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18 August 2004 Australia: "Howard determined not to follow Scrafton"
The Sydney Morning Herald has published the following Australian Associated Press story:
Prime Minister John Howard turned down a lie detector test to determine if he was telling the truth over the children overboard affair.
But the man who claims he told Mr Howard there were doubts about allegations of refugees throwing children overboard from a boat shortly before the 2001 election, has passed his own polygraph to prove he is telling the truth.
Mike Scrafton took the test at the Australian Polygraph Services' (APS) Melbourne office to prove he was not lying about what he told Mr Howard three days before the 2001 election.
"In layman's terms, he passed the test," APS director Steve Van Aperen, who has been trained by the FBI and is a consultant to the Victorian Homicide Squad, told the Nine network.
"There was no strong responses indicative of concern or fear of being caught in the light.
"It's my opinion, according to these charts, that he's in fact being truthful."
Mr Scrafton said the test made him feel totally vindicated and he had never doubted that he would pass the polygraph, which was organised by Nine.
Asked if he believed Mr Howard should take a similar test, Mr Scrafton told Nine: "That's the prime minister's call, not mine."
But Mr Howard dismissed as a gimmick the suggestion he follow Mr Scrafton and take a polygraph test.
"I'm not going to get into gimmicks like that," he told ABC radio.
"If people don't believe what I say on the basis of looking at me and listening to my words then going through a mechanical process like that is not going to alter their opinions."
Mr Scrafton, who worked for former defence minister Peter Reith, revealed this week he told Mr Howard neither photographs nor video footage supported claims that children were thrown overboard from the refugee boat, known as SIEV4, just days before the 2001 election.
But Mr Howard then repeated the claim that children had been thrown overboard the day after he talked to Mr Scrafton.
Mr Howard denies he talked to Mr Scrafton about the photographs, prompting the former public servant to say he was willing to take a lie detector test.
Mr Howard's refusal to take the lie detector test came as Labor and the minor parties signalled a major pre-election headache for the prime minister by backing plans for a Senate inquiry into the whole affair.
Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett, who took a lie detector test earlier this year, said by rejecting the offer Mr Howard was admitting to the Australian people he had lied.
"The fact that John Howard has deigned to respond to the challenge indicates that he is rattled and running scared," Senator Bartlett told AAP.
"Enough questions have been raised in the last few days to make even his staunch supporters question his credibility."
Opposition Leader Mark Latham said Mr Howard owed the voters of Australia an apology.
"The prime minister ... owes the Australian people a huge apology for the acts of deceit, the acts of deliberate dishonesty, in the days leading up to the last federal election," he told reporters.
"The prime minister has shown that he's not fit to hold the high office." Mr Scrafton stood by his claims, saying his decision to speak out had not been easy.
"Like everybody there are things in my past that people might bring up to use against me and discredit the messenger," he told the John Laws radio program.
"There are risks in this for me rather than benefits."
14 August 2004 Atlanta: "Former Mayor Campbell passes polygraph test"
Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
Facing the prospect of a federal corruption indictment, former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell took the offensive Friday with the announcement he had passed a polygraph examination.
The examination, which cost Campbell $600, was administered Friday by a former director of the FBI's polygraph unit who is now a private examiner in Knoxville.
Kendall Shull, who retired from the FBI in 2001, said he asked Campbell questions about whether he took bribes as mayor and engaged in illegal fund-raising activities.
"He passed," Shull said.
This summer, federal investigators have interviewed witnesses and lawyers representing witnesses who are cooperating in the corruption probe of Campbell's administration. Federal authorities have obtained convictions of 10 people with business contracts or connections to City Hall or Campbell, who served as mayor from 1994 to 2002.
A federal grand jury continues to hear testimony and weigh evidence, and lawyers familiar with the investigation say prosecutors are nearing a decision on whether to seek an indictment against the former mayor.
The timing of the polygraph is further indication that Campbell's defense team believes a decision is imminent. It also shows how aggressive Campbell's lawyers will be in combating any possible charges.
This wasn't the first time that Campbell has taken a polygraph in an effort to clear his name. In 1993, when he was a city councilman, Campbell announced he had passed one after a concessionaire at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport claimed Campbell had accepted bribes.
It remains to be seen whether the results of Friday's polygraph will ever be heard by a federal jury if the former mayor is indicted.
In his exam, Shull said he asked Campbell the following:
- Did you ever take any official action in exchange for campaign contributions, cash, gifts or other remuneration?
- Did you receive anything of value in exchange for taking any official action as mayor?
- Did you know of or did you participate in any illegal fund-raising activity in connection with your mayoral races?
- In connection with your races for mayor, were you aware of any illegal fund-raising activity?
Campbell answered, "No," to all the questions, Shull said, adding that his analysis showed "no deception." The examiner said the only other possible results are "deception indicated" or "no opinion."
Shull said he had yet to generate a report of his examination. He also said he would allow another examiner to review the charts generated by Campbell's polygraph. This is standard procedure and would be done by the end of the weekend, Shull said.
Atlanta lawyer Steve Sadow, one of Campbell's defense attorneys, said the former mayor insisted that he take a polygraph and that the "hardest tester possible" give the examination.
"The insistence of this polygraph was Bill Campbell's and Bill Campbell's alone," Sadow said.
Sadow also said that if federal prosecutors agree to allow Shull's examination to be admitted into evidence ?if Campbell is ultimately charged and goes to trial ?"we'll take [another] polygraph with any FBI polygraph examiner the government chooses."
Although polygraphs cannot be admitted into evidence in Georgia's state courts, they can be admitted in federal court in limited circumstances, Atlanta criminal defense attorney Don Samuel said.
"I've never seen it successfully done without another party's consent," Samuel said. "But it's possible, particularly if you allow yourself to be subjected to a polygraph administered by the government."
Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter said he suspects the results of Campbell's polygraph examination taken Friday will never be seen by a jury ?and Campbell's defense team knows it.
"This is an attempt to poison the well, to make sure that it's in the minds of potential jurors," Porter said. "It's good strategy. This also may be saber-rattling with the prosecution in an effort to head off the grand jury."
In the 1993 Hartsfield airport corruption case, then-City Councilman Campbell announced he had passed a polygraph test administered in Texas to rebut accusations from a former airport concessionaire. Harold Echols, who owned one of the largest food-and-beverage operations at Hartsfield-jackson, had told federal investigators he paid bribes to Campbell.
When he produced the results of his polygraph, Campbell called Echols' allegation an "outrageous lie." The councilman was never charged in the airport corruption scandal and was later elected mayor.
8 August 2004 "Polygraphs? They're basically useless devices"
Syndicated columnist Steve Chapman comments in an article published by the Prescott, Arizona Daily Courier:
In May 1978, police arrested four Chicago-area men on charges of murdering a suburban man and raping and murdering his fiancée. All of the suspects said they were innocent, but no real doubt existed about their guilt: Three of them, after all, had failed a polygraph exam.
Eventually, a jury convicted the Ford Heights Four, as the public came to call them, for these brutal slayings, and two of the defendants received death sentences. But in 1996, DNA evidence exonerated all four. They had spent 18 years behind bars, partly because the lie detector lied.
A report issued in October 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommended that the federal government stop using polygraphs to screen for security risks. Why? Because, in the words of the study, these devices are "intrinsically susceptible to producing erroneous results." That's academese for "I wouldn't trust one as far as I could throw it."
The Energy Department adopted polygraph screening of employees in response to the case of Wen Ho Lee, a scientist who was accused of spying for China but who ended up convicted of only a minor security violation. DOE now tests about 2,000 people a year. But George Mason University systems engineering professor Kathryn Laskey, a member of the NAS committee, noted that "no spy has ever been caught using the polygraph."
Particular dangers lurk in subjecting lots of people to polygraphs in the effort to find a few wrongdoers, because false positives greatly will outnumber "true" positives. Some employees who have done nothing wrong will nonetheless have physiological reactions that look suspicious. Some accomplished liars will be able to fool the machine.
To nab eight out of every 10 real spies, the NAS report found, the device probably would have to erroneously implicate nearly 1,600 people. If its operators set it to minimize false positives, 80 percent of the real spies would slip past. But even then, it would flag 20 innocent people for every guilty one.
The same fallibility that renders these machines unusable for employee monitoring makes them dangerous for criminal investigations as well. Police and prosecutors regard polygraph results as the closest thing to a dead-bang certainty. But that faith lacks any foundation. "Almost a century of research in scientific psychology and physiology provides little basis for the expectation that a polygraph test could have extremely high accuracy," the panel concluded.
And there is no reason to think that better technology will help. People simply don't respond in a clear and predictable way to questions about what they may have done wrong. The "inherent ambiguity of the physiological measures used in the polygraph suggest that further investments in improving polygraph technique and interpretation will bring only modest improvements in accuracy," said the report. Polygraphs are a crude that's impossible to refine.
The consequences of a misleading polygraph exam are bad enough in the employment arena, where someone can lose a job or not get one. But they're much worse for criminal suspects, who can be locked away or even put to death because their pulse rate rose too much in a stressful situation.
A polygraph result generally can't be used as evidence in court. But some states allow the information if both the prosecution and the defense concur. So prosecutors may offer suspects the opportunity to clear themselves. Innocent suspects sometimes think they have nothing to lose and much to gain from going along - only to fail the test.
In 2002, an Ohio court officially cleared Jimmy Williams after he spent 10 years in prison for the alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl. In fact, the rape never happened, but the Akron man nonetheless managed to fail a polygraph exam. Because his lawyer had agreed in advance to admit the results, the jury heard the lie that the lie detector had implicated him.
Other defendants have been victims not only of the polygraph itself but also its aura of infallibility. Gary Gauger received a death sentence for the murder of his parents on their McHenry County, Ill., farm but was eventually exonerated. He took a polygraph during his interrogation, and the results were inconclusive. But the police told him he had failed it.
Our medieval forebears had their own lie detector test: They dunked suspected witches in water, on the theory that the innocent would sink and the guilty would float. Polygraphs aren't quite as preposterous, but they're bad enough.
E-mail Steve Chapman through the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
6 August 2004 Coercion Alleged in Riverside County, CA Polygraph Interrogation
North County Times staff writer Tim Mayer reports in an article titled, "Fogelstrom said investigators deceived them" that the Riverside County (California) Sheriff's Department conducted a coercive polygraph examination of a minor under false pretenses. Excerpt:
CARLSBAD ---- The father of the teenage companion of 17-year-old Eric Sears ---- who was found dead in Joshua Tree National Park last month ---- said Thursday that investigators have presented a concoction of events and statements involving his son that are either false or taken out of context.
"They coerced, badgered and intimidated Ben until he didn't know what he was saying," said Joe Fogelstrom, the father of Ben Fogelstrom, 17.
"I feel like a sucker. Our kid trusted us, and we put him in the hands of these (investigator) guys."
Fogelstrom said an affidavit released Monday by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department was based in part on a polygraph exam of his young son that was obtained under false pretenses. The affidavit was used to obtain a warrant to search their Carlsbad home.
Fogelstrom said the polygraph exam was done without parents or an attorney present.
No charges have been filed against Ben and law enforcement officers have said he is not a suspect, but investigators said in the affidavit that they were looking into the possibility that Eric had been murdered.
Fogelstrom said he, his wife, Valerie, and Ben drove to San Bernardino on July 18 at the request of investigators who told them they had found items in the desert that they needed Ben to identify.
But when the family arrived, investigators suggested that a polygraph test of Ben might help him remember more of the incident, the father said.
During the exam, Fogelstrom said he was told, Ben would "create the questions to ask so maybe it would jolt Ben's memory about which direction Eric went."
"The polygraph (idea) seemed weird, but I said anything we can do to help as long as Ben has a say in it and his mom's there," Fogelstrom said. "Well, Ben didn't have a say in it and his mom wasn't there."
As it turned out, Fogelstrom said that after he left, Ben was taken into another room, where he was questioned for about four hours, and his mother was left in the locked reception area unable to go to her son. Fogelstrom said he left to drive a pair of neighborhood kids back to Carlsbad.
Fogelstrom said his wife reported that by the time she was allowed to see Ben again, "he was crying, he was upset, he was traumatized."
"He told Valerie, 'They made me say stuff, Mom. They made me say stuff that wasn't true.'"
"We believed them and we trusted them," Fogelstrom said. "They used that trust to get Ben in a back room to interrogate him, to just hammer him."
2 August 2004 UK: Lie detector plan worries cabinet
Home affairs editor Alan Travis reports for the Guardian.
Home Office plans to introduce compulsory lie detector tests to ensure that convicted paedophiles do not offend again are worrying cabinet members.
The home secretary, David Blunkett, has admitted to his cabinet colleagues that the plans "are not without controversy" and is seeking legal clearance from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general.
A leaked ministerial letter dated July 20 shows that Patricia Hewitt, the trade and industry secretary, a former head of the National Council for Civil Liberties, wants "further evidence" before a decision is reached this summer to push ahead with the necessary legislation.
Mr Blunkett has asked the cabinet to approve the plan, describing the polygraph tests as "an additional weapon in the armoury against sex offenders".
When the Guardian disclosed the scheme in May the human rights organisation Liberty, the NCCL's successor, said it would raise no fundamental objections as long as the results were not used in court as evidence and would help prevent reoffending.
The shadow home secretary, David Davis, has also said their use could be beneficial.
The American polygraph technology is being considered alongside the introduction of satellite tracking of convicted sex offenders to monitor their behaviour after their release on licence from prison.
A voluntary two-year trial in 12 of the 42 probation areas, including Northumbria, the West Midlands and Sussex, is understood to have been judged a success. It has involved 120 convicted sex offenders, who have been tested every six months.
Five polygraph machines have been used in the trials. They measure changes in breathing, heart rate and sweat in response to questioning, and officials believe they can be used to establish, along with other evidence, whether convicted sex offenders are telling the truth about whether they have been trying to contact children.
"We're not talking about a countrywide expansion of the scheme," a Home Office spokeswoman said yesterday.
"What we're looking for now is to make these pilots mandatory so that we can fully assess the effectiveness of lie detector tests in helping to monitor sex offenders and ensure the safety of the public."
She stressed that the tests would not be used to gather evidence admissible in court, which is the source of much of the controversy surrounding their use in the US.
Nor will anybody be sent back to prison solely on the evidence of the results of a polygraph tests. "They are being used only as a limited management tool to support a range of other methods employed to monitor and supervise sex offenders," the spokeswoman said.
Mr Blunkett has acknowledged the controversial nature of lie detector tests before.
"We are all a bit sceptical, because we've all been brought up with the spy films and the way in which the KGB are allegedly able to train people to avoid them. But we are talking about really modern technology in the 21st century, and we are testing it," he said when he launched the idea in June.
"It won't only just pick up whether a person is lying, it will also be a major deterrent to people actually telling an untruth when they are under supervision and when it is necessary to find out what they've been up to."
1 August 2004 UK: Plans for paedophile lie tests
The BBC reports:
Convicted paedophiles could be forced to take lie detector tests to ensure they stay away from children, under plans by Home Secretary David Blunkett.
He wants compulsory testing in Sussex, Northumberland and the West Midlands - currently piloting voluntary tests.
Probation officers would ask offenders whether they had had contact with children since their release from jail.
But reports suggest there is concern among some Cabinet members over the use of the US-style polygraph test.
'Ensuring public safety'
A Home Office spokeswoman said the tests would accompany other methods, such as electronic tagging, to monitor the behaviour of offenders following their return to the community.
The Home Office spokeswoman said: "(Lie detector) testing is carried out purely on a voluntary basis in the pilots.
"We are not talking about a countrywide expansion of the scheme.
"What we are looking for now is to make these pilots mandatory so that we can fully assess the effectiveness of lie-detector tests in helping to monitor sex offenders and ensure the safety of the public."
I accept that this is not without controversy. Given the controversial nature of these proposals, I am consulting Peter Goldsmith
Mr Blunkett has told the Cabinet he is hoping to bring in legislation to extend the current voluntary trial in several parts of England.
But reports on Sunday suggested that the proposal to move from voluntary to compulsory testing had sparked concern in the Cabinet.
The Sunday Times quoted Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt - a former head of the National Council for Civil Liberties - as requesting "further evidence" before a decision is reached on whether to push ahead with the necessary legislation.
Polygraphs - which measure changes in breathing, heart-rates and sweat in response to questioning - are considered to be only around 90% accurate, which could lead to fears over their authority in cases of increased monitoring or tagging of paedophiles.
Mr Blunkett is reported to have accepted his proposals are "not without controversy" and to be consulting Attorney General Lord Goldsmith on the legal implications.
Tests would not be used to gather evidence for court cases and offenders would not be returned to jail purely on the basis of polygraph results.
It is believed that the prospect of compulsory tests would act as a deterrent against breaches of offenders' terms of release.
The Sunday Times report includes extracts from what it says is a leaked letter from Mr Blunkett to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on 20 July.
The Home Secretary asks for Cabinet approval for legislation, which he said would be "an additional weapon in the armoury against sex offenders".
Contact with children
He added: "I accept that this is not without controversy. Given the controversial nature of these proposals, I am consulting Peter Goldsmith."
So far voluntary trials in Northumberland, the West Midlands and Sussex have reportedly been judged a success.
In one trial, 32 offenders volunteered for tests and a third admitted having unsupervised contact with children, according to the Sunday Times.
The BBC is mistaken in reporting that polygraphs "are considered to be only around 90% accurate." In fact, it's much worse than that: there is broad consensus amongst scientists that polygraph "testing" has no scientific basis. And it has not been proven through peer-reviewed research to reliably work at better-than-chance levels under field conditions.
1 August 2004 Doubt Cast On State Polygraph Tests
Hartford Courant staff writer Tracy Gordon Fox reports. Excerpt:
The lawsuit Adrienne LaMorte brought against the Connecticut State Police over her removal from the department's polygraph unit ended in June when she received a fat check for $216,000.
But the ripples the case generated within state law enforcement circles are still being felt, with top officials questioning the reliability of some of the unit's polygraph tests.
An eight-member jury found in April that LaMorte, a former state trooper, had been punitively transferred after complaining that her supervisor, Sgt. Randolph Howell, may have botched numerous lie detector tests.
Another former member of the polygraph unit testified during the federal trial that he also had complained to Howell's superior, now-retired Maj. John Leonard, about Howell's spotty performance.
Both troopers were concerned that Howell's performance could affect the outcome of criminal cases.
Evidence from the trial in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport showed that Howell flunked his courses at polygraph school but was passed anyway. In her testimony, LaMorte alleged that Howell graded potential suspects in sexual assault cases as truthful, when their polygraph results indicated differently.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal - whose office defended the state police at LaMorte's trial - and Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano want to know what effect, if any, Howell's tests may have had on any criminal investigations.
And, a national organization of police polygraphists is conducting its own investigation.
"The trial certainly raised and deepened very serious concerns as to the accuracy of some polygraph results," Blumenthal said. "We are working with the chief state's attorney's office to evaluate the overall situation."
"At this point," Morano said, "I am investigating what happened and what came out in that lawsuit. It certainly comes to the level of being examined by the state police and should have been examined a long time ago."
Morano said he would talk to his prosecutors about specific cases, if necessary. But, he added, "The first step is to gather the facts."
Last year, state police polygraphists conducted 750 examinations for state and local police, including 163 for criminal cases. Many of the other examinations were done for the hiring of state and local police officers, a crucial part of screening candidates.
Howell remains supervisor of the five-member polygraph unit, and state police say there are no plans for an internal investigation.
Lt. Col. Ralph Carpenter, who is Howell's current supervisor, said he has had no complaints from police departments or attorneys. "Nobody is saying they don't want Randy Howell," Carpenter said. "Something has got to be right over there."
During an interview last week, Howell said he is a good polygraphist who continuously updates his training at conferences held by the American Association of Police Polygraphists.
"I'll invite anyone down to look at my records here. The facts will speak for themselves," Howell said, adding that he has conducted between 4,000 and 5,000 examinations, about 500 of those for criminal cases.
"She is a disgruntled person," Howell said of LaMorte. "I've gotten no complaints from anybody about my performance here."
Jurors came away from the trial with a different impression, however.
"It seemed obvious the guy, Howell, was somewhat incompetent," said Sean Kenny of Stratford, one of the jurors in the case.
"As far as I'm concerned, [Howell] should have not been running that unit," he said. Kenny wondered "how many cases might have gotten screwed up by this guy. You don't know how many cases let someone go free or condemned someone."
While the department's internal affairs division had compiled a 6-inch-thick file on LaMorte for raising questions about one of Howell's tests, not one piece of paper was ever generated about Howell's performance, said LaMorte's attorney, Karen Lee Torre, of New Haven.
"To me, it was another example of state bureaucracy betraying the public trust," Torre said after the trial. "They are there to work for us and they were protecting their own interest at the expense of criminal justice itself."
Polygraphists from agencies outside the state police were aware of Howell's problems. Troopers in the unit received informal requests from some agencies - including the FBI - that Howell not perform exams, particularly in serious criminal cases, according to testimony.
Leighton Hammond, a private examiner from South Windsor, knew about Howell's reputation. Hammond said if his charts ever need to be reviewed or confirmed, "they will not be reviewed by the state police."
"I'm not comfortable with them," said Hammond. He added that he prefers the FBI or police officers from West Hartford or Enfield. "Randy is the nicest guy in the world, but he's not re-examining my charts."
26 July 2004 Mexico: Panel want polygraphs abolished
The Associated Press reports in this article published on AZCentral.com:
MEXICO CITY - Mexico's governmental National Human Rights Commission recommended Sunday that police, government agencies and investigators not use tests involving polygraphs, also known as lie detector tests.
The commission said the tests "violate human rights" because they represent an invasion of privacy and their use is not adequately regulated.
Several Mexican police agencies have used polygraphs in vetting procedures to weed out potentially corrupt or untrustworthy officers.
The commission, whose recommendations authorities must respond to either by obeying or objecting, also advised government agencies not to use the tests in hiring or employee evaluation until adequate guidelines are drawn up.
It said police should not use lie detectors on witnesses or suspects.
The problem, according to the commission, is that subjects are often pressured into taking the tests out of fear of what examiners would think if they refused.
The commission said most subjects would probably be in a "position of disadvantage" in the face of an employer, superior or investigator who asked them to take a test, and thus may be incapable of freely choosing whether to submit or not.
20 July 2004 Polygraphs Reportedly Ordered in Los Alamos Probe
In an article titled, "Entering unknown territory," Los Alamos Monitor assistant editor Roger Snodgrass confirms that some employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory have been ordered to undergo polygraph "testing" as the Deparment of Energy investigates the disappearance of two removable data storage devices. Excerpt:
According to sources, the investigation of lost computer recording data has narrowed suspects in the weapons physics department to 11 people. There were reports that some people were sobbing and others were sick to their stomach at the news that they would be subjected to a polygraph test and that some would likely be fired.
16 July 2004 Yet Another Polygraph Dragnet at Los Alamos?
An Associated Press report published by ABCNews.com under the title, "UC Halts Los Alamos' Classified Work" mentions the possibility of a polygraph hunt for potential security violators as Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) attempts to locate two data storage devices containing classified information. Excerpt:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. July 16, 2004 ?All classified work at Los Alamos National Laboratory has come to a halt while officials conduct a wall-to-wall inventory of sensitive data.
The unprecedented stand-down began at noon Thursday, and the inventory of CDs, floppy disks and other data storage devices is expected to be completed within days, lab spokesman Kevin Roark said.
The stand-down comes after the lab reported last week that two items containing classified information turned up missing. The items were identified only as removable data storage devices.
It is the latest in a series of embarrassments that have prompted federal officials to put the Los Alamos management contract held by the University of California up for bid for the first time in the 61-year history of the lab.
The Energy Department has announced that Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow and Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, will personally oversee the probe into the latest security lapse.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said he told McSlarrow earlier this week to use "all available mechanisms" to find the missing items, including polygraphs.
And in an article titled, "Lost nuke disks sting lab," Oakland Tribune staff writer Ian Hoffman reports that House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton is demanding that some 200 LANL employees be polygraphed. Excerpt:
SAN FRANCISCO -- For the third time in five years, Los Alamos National Laboratory is shutting down all classified work and hunkering down for investigations and political lashings over the loss of two disks of nuclear-weapons related secrets.
Berated Thursday by University of California regents for the latest security failing, even senior university executives were in no mood to defend the birthplace of the bomb.
"I don't like the culture at Los Alamos," said UC Vice President for Lab Management Robert Foley. "I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't like the culture."
As if replaying the lab's painful sagas of 1999 and 2002, two members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. -- arrive at Los Alamos on Monday to investigate, accompanied by Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow and National Nuclear Security Administration chief Linton Brooks.
Barton on Tuesday demanded lie-detector tests for 200 lab employees and stiffer security measures on classified material safes.
It will be recalled that the Department of Energy conducted a polygraph dragnet of Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) members at LANL's X Division back in the spring of 2000 in an attempt to determine who was responsible for the disappearance of two classified hard drives (which were later discovered behind a copier in a room that had been searched by the FBI). The polygraph failed to solve the mystery.
16 July 2004 Iraqi Fabricator Who Passed Polygraph Identified
The Iraqi fabricator who provided false information that Iraq possessed mobile biological warfare laboratories and was believed in part because he had passed a polygraph "test" has been publicly identified as Major Mohammad Harith. Secretary of State Colin Powell used Harith's bogus information in an attempt to justify the planned invasion of Iraq in a pre-war speech before the United Nations.
Knight Ridder reporters Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel disclose Harith's identity in an article titled, "Former CIA director used Pentagon ties to introduce Iraqi defector." For discussion, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board thread, Iraqi Fabricator Passed Polygraph.
15 July 2004 "[NY State Assemblyman Adam Clayton] Powell says lie detector clears him of rape"
New York Newsday staff writer Brian Boyd reports:
Assemb. Adam Clayton Powell IV Wednesday sought to knock down the latest rape allegation against him by saying results from a lie-detector test he took prove he did not force the woman to have sex.
Powell, a Harlem Democrat, contends he and the woman, whose name has not been released, had consensual sex on July 1, and he denies any coercion.
The polygraph recordings show "indications of truthfulness," according to the summary released by Powell's lawyer.
"For the last two months, I have been the victim of vicious, outrageous allegations against me," Powell said at a news conference outside City Hall.
Powell said he felt compelled to take the tests "because these allegations can take on a life of their own."
"These allegations unfortunately have landed people in a court of law and unfortunately have landed some innocent people in jail," he said. "I wanted to make sure that we at least put a stop to these allegations as soon as we can."
A copy of the lie-detector report was sent to the Manhattan district attorney's office, said his lawyer, Murray Richman.
Prosecutors had no comment on the matter.
"We never confirm nor deny investigations," spokeswoman Sherry Hunter said.
The accusation that he raped the woman in a West Side apartment July 1 followed an allegation he raped a 19-year-old legislative aide in a suburban Albany motel.
During the polygraph tests, Powell was not asked about the earlier alleged incident because the woman recanted her story, Richman said.
Powell took the test Friday and retook it Tuesday to make sure it was reliable, according to the summary by Manhattan-based Scientific Lie Detection Inc., which conducted the tests.
Powell would not elaborate on his version of events on July 1 during the news conference, citing privacy. He also dismissed questions about whether he used poor judgment.
"I don't know what you call poor judgment," he said. "Again, I was a victim of false allegations."
Because of attorney-client privilege, a lawyer can have his client sit for as many polygraph "tests" as it takes until he/she "passes" one, and then publicly announce the good news, while keeping any "failures" secret. New York Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV's polygraph examination has no evidentiary value.
14 July 2004 "N.M. Supreme Court: Polygraph results can be used as evidence"
KOBTV.com has published the following brief Associated Press report:
(Santa Fe-AP) -- The state Supreme Court has ruled that polygraph test results can continue to be used as evidence in New Mexico courts.
New Mexico has allowed the use of lie detector results in courts for decades.
However, the Supreme Court has been considering whether to change its rule.
In a 30-page ruling, the court reaffirmed its rule and said polygraph test results are sufficiently reliable to be used as evidence in trials.
The state attorney generalís office had argued that polygraph tests were unsound science and should be excluded as evidence.
The Supreme Court makes rules for other New Mexico courts to follow.
The courtís ruling came in five consolidated criminal cases.
In a trial, polygraphs are sometimes uses to verify the truthfulness of witnesses and their testimony.
In endorsing the continued admissibility of polygraph "evidence," the New Mexico Supreme Court chose to ignore the conclusions of District Judge Richard J. Knowles, whom the court had earlier directed to enter findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding polygraph testing. After reviewing a large body of documentary evidence and hearing testimony from experts, Judge Knowles concluded that "[t]he results of polygraph testing are not sufficiently reliable for admissibility in courts in New Mexico." His report, (New Mexico Supreme Court No. 27,915) may be downloaded as an 869 kb PDF file here:
8 July 2004 Polygraph Results at Center of Pennsylvania State Police Perjury Probe
Nicole Weisensee Egan reports for the Philadelphia Daily News in an article titled, "Discipline chief probed for lying, sources say." Excerpt:
The Pennsylvania State Police's disciplinary officer, who has fired troopers for lying in investigations, is himself under internal investigation for lying during an arbitration, sources said.
Capt. Robert "Barry" Titler, 49, who has been the agency's disciplinary officer since 1999, allegedly lied about knowing the results of a lie-detector test that a trooper took, sources said.
Deputy State Police Commissioner Cynthia Transue and others heard Titler say he knew the trooper failed a lie-detector test and intended to fire him, sources said.
Lie-detector tests are an investigative tool for internal-affairs investigators but are not admissible as evidence, just like in criminal investigations. Internal affairs is not allowed to let the disciplinary officer and the administration know the results of those tests.
Although there was no evidence against the trooper, Titler fired him, sources said.
The trooper filed a grievance to get his job back. During the arbitration hearings, Titler said he did not know the lie-detector results, sources said.
After Transue heard about Titler's testimony, she filed an internal-affairs complaint against Titler for perjury, sources said. That internal investigation is ongoing, but Titler is still making termination decisions while the probe continues.
In the meantime, Deputy Police Commissioner Rick Brown, who was recently promoted from heading internal affairs, said there will be no criminal investigation of Titler because "it's not that big of a deal," one source said.
"Even though in a very similar case, Brown ordered a criminal investigation be done for the exact same violation," the source said.
What's even more ironic, the source said, is that Titler helped to write a new field regulation that makes lying during an administrative investigation or a court proceeding punishable with dismissal.
4 July 2004 $4 Million Awarded to Employees Fired for Refusing Polygraph
Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer John Shiffman reports in an article titled, "A.C. firm must pay fired trio $4 million":
No one ever solved the mystery of who stole $4,000 from a desk at the telemarketing offices of a Jersey Shore time-share, or even whether any crime was really committed at all.
But this much is known: Three company employees - a polished salesman, a single mother, and a recovering drug addict - were fired over the alleged theft. Four years later, the same three suspects stand to share a $4 million judgment against the company.
"On paper, I'm now a millionaire," said the salesman, Paulino Bonds of Mays Landing, who grew up in Northeast Philadelphia. "But I know it's not over."
A federal jury delivered the multimillion-dollar award last month, concluding that the employer, Flagship Resort Development Corp., of Atlantic City, fired the workers because they refused to take lie-detector tests.
A 1988 law prohibits companies from asking employees to take a polygraph. But such cases rarely make it to trial, say lawyers who have researched the issue, in part because the law is so seldom violated.
"This may be one of the first of its kind to go to verdict," said Karen Williams, the attorney for Flagship, which has filed motions seeking to have the verdict and $4 million award thrown out. "But the punishment has to fit the crime."
Bonds' attorney, Randolph C. Lafferty, agreed that the case was unusual, but said the award was just, given the "flagrant violation of the law."
"I think that's why the jury thought it was important to send a strong message," Lafferty said.
Two jurors who heard the case said it was obvious Flagship fired Bonds, Gloria Gadson and Danielle Lyles for refusing to take a polygraph.
"What happened to those people wasn't right," said juror Vivian Komar, a nurse from Cape May. "They were violated. They were decent people."
Did the three workers steal the money? Komar said she doubts it. "They had too much to lose," she said.
Another juror, Megan Giordano, a graduate student who lives in Gibbstown, said she was still not sure.
"I still haven't figured that out," Giordano said, though she added it was "clear cut" the employer broke the law by requesting the polygraphs.
Mark Pfeffer, who represented Lyles, said there was no evidence anyone stole any money. "If I had thought she had stolen the money, I never would have represented her," he said. "When you get terminated from your job for stealing money when you didn't, it makes it real hard to get another job."
The theft is alleged to have occurred 10 days before Christmas 1999 at the time-share's call center in Brigantine, where Bonds, Lyles and Gadson worked.
Bonds, 39, was the successful salesman. He supervised telemarketers who pitched the time-shares for Flagship and earned $70,000 a year.
Lyles, 29, was the single mother with two small children, whose supervision of the company's data-entry employees earned her about $30,000 a year.
Gadson, 45, was the recovering addict, who had recently moved to the Atlantic City area from North Jersey and had successfully completed a rehabilitation program. She was eager to restart her life and was earning $35,000 a year supervising telemarketers, Lafferty said.
The three did not work directly together, but bonded while smoking Newports outside during work breaks.
On the day of the alleged theft, a coworker, Charlotte Blake, who sat next to Lyles, left to pick up a check for about $4,100 from her lawyer. It was money owed from an unrelated auto accident.
Blake testified that she cashed the check at a check-cashing agency and visited her boyfriend before returning to her office. She said she carried the cash into the office in an envelope.
She said she told Lyles about the money, put it inside her desk drawer, then walked away to help plan an office Christmas party. When she came back, she lamented that the money was missing. The police were called. Desks, cars and trash cans were searched, but no money was found.
Almost immediately, Blake cast suspicion on Lyles. The police took statements at the Brigantine station from both women.
Flagship hired a private investigator. He took statements and wrote up a report, recommending that Blake, Gadson, Bonds and Lyles be asked to take lie-detector tests.
Flagship executives asked them to take the polygraphs. Blake agreed and passed, according to the investigator's report. The three others refused and were fired.
Gadson and Lyles became upset. But Bonds said he was not worried. In telephone conference calls with his two colleagues, he told them to calm down. They had been wronged, he said. Their employer had violated a federal law. He had learned about this obscure law a few years back, he explained, during supervisor training while working at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. They needed to find good lawyers and sue, he told them.
The case took four years to reach trial before U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas in Camden. The trial lasted 10 days.
During deliberations, jurors did not find Blake credible, jurors Komar and Giordano said.
"Come on, if that's all the money you have in the world, are you going to broadcast it?" Komar said.
Komar said jurors were wary of Blake's story because she had a previous criminal conviction related to dishonesty, one she did not list on her employment application. At the time, Blake still owed about $4,000 in restitution related to the criminal case, records show.
After a day of deliberation the jury awarded compensatory damages. Lyles got $88,285 in lost wages and $100,000 for emotional distress. Bonds won $263,040 in lost wages and $200,000 for emotional distress. Gadson received $145,320 for lost wages and $300,000 for emotional distress.
The next day, the jury awarded punitive damages - about $1 million each.
Bonds, who owns a small home in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, said that if the award were upheld, he and his wife planned to buy a home in the Mays Landing area.
Lyles also plans to buy her first home. She didn't expect to win, she said, because she doesn't share Bonds' faith in the justice system. "The kind of justice I usually see is African Americans getting the short end," she said.
Gadson was not in court for either jury award. She was in state prison, serving a four-year term for marijuana possession with intent to distribute. She has breast cancer, she testified at trial, and was using the marijuana to lessen the ill effects from chemotherapy. Lafferty said Gadson chose prison over other sentencing alternatives "because, sadly, the health-care benefits are better."
Gadson, too, plans to use the money to buy a house.
"She's just glad justice has been done," Bonds said.
Public employees should have the same protections against the voodoo science of polygraphy that these employees enjoyed under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988. In many government agencies, employees may be fired with impunity for refusing to submit to a lie detector "test." A Comprehensive Employee Polygraph Protection Act is needed.
1 July 2004 "Could Your Voice Betray You?"
Douglas Heingartner reports for the New York Times. Excerpt:
IT is a time-honored interrogation tool and a staple of film noir: the lie-detector test that can incriminate or exonerate.
But such tests need not involve strapping someone to a machine. In fact, they may not require the subject's presence - or awareness - at all. And their use is growing far beyond criminal investigations.
Increasingly, lie-detector tests use voice stress analysis, a technology that has been around for decades but that has gained in popularity as the software at its heart continues to be refined.
"It can really be done anywhere," said Detective Pat Kemper of the Springfield Township Police Department in Ohio, who says he has used the voice-based testing to question thousands of suspects over the last decade. "It can be done via a telephone recording. It can be done covertly. You can use it for anything."
Indeed, beyond its applications in law enforcement, proponents of the voice-based technology see its utility in everything from telemarketing to matchmaking. In Britain, a growing number of insurance companies have been using it to screen telephone claims in hopes of rooting out fraud - a goal they say has been borne out, both in fraud detection and in deterrence. One insurer, Admiral, says 25 percent of its car-theft claims have been withdrawn since it began using the system a year ago.
But the technology's reliability is still a matter of debate, and its migration from the interrogation room to the call center has raised concerns about potential privacy implications. Voice analysis of this nature, after all, can easily be conducted without the speaker's knowledge. Now that it is being used in the insurance industry, for example, the concerns include how a suspect claim might affect a customer's subsequent applications for insurance.
The makers of one system, known as the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer, try to address such worries by controlling access to the technology. "We only sell to law enforcement and the government," said David Hughes, executive director of the National Institute for Truth Verification, the company selling the system.
The analyzer has been available since 1988, and the company says it is used by over 1,400 law enforcement agencies across the United States, as well as by other state and federal agencies including the Defense Department. "In private industry, you're doing it for profit, so there's always a concern about ethics violations,'' Mr. Hughes said. "You can't be cavalier."
But that distinction does not appease everyone. "Government is not necessarily more responsible than private industry," said Bob Barr, a former congressman from Georgia who is a privacy consultant for several organizations. "The government can put you in jail if it doesn't like what it finds."
Actually, the reliability of voice stress analysis is not a matter of debate amongst scientists. The claims of voice stress analysis proponents are entirely unsupported by any peer-reviewed research whatsoever.
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