have put in long hours to do technical work backing the FBI investigation - already feel targeted by the bureau and the press, and more polygraphs won't help, one worker said.

"I think there's going to be resentment," he said. "People feel we're getting beaten up already."

20 May 2002 "US Plans Polygraphs in Anthrax Probe"
Associated Press writer Christopher Newman reports. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department (news - web sites) is preparing to give lie detector tests to hundreds of federal workers at two facilities where anthrax is stored, hoping to identify suspects in the letter attacks, a law enforcement official said Monday.

Beginning in June, the government will administer the tests to workers at Fort Detrick, Md., about 40 miles northwest of Washington, and Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, about 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

The government will focus on workers who had expertise in preparing anthrax for use as a weapon and those who may have had access to it, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

ABC News, which first reported the plans for testing, said some former employees of both facilities may be given polygraph tests as well.

The law enforcement official said the plan to test employees does not mean the government already has a suspect.

The investigation into who sent several anthrax-laced letters last year has produced few leads and investigators acknowledge the trail is growing cold. The government has begun a strategy of focusing on possible sources of anthrax rather than identifying suspects from the few clues gained from the letters.

Officials at Fort Detrick and Dugway did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment Monday.

20 May 2002 "Polygraphs for Fort Detrick Workers"
Pierre Thomas reports for This short article is cited here in full:

May 20 -- The government will launch a wide-ranging program of polygraph testing to determine if one of its own employees is responsible for last year's anthrax attacks, ABCNEWS has learned.

As many as 200 current and former employees at Fort Detrick in Maryland, the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah and a number of other labs across the nation will face questioning and voluntary polygraph tests in the hope that one of them might produce a lead.

Sources told ABCNEWS those targeted include people who have expertise in the production of anthrax or have had access to it.

"In the absence of a prime suspect, the FBI has to build its case through subtraction, taking away the elements that don't fit, trying to make their theory work," said Kyle Olson, an analyst in the field of weapons of mass destruction.

Law enforcement officials say the scientific analysis of the anthrax sent in letters that killed five people is consistent with the Ames anthrax strain housed by the U.S. military at Fort Detrick and distributed to a number of labs for research.

"The anthrax strain from the Florida case was very similar to an anthrax strain that was derived from one distributed through Fort Detrick," said Timothy Read, an assistant investigator for the Institute for Genomic Research.

Investigators Face Dead Ends

Frustrated for months and with no clear suspect, the mass lie detector tests, which are expected to start in June, constitute the latest government attempt to generate new leads.

Earlier this year, the FBI sent a letter to the 43,000-member American Society of Microbiology, which said: "It is very likely that one or more of you know this individual ... Based on his or her selection of the Ames strain ... one would expect that this individual ... had legitimate access" to biological agents.

One law enforcement source told ABCNEWS that investigators, who have faced a lot of dead ends, have to start somewhere.

20 May 2002 FBI Training Unit Chief Says Nearly Half of Agent Applicants Don't Pass Polygraph

In an article titled, "FBI seeks to rebuild its image," Chris Mondics of the Philadelphia Inquirer Washington bureau reports that Roger L. Trott, chief of the FBI's agent training unit, asserts that nearly half of FBI agent applicants who pass preliminary tests don't pass the polygraph. Excerpt:

...The bureau expects to hire only about 5 percent of the 20,000-plus people who have submitted applications since the beginning of the year.

Applicants are tested on analytical math and communications skills. Trott says that nearly half the applicants who survive the written tests and the interviews typically don't pass the polygraph on past drug use, potential security risks, and other issues.

If Trott is right, then the percentage of FBI applicants who fail to pass the polygraph is up sharply from an earlier figure of about 20%. Perhaps, with the surge in applications following the events of 11 September 2001, the FBI has decided that it can afford to arbitrarily disqualify more applicants based on polygraph chart readings.

18 May 2002 "Officers: Prison relies too much on polygraphs"
Luke Turf of the Yuma Sun reports on the Arizona Department of Corrections' use of polygraphy. Excerpt:

Three correctional officers at the state prison in Yuma were wrongfully disciplined because the Department of Corrections relies too heavily on polygraphs, an attorney for the employees and state Sen. Herb Guenther say.

Martin Bihn is the attorney for officers Kyle Fouts, Mario Diaz and Dennis Harkins. The case started Aug. 12, 1999, when an inmate with dried blood on his ear claimed Diaz, a sergeant at the time, slammed his head into a wall, said Bihn.

The inmate filed a complaint with the department and passed a polygraph test, Bihn said.

Diaz also took a polygraph concerning the incident and his results were inconclusive, Bihn said, while Fouts failed a polygraph as a witness to the alleged incident. Fouts was suspended without pay for 40 hours and Diaz was demoted, Bihn said.

According to Bihn, Fouts was suspended because he stuck up for Diaz and went as far as sending e-mails and memos up the chain of command to express his discontent with his co-worker's discipline.

And Harkins, a deputy warden at the time, was demoted and relocated because he disagreed with the actions taken against Fouts and also supported his co-worker, Bihn said. Bihn said Harkins' record was "perfect" prior to his demotion.

Diaz was ordered reinstated by the Arizona State Personnel Board, which conducts personnel hearings for state employees. But the department appealed to Yuma County Superior Court and lost, Bihn said. The department appealed the decision to the Arizona Court of Appeals, where the case stands now.

The Department of Correction's public information officer, Rhonda Cole, said she couldn't comment on the matter because it is still being reviewed by the Department of Justice and the state Court of Appeals.

"Until there's a final decision, it wouldn't be appropriate to comment," Cole said.

Guenther, a Tacna Democrat, has been following the case for about a year.

"There certainly are some irregularities," Guenther said. "It's just extremely unusual the amount of polygraph use in the Department of Corrections."

18 May 2002 "Glynn County police like voice stress lie detector; others not so sure"
The Associated Press reports on Glynn County, Georgia's use of and professed belief in "Computer Voice Stress Analysis" (CVSA). Excerpt:

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- Glynn County police have become true believers in a new sort of lie detector that analyzes stress in a suspect's voice, but other police departments are not convinced.

The Computer Voice Stress Analyzer helped snare William David Tatro, who was convicted earlier this month for killing his wife and burying her in a garden in his front yard.

Tatro initially told police two different versions of what happened to his wife, Yukie Tatro.

Glynn police Sgt. Chip Anderson said Tatro first told them he "didn't know where his wife was, that she (had) driven away in her car." He then agreed to answer questions about her disappearance on the voice stress test.

"Mr. Tatro changed his story after we confronted him with results of his voice stress test, which showed that he had been deceptive in his statements about her disappearance. That's when he told us that he killed her accidentally," Anderson said.

Yukie Tatro's decomposed body was found Oct. 5, 2000. William David Tatro is awaiting sentencing.

Jurors never heard any testimony about the voice stress test, but Anderson said it was "an important tool" leading investigators to Yukie Tatro's body and her killer.

"It bolstered our feeling that (William Tatro) knew more about her disappearance than he was saying, and it showed us that we were going in the right direction with our investigation," Anderson said.

About 1,200 law enforcement agencies nationwide use the voice stress test, including 38 in Georgia and 124 in Florida.

The instrument uses a special computer program to detect, measure and analyze the micro-frequency modulations in a person's voice. The frequency changes can be used to determine lying or truthfulness, police said.

But neither voice stress analysis, nor the more traditional polygraph tests are admissible in court as evidence in Georgia, Florida or federal courts, authorities said.

Glynn County public defender Timothy Barton said the analyzer shouldn't be used as evidence because, like a polygraph, it hasn't been proved scientifically accurate.

"It's a crude tool, but it's a tool. I've got no problem with it as an investigative tool, as long as the police don't use it to trick people," Barton said. "We want the truth as much as the police do. If it helps get at the truth then I'm for it."

While Glynn County public defender Timothy Barton has no problem with the use of CVSA as an "investigative tool, as long as the police don't use it to trick people," that is precisely how CVSA (like polygraphy) is used--as an interrogation tactic to trick suspects into believing that they have been caught in a lie, and to convince them that it is in their best interest to confess. Neither polygraphy nor CVSA has any scientific basis, and no reliance should be placed on the outcome of such "tests."

2 May 2002 "Voice analyser pyramid points to truth"
Louise Dickson reports on the first use of Computerized Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) by Canadian police in this puff piece published in the Victoria Times Colonist. Excerpt:

"Did you actually see Ruth shoot Billy?"

"Yes," the suspect replied.

"Did you shoot Billy?"


But the image on the computer screen told another story. In this Florida case, a picture was worth 25 years.

The Florida investigator was using a computerized voice stress analyser to detect deception. Saanich police have the first analyser in use in Canada.

"It's a very accurate instrument," said Saanich police Sgt. Don Wiebe as he played the taped interrogation in the Florida case. "If done accurately and correctly by the operator, it will be 100 per cent effective in verifying truth."

The Florida investigator, trying to get to the bottom of a a drug shooting, hooked up his suspect to the voice stress analyser. After a series of direct questions, it became apparent that both Ruth and her boyfriend had shot Billy.

Wiebe said that using the $16,000 analyser is as easy as hooking a microphone to a lapel. The microphone directs the sound into the software of the computer. The tool, used by 1,103 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., is portable and less intrusive than a polygraph test.

The machine works by measuring the FM frequency in the voice, Wiebe explained.

"Voices line up in two modulations, AM and FM. When you are speaking, your AM frequency rides on top of your FM frequency. If you are under considerable stress, the FM in your voice diminishes," said Wiebe.

When someone gives a perfectly truthful answer, the voice stress analyser projects an image on the computer screen of a pyramid with diagonal lines. When someone lies, the diagonal lines diminish and plateau. The pyramid shape becomes more of a block.

Like polygraphy, CVSA, peddled by the "National Institute of Truth Verification," is a pseudoscientific fraud. In the early 20th century, uncritical journalism of the kind we see here helped to delude the general public into believing in the myth of the polygraph. Now, in the early 21st century, the same process continues with respect to CVSA. Home Page > Polygraph News