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by Peter J. Ognibene. Washington Post, 13 January 1985. A PDF version of this article, as collected and highlighted by the CIA, is also available. Ognibene's critique of polygraphy remains salient today, as polygraph techniques have not improved in any significant way in the intervening years.
"Polygraph Screening of Sex Offenders," by Dr. Drew C. Richardson, 21 May 2005. A letter to the editor of the UK newspaper Telegraph on plans to implement compulsory lie detector "testing" for convicted sex offenders released under licence.
"OSI provides the truth in Baghdad," by USAF Master Sgt. Carolyn Collins, Global Reliance, March-April 2004. This article provides yet another example of unwarranted official belief in the lie detector.
"Polygraph: An intelligence tool in growing demand," by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph Castleberry, 902nd Military Intelligence Group (Counterintelligence), INSCOM Journal, Spring 2003, pp. 15-16. This article provides an alarming example of unwarranted official belief in the lie detector.
"Can Criminals Beat the Lie Detectors?" (1.66 mb PDF) by Fred T. Blakemore, Science and Mechanics, Vol. 24, No. 4 (August 1953). The author seems to have uncritically relied on information provided to him by polygraphers. Nevertheless, this article is of historical interest as one of the earliest published writings on polygraph countermeasures and counter-countermeasures. (For up-to-date information about polygraph countermeasures, see The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.)
Polygraph "Testing" of Informed
Subjects: What Are Polygraphers to Do with Those Who Understand
"the Lie Behind the Lie Detector?" American Polygraph Association
president Milton O. "Skip" Webb, Jr. joins Secretary
of Energy Bill Richardson in declining to explain.
National Center for Credibility Assessment FY 2013 Research & Development (4.8 MB PDF | 5.5 MB PPT) Unclassified presentation on NCCA research and development dated 19 March 2013. Projects described include the development of software "to assist the polygraph examiner in detecting and identifying atypical and countermeasure responses," a "physiology simulator for polygraph system testing and validation," an "automated counterintelligence (CI) screening system," a project for "integrating physiological programming interface with avatars," a long-range infrared laser doppler vibrometry system, and an "ocular-based credibility assessment screening system."
Counterintelligence Interrogation (658kb PDF) A declassified article by C.N. Geschwind on how to interrogate intelligence sources. Includes passing references to the polygraph. Published in the CIA journal, Studies in Intelligence, Volume 9, Winter 1965.
The Polygraph in Agent Interrogation. (317kb PDF) A declassified article by Chester C. Crawford on the CIA's use of the polygraph to interrogate intelligence assets. Published in the CIA journal, Studies in Intelligence, Volume 4, Summer 1960.
Project Slammer Interim Report dated 12 April 1990. Project Slammer is a CIA-sponsored study of Americans convicted of espionage against the United States. Although none of the spies was caught by the polygraph, the report remarkably states, without explanation, that "[t]he security measure that was consistently most effective was the polygraph." (Download as 125 kb PDF file.)
LCFLUTTER - Rough Draft Reports of George E. Filbing (325 kb PDF). Reports dated 2 April 1954 of polygraph screening examinations conducted in March 1954 as part of operation PBSUCCESS, a CIA covert operation to overthrow the government of president Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala. LCFLUTTER is a cryptonym for "polygraph." The cryptonym LINCOLN used in this document refers to headquarters in Florida. These reports, declassified (with redactions) in 2003, help document the CIA's early reliance on polygraphy.
Status of Presidential Memorandum Addressing the Use of Polygraphs (397 kb PDF). Legal opinion by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven G. Bradbury dated 14 January 2009 finding that "the Johnson Memorandum does not now bind the Department of Justice or other entities in the Executive Branch, in light of compelling historical evidence that the document was never issued by the President and that President Johnson took actions subsequent to signature that under the circumstances here would have constituted a revocation of any such directive."
Richard M. Nixon on Polygraph "Testing." Transcript of the taped Oval Office conversation (Conversation No. 545-3) in which then President Richard M. Nixon uttered the infamous words, "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."
Polygraph Guide for Standards and Practices (1.9 mb PDF) dated 25 February 2010. Sets forth policies and procedures to be followed by federal, state, and local agencies participating in the Polygraph Law Enforcement Accreditation (PLEA) program.
Federal Psychophysiological Detection of Deception Examiner Handbook (981kb PDF) dated 2 October 2006. "This manual is issued under the authority of DoD Directive 5210.48, DoD Polygraph Program. Its purpose is to prescribe uniform Psychophysiological Detection of Deception (PDD/polygraph) procedures. The provisions of this manual are effective immediately and apply to those DoD elements that use PDD, and by agreement to other Federal law enforcement, counterintelligence, and security agencies that also use PDD procedures."
These earlier versions of the handbook are also available:
Attachment and Placement of Polygraph Instrument Recording Sensors (2.7 mb PDF) dated August 2002. The objective of this Department of Defense Polygraph Institute instructional document is to "inform students as to DoDPI's recommended locations and most correct procedures for attaching the three primary sensors (Respiratory, Electrodermal Activity (EDA), and Cardiovascular) in order that optimum physiological data can be obtained from an examinee. Further, the advantages and consequences of failing to apply the sensors correctly will also be discussed. Additionally, general supporting strategies and remedies associated with attaching the sensors will also be discussed."
DoDPI Racial Bias Study (1.3 mb PDF) This document provides the results of a 1990 study of polygraph results conducted by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute. In the study, only 23.5% of innocent blacks passed, compared to 36.9% of innocent whites. Although DoDPI attempted to suppress this study and never published it, at least one copy survived, and AntiPolygraph.org is pleased to make it publicly available, along with an explanatory cover sheet.
A Comparative Investigation of the Reliability Between Differing Scoring Systems (676 kb PDF) by CPT Patricia Morris, USAF and MSGT Donald A. Weinstein, USMC. Unpublished research study "undertaken at the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute, (DODPI) Fort McClellan, Alabama, under the direction and guidance of Dr. Gordon H. Barland, PhD, Director, Research Division, DODPI, during February 1988."
Test for Espionage and Sabotage (TES) Documentation.
The TES is the primary polygraph screening format used by the
U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy.
"A Comparison of Psychophysiological Detection of Deception
Accuracy Rates Obtained Using the Counterintelligence Scope
Polygraph and the Test for Espionage and Sabotage Question
Formats." This report is based on the first of three studies
conducted by Dr. Sheila D. Reed.
"Psychophysiological Detection of Deception Accuracy Rates
Obtained Using the Test for Espionage and Sabotage." This
report is based on the second of Dr. Reed's three studies.
of Espionage and Sabotage (TES) Expansion and Validation
Study. DoDPI never published any report of Dr. Reed's
3rd TES study, and its parent agency, the Defense Security
Service, has refused to release any documents about it under
the Freedom of Information Act. However, AntiPolygraph.org
has obtained this abstract of Dr. Reed's 3rd TES study,
which was presented to the American Academy of Forensic
(1.3 mb scanned PDF file). Psychophysiological Detection
of Deception Accuracy Rates Obtained Using the Test for
Espionage and Sabotage: A Replication. This report, dated
29 July 1997, was obtained under the Freedom of Information
Act. It explains the protocol to be followed in a study
of TES accuracy rates.
Appendix I (eye) is of special interest, because it exposes
the trickery involved in the procedure, for example:
Administer a standard known solution
numbers test--using the rationale described in section
6. below. DO NOT show the test to the examinee, but
convince the examinee that deception was indicated.
While Appendix I is included in the scanned PDF of the entire
report, it may be more conveniently read here in HTML format
or downloaded as a separate, word-searchable PDF file:
Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System (PCASS) Documentation.
The PCASS is a hand-held lie-detector developed at U.S. taxpayer expense that is intended for screening locally hired personnel as well as suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq. These documents were obtained by MSNBC under the Freedom of Information Act for its investigative report, "New anti-terror weapon: Hand-held lie detector."
DoDPI Relevant/Irrelevant (R&I) Screening Worksheet. A four-page instructional worksheet used at the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute in the early 1990s. It lists the questions used in DoDPI's "full scope" relevant/irrelevant (R&I) screening "test," including their type and order.
Regulation 195-6, Department of the Army Polygraph Activities,
dated 29 September 1995 (1.5 mb scanned PDF file). Associated
DA Form 2801 Polygraph
Examination Statement of Consent, dated 1 JUL 85 (24 kb PDF)
DA Form 2802 Polygraph
Examination Report, dated NOV 76 (24 kb PDF)
DA Form 2805 Polygraph
Examination Authorization dated, NOV 76 (26 kb PDF)
SECNAVINST 5520.4B, OP-09N, dated 2 August 1989. Department of the Navy Polygraph Program. (3.8 mb PDF)
Defense Polygraph Institute Interview and Interrogation Handbook
by Michael J. Janniro, DoDPI. 4th edition, June 1991. xii +
116 pages. Includes sections on verbal and non-verbal communication,
effective listening, types of questions, interview & interrogation,
assessing behavior, structured "post-test" interrogation, case
themes, general themes, subliminal non-verbal "selling," "homespun
themes," and defense mechanisms. This document makes it clear
that polygraph "tests" are actually interrogations in disguise.
(1.6 mb PDF.)
Testimonial Evidence (2.2 mb Microsoft Word document). Army Institute for Professional Development, Army Correspondence Course Program, Subcourse MP 1016, Edition A. United States Army Military Police School, September 1991. This document covers interrogation and polygraph procedures for military police investigators.
This 61-page document appears to be a collection of slides or overhead projections. It provides an overview of the physiological reactions that DoDPI deems relevant for scoring polygraph charts, explains the 7-point numerical scoring system, and provides specific information on scoring of the Zone Comparison Test (ZCT), Modified General Question Test (MGQT), and Peak of Tension (POT) polygraph formats. This document presupposes that the reader has a general understanding of "control" question "test" (CQT) polygraphy (regarding which see Chapter 3 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.)
Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (DoDPI) library
holdings. The DoDPI library has a large collection of both published
and unpublished documents on polygraphy and maintains a bibliographic
database. A listing of the library's holdings as of 26 September
2002 is archived here and will be of use to researchers:
The blanket prohibition against any reference to a person taking a polygraph examination unfairly prevents an accused from attacking the reliability of his admissions in a post-polygraph interrogation. The issue is the art of the subsequent interrogation, not polygraph science. Whether in a motion or on the merits, an accused may want to present evidence that he took a polygraph test to demonstrate the overbearing effect of all the relevant circumstances surrounding the interrogation.
Use of the Polygraph in Security Clearance Investigations. Chapter 8 of Security Clearances and National Security Information: Law and Procedures written by Sheldon I. Cohen for the Defense Personnel Security Research Center, dated December 2000. (The entire book may be downloaded as a 17.5 mb PDF file here)
Voice Stress Analysis Instrument Evaluation. (365 kb PDF). Final Report, Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) Contract FA 4814-04-0011. By Harry Hollien and James D. Harnsberger. University of Florida, Gainesville. 17 March 2006. "The findings generated by this study led to the conclusion the [sic] neither the CVSA nor the LVA were sensitive to the presence of deception or stress."
The Seniors find no scientific or programmatic
justification for polygraph screening of employees. In fact,
we believe that if polygraph testing is implemented by DOE,
national security is likely to decrease by (1) making it
easier for subversives to become insiders, (2) driving away
talented workers and making it more difficult to recruit
new workers, (3) wasting resources trying to correct the
errors caused by polygraph testing, and (4) reducing employee
commitment (a very important factor in national security
and protection against subversion).
Atomic Energy Commission Polygraph Program Documentation. From 1946-1953, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) operated a polygraph screening program at its facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In 1953, the Washington office of the AEC ended polygraph screening on the ground that "it furnished only a marginal increase of security." The two memos provided here were declassified in 1999. For further reading on the AEC polygraph program, see John G. Lindeman's article, "The Oak Ridge Polygraph Program 1946-1953," Polygraph, Vol. 19 (1990), No. 2, pp. 131-138.
"Continued and Extended Use of the Polygraph." Memorandum dated 3 June 1947 (HTML | PDF)
"Continued and Extended Use of the Polygraph." Memorandum dated 19 September 1947 (HTML | PDF)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Polygraph Handbook (1.9 mb PDF). Formally titled the "U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Internal Affairs Credibility Assessment Division Policy and Reference Manual with Appendices from DACA and Federal Standards" dated 7 January 2010. Includes detailed information on the polygraph technique used for pre-employment polygraph screening, the "Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test," (sections II-VI) as well as a section (VII) on polygraph countermeasures. 304 pages.
2013 NCCA Inspection Report (1 mb PDF). Dated 26 March 2013. Report prepared by the National Center for Credibility Assessment's Quality Assurance Program. Among other things, the report documents that in 2012, CBP had a pre-employment polygraph pass rate of 32%. Six precent of applicants polygraphed were accused of using polygraph countermeasures.
The Countermeasure Files (added 7 April 2013, updated 29 January 2018) A collection of polygraph community documentation on polygraph countermeasures. This information has been closely held by the polygraph community and has not previously been published in any public forum. These documents reveal that while polygraph operators publicly claim that countermeasures are ineffective and that they can easily detect them, they are less sanguine when behind closed doors speaking amongst themselves. AntiPolygraph.org features prominently in their discussions.
Countermeasures (14 mb PDF) by retired FBI Special Agent Robert Joseph Drdak (14 mb PDF). This 48-page, 2011 document is distributed with the Lafayette Instrument Company's polygraph software. Retired Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence officer Scott W. Carmichael credibly alleges that this document is derived from a 2003 National Center for Credibility Assessment paper by Dan Weatherman and Paul Menges that was in turn based on a classified study by Gordon H. Barland. It includes countermeasure "detection" criteria so broad that virtually any polygraph examinee could be deemed to have used countermeasures should the polygrapher so desire. However, the document includes no coherent methodology for detection of the kinds of countermeasures outlined in AntiPolygraph.org's The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.
AFOSI Polygraph Countermeasure Handbook (3.2 mb PDF). This 116-page document by the late U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) special agent and polygrapher Larry Victor Streepy (1933-2007) documents federal doctrine regarding polygraph countermeasure detection in the 1980s. Streepy soberly observes (pp. 1-2): "Examiners should not become complacent by holding to the idea that all countermeasures will be readily distinguishable. They should, instead, recognize that it may be difficult to identify countermeasures use..."
Countermeasures (6.6 mb PDF) | 6.8 mb PPTX). 134-slide Stoelting Co. presentation on polygraph countermeasures, based on National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) documentation.
AAPP Handbook, Chapter 15 (328 kb PDF) dated 2008. This chapter from the handbook of the American Association of Police Polygraphists is marked "Law Enforcement Sensitive" on each page. It offers approaches to dealing with a variety of countermeasures, many of which would not likely be used by a person who understands polygraph procedure (e.g. dissociation, rationalization, meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback). While the chapter mentions AntiPolygraph.org among other sources of information, it doesn't provide any clear methodology for detecting the kinds of countermeasures described in our widely-read and freely-available book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.
Effective Counter Countermeasures by James W. Bassett. Presentation delivered at the American Polygraph Association's 2010 annual seminar. Suggests "setting the stage" by using diplomas and certificates to establish credibility and dressing like a professional. Emphasizes interrogational stratagems while providing no actual information on countermeasure detection.
Countermeasures: What Every Examiner Should Know (55 mb PDF | 19 mb PPT). This 210-slide presentation was prepared by Mark Handler for the Kentucky Polygraph Association in 2009. The presentation began as a PowerPoint file prepared by Walt Goodson of the Texas Department of Public Safety and was expanded by Mark Handler with input from Charles Honts, Raymond Nelson, and Charles Slupski. It describes various kinds of countermeasures and the research literature thereon.
Slides 67-94 are specifically about AntiPolygraph.org. Slide 96 notes: "sources like the [sic] Maschke & Scalabrini's book do contain accurate information about how polygraph tests work and about possible countermeasures" but goes on to suggest that mere exposure to the book has no effect on polygraph outcomes. Slide 104 states that the notions that countermeasures are easy to detect and that they are not effective against an experienced examiner are fiction. Publicly, however, polygraph operators make precisely the opposite claim.
The presentation suggests strategies for identifying some countermeasures, but provides no clear methodology for detecting sophisticated countermeasures. For commentary on this presentation, see Polygraph Countermeasures: What Polygraph Operators Say Behind Closed Doors.
Countermeasures in 2009: What We Know and What We Don't Know (1.9 mb PDF). Presentation by Charles R. Honts. See especially the "Current Trends" portion beginning with slide 49. Honts discounts the notion that polygraph operators can reliably detect countermeasures. See especially slide 51: "No published scientific study shows that [sic] any person to be better than chance at detecting countermeasures, either from watching the subject or from analyzing the charts."
Polygraph Countermeasures: Where We Were, Where We Are (15.4 mb PDF | 29 mb PPT). Presentation by Paul Menges, Department of Defense Polygraph Institute, in 2005 before an intergovernmental conference in Rome on the use of polygraphs in counterterrorism. Discusses AntiPolygraph.org among other sites and questions our motives. Provides charts from examinees who confessed to using countermeasures, but provides no clear instruction on how to detect countermeasures. Menges, who specialized in countermeasures at DoDPI, had earlier argued that providing countermeasures information to the public, as AntiPolygraph.org does, is unethical and suggested that it should be outlawed.
Countermeasures (7.1 mb PDF | 2.9 MB PPT) A 2005 presentation by James Wygant. Discusses AntiPolygraph.org beginning at slide 48 (misidentifying it as "AntiPolygraph.Com") with excerpts from The Lie Behind the Lie Detector. Suggested remedies include "claim we no longer use the procedure described on the internet & we now use a procedure in which all of the questions must be answered truthfully." Does not provide any coherent methodology for detecting the countermeasures explained in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.
Countermeasure Case Files. Various federal agencies send polygraph case information to the National Center for Credibility Assessment when an examinee admits to using countermeasures. Examples of such files are provided here.
Alaska State Trooper Background Questionnaire (313 kb scanned PDF). Alaska State Trooper applicants are required to complete this questionnaire from the State of Alaska Department of Public Safety prior to pre-employment polygraph screening.
PSP Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test Applicant Package (262 kb PDF) dated April 2012. This document contains a series of forms associated with the pre-employment polygraph screening of PSP applicants, including forms to be completed by the applicant as well as by the polygraph operator. Page 4 lists the relevant questions asked (see items 2, 4, 6, and 8) and pages 8-9 list potential comparison ("control") questions.
PSP Polygraph Regulation (197 kb PDF) dated 20 May 2011. "This regulation establishes standard procedures concerning the utilization of Department polygraph examiners, alternate polygraph examiners, and the polygraph during investigations. It also establishes policy regarding the duties and supervision of Polygraph Unit members."
Sexual Harassment Complaint Sustained Against Polygrapher Eric J. Holden. In July 1999, Texas polygraph examiner Eric J. Holden, who specializes in the polygraph screening of convicted sex offenders, was himself the subject of a sexual harassment complaint. The complaint was sustained, and Holden was permanently barred from serving as an instructor at the Texas Department of Public Safety's polygraph school.
The Myth of the Lie Detector. English translation of "Usturah jahaz kashf al-kidhb" (The Myth of the Lie Detector), an article published in the Iraqi jihadist Al-Fath magazine, No. 1, Dhu al-Qa'dah 1425 (December 2004), pp. 19-23.
Jeffrey K. Skilling's Polygraph Report. (414 kb PDF) Paul K. Minor's 1-page report of his polygraph examination of indicted Enron executive Jeffrey K. Skilling conducted on 4 December 2001 at the request of Elizabeth Baird of the Washington, D.C. lawfirm of O'Melveny and Myers.
1938 razor blade advertisement featuring William M. Marston, who popularized the "lie detector." The ad proclaims, "Now! Lie Detector Charts Emotional Effects of Shaving!" Writing under the pen name "Charles Moulton," Dr. Marston later created the cartoon character Wonder Woman, whose magic lasso compelled those held in its coils to speak nothing but the truth. (high res 5.2 mb PDF | low res 1.8 mb PDF)
Polygraph Hearings and Correspondence
U.S. Department of Energy. In September 1999, the Department of Energy held a series of public hearings on its then-proposed polygraph rule. DOE scientists and engineers roundly -- and eloquently -- condemned the plan, but the decision to implement polygraph screening had already been made and their criticism fell on deaf bureaucratic ears. These transcripts, prepared by DOE, make for very interesting reading on polygraph policy and help explain why DOE scientists so strongly oppose polygraph screening:
14 September 1999 Morning session of hearing held at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) (135kb PDF)
U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts. Senate Hearing 105-431. A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory: Beyond the Inspector General Report. 29 September 1997.
Supervisory Special Agent Drew C. Richardson, the FBI's most qualified polygraph expert, blows the whistle on polygraph screening. The Bureau has since then exercised prior restraint to keep him from publicly speaking the truth about polygraphs.
Opening Statement of SSA Drew C. Richardson. Dr. Richardson testifies that "[polygraph screening] is completely without any theoretical foundation and has absolutely no validity" and that "anyone can be taught to beat this type of polygraph exam in a few minutes."
Letter dated 21 Oct. 1997 from Sen. Charles E. Grassley to FBI Laboratory Division director Dr. Donald M. Kerr requesting a response on grounds of science to Dr. Richardson's charges. Sen. Grassely adds, "If Dr. Richardson is correct, polygraph screening should be banned from the FBI." (Download this letter as a 128kb scanned PDF file.)
Statement by Sen. Grassley dated 21 October 1997 responding to the appointment of Dr. Kerr as FBI Assistant Director for the Laboratory Division. Sen. Grassley warns that "the American people cannot trust what the FBI tells them."
Memorandum from Dr. Richardson to Dr. Kerr dated 13 September 1999. Dr. Richardson again brings his serious concerns about polygraph screening to the attention of the FBI Laboratory director.
Stephen E. Fienberg, Chair of the National Research Council's Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph. Amended written statement submitted after the hearing in light of Kyle E. McSlarrow's surprise announcement of changes to the DOE's polygraph policy. (Download amended statement as a 110 kb PDF file.)
Stephen E. Fienberg, Chair of the National Research Council's Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph. Original written statement.
Kansas Polygraph Protection Act of 2000. (This polygraph reform bill died in committee.)
Letter from Robert M. Beattie Jr., Esq. to Kansas House of Representatives Federal and State Affairs Committee Chairman Tony Powell dated 8 March 2000. Of special interest in this letter is Mr. Beattie's explanation of how the FBI prohibited Supervisory Special Agent Drew C. Richardson, the Bureau's leading expert on polygraphy, from testifying before the Kansas House of Representatives. (Rep. Powell did not respond to Mr. Beattie's letter.) (Download this file in Microsoft Word format)