Polygraph Abuse: Bill Roche vs. The Secret Service

Why did Secret Service Agent Robert Savage tell you that you were failing the test and you needed to reduce your scores?

Agent Savage had just administered the national security test and determined I was truthful. Apparently, he was displeased that I was not scoring higher in the control questions. I was ignorant of what control questions were and I thought each question was of equal importance to be truthfully answered.

Unfortunately, I was too truthful when I was asked the control questions. I answered the control questions to the extent there was nothing in my conscience. Since I had nothing remotely disqualifying in my background, Agent Savage must have made the assumption that I had to be holding something back and that he needed to spice things up a little bit to establish a better baseline. (Either that or he didn't like me and purposefully inflicted this stimulation to wash me out knowing the severe damage that would be suffered.)

Unfortunately, this theory backfired. Agent Savage forgot a basic rule of interview and interrogation, "Never make a statement during an interview unless you know the answer." For example, telling a robbery suspect he was on the video inside the bank, when in fact he was the get away driver, will show the suspect you don't have any evidence against him and that you are lying to him. At that point, the investigator has lost all credibility.

The same goes for Agent Savage telling me I was scoring too high in the control questions, when I was in fact being honest. Agent Savage told me to reduce my scores, but I couldn't, as I was already being truthful. At that very moment, my faith in the polygraph was destroyed.

In a criminal investigation such as the robbery scenario I mentioned above, the criminal suspect knows all he has to do is keep his mouth shut because the police don't have anything to tie him to the robbery. If they did, they would have used that evidence in lieu of trying to trick him into a confession.

Unfortunately, the opposite happens in a pre-employment polygraph. The applicant knows the polygraph is the judge, jury and executioner. When an applicant is told he is failing the test in an area where he is being honest, the machine and polygraphist lose all credibility. This type of stimulation will have a major backfire and cause irreversible harm.

This very issue is given specific mention in the bylaws of the American Association of Police Polygraphists.

The American Association of Police Polygraphists lists in their bylaws under standards and principles of practice the following:

    1. During an investigation in which the polygraph might be utilized, the investigator should not resort to any misleading statements. If the person who determines that he/she was deceived later takes a polygraph examination, he/she may be overly suspicious of both the procedure and polygraphist. Such a mental attitude may cause the person's reactions to be so erratic that no conclusive chart interpretation could be made.
This is further corroborated in the book Criminal Interrogations and Confessions (3rd edition), written by Fred E. Inbau, John E. Reid, and Joseph P. Buckley.

Chapter five of this book talks about bait questions, and what occurs if they are improperly administered. Namely, "...once an interrogator is caught in a lie, further effectiveness is lost. (page 69.) (Note: This book has been quoted by the US Supreme Court and is considered a textbook for proper interview and interrogation.)

Essentially, by Agent Savage's comment, he destroyed your ability to be effectively polygraphed?


Despite that, Agent Savage went on to administer two polygraphs on the same day?

Yes, he did. I passed the national security portion of the exam, he inflicted the crippling stimulation, and then he moved onto the drug usage and serious crimes issue.

All examinations were hopelessly affected after the crippling stimulation by Agent Savage. To continue to polygraph someone after inflicting such severe stimulation is beyond all professional comprehension.

Nevertheless, Agent Savage moved on to the next area, accused me, and then interrogated me about drug usage (which I have never used in my life.)

After receiving this interrogation regarding relevant issues, Agent Savage then administered a third polygraph.

It is my understanding that interrogation is completely forbidden before the administration of a polygraph?

For the same reasons the stimulation backfired on Agent Savage on the control question, the same is true for accusing an innocent person of wrong doing on a relevant question.

Once an interview moves into the interrogation phase, you can never go back to the interview phase. This is basic and elementary knowledge. The conduct is expressly forbidden.

It is only common sense. You cannot make false accusatory statements to a person and make them so angry their hands are trembling out of pure, unadulterated anger, and then strap them to a polygraph. Remember, all of the additional accusations occurred after Agent Savage had already told me I was failing the polygraph. This was like being kicked in the stomach and kneed in the face.

So basically after the national security test, the remainder of the examinations were simply adding insult to injury?

Exactly. They are completely invalid. The examinations are polygraphist manipulation at it's finest. The manipulation was either done out of extreme gross ignorance or maliciousness.

So you failed the last two polygraphs administered by Agent Savage?

Actually, it is my understanding they were inconclusive. Agent Savage was telling me I was failing so that I would confess my sins to him. Unfortunately, I had not sinned. In fact, I was perfect. It was Agent Savage who was sinning.

Based on the level of trauma inflicted on you by Agent Savage, it seems that any polygraph administered afterwards would be affected?

I would most definitely agree with that statement. The evidence and common sense supports that statement.

How were the examinations administered by Secret Service Agent Ignacio Zamora Jr.?

Well, our hero Ignacio comes to save the day two weeks later. Ignacio decides to try and focus my attention away from the relevant questions by telling me I was having difficulty with the honesty and integrity questions (Control Questions). That is kind of like saying you don't have cancer, but you are suffering from severe heart disease.

Nothing like telling a person who went through the Agent Savage victimization that he has a problem with honesty and integrity. Nothing like telling a person who is still traumatized from Agent Savage, and who is being honest, that he has trouble being honest. Nothing like administering a little backfiring statement before the polygraph even begins.

At this point I have no faith in the polygraph. I am honest, and I know the polygraph is incapable of corroborating that.

As I mentioned above, the results of a person who has been deceived by a polygraphist, will be hopelessly inconclusive (hence my results on the tests).

What happened after the first examination administered by Agent Ignacio Zamora?

Agent Zamora told me I was still having difficulty in the honesty and integrity issues (control questions), and he interrogated me about relevant issues. I was angry that he was accusing me of having difficulty with honesty and integrity when I was being honest, and I was livid about the interrogation of relevant issues since I was honest there also.

My denials were intense to the point my hands were again trembling out of anger.

After the interrogation of the first polygraph, what occurred next?

Agent Zamora strapped me in for another polygraph. I remember trying to hold my hand steady as he strapped on the electrodes.

After the second polygraph, the next round of interrogation of relevant issues began.

It amazes me he interrogated you and administered polygraphs. I read in your statement that he yelled at you. What is up with that?

Agent Zamora lost it, not that he deserved much credibility with the unethical interrogations prior to polygraphying me.

Like I mentioned before, at one point during the interview/interrogation, Secret Service Agent Ignacio Zamora Jr. yelled at me in a forceful voice while simultaneously slapping his thigh and then extending his arm directly toward me with his index finger pointing directly at me causing my body to react backward as if I was about to be hit. Agent Zamora, with his index finger extended toward me, and sitting within a very close proximity exclaimed with a contorted face, "I hope you're not that type of person, because if you are we don't want you in the Secret Service." Agent Zamora then pointed to the tape recorder and said, "I'll even say that on tape."

This behavior is beyond all professional comprehension and is completely abominable.

How could Agent Zamora say the polygraph does not measure anger?

Apparently Agent Zamora is unaware of any link between anger and blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin moisture.

What happened after your polygraphs?

As a police officer, I knew what I had experienced went against my training and experience, and violated basic rules in interview and interrogation. I spoke with local experts in the area of polygraphy and they were horrified at the conduct of the Secret Service.

I wanted to review my polygraph experiences with a well respected national expert in the area of interview, interrogations, and polygraphs.

As luck would have it, I met, in person, a gentleman by the name of Joseph P. Buckley, President of the John E. Reid and Associates. For me, this was like praying for a miracle and getting Moses.

I explained in detail my polygraph experience to him. Mr. Buckley said if what I am saying did in fact happen (Thank God for audio tape!), accurate polygraph reading was concluded upon receiving the stimulation administered to me. I explained to Mr. Buckley the tactics used by Secret Service Agent L. Robert Savage III to focus my attention on the control question, that being, I was failing the control questions. Based on his physical reaction upon hearing this tactic, it was evident to me that John E. Reid and Associates does not use that technique.

I reviewed the Special Agent Zamora polygraph examinations with Mr. Buckley, specifically the yelling, severe stimulation, interrogation of relevant issues, and then administration of a polygraph. Apparently, John E. Reid and Associates does not use this technique either.

At no point did Mr. Buckley stop me and say, "They were just trying to focus your attention on the control question and help you get through the test."

There was no gray area in his response. The behavior of the examiners flawed any and all results.

Mr. Buckley is an extraordinarily knowledgeable and credible person. The fact that the United States Supreme Court uses a book he co-authored as reference material speaks for itself.

Every polygraph examiner I have spoken with independently supports Mr. Buckley's opinion.

However, as a police officer, I have an appreciation that our conduct must be within our standards of training. I wanted to find out if the United States Secret Service is trained in this type of polygraph application by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute.

I spoke with the Assistant Chief of Instruction, Jimmie Swinford. Mr. Swinford said DoDPI does not teach their students to yell at applicants, he was unfamiliar with telling applicants they failed the controlled questions, and stated DoDPI does not advocate stimulation/interrogation prior to the polygraph. Mr. Swinford said interrogation takes place after the examiner has formed an opinion.

Armed with this knowledge, I filed a complaint with the Secret Service.

What happened to the complaint?

I received a letter from the Assistant Director Kevin T. Foley of the Forensic Science Division. He did not deny the conduct of the agents, but he stated the polygraph examinations were conducted within DoDPI standards. (NOTE: I did not advise the Secret Service I had already spoken with DoDPI.)

Assistant Director Kevin T. Foley told me that an unidentified supervisory agent assigned to DoDPI reviewed the tapes and charts and determined the conduct of Agent Savage and Agent Zamora was within DoDPI standards.

What did you do next?

I wrote a letter back to him advising him I had spoken to DoDPI and they assured me the conduct was not within their standard. I provided Assistant Director Foley with the names of the experts I spoke with, and other irrefutable evidence that could be immediately corroborated. I figured at the very least he would check into the evidence I presented to him because of the very pointed and articulate nature in which it was presented. I knew I had the Secret Service trapped because the conduct was outside the polygraph community and most importantly, Agents Savage and Zamora were acting outside their training.

What did Assistant Director Foley do?

Assistant Director Foley wrote back stating there would be no re-review of my polygraphs.

Specifically, Assistant Director Foley stated, "The Secret Service's Forensic Sciences Division (FSD) currently is accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLAD), and its polygraph program are certified by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (DoDPI). Based upon these certifications and its record of performance, I have full confidence in FSD's practices and performance."

What did you decide to do next?

As Assistant Director Foley stated in his letter, the Secret Service's, "...polygraph program are certified by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (DoDPI)."

It would seem to me that if DoDPI certifies their program, DoDPI would have jurisdiction in conducting a proper review.

I wrote a letter to DoDPI explaining the circumstance, and requesting a review of my polygraphs.

After receiving no response, I called the Director of DoDPI, Michael Capps.

Mr. Capps told me he had received my complaint, but unfortunately, because his Institute is within the Department of Defense, and the Secret Service is within the Treasury Department, he does not have jurisdiction to review my polygraphs. Mr. Capps stated the Secret Service would have to request DoDPI to make the evaluation.

I told Mr. Capps that since DoDPI certifies the Secret Service program, it would seem he should have that jurisdiction. Mr. Capps told me he is unaware of any such certification program and that no certificate hangs on a wall at the Secret Service stating they're "DoDPI certified." Mr. Capps said if there is such a program he, as Director, is unaware of it.

I called David Miller who is listed as member of the Quality Assurance Program for DoDPI. Mr. Miller also stated he was unaware of a certification program certifying the Secret Service Polygraph program.

So what did you think of DoDPI's answer about reviewing your polygraphs?

Their answer is plausible as it concerns their jurisdiction.

Overall, on their part, DoDPI was pretty smart to answer the way that they did. They have undoubtedly had a real back slapping relationship with the Secret Service for many years. I was far too articulate and have spoken to too many experts for them to blow me off.

If they reviewed the polygraphs and determined them within DoDPI standard, they would have to go up against people like Joseph Buckley.

If they reviewed the polygraphs and they were not within DoDPI, (which I already knew they were not), then he would have to give the Secret Service a negative evaluation.

I hold no animosity toward DoDPI. They appear to train examiners within the acceptable practices of the legitimate polygraph community. If they don't have jurisdiction, then they don't have jurisdiction.

It seems that Assistant Director Foley tried to mislead you into saying they are certified by DoDPI, when in actuality, the Secret Service is not certified by DoDPI?

That is correct. Assistant Director Foley's arrogance is incredible. But what I find most disturbing is the quality of the work produced by the United States Secret Service Forensic Science Division and how it is covered up at its highest ranks.

With the complete invalidation of the Zamora and Savage polygraphs, Assistant Director Foley's arrogance was disturbing. It is evident to me that based on his arrogant response, the Secret Service Forensic Science Division is a cesspool of contamination, and any testimony by their personnel should be suspect unless validated independently.

I felt like Fred Whitehurst when he brought down the FBI laboratory for similar conduct. The Secret Service is definitely running the same path as the FBI crime lab.

Did you complain to anybody else?

Yes, I did. I discovered that L. Robert Savage and Ignacio Zamora Jr. were members of the American Polygraph Association (APA).

I reviewed their code of ethics and I had some serious concerns about the conduct of Savage and Zamora.

I filed the complaint and the APA contacted Zamora and Savage for a response. After receiving their side of the story, and without any cross-examination, the APA determined my complaint was insufficient to be considered a violation of their code of conduct.

This perplexed me, so I contacted the APA. The APA told me that Zamora and Savage were only trying to focus my "psychological set," and that it was too complicated to explain to me. I replied that they were jacking me up on control questions, which is the more appropriate definition. The complaint also spelled out the interrogation of relevant issues prior to polygraphing me , but I guess their investigation ignored that.

I explained that the stimulation of Zamora and Savage was too severe and invalidated the results. The APA said evoking emotion, if it's done in the right area, is not inappropriate.

The APA, in an attempt to help me understand, drew a comparison of the Zamora and Savage polygraphs to complaints of "police brutality." A fair comparison if I may say so. The APA said, "you might use a choke hold on somebody when a choke hold wasn't necessarily the right move, but it didn't per se violate the rules. It wasn't the best move, but it wasn't something that broke the rules."

However, the APA did state the conduct of L. Robert Savage and Ignacio Zamora Jr., was only "marginally acceptable," and "not necessarily the best way to handle things, not necessarily the most professional way to handle things, but not anything we as an organization, to include review by our legal guy, that we could sink our teeth into."

Well, they could definitely sink their teeth into the interrogation of relevant issues prior to administering the polygraphs, but they have decided to remove their dentures.

So the APA supports and defends and considers the following behavior acceptable?

  1. Yelling.
  2. Making threatening gestures.
  3. Interrogation of relevant issues prior to administering a polygraph.
  4. Inflicting severe stimulation on control questions.
The facts speak for themselves.

I noticed that the APA published in their web site a model policy established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. This policy mentions interrogation. What does it say?

Under the model policy, the following is given specific mention:


  1. Officers shall not interrogate a subject just before he/she is to take a Polygraph.
So the APA publishes that an interrogation shall not take place prior to a polygraph, but it allows it members to partake in such conduct?

This is an example of talking out both sides of their mouth. But we should really give the APA a break. They are a private, membership organization. They can do as they please, and I guess their dues would be tax deductible also.

There you have it folks. I will leave you in this section with these parting words from FBI Chief Polygraph Examiner James K. Murphy when he was asked if he was aware of any uniform polygraph standards that are accepted and used by all people conducting polygraphs in the United States.

"I'm aware of some standards, but I'm also aware of the fact that there is no agency, group, or individual who is capable of enforcing them. Therefore, you have a wide variance in training, education, and conduct of polygraph examinations throughout the United States."