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25 June 2004 "Guatemala to give all police lie detector tests"
The following Reuters AlertNet report is cited here in full:
GUATEMALA CITY, June 25 (Reuters) - Every member of the police force in Guatemala will be subjected to lie detector tests and background checks after police were found running criminal gangs, President Oscar Berger said on Friday.
Berger said it would take four months to investigate the Central American country's 22,000 police.
He did not say what would happen to police who failed the tests but suggested they could lose their jobs.
"I believe that most of the police are good people and will stay on," Berger told journalists.
Guatemala has previously given lie detector tests and background checks to police suspected of taking part in the drug trade.
Reports of police involvement in organized crime have come to the surface in recent weeks.
Internal police investigations have led to arrests of police officers alleged to run crime gangs, one dedicated to kidnappings.
Nine people, including six police, were arrested on Wednesday, accused of forming a gang involved in extorting money from drivers and murder.
The arrests came hours after gunmen hijacked a city bus and shot and killed two sign painters, the start of a crime-ridden 48 hours in which at least 19 people died in different incidents.
Analysts say a homicide conviction rate of five percent can be largely attributed to the power organized crime has on the streets and within the justice system.
President Berger's desire to reign in police corruption is laudable. But reliance on polygraph screening -- a pseudoscientific procedure that is widely known not to work -- is the wrong way to go about cleaning up a police force.
25 June 2004 "Colombian Soldiers Face Polygraph Tests"
Associated Press writer Dan Molinski reports in this article published by New York Newsday. Excerpt:
BOGOTA, Colombia -- A group of Colombian soldiers claiming to have accidentally killed five peasants face lie detector tests after investigations showed that at least one of the victims was shot at point-blank range, authorities said Thursday.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said it would also give a polygraph test to army troops who shot and killed seven elite anti-kidnapping police officers and four informants in a separate unresolved incident.
The administration of hard-line President Alvaro Uribe is facing mounting criticism over its inability to explain a spate of erroneous killings, nor bring any charges against those responsible for apparent army excesses.
"The results of these tests will be made available to legal authorities," the communique said.
Colombian legal authorities should not make decisions based on the outcome of pseudoscientific polygraph "tests." The procedure has an inherent bias against the truthful, and yet liars can easily pass using countermeasures that polygraphers cannot detect.
24 June 2004 "Polygraphing Rumors"
Joel Mowbray writes for the Washington Times. Excerpt:
To a number of civilian employees at the Pentagon, a New York Times story on June 3 came as quite a jolt: Some of them apparently already had been polygraphed as part of an investigation into Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi.
But it never happened. Nearly three weeks later, it appears that the implicated civilian employees at the Pentagon have not been polygraphed.
And the Times is unapologetic in the face of substantial evidence that it got the story wrong.
As you may surely remember, Iraqi Governing Council member and longtime U.S. ally Ahmed Chalabi was all over the news late last month and early this month for allegedly passing classified information to Iran. According to various news accounts, an Iranian intelligence agent in Baghdad supposedly cabled Tehran to inform officials that Mr. Chalabi had tipped them off that the United States had cracked their code -- a message sent using the same cracked code.
The Times scored a significant scoop, running the details of the code scandal on page one on June 2. The following day, the paper of record had the scoop of the follow-up, reporting that the FBI had started polygraph examinations on a "small number" of civilian employees at the Pentagon.
Common knowledge inside the Beltway is that the Times' story identification of the "small number" of "civilian employees" was a thinly veiled reference to people working for Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz or in the policy shop, headed by Undersecretary Douglas Feith. (Most in that group are political appointees and were hawks on Iraq.)
The practical result was a smear of State's and CIA's political enemies -- Mr. Chalabi and the Pentagon's hawks. That's undoubtedly the exact outcome for which the Times' sources hoped.
In fairness to the Times, it appears that the FBI has initiated some sort of investigation, including limited use of polygraph testing -- but on people who were based in Baghdad.
23 June 2004 "Atlas Researches, Ltd. Awarded Contract for a Polygraphy Chair"
The Defense Department's Technical Support Working Group made the following announcement on 1 June 2004:
June 1, 2004 - The Investigative Support and Forensics (IS&F) subgroup of TSWG began a DHS-funded task for the development of a polygraphy chair and associated software. Atlas will develop a standoff measurement system that can unobtrusively gather physiological and/or behavioral data in real-time and characterize the level of potential threat based on the recorded measures.
Atlas Researches, Ltd., Hod Hasharon, Israel, will receive $744,528 for the 16 month effort.
23 June 2004 "That's no lie: wireless polygraph on the way"
Oded Hermoni reports for Ha'aretz:
The American government is funding the development of new technology for a polygraph machine that is capable of identifying whether a person is telling the truth, without physically attaching him to the equipment. There are also plans to develop a mat of sensors that will be used in airports to test the answers of passengers during questioning.
The technology, developed by an Israeli high-tech company, uses external sensors that cause minimum physical discomfort to the person being interrogated.
The Technical Support Working Group of the American Homeland Security authorized a grant of $750,000 earlier this week to fund the project, a joint venture of the Israeli Atlas and the American Whizsoft. The research and development stage is expected to be completed in 16 months with a single prototype that will be tested.
Atlas, an Israeli R&D company operating since 1977 which specializes in the analysis of psychophysiological phenomena and their impact, works mostly in outsourcing functions for medical equipment for both Israeli and foreign companies, but also for the Defense Ministry.
Atlas is joining the wave of dual-use technologies whose origins are in medical treatment and are also being used in the development of anti-terror equipment.
According to Gideon Miller, an adviser to Atlas in the project, what is unique in this project is the ability to process the information in real time and the ability of the sensors to evaluate from a distance the condition of the person interrogated.
This $750,000 grant seems to be made in connection with a Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) Broad Agency Announcement that was reported in Polygraph News on 23 October 2001. That announcement stated in relevant part:
R-111 Ports of Entry Passenger Screening Aid
Develop a deception detection device for use with counterterrorism based structured interviews for passengers of the various modes of transportation. The system should apply known relationships between electrodermal activity and the detection of deception in a polygraph to a portable device. Consideration will be given to alternate approaches and sensors. Emphasis should be placed on processing time.
The quest for a non-invasive lie detector for screening passengers seems to have been a knee-jerk reaction to the events of September 11, 2001. The TSWG should heed the finding of the National Academy of Sciences that polygraph screening is completely invalid and that further investments in polygraph research are likely to produce at best only modest improvement.
18 June 2004 "Jones Underwent Polygraph Test"
Washington Post staff writer Amy Shipley reports. Excerpt:
Marion Jones passed a lie detector test in which she was asked if she had ever taken performance-enhancing drugs, her attorneys announced yesterday in another public attempt to persuade the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to drop its case against the five-time Olympic medal winner.
In a test administered by certified polygraph examiner Ronald R. Homer in her attorney Joseph Burton's San Francisco office Wednesday, Jones was determined to have truthfully answered two questions in which she denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, Burton said during a conference call.
"The passing of the polygraph supports fully the position Marion has taken all this time, that she never, ever has used performance-enhancing drugs from anybody at any time," Burton said. "This matter should be over if there really is any fairness in the process."
Burton distributed a letter from Homer in which Homer stated "it is my professional opinion that Ms. Jones was truthful when answering." Homer also stated that another certified polygraph examiner conducted a blind analysis and rendered the same opinion.
Jones responded no when asked if she had ever personally used performance-enhancing drugs, and if she was lying about any personal use of performance-enhancing drugs.
In a statement, USADA said "we have repeatedly said that anyone who possesses what they believe to be reliable information, related to drug use in sports, should send us that information. All credible information will receive the appropriate consideration."
Unfortunately for Ms. Jones, polygraph "test" results provide no reliable or credible information regarding a person's truthfulness. Polygraphic lie detection has no scientific basis, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency should attach no evidentiary value to it.
18 June 2004 "Lawyer: Jones Passed Lie Detector"
The Associated Press reports in this article published by the New York Times:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- In the latest attempt to clear her name from drug allegations, Marion Jones took a lie detector test that her lawyer says vindicates the star sprinter.
Jones took the test from Ronald Homer, a certified polygraph examiner, on Wednesday and her attorney, Joseph Burton, sent the results to the United States Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday.
``The passing of the polygraph just vindicates and supports fully the position Marion has taken through all of this time,'' Burton said on a conference call. ``That's the position that she never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs at any time from anybody at all. This polygraph examination fully proves that.''
USADA spokesman Rich Wanninger said the agency wouldn't comment on a specific case, but that ``all credible information will receive the appropriate consideration.''
Jones was asked two questions about performance-enhancing drugs in the exam and Homer determined she was telling the truth. Homer spent more than 20 years as a polygraph examiner for the FBI. Another examiner concurred after a blind analysis of the results.
The questions Jones was asked and answered ``no'' to were:
-- Did you ever personally use performance-enhancing drugs?
-- Are you now lying about any personal use of performance-enhancing drugs?
While the term ``performance-enhancing drugs'' was not defined, Burton said he took it to mean ``anything that was illegal or improper.''
Jones is one of the most prominent athletes who testified in a federal probe of a Bay Area drug lab accused of illegally distributing steroids.
USADA is investigating Jones for possible doping violations. She met with doping officials last month to discuss their evidence, and received a letter from the agency last week asking follow-up questions.
USADA is building cases based on documents and other circumstantial evidence deriving from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative case. Athletes can be banned without a positive drug test.
``Certainly in our opinion, they have more than ample reason to close this matter and exonerate Marion Jones,'' Burton said. ``This matter should be over if there is any fairness in the process. ... Marion has done everything possible to put this matter behind her.''
Jones has testified before a federal grand jury, and answered questions in private from USADA officials last month. Burton said she would consider taking another lie detector test if USADA asked to conduct it.
She said in a news conference Wednesday she would only answer further questions from USADA in a public forum and called on the Senate to hold a hearing. Her legal team sent a letter on Wednesday to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, to formally request a hearing.
Earlier Thursday, World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound said Jones' call for a public hearing was a ``grandstand performance,'' and he accused her of trying to avoid proper anti-doping hearing procedures.
``I don't think that an athlete for whatever reason is able to subvert that process,'' Pound said in a conference call from Montreal. ``I think it was very unfortunate that Marion was advised to use words like secret court with respect to USADA.''
11 June 2004 Tennessee: "State fire marshal's office polygraphs Gallatin firefighters"
Gallatin News Examiner editor Deborah Highland and staff writer Jane Stegmeier report:
An investigator from the Tennessee Fire Marshal's office is conducting polygraph tests on Gallatin's firefighters to determine who, if anyone, among their ranks is a quarter thief.
"I decided that we would find whether we had somebody that wasn't telling the truth," Gallatin Fire Chief Joe Womack said.
On April 28, a firefighter noticed that a roll of the Florida state quarters minted in Denver had been stolen from a firefighter's bed at the downtown fire hall, Womack said.
The Denver-minted coins had not yet been released in this part of Tennessee, Womack said. The coins were to become part of a coin collection, though they are not yet worth anything other than their face value.
A short time later, a firefighter found a neat stack of $5 to $7 worth of Denver-minted Florida quarters in the "honor box" set up at the fire hall for people to buy snacks, Womack said.
Womack believes that the quarters may have been taken and then placed back into the honor box by someone within the 44-person department who wanted to play a joke, and now that person is afraid to come forward.
"It's not the $10 value I'm looking at. It's the principle of it," Womack said.
Also, Womack wants his personnel to be able to trust one another.
That's why he decided that a polygraph test of all personnel was warranted. So far about nine or 10 firefighters have been tested, Womack said. The polygraph testing will continue until someone either steps forward or all employees are tested for their truthfulness in the matter. If nothing pans out from the polygraph testing, finger printing of the coins will occur next, he said.
Law enforcement officials were not called in to investigate, Womack said. Instead, he asked for the services of the state fire marshal's office.
Dana Turner, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal's office said her office "can't confirm one way or the other" regarding the state's firefighting resources being used to investigate a theft.
Bob Pollard, assistant director of the bomb and arson investigation section -- the same section that oversees fire marshal's polygraph examiners, said that their office fields numerous requests daily for a variety of different assistance.
"If we have something in our means to assist the local agencies and we are requested to do that, we evaluate each request individually and provide assistance where we can," Pollard said.
Womack confirmed that a state investigator based in Cookeville is conducting the tests and was here as recently as Tuesday. The Gallatin Fire Department is not being charged for the fire marshal's services, Womack said.
However, the starting pay of a special agent criminal investigator at the fire marshal's office is $2,350 a month. That breaks down to a little more than $14 per hour.
Each polygraph exam for this type of investigation lasts at least 90 minutes, said Dan Sosnowski, spokesman for the American Polygraph Association based in Chattanooga.
That means that if all of the employees at the GFD are tested, the polygraphs will wind up costing state taxpayers at least $940.
B.R. Hall, president of the Local Union 140 of the Nashville Firefighters Association called the investigation "almost completely ridiculous."
"To me, it's much ado about nothing," Hall said.
Mayor Don Wright and Womack disagree and said that even though the investigation involves a roll of quarters, it's important to know who took the money.
"If someone will steal $10, they will steal $10,000," Wright said. "My concern about firefighters is if we have one who can do this, I would sure be concerned about sending that person into someone's home.
"I'm surprised and disappointed that this happened," he said.
Several firefighters contacted about this story declined to comment.
Chief Womack's polygraph dragnet is unlikely to reveal the identity of the Gallatin Fire Department's quarter thief: polygraph "testing" is simply unreliable. If Chief Womack is truly concerned about ethics, then instead of subjecting his firefighters to voodoo science, he should simply proceed with testing the stolen-and-returned coins for fingerprints.
4 June 2004 "Who's lying?"
In their "Inside the Ring" column, Washington Times reporters Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough question a recent New York Times report that the FBI has begun polygraphing DoD civilians regarding an alleged leak of classified information:
The breathless headline in a major daily newspaper read yesterday, "Polygraph Testing Starts at Pentagon in Chalabi Inquiry."
Trouble is, no one at the Pentagon with whom we checked knows of anyone in the building being polygraphed by the FBI. Nor has the Pentagon been notified by the FBI that it is investigating the supposed leak of classified information to Ahmed Chalabi, who heads the Iraqi National Congress.
"No official has been polygraphed or told to expect to be polygraphed," a Pentagon official said. The official and others said there has been no notification from the FBI that anyone is under investigation and needs to be questioned, in the Chalabi matter.
The case broke open when the United States intercepted a cable from an Iranian spy in Baghdad to Tehran saying that Iran's code had been broken by the Americans and that Mr. Chalabi was the source for this information.
An FBI spokesman said he did not know whether anyone at the Pentagon had been questioned. He said the bureau is investigating whether any government official leaked classified information to Mr. Chalabi or his group that found its way to Iran.
Why, ask Pentagon officials, would the Iranians disclose such a development in a cable they know will be read by the United States? Some suspect the whole episode is a plot by Tehran to discredit Mr. Chalabi, a Shi'ite who opposes Tehran's hard-line, Shi'ite theocracy.
3 June 2004 "Polygraph Testing Starts at Pentagon in Chalabi Inquiry"
David Johnston and James Risen report for the New York Times. Excerpt:
WASHINGTON, June 2 -- Federal investigators have begun administering polygraph examinations to civilian employees at the Pentagon to determine who may have disclosed highly classified intelligence to Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi who authorities suspect turned the information over to Iran, government officials said Wednesday.
The polygraph examinations, which are being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are focused initially on a small number of Pentagon employees who had access to the information that was compromised. American intelligence officials have said that Mr. Chalabi informed Iran that the United States had broken the secret codes used by Iranian intelligence to transmit confidential messages to posts around the world.
Mr. Chalabi has denied the charge. On Wednesday, his lawyers made public a letter they said they had sent to Attorney General John Ashcroft and F.B.I. Director Robert S. Mueller III repeating Mr. Chalabi's denials and demanding that the Justice Department investigate the disclosure of the accusations against Mr. Chalabi.
The lawyers, John J. E. Markham II and Collette C. Goodman, said in the letter, "The charges made against Dr. Chalabi -- both the general and the specific ones are false."
They also said, "We ask that you undertake an immediate investigation to find and hold accountable those who are responsible for these false leaks."
Officials would not identify who has taken polygraph examinations or even who has been interviewed by F.B.I. counterespionage agents. It could not be determined whether anyone has declined to submit to a polygraph test.
No one has been charged with any wrongdoing or identified as a suspect, but officials familiar with the investigation say that they are working through a list of people and are likely to interview senior Pentagon officials.
The F.B.I. is looking at officials who both knew of the code-breaking operation and had dealings with Mr. Chalabi, either in Washington or Baghdad, the government officials said. Information about code-breaking work is considered among the most confidential material in the government and is handled under tight security and with very limited access.
22 May 2004 Alleged Spy for Iran Reportedly Passed U.S. Government Polygraph
Knight-Ridder reporters Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott report in an article published in the Contra Costa Times titled, "U.S. probes Chalabi's ties to Iran" that U.S. Government officials allege that evidence suggests that Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi's security chief, Arras Habib, is an Iranian spy who passed highly sensitive U.S. secrets to Iran's intelligence service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, also known by the Persian (Farsi) acronym, VEVAK. The article cites Francis Brooke, a former subcontractor on a CIA program in northern Iraq, as stating that Habib had passed a counterintelligence-scope polygraph screening examination. Excerpt:
To qualify [for a Defense Intelligence Agency funded intelligence gathering program], Habib and other Iraqi National Congress figures were required to take polygraph tests that focused almost entirely on his connections with foreign intelligence agencies.
"He passed," said Brooke. He said Habib acknowledged during the screening that as an intelligence professional, Habib has connections with intelligence services in Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
14 May 2004 "Polygraphs Don't Give True Story"
Noah Schachtman reports for Wired News. Excerpt:
The military may have ways -- gruesome ways -- of making people talk, as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has shown. But it still doesn't have a reliable method for figuring out whether those people are telling the truth or not.
Nearly 75 years since the introduction of the polygraph, there's still nothing close to a foolproof lie detector. Traditional methods for catching a fibber have been battered by scientific study. And, despite endless waves of hype, the high-tech alternatives -- brain scans, thermal images and voice analysis -- have withered under scrutiny, or remain largely unproven.
"Everybody would love to have a lie detector that works. But wanting it isn't going to make it happen," said Stephen Kosslyn, a Harvard University professor of psychology.
"You can flip a coin, and get the same results," said Mike Ritz, a former Army interrogator who now trains people to withstand questioning.
In a 2002 report, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that traditional polygraph screening was so flawed that it "presents a danger to national security." The group found that too many innocent people who took polygraphs were labeled guilty, and too many guilty people slid by undetected.
Federal and local governments have carried on with polygraphs anyway. U.S. military investigators, armed with the devices, have been deployed to Iraq, to question candidates for detention. The Energy and Defense departments give out thousands of the tests every year to filter out potential security threats. And the Supreme Court has ruled that it's up to the states to decide whether evidence from lie detectors is admissible in court.
Polygraphers contend that -- especially when they start out with a piece of damning evidence -- they can catch liars at rates of 90 percent or better. The problem is that polygraphs check only for physical responses that indicate deceit: heavy breathing, high pulse rate, sweat. But panting or sweating don't necessarily mean that a person is guilty of anything. All these responses indicate is that someone is anxious, said University of Arizona psychology professor John JB Allen. And innocent people get jumpy, too -- especially when there's a bull-necked interrogator in the room.
5 May 2004 "I-580 sniper suspect set to take lie detector test"
Lisa Fernandez reports for the San Jose Mercury News. Excerpt:
The man accused of but never charged with being the prime suspect in a string of Feb. 23 shootings along Interstate 580 in the East Bay has agreed to take a polygraph test, hoping to show he wasn't responsible, his public defender said.
Matt Bockmon, who represents Chris Gafford on unrelated drug charges, said Tuesday that during a federal court hearing last week, prosecutors announced that if Gafford passed the lie detector test next Tuesday it could have a ``positive impact'' on ``another case.''
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Bender said he told the judge the test would ``make the resolution simpler'' of a federal drug case that is officially unrelated to the shootings. Bender wouldn't talk about what would happen if Gafford failed the test, or about the inadmissibility of a lie detector test as evidence in court.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Bender should know better than to place any reliance on the outcome of a pseudoscientific lie detector test. His willingness to do so casts doubt on his fitness for the job.
1 May 2004 Oklahoma: "Polygraph Law Ruled Unconstitutional"
This short news article from NewsOK.com is cited here in full:
A law requiring people to be U.S. citizens before they can be licensed to give lie detector tests is unconstitutional, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said in an opinion issued Friday.
Under the Polygraph Examiners Act, an individual applying for licensing must be a citizen of the United States.
Using existing case law, Edmondson and Assistant Attorney General Joann Stevenson concluded that the law is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Polygraph examiners do not occupy important nonelective positions where they directly affect public policy, Stevenson said in the opinion.
Other states have come to similar conclusions when considering citizenship requirements for notary publics, according to the opinion.
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