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13 January 2006 "Lying in Wait"
Congressional Quarterly national security editor Jeff Stein discusses a jihadist article on polygraph countermeasures recently discovered and translated by AntiPolygraph.org:
Lying in Wait: Al Qaeda "knows that polygraphs are unreliable and has an idea of how to beat them," says a former U.S. Army linguist.
George W. Maschke, a translator fluent in Arabic and Farsi, discovered an article on an al Qaeda-linked Web site last week that instructs followers on specific countermeasures to use when U.S. interrogators hook them up to polygraph machines.
"There are many tricks for fooling the device," says "The Myth of the Lie Detector," originally posted on the al-Tawhed Web site in 2004. "We must realize that the idea of the device is based on measuring the body's physiological changes. Thus, if the mujahid [holy warrior] is able to control these changes, it will enable him to fool the device."
The article goes on to describe numerous methods a prisoner can use to control his breathing and blood pressure, evidently taken from articles and discussions challenging the science behind polygraphs posted by former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement personnel at an anti-polygraph Web site in the United States.
Maschke, who also worked with the FBI on terrorism cases in the 1990s, posted the original Arabic version along with his translation at the site.
He and other former intelligence personnel, including a retired senior FBI scientist, maintain that certain kinds of polygraph tests are unreliable and can be defeated easily. U.S. interrogators have been using them in Iraq with mixed results.
4 December 2005 "The Moment Of Truth: Polygraph Firm Banks On Separating Fact From Fiction"
Washington Post staff writer Michael Alison Chandler profiles Northern Virginia Pre-Employment and Polygraph Services. Excerpt:
Light filters through the heavy morning clouds and into the cramped waiting room, shining on Lawrence J. Mangan as he shifts in his chair, waiting to be grilled.
Just before 9 a.m., Darryl L. DeBow comes for him. They walk through a storage room and into a windowless office, where DeBow will attach Mangan to a computer, via two chest straps that will monitor his breathing and put a blood pressure cuff on his arm and metal plates on his fingertips to gauge perspiration.
Mangan has gone through an 800-question psychological exam and taken a drug test. He now faces his final barrier to employment at the Leesburg Police Department: a lie detector test.
He'll be one of about 1,000 people tested this year by Northern Virginia Pre-Employment and Polygraph Services, which is affiliated with the Virginia School of Polygraph, based in downtown Leesburg.
If he passes, Mangan can quit his job with the Vienna Police Department, with its alternating schedule of nights and days, and work saner shifts closer to home and his wife and three children.
"We've weeded out a lot of bad candidates. They come in spit shined and look good on paper, then fall apart during the polygraph," DeBow said in an interview. "Sex crimes, theft from employers, falsification of records. . . . You name it, people have done it."
The beginning of the test is informal. No wires, no digital monitors. Just a couple of guys talking. DeBow inquires about Mangan's 21 years as a New York City correctional officer and asks him to rate how happy his childhood was and how many drinks he has in a given week.
"We don't work with angels here," DeBow told him. "You got to give me the 100 percent truth. You got to get it out there."
Before he entered the controversial field of polygraphy, DeBow was a Loudoun County sheriff's deputy. In the early 1990s, shortly after a promotion to sergeant, he fell off a ladder during a SWAT team drill and landed on his back. His injuries caused chronic pain and confined him to a desk job. DeBow went to polygraph school and returned to the department as an examiner.
"When one door shuts, another door opens," he said. "I was given a second chance."
In 2003, he bought the Virginia School of Polygraph, one of 19 schools in the world accredited by the American Polygraph Association, and moved the headquarters from Virginia Beach to Leesburg. The school annually trains 20 to 35 examiners, who come from as far as Costa Rica and Canada.
DeBow and four other examiners administer tests, monitoring the activities of convicted sex offenders, aiding criminal investigations, testing potential hires for local police or fire departments and checking the fidelity of clients' potential spouses.
"Everybody has that deep, dark little secret that they want to keep hidden," DeBow said. His job is to expose buried misdeeds through his probing questions and, later, through his technological fluency.
The informal, introductory questions continued:
Did you ever commit the act of burglary?
Assault and battery? Domestic abuse?
Rape, forcing someone to have sex who was drunk or drugged?
Exposing yourself or peeping in someone's window?
Petty larceny; theft of anything?
After a string of no's, Mangan hesitated at the last question. The hum from the computer filled the room.
"I guess when I was a kid, maybe candy," Mangan finally said.
"When you lie, you have what is called a sympathetic response; your body goes into fight-or-flight mode," DeBow said. "It affects the pulse rate, blood pressure, respiratory and galvanic skin response [sweatiness]. We measure these things."
"That's nonsense," said Drew C. Richardson, a former FBI agent with a PhD in physiology. He has testified before the Senate, challenging the government's use of polygraph testing. "There isn't an isolated 'lie response,' " he said.
Such emotions as anger, surprise or revulsion also can trigger similar physiological responses, Richardson said. When a job is on the line, someone could be responding in fear "to the consequences of being branded a liar, rather than being caught in a lie," he said.
Dr. Richardson is right. There is broad consensus amongst scientists that polygraph "testing" has no scientific basis, and false positives are all too common.
28 June 2005 Victoria, Australia: "No lie tests for sex offenders"
Tanya Giles reports for the Herald Sun:
A RADICAL proposal to force paroled sex offenders to take regular lie detector tests to help stop them reoffending has been rejected.
Police Minister Tim Holding said the Government was sceptical of the reliability of polygraphs as a scientific tool to gather evidence, and would not proceed with tests.
"No court in Australia allows polygraph to be submitted as admissible evidence," he said.
He said the Government had already begun the Sex Offenders Register and introduced the Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Bill into Parliament so police could keep a close eye on freed sex offenders.
The British Government recently introduced legislation making it compulsory for pedophiles to take polygraph tests so authorities could monitor their behaviour after release.
A third of sex offenders polygraph-tested in Britain in 2003 admitted unsupervised contact with children since being freed.
The program is already used in 36 states in the US as well as in Canada.
But Mr Holding said Victoria set its own laws and did not follow the decisions of other countries.
Last year, FBI-trained forensic polygraph expert Steven Van Aperen briefed the Department of Justice on how the program could be used to help prevent pedophiles re-offending.
Mr Van Aperen, who frequently works on high-profile homicide cases, said polygraphs had been shown to act as an artificial conscience. He said other benefits included:
IDENTIFYING previously unknown victims who could be counselled and help police.
REDUCING the prison population and its costs.
CATCHING repeat offenders.
PROVIDING more effective parole supervision.
A departmental briefing paper on the proposal, seen by the Herald Sun, recommended that the Government not proceed with tests.
Justice policy advisers said polygraphs, which are based on the theory that lying raises anxiety, causes sweating and increases heart and breathing rates, was a highly contentious "scientific" technique.
They raised concerns that using polygraphs as a condition of parole could undermine the new Sex Offenders Register.
The advisers said it could also interfere with the Adult Parole Board's discretion when releasing prisoners.
2 June 2005 Nixon Wanted Polygraph for "Deep Throat" W. Mark Felt
In an article titled, "President Called Felt a 'Traitor' in '73," William Neikirk and Mike Dorning report for the Chicago Tribune that White House tapes reveal that former President Richard M. Nixon wanted to force W. Mark Felt to take a lie detector "test." Excerpt:
WASHINGTON -- Nearly 15 months before his 1974 resignation, President Richard Nixon described W. Mark Felt as a traitor who should be required to take a lie detector test, according to previously undisclosed tapes of White House conversations stored at the National Archives.
Felt was identified this week as the Washington Post's Watergate source known as Deep Throat. While a national debate erupted over whether Felt is a hero or a villain, tapes previously disclosed showed that Nixon had concluded as early as October 1972 that Felt, then the deputy director of the FBI, was leaking damaging information on the Watergate scandal.
The newly disclosed tapes also show Nixon and his aides firmly believed Felt was leaking information to The New York Times and Time magazine on a variety of topics, including wiretaps of reporters and a White House-authorized burglary of the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, who earlier had leaked the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department's internal history of decision-making in the Vietnam War.
In a tape that was recorded May 12, 1973, Nixon brought up Felt's name in a telephone conversation with Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, saying that Felt apparently had "blown the whistle" on the administration's involvement in investigating Ellsberg.
Referring to Felt, Nixon told Haig, "Everybody is to know that he is a goddamn traitor and just watch him damned carefully." But he added that he was going to leave it to the "new man to clean house" at the FBI, a reference to the vacancy at the bureau after acting director L. Patrick Gray had stepped down two weeks before.
Nixon said he found out from Time's attorney three or four months before this May meeting that Felt had leaked information to the magazine. He said he told Gray at the time to investigate leaks Nixon said were coming from the FBI. Nixon said Gray protested that they could not be coming from the bureau.
"And I said we have it on very good authority that they're from Felt," Nixon said he told Gray. But when the acting FBI director said that the leaked information couldn't be coming from Felt, Nixon said, "I said, `Dammit . . . you ought to give him a lie detector test.' You know I was very tough."
Gray told Nixon that he could not give Felt a lie detector test and vouched for his deputy, as did Atty. Gen. Richard Kleindienst.
In another White House tape recording, former President Nixon infamously stated, "I don't know anything about polygraphs, and I don't know how accurate they are, but I know they'll scare the hell out of people."
26 May 2005 Do Lie Detectors Lie?
Former FBI agent Clint Van Zandt comments for MSNBC. Excerpt:
A polygraph does not really separate truth from lies; or the honest from the liar. It simply provides information concerning any change in physiological response in areas such as respiration, heartbeat and blood pressure, this while the person being tested undergoes questioning.
As a retired FBI agent, I don't want to take anything away from my former law enforcement colleagues who practice the art (vs. science) of detecting truth, but I have been less than confident in the statistical success rate of the polygraph, having seen killers "pass" the test, and honest people "fail."
You see, the prevailing theory behind the polygraph is that when someone tells a lie, they become nervous about their lies and their nervousness causes changes that can be noted in their breathing, their heartbeat, their perspiration and their blood pressure. An initial baseline is established by asking questions of the person being tested whose correct answers are known to the polygraph operator (or forensic psychophysiologist). Deviation from the known baseline for truthful answers is then taken as an indication of deception.
But what about psychopaths, sociopaths or just damn good liars? If the old adage is correct, i.e., "If you believe it yourself it then passes as truth," or if you have learned to control of your bodily reactions, why can't you "pass" a lie detector test even if you are "lying?"
And what about the opposite: What if you are completely innocent but nervous, angry, sad, embarrassed or just fearful of a test whose results may affect your entire life? Or what if you have a cold, a muscular problem, a headache, or if you're simply constipated? Can these purely non-voluntary bodily symptoms or conditions affect the physiological changes that are being measured against "the truth baseline?" And what if you are nervous? Is the nervousness due to the fact that you know you've done something wrong and may get found out by the polygraph, or are you simply nervous for any number of other reasons--all totally unrelated to your complicity in some suggested criminal act?
The ACLU, an organization with which I do not normally side, supported the passage of the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act that outlawed the use of the polygraph "for the purpose of rendering a diagnostic opinion regarding the honesty or dishonesty of an individual."
Does the polygraph, in the hands of a trained, competent individual really allow the operator to detect deception on the part of the person being tested? Well, yes and no. Try betting your life or your career on that one!
25 May 2005 "Bullshitting the Lie Detector"
Harmon Leon writes for SF Weekly. Excerpt:
This ad appears on Craigslist:
Has your parole officer accused you of doing something you haven't done? Could this put you back in jail? Then we want to help.
Call us and we'll clear your name.
We've got a show to help you prove who's telling the truth.
If selected, we will profile your story on a new national TV show where guests are polygraphed to get the truth out.
I'm intrigued. My e-mail reply: I am on parole!
Going by the name Hank, I express how much, I, who-is-on-parole, would love to be on their TV show (whatever the hell that might be). Immediately the TV producer e-mails back, thrilled to hear from I, who-is-on-parole. She leaves a phone number. I, who-is-on-parole, phone her. I weave an elaborate tale involving weapons and drug charges. This pleases her. I elaborate. I have something to prove to my probation officer. He said I flunked a recent drug test, which landed me back in jail for 20 days. The producer's even more pleased.
A day later the producer phones back. She wants me on the show! That's right Bubba, I'm booked on Lie Detector (Tuesdays, 8 p.m.), a program on family-friendly PAX TV that has a motto: "The lie detector holds the power to reveal the truth and expose deception wherever it might be found."
For discussion, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board thread, "Lie Detector" TV Show w/Rolonda Watts & Ed Gelb.
24 May 2005 "Father of Idaho Kids Fails Lie Detector"
Associated Press correspondent Nicholas K. Geranios reports. Excerpt:
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- The father of two children missing from a home where three people were killed failed parts of a lie detector test, but is not a suspect in the case, authorities said.
Steve Groene said in a television interview that he lacked an alibi and failed portions of a voluntary polygraph test administered by the FBI, but Kootenai County sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said that was not enough to make Groene a suspect.
"There is no evidence linking Steve Groene to this crime, to make him a suspect or a person of interest," Wolfinger said Monday.
He attributed the polygraph results to Groene's emotional distress after his ex-wife and a son were slain and another son, Dylan, 9, and his 8-year-old daughter, Shasta, disappeared more than a week ago.
The polygraph measures a person's "physiological response to their emotional state," Wolfinger said. "Steve Groene is very distraught and upset."
The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office is right not to allow the results of Mr. Groene's polygraph "test" to guide the investigation. Polygraphic lie detection has no scientific basis, regardless of whether or not the person being "tested" is distraught. For discussion, see the message board thread, Idaho Dad Cleared After Told He Failed Poly.
24 May 2005 "Interrogation machine's maker settles Crowe suit"
San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Onell R. Soto reports. (The National Institute for Truth Verification, which markets the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA), had earlier admitted in court that their device is not capable of lie detection, but continues to suggest otherwise on its website):
The maker of a machine police used while interrogating the brother of slain Escondido girl Stephanie Crowe agreed to settle a lawsuit that accused it of making a faulty device that falsely led to murder charges, lawyers said in court yesterday.
Michael Crowe and two friends, Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser, were initially accused in 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe's stabbing death in 1998. Their lawyers said police falsely obtained confessions using the machine.
Murder charges were dropped after Stephanie's blood was found on a transient's sweat shirt as the boys headed to trial in 1999. The transient, Richard Tuite, was convicted of manslaughter in the slaying last year and is in prison.
After the charges against the three boys were dropped, their families sued police officers, prosecutors, the government agencies that employed them and the makers of the machine.
U.S. District Judge John S. Rhoades dismissed the majority of the case; attorneys for the families said they will appeal his rulings.
The settlement means there will be no trial for the National Institute for Truth Verification, makers of the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer. Rhoades had ordered a trial six weeks ago.
Lawyers for both sides said they can't spell out how much the company will pay the families because of a confidentiality agreement.
"It's not an admission of liability," Kimberly Oberrecht, who represents the company, said of the settlement.
Crowe family lawyer Milton Silverman called the company's machine "a fraud and a sham" in court papers and said its use coerced two of the three boys to wrongly tell police they took part in the stabbing death of Stephanie.
Rhoades said he didn't believe he could approve keeping the settlement amount secret, but the lawyers said later they will arrange for the suit to be settled out of court.
The National Institute's West Palm Beach, Fla., offices were closed yesterday evening. The company describes the $9,995 machine on its Web site as being "effective in all investigative situations."
It lists 158 police agencies in California, including several in San Diego County, as clients and says the machine is more effective than a polygraph in determining whether someone is lying.
Michael Crowe and Treadway both denied involvement in Stephanie's stabbing, but they said they began doubting themselves after an Oceanside police officer working with Escondido investigators told them the machine was highly accurate and indicated they were lying, lawyers said.
17 May 2005 UK: "Lie-detector tests for sex offenders"
The Telegraph reports. Excerpt:
Sex offenders will face compulsory lie-detector tests, the Government has announced.
Ministers want to use polygraph tests on sex offenders who have been released from jail on licence.
The move will ensure they are telling the truth about their behaviour, such as obeying bail conditions to keep away from schools and playgrounds.
The idea has been piloted on a voluntary basis in 10 areas across England but it will now be extended under a new Management of Offenders Bill on a compulsory basis.
17 May 2005 Taiwan: "All intelligence officials soon to face lie detectors"
Rich Chang reports for the Taipei Times. Excerpt:
All intelligence officials will be subjected to polygraph tests in future in a bid to root out spies, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced yesterday.
Legislators said they support the ministry's policy, but that they hoped the ministry would take human rights into consideration when implementing the tests.
"Officials of the Military Intelligence Bureau, the military's electronic information department, the ministry's security unit and the National Security Bureau will randomly undergo psychological and polygraph tests on a regular basis," Deputy Minister of National Defense Michael Tsai told legislators yesterday.
In the most recent case of espionage, Major Chuang Poh-hsing, a former official in the ministry's electronic information department, had on six occasions downloaded secrets form the ministry's computers and passed them on to China, Tsai said.
"I would like to apologize for the espionage on behalf of the ministry," Tsai said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shuai Hua-min, a former head of the National Defense Management College, said he supports the polygraph policy, but that the ministry should conduct the tests properly.
Mr. Shuai is apparently unaware that even a "properly" conducted polygraph "test" is without scientific basis.
14 May 2005 "(St. Louis) Area police agencies use voice 'lie detector'"
Eric Hand reports for the Saint Louis Post Dispatch:
The urban legend goes like this: Police wire the gullible crook up to a copy machine, put a colander on his head and say the contraption is a lie detector. Intimidated, the crook confesses.
Police say the latest lie-detecting gizmo - one that looks for vocal tremors in recorded conversations - is also eliciting confessions.
But many scientists, including Washington University psychologist Mitchell Sommers, say the voice analysis devices are little more than $10,000 colanders. In distinguishing liars from truth-tellers, flipping a coin works better, according to a study Sommers performed.
"It's beyond my imagination why anyone would buy one of these devices," Sommers said.
Yet at least 1,400 law enforcement agencies have. Missouri ranks second, behind Florida, for the number of agencies that have bought a Computer Voice Stress Analyzer, sold by the National Institute for Truth Verification, a Florida company that pioneered so-called voice stress analysis. There are at least 29 agencies in the St. Louis area that use them.
Polygraphs assume that lying causes measurable changes in a person's breathing, pulse, blood pressure and sweat. Similarly, voice analysis assumes that lying causes stress, which in turn causes tiny telltale tremors and other modulations in a person's voice.
Sommers says the devices are pretty good at detecting stress. But whether that stress indicates lying is another question. There's the stress associated with lying, he said, and there's also the stress of being an innocent person in an interrogation room.
University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo says the devices depend on consistent reactions, when individuals can have different physical responses to lying. One person's gut might churn, while another's voice might quaver.
Moreover, he adds: "We tend to treat lies as if they are all the same. There's a spontaneous lie, well-rehearsed lie, a lie for greater good, a lie for individual gain."
A company called V, based in Chicago, claims its voice analysis algorithms identify more than just deception. The company says its "layered voice analysis" devices can detect excitement, comfort and concentration.
"In some cases, (it) can pick up sexual arousal," said spokesman Jayson Schkloven. Through a subsidiary, the company markets a "love detector" to consumers.
In a study commissioned by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute, Sommers found that an earlier version of V's technology picked up lies less than a third of the time, even in a high-stress mock crime scenario.
Some scientists say the polygraph, on the other hand, can identify liars at rates as high as 80 percent. A 2003 National Academy of Sciences study reviewed dozens of papers and unpublished studies. It concluded that the polygraph had many flaws, but could still find liars at rates better than chance (50 percent).
As far as voice methods, the study's authors found "little or no scientific basis" for its use as an alternative to polygraphy.
"It's not that it's all nonsense, but the hype is so great that you have to be skeptical," said Stephen Fienberg, a Carnegie Mellon University statistician and the lead author of the academy study. He says he hasn't found a "single, credible, scientific" study that would cause him to believe the devices worked well.
The manufacturers respond by saying academic studies will always underreport the devices' success because mock scenarios can't mimic the stress of criminals trying to avoid arrest for serious crimes.
"If there's no consequence, there's no stress," said National Institute for Truth Verification executive director David Hughes. "You'd think if you catch bad guys, everyone would be happy."
Sommers said that increasing the stakes could increase the detectable stress. But he said most academic researchers wouldn't be able to perform such tests for ethical reasons.
While academics debate their legitimacy, the devices appear to be catching on in the insurance arena. They're used in Britain to screen out fraudulent claims. The U.S. insurance industry has been hesitant to use them for fears of alienating customers, said James Quiggle, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
"But there are rumors that some insurance companies are quietly using (voice analysis) to handle routine claims calls," he said.
According to V, Illinois-based Safeway Insurance Group has completed a pilot study in a California call center using V's devices.
Kirkwood Police detective Thomas Joseph said he has used his voice stress device hundreds of times, mostly on pre-employment screenings for police candidates.
He readily admits that it's not a lie detector.
"This is merely a tool," said Joseph, who is on the board of directors for the National Institute for Truth Verification. "There isn't an ideal tool out there that's going to say, 'John Doe, you're lying.'"
Everybody, he says, is offering a new and better mousetrap - they come and go. Upon joining the Kirkwood department in 1994, he found an old voice-based system collecting dust in a storage closet.
The device, made in the late 1970s by now-defunct Dektor, is contained in a locked suitcase. It contains a plastic unit, covered in chrome switches and dials and a spool of graph paper that would show the results of the voice analysis. Joseph said the machine didn't work very well, and eventually fell into disuse.
"They invested all that money in it and it died," he said.
Area law officers use voice analyzer
The National Institute for Truth Verification says more than 1,400 law enforcement agencies have bought the $10,000 voice stress analysis device it sells. These area agencies use the devices:
Breckenridge Hills Police
Des Peres Police
Eastern Mo. Correctional Center
Franklin County Drug Task Force
Franklin County Prosecutors Office
Franklin County Sheriff's Dept.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Dept.
Kirkwood Police Dept.
Lincoln County Sheriff's Dept.
St. Ann Police
St. Louis County Police
Webster Groves Police
University City Police
These agencies did not return messages. The National Institute for Truth Verification says it has sold them the devices:
St. Louis Community Release Center
Maryland Heights Police
Richmond Heights Police
St. Louis Police
Warren County Sheriff's Dept.
List compiled by Matthew Fernandes of the Post-Dispatch
30 April 2005 Duluth, Georgia Police Chief Wrong on Polygraph Videotaping
Acting on his lawyer's advice, John Mason, whose fiancee Jennifer Carol Wilbanks went missing on Tuesday, 26 April, agreed to submit to a police-administered polygraph examination on the condition that it 1) take place in a "neutral" location and 2) be videotaped. While Duluth police reportedly can agree to the first condition, Police Chief Randy Belcher would not consent to videotaping, claiming that no agency "that's worth anything" would videotape a polygraph examination.
However, there is no compelling reason why polygraph examinations should not be videorecorded. The U.S. Department of Energy routinely videotapes polygraph examinations, and major polygraph manufacturers such as Stoelting and Lafayette are producing computerized polygraph instruments that work with inexpensive, off-the-shelf webcams. Videorecording is an unobtrusive safeguard that ensures there will be an objective record of what was actually said and done during a polygraph interrogation. Why would a law enforcement agency acting in good faith refuse such a reasonable request?
For recent news coverage of the Wilbanks investigation, see:
For relevant discussion, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board threads, Run away, run far far away and Audio/Video Taping of Polygraph Examinations.
27 April 2005 Police Turn to Polygraphs
Maggie Shepard reports for the Albuquerque Tribune:
Anyone who wants to work in the Metropolitan Forensic Center evidence room will have to take a polygraph test, Albuquerque's police chief said.
With an investigation having determined that $58,000 went missing from the evidence lockup, the Albuquerque Police Department is trying to minimize the chance that anyone with a dishonest streak can work in the operation.
"It is one of many tools to help verify honesty," Police Chief Schultz said Tuesday regarding the use of polygraph testing as an employee screening method.
Polygraph tests have been administered to all officer applicants for the police department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department. The test is part of the screening process, which also includes a background investigation and a psychological exam.
County Undersheriff Sal Baragiola said applicants are interviewed at length about their past, touching on details of drug use, theft, sexual misconduct and violence.
The interview details are distilled into questions that should elicit the same answer when asked during the polygraph test, he said.
"We're looking for any criminal behavior that would indicate that you have a lack of integrity and that you shouldn't be in a position of trust," Baragiola said. "It is used to verify what we've already been told."
Evidence room employees, mostly civilians, already went through the same background checks as every other police department employee. They took the mandatory drug test and got clearance to their designated areas.
But those precautions didn't prevent theft from the evidence room.
A report released Monday by the state Attorney General's Office after a yearlong investigation indicated at least one evidence room employee committed crimes. Record-keeping and supervision were so sloppy that investigators concluded they wouldn't be able to make a case against anyone, according to the report.
Schultz said adding the polygraph test to the hiring process is an effort to make sure evidence room employees have the trust of the community.
Schultz said it is "absolutely imperative" to have evidence room employees with impeccable character - the temptations they face include hundreds of pounds of drugs, about 15,000 guns and about $1.4 million in cash under their control.
He got the idea of testing civilian employees during his recent tenure in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he oversaw the department's investigations unit.
The evidence room employees will be the only civilians in the department to take polygraphs before being hired.
Passing a polygraph is no guarantee of honesty, and failing one is not a sure sign of untrustworthiness, one authority said.
Alan Zelicoff, a physician, physicist and polygraph expert, says the test can be beat and shouldn't be the only screen used to protect against hiring criminal employees.
"A polygraph test is self-deceptive, increases the risk of security violations because deceptive people can easily pass the polygraph, and it adversely affects morale," he said.
Zelicoff is a former Sandia National Laboratories employee who has pushed to remove the use of polygraph testing at national laboratories.
The polygraph measures physical reactions such pulse increases and sweating in reaction to questions. Federal law requires that the device be operated by a licensed technician.
Federal employment law forbids the use of polygraph testing to screen employees for private firms except for security and pharmaceutical companies. The law does not apply to employment with federal, state or local governments.
14 April 2005 FBI Reliance on Polygraph Delayed Finding of Nichols' Explosives Cache
The Associated Press reports in a story published by MSNBC.com under the title, "FBI at first dismissed tip on Nichols explosives." Excerpt:
WASHINGTON - The FBI initially dismissed a tip that convicted bomber Terry Nichols had hidden explosives and they might be used for an attack this month coinciding with the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
While the FBI has found no evidence supporting the idea that an attack is in the works for the April 19 tenth anniversary, the information that explosives had been hidden in Nichols' former home in Herington, Kan., turned out to be true.
The tip came from imprisoned mobster Gregory Scarpa Jr., 53, a law enforcement official said this week. Scarpa is an inmate in the same maximum-security federal prison in Florence, Colo., where Nichols is serving life sentences for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred Murrah federal building that killed 168 people. Timothy McVeigh was convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges in the bombing and executed in 2001.
Scarpa learned about the explosives from Nichols, mainly through notes passed between them, said Stephen Dresch, a Michigan man who is Scarpa's informal advocate.
Source failed lie detector test
Dresch gave the information to the FBI in early March. But FBI agents did not search the vacant house until March 31. The bureau did not act more quickly because Scarpa failed a lie detector test, said the law enforcement official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
The FBI lab continues to examine the materials for fingerprints and other clues that might show where the explosives originated and who may have had them before they got into Nichols' home.
Scarpa, a member of the Colombo organized crime family serving 50-plus years on drug trafficking, conspiracy and racketeering convictions, first communicated information about the explosives on March 1, then provided more details on March 10 and 11, Dresch said in letters sent to the staffs of two members of Congress and to the FBI's Detroit office. Scarpa revealed the location of the house on March 11, Dresch said.
The first letter said Scarpa learned from another prisoner, assumed by Dresch to be Nichols, "the location of a bomb on U.S. soil." The second described two rock piles in the crawl space beneath Nichols' former home. Under one, it said, were cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic. Those details match what the FBI said it found.
The FBI should use actual investigation instead of the make-believe science of polygraphy to evaluate tips. The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center might have been averted had not the FBI terminated a well-placed confidential informant, in part because of inconclusive polygraph results. The FBI's foolish reliance on polygraph screening has also cost it the services of at least one other confidential informant.
13 April 2005 Polygraph tests inadmissible
Detroit Free Press staff writer Nate Trela reports. Excerpt:
Polygraph evidence indicating that former Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga and two codefendants did not swap campaign contributions for prosecutorial favors will not be seen by a grand jury, nor will it be admissible if the case goes to trial.
U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said in a written ruling Tuesday that she cannot order the U.S. Attorney's Office to present the evidence to the grand jury.
She added that the results of polygraph examinations taken by Marlinga, state Sen. Jim Barcia, D-Bay City, and Warren real estate broker Ralph Roberts could not be considered in a trial because the government did not participate in the administration of the tests, let alone know about them.
"Contrary to defendants' assertion, not all would agree that polygraph results favorable to them are clear, substantial evidence of innocence," she wrote in the 8-page ruling. "In fact, courts and the scientific community have yet to reach a consensus regarding whether polygraph tests are, indeed, reliable barometers of veracity, particularly when administered unilaterally, as was done here."
David Griem, an attorney for Roberts, said: "We are disappointed, but not surprised, by the ruling."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel, Marlinga's attorney Mark Kriger and Barcia's attorney Harold Gurewitz declined to comment on the ruling.
The attorneys for Marlinga, Barcia and Ralph Roberts -- no relation to the judge -- filed a motion last month revealing the results of privately administered polygraph exams.
The three men were indicted in April 2004 for allegedly scheming to trade contributions to Marlinga's ill-fated 2002 congressional campaign for prosecutorial favors for two rape suspects. During their exams they denied wrongdoing.
13 April 2005 Marlinga lie detector test kept private
David Shepardson of the Detroit News reports. Excerpt:
MOUNT CLEMENS -- Federal prosecutors won't have to tell grand jurors about the results of lie detector tests taken by former Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga and two others charged in a corruption case, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Marlinga, state Sen. Jim Barcia, D-Bay City, and Warren Realtor Ralph Roberts said in March that they had passed privately administered lie detector tests given by retired Michigan police officers who were experienced with polygraph machines.
The three were charged in a nine-count indictment in April 2004, but U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts ruled that the government will have to refile new charges against the three, which likely will mean three separate trials.
The grand jury is set to consider reindicting the three April 20. The three defendants had sought to get their lie detector test results introduced in an effort to dissuade the grand jury from reindicting them. Marlinga had offered to take an FBI-administered test if the government agreed to present the results to the grand jury. They declined.
Roberts noted in her opinion that the defendants -- had they failed -- wouldn't have been required to tell the government of the results and that the tests are of questionable scientific value. She also noted that the federal appeals court that oversees Michigan "disfavors the use of polygraph evidence at trial, but has not adopted a ... rule prohibiting the practice."
12 April 2005 Crowe family can sue makers of lie-detector test
North County Times reporter Teri Figueroa reports on a lawsuit involving the National Institute of Truth Verification, which markets the "Computer Voice Stress Analyzer":
SAN DIEGO ---- A federal judge ruled Monday that three teenagers initially accused of killing Stephanie Crowe can sue the makers of a voice analyzer test that police used to gauge whether the boys were lying when in the days following the child's death.
The teens, now young adults, were charged with murder in the 1998 stabbing death of the 12-year-old Escondido girl. The three were jailed, in large part, based on statements two of them made to police during lengthy interrogations.
The families are suing the National Institute for Truth Verification, which makes the voice analyzer machine that police used in interrogating the boys.
The suit proclaims that the manufacturers are liable for the harm the boys suffered, and that the product led the boys to make false and misleading statements to police. Calling the machine a "fraud," in recent court documents, Michael Crowe's attorney argued that use of the machine caused Crowe to doubt his memory, and ultimately prompted the boy to tell police that he must have killed his sister, even though he could not remember doing so.
The makers of the product, which is called a Computer Voice Stress Analyzer, argued that use of the machine ---- and the damning statements from the boys that followed ---- represented only a small part of the reason the three boys were arrested for the slaying.
Charges against the boys were dropped a year later, after DNA tests revealed the slain girl's blood on the clothing of transient Richard Tuite. Last year, a jury convicted Tuite in the girl's death.
Long before Tuite's arrest, the families of the three boys sued the Escondido police department and others, mostly over a slew of allegations that included violations of constitutional rights in the boys and the families were treated.
The boys' attorneys argued that confessions ---- later ruled by a court to have been coerced ---- elicited from two of the boys were the main reason the teenagers were arrested.
U.S. District Judge John Rhoades said it's up to a jury to decide just how much impact the machine had on the arrests.
The ruling means the six-year-old civil case may finally head to trial, although the case is now just a sliver of what it once was.
"It's the first morsel of anything we've got to chew on," Crowe family attorney Milt Silverman said after the hearing. Stephanie's older brother Michael Crowe was among the three boys accused in her slaying. Buddies Joshua Treadway and Aaron Houser were also jailed charged with murder. Crowe was 14 at the time, Treadway and Houser were 15.
Most of the civil suit filed by the families of the three boys against the Escondido police department and others has been dismantled, with Rhoades tossing much of the case dealing with alleged constitutional violations.
The families argue that the arrests came primarily as a result of damning statements from Crowe and Treadway. All three of the boys took the "truth verification" tests during their questioning, and all three boys were told by police that they had failed the tests.
Silverman also argued that the makers of the product ---- which he said has "no scientific validity whatsoever" ---- misrepresented its accuracy to police.
At the end of two 10-hour interrogations, Treadway ultimately told police the three teenagers had followed through on a plan to kill Stephanie, 12 years old at the time of her death.
A videotape of the interrogations show Treadway focusing intently on the results of the "truth verification" test, which police told him he failed.
The makers of the voice stress analyzer, the National Institute for Truth Verification, had asked Rhoades to disallow the three families from suing them.
Attorneys for the makers of the product claimed the results of the tests did not play a part in the charging and jailing of the three boys. They pointed out that Rhoades, in earlier rulings, found that the police did have probable cause to arrest the boys.
Kim Oberrecht, attorney for the makers of the machine, told the judge that there are no facts to support the plaintiffs' theory that the boys confessed because of the machine.
Oberrecht declined to comment after the hearing.
Last month, Rhoades ruled the Crowe family has no grounds to sue on most of its claims, including a claim that police violated their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure during the investigation into the girl's death.
Also, the Crowe family cannot sue over the lengthy police interrogations of Michael Crowe, nor can the family sue over their claims that police wrongly arrested him for the slaying, Rhoades found.
Rhoades did agree to let part of the suit move forward, including allegations by Stephanie's parents that Escondido police falsely imprisoned them by refusing to let them leave the police station. However, Escondido police are challenging that ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rhoades' findings last month came a year after he granted defense requests to toss out almost all of the claims the Houser and Treadway families raised.
15 March 2005 Internet kidney donor interviewed by former FBI agent
WBIR Channel 10 (Knoxville, TN) television news reports:
In October a Bradley County man said he donated a kidney to a Colorado man he met online. Ever since, people have been questioning his motives and accusing him of selling his kidney.
Tuesday, he came to Knoxville to clear his name once and for all. Robert Smitty went to a former FBI special agent and took a lie detector test.
He says he wants everybody to know the real reason he donated his kidney to someone he did not even know.
"I thought that it would just be good for me, my self esteem, doing something good to help other people," said Robert Smitty.
When Robert Smitty became interested in organ donation, he went online to research it and found a website that matches donors with people who need transplants. That is how he met Bob Hickey.
"We talked, we had a couple of phone conversations, and he liked me, I liked him, pretty much it," said Smitty.
In October Smitty flew to Denver for the surgery. Once it was over, the questions started. Why did he do it? And was he paid?
"I was tempted with that in the early stages. I admit that financial temptation existed," said Smitty.
Smitty says he was only reimbursed for his medical and travel expenses, and he is determined to prove it. So, he called the former head of the FBI's polygraph program to take a lie detector test.
"I feel like with my background, qualifications, education and so forth it's certainly 95% to 97% accurate," said Ken Shull of Expert Polygraph Services & Private Investigations.
Shull asked Smitty whether he was paid for his kidney and if he broke the law.
"My preliminary results today are that he did pass the test, and he showed no deception when he answered no to those two questions," said Shull.
"I've never been able to save a life or contribute to the saving of lives, and you can't buy that, no price," said Smitty.
If someone wants to donate an organ, even to a stranger, Smitty says they should not be criticized; they should be encouraged.
"It's wrong to say everybody's bad. It's wrong to say everybody wants money, and there's no one out there who will help a patient who's dying. That's wrong, there's good people out there. I'm glad today I can say I'm one of them," said Smitty.
There is another reason Smitty wanted to take the polygraph. He was recently featured on a cable television show that gives lie detector tests. On the show, Smitty failed it. He says the questions were too broad. Smitty admits he was offered money online for his kidney, but he insists that he never took any.
This news report may be viewed as a Windows Media Player file here. For discussion of PAX TV's "Lie Detector" show, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board thread, "Lie Detector" TV Show w/Rolonda Watts & Ed Gelb.
12 March 2005 It's written all over your face
Susan Gaidos writes for New Scientist magazine about recent research at the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute. Excerpt:
IT IS hard not to feel a little nervous. Andrew Ryan is trained to catch liars, and I am sitting in his lab at the US Department of Defence Polygraph Institute, preparing to lay a bald-faced whopper on him.
Earlier today, I participated in a mock crime, a short-lived melee that ended in aggravated assault, attempted murder and robbery. The act of stabbing a dummy in the chest and rifling through its purse has left me feeling more than a little guilty. My accomplice has instructed me to reveal nothing. But will my discomfort give me away?
Settling into a wide, comfortable chair, I begin answering questions, while a high-resolution infrared camera scrutinises my face, watching the blood swirl just beneath the surface of my skin. The camera forms part of a prototype for a new generation of lie detectors being developed by the US government. One day, they could be used to help unmask criminals, improve screening at border crossings and checkpoints, and perhaps interrogate terrorist suspects.
The drive towards new devices comes from a desire for something a cut above the "polygraph", the standard lie detector whose rubber tubes and wires are familiar from TV and the movies. Scientists have long attacked the device as inconclusive, and in 2002 a report commissioned by the National Research Council (NRC) in Washington DC found that the polygraph's performance falls well short of what is needed to tell the guilty from the innocent. As a result, the US Department of Energy began scaling back the polygraph security checks it was running on its own staff.
11 March 2005 Russian Army Trained Lie Detector Operators
The Russian News & Information Agency Novosti reports:
MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) - Last month a team of 26 lie detector operators, certified psychologists trained under a three-week program, graduated from the Russian Military University, reports Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozrenie, an independent Russian defense weekly.
In the U.S., lie detectors, or polygraphs, have proved an efficient means of criminal and intelligence investigation, and personnel selection, while its use in the Soviet Union was perceived as a means of "torture, pressure, and human rights abuse." From this day on, a new team of "electronic investigation officers" will help the Russian military to solve crimes.
According to Professor Vladimir Kruk of the Military University, who is in charge with the psychological re-training department, this program is the second attempt to train lie detector operators in Russia. In the first one, Americans helped Russians to train specialists for transportation of nuclear materials.
Experts say lie detector operators will be needed as the Russian Armed Forces attract more volunteers. Lie detectors will help to discard candidates for voluntary service, who might try to conceal unfitness or play down negative stories they have been involved in.
Alexei Ladchenko, a certified polygraph operator with the Moscow City Police, said polygraph was in extensive use in criminal investigations. Some polygrams, that is, papers or files with lie detector results, have been used as evidence in courts. The expert argues lie detectors could also help fight corruption.
10 March 2005 Internet organ donor disputes polygraph test
This Associated Press article published by the Denver Post is cited here in full:
Chattanooga, Tenn. - A televised polygraph test has indicated that a kidney donor did not answer truthfully when he denied receiving more money than the law allows from his Internet-arranged organ donation to a stranger from Colorado.
Rob Smitty, a 32-year-old meat salesman, said he wants another test after the broadcast on the PAX program "Lie Detector" Tuesday night.
Last October, Smitty donated a kidney to Bob Hickey of Edwards, Colo., in a procedure in a Denver hospital. They met on an Internet site dedicated to matching recipients with willing donors.
Eight days after the surgery, Smitty surrendered on a warrant for failure to pay delinquent child support. Questions were raised about whether the donation was in fact a sale, but Smitty said Hickey paid him only $3,050 for expenses and lost work time.
Federal law prohibits profiting from the sale of body parts for transplant. It does not prohibit soliciting a donation.
The polygraph test was taped in November in Los Angeles.
Mark Phillips, executive producer of the television show, said he stands by the results.
"He's generally a nice, sweet fellow," Phillips said of Smitty. "I just think he is in over his head." Smitty said he has a book deal but has no publication date and has received no money yet.
Hickey, who had needed a transplant since 1999 due to kidney disease, met Smitty through MatchingDonors.com. Hickey paid the Web site $295 a month for three months to seek a donor.
Hickey avoided a waiting list maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit group with a government contract to allocate organs from the dead.
For discussion of PAX TV's "Lie Detector" show, featuring the bogus "Dr." Ed Gelb (he obtained his "Ph.D." from an unaccredited diploma mill that was shut down by the federal government), see the AntiPolygraph.org message board thread, "Lie Detector" TV Show w/Rolonda Watts & Ed Gelb. Another of the show's guests, whose appearance has not yet been aired, has posted his experience here.
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