By Policy Memorandum 08-11, dated 16 June 2008, Admiral Eric T. Olson, Commanding Officer of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM), has prohibited the use of Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) as a credibility assessment tool throughout his command.
The memorandum states as follows: “In accordance with DOD and USD(I) regulations and guidance outlined in references (a) through (c) (of the memorandum), the use of CVSA… is strictly prohibited under all circumstances, with no exceptions. The polygraph and the PCASS (Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System) are the only approved credibility assessment technologies in DOD.
“Pursuant to USD(I) policy, however, research and improvements on other potential credibility assessment tools continue to be a priority for DOD.”
The memorandum is addressed to the commanding officers of the United States Army Special Operations Command, the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, the Naval Special Warfare Command, the Air Force Special Operations Command, the Joint Special Operations Command, the Special Operations Command – Pacific (SOCPAC), the Special Operations Command – Korea (SOC-K), the Special Operations Command – Europe (SOCEUR), the Special Operations Command – Joint Forces (JFCOM), the Special Operations Command – Central (SOCCENT), the Joint Military Information Support Command, and Special Operations – South (SOCSOUTH), as well as the Center Directors of the United States Special Operations Command, and the president of the Joint Special Operations University.
Why is this important? It is important because, in the global war against Islamic terrorism, the most important weapon any government can have is solid actionable intelligence. And to the extent that interrogation of detainees is a major source of that intelligence, the single most effective tool our military has is CVSA. Its significance is such that Special Forces interrogators who have used CVSA in the field insist that there are two primary reasons for the major reduction in violence in Iraq: 1) the surge, and 2) CVSA technology.
Defense Secretary Gates has stressed the importance of getting more and better intelligence into the hands of our troops on the ground. In a 21 April 2008 speech at the Air War College, he said, “My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield. I’ve been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets into the theatre. Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it’s been like pulling teeth… so last week I established a Department of Defense-wide task force… to find more innovative and bold ways to help those whose lives are on the line.”
The Olson memorandum is but the latest in a long succession of internal Pentagon intrigues, conceived and implemented by civilian officials with strong personal ties to the polygraph industry, whose only purpose is to maintain a monopoly for polygraph use within the military services. This in spite of a 2004 report by the National Academy of Sciences, commissioned by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, which alleges that over a period of twenty years, officials of the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (DoDPI) purposely manipulated study results so as to enhance the accuracy rates of polygraph examinations and understate the accuracy of competing systems, most notably CVSA.
The Olson memorandum is a disservice to all who wear the uniforms of the U.S. military and to all who’ve served in the past. Clearly, Admiral Olson has been seriously and purposely misled by junior staff officers and by civilian employees of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) and the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment (DACA), formerly the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (DoDPI).
In the past three decades, and more, DACA (DoDPI) has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars in an ongoing effort to promote the polygraph industry over competing technologies that are not only faster and more accurate, but far less expensive. Not only have their efforts served to interfere in the normal business operations of manufacturers of competing technologies… technologies that are widely used and accepted throughout the civilian law enforcement community… the denial of CVSA technology to our armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere represents a serious breach of the responsibility to provide our troops with the best available war-fighting tools.
The efforts by CIFA and DACA to create an undeserved monopoly for polygraph use within the U.S. military and other federal agencies comes at the cost of untold lives, both coalition military personnel and in the Iraqi and Afghan civilian communities. It is a reckless and self-serving dereliction of duty that borders on criminal conduct.
CVSA technology is the computer age equivalent of a voice stress analyzer (VSA) developed in 1971 by retired colonels Allen D. Bell, Charles McQuiston, and Wilson Henry Ford, the senior executives of Dektor Counterintelligence and Security Inc., of Springfield, Virginia. The device they invented was known and marketed as the Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE), a voice stress analyzer often referred to as a “voice lie detector.”
Like CVSA, the PSE was far easier to use, it was far less expensive, and the training and certification of examiners was far simpler and faster. As civilian law enforcement agencies and private investigators learned of the PSE and began to utilize it in their day-to-day investigations, manufacturers and users of the polygraph came to see it as an economic threat to their industry.
In 1975, the American Polygraph Association (APA), led by Frank Horvath (who later became Chief Scientific Officer for the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute), introduced model state licensing legislation designed to regulate the polygraphy profession. However, under the “Instrumentation” section of the model statute, the APA included a requirement that any person utilizing any device for the purpose of assessing truthfulness or credibility must use a device that measured cardiovascular and respiratory activity, as well as galvanic skin response. It was a definition that restricted the science of credibility assessment to a single device… the polygraph.
Thirty-five states rejected the legislation and fifteen approved. In the intervening years, of the fifteen states that adopted the legislation, all but seven… Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont, and Texas… have repealed it.
In 1988, the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA), a system which operates on the same principle as the PSE, but with computerized circuitry, entered the market. In a very short time, and with little or no market promotion, the CVSA made dramatic inroads in the civilian law enforcement community. By 1994, more than 500 law enforcement agencies were using the CVSA and more were acquiring it each month.
When the success of CVSA came to the attention of officials at APA and DoDPI, a new “study” was commissioned. During the conduct of that study, participants were advised not to use “parlor games,” since neither the polygraph nor CVSA were accurate “unless real-life jeopardy was present.” That statement was true only of the polygraph. To the contrary, CVSA training emphasizes the importance of VSA examinations in a stress-free (or reduced stress) environment to achieve optimal results.
With the guidelines and protocols of the study having been “poisoned” from the outset, the final report asserted, as expected, that the CVSA was no better than chance at truth verification.
Study participants were then required to sign a statement, on a separate document attached to the report, asserting that, “The views expressed in this ‘article’ are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government (emphasis added).”
However, in spite of that disclaimer, the study, signed by DoDPI Director Michael Capps and distributed under DoDPI letterhead, was then sent to all state polygraph associations and to all polygraph examiners within the federal government, including those at the FBI and the CIA.
In 1996, and again in 2001, DoDPI conducted studies of CVSA, each time using mock crimes or other protocols which they knew in advance would produce poor or useless results. Instead of testing the CVSA in the field, under real life conditions, DoDPI chose again to use inferior techniques and protocols apparently designed to produce a bad result. Again, these reports were distributed to law enforcement polygraph examiners across the country with the obvious intention of damaging the credibility of CVSA.
In spite of Pentagon efforts to the contrary, CVSA is now used successfully as a credibility assessment tool by more than 1,800 law enforcement agencies across the United States. Many law enforcement organizations, such as the New Orleans P.D. (18 CVSAs), Nashville P.D. (11 CVSAs), Cincinnati P.D. (5 CVSAs), Miami-Dade P.D. (11 CVSAs), Atlanta P.D. (5 CVSAs), and the California Highway Patrol (32 CVSAs), have either discontinued or greatly reduced the use of the polygraph in their criminal investigations. However, because of efforts by DoDPI to discredit CVSA, the FBI and the CIA remain solidly committed to the polygraph.
It should be noted that, because those agencies use only the polygraph, all of their pre-Iraq War vetting was conducted on the polygraph… and critical elements of it were wrong.
In 2003, Lt. Col. Buikema, USMC, Intelligence Operations Division Chief, US Southern Command, contacted the National Institute for Truth Verification (NITV), manufacturer of the CVSA, requesting a CVSA briefing. The briefing was conducted and the decision was made to conduct a sixty-day Proof of Principle evaluation of CVSA at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Lt. Col. Buikema disclosed that, prior to the training of interrogators, he was contacted by U.S. Army G2 and instructed that the polygraph was the only authorized truth verification system and that he was prohibited from using the CVSA. Lt. Col. Buikema responded that the G2 guidance was not relevant and proceeded to authorize the purchase of five CVSA’s and the training of eight interrogators.
The CVSA was so successful at GTMO that the Proof of Principle was cut short and full deployment was ordered.
In late 2003, NITV was invited to conduct CVSA briefings at both the U.S. Army G2 and at the Battle Lab, Fort Huachuca, Arizona. However, before the scheduling of the G2 briefing could be finalized, NITV received a telephone call cancelling the briefing. No explanation was given. NITV officials then traveled to Fort Huachuca where they managed to conduct the briefing without Pentagon interference.
The Chief of Language and Technology at the Battle Lab was so impressed with the performance of CVSA that she placed an order for five CVSA units to be deployed immediately to Iraq. The Chief informed NITV officials that, prior to the briefing, she too had received instructions from G2, directing her to cancel the briefing.
Immediately upon deployment to Iraq, the CVSA proved so successful in the hands of Special Operations and Intelligence Units that 32 additional units were purchased.
Months later, NITV received a telephone call from the Chief advising them that an effort was under way at the Pentagon (DoDPI working through CIFA) to have an Undersecretary of Defense sign a directive prohibiting the use of any device other than the polygraph in U.S. military credibility assessment applications.
In 2004, after the CVSA had proved successful in numerous detainee examinations at GTMO, NITV was contacted by the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Chief of Interrogators, Steve Rodriquez. Rodriguez proposed that NITV enter into a two-year contract to provide a CVSA Subject Matter Expert (SME) at GTMO for the purpose of training additional interrogators and to provide additional expertise as needed.
NITV signed a two-year contract and sent one of its senior instructors to GTMO as the SME. At the end of the first year, Mr. Rodriquez, a staunch supporter of CVSA, was re-assigned to DIA Headquarters in Virginia. The week after Mr. Rodriquez left GTMO, a team of individuals, headed by Dr. John Capps… the brother of Michael Capps, former head of DoDPI and a senior member of CIFA… was sent by CIFA to “assess” the situation. Within a week of Capps’ arrival the contract with NITV was cancelled, NITV’s SME was ordered off the island, and the use of the CVSA was discontinued. Records produced in this project indicate a greater than 90% success rate with the CVSA at GTMO.
Major James Rogers, Operations Officer of the Interrogation Control Element at GTMO, was so incensed that he stated in a letter, “My opinion, based upon my observation, is that CVSA is superior to the polygraph when used as a tool in the interrogation process. Consequently, I conclude that those who wish to remove CVSA from the ‘interrogator’s tool box’ are more interested in protecting their turf than they are in gathering intelligence that protects the American people.”
Subsequently, NITV was asked to provide a CVSA briefing for the 650th Military Intelligence Group, headquartered in Mons, Belgium. Two NITV staff members traveled to Belgium to conduct the briefing. However, upon their arrival in Belgium they were informed that the briefing had been cancelled. The commanding officer of the 650th had received a telephone call from G2, prohibiting him from purchasing the CVSA. The 650th had been prepared to purchase 10 CVSA units and to train 20 examiners.
Finally, on 8 June 2004, Undersecretary of Defense (Intelligence) Stephen A. Cambone published an interim policy directive (Reference “1b” in Adm. Eric T. Olson’s 15 June 2008 memorandum) declaring that “the polygraph is the only instrument approved in the DoD for use as a credibility assessment tool.”
Two months later, in August, 2004, at the request of the Special Operations Command, Tampa, FL, NITV conducted a briefing on the CVSA for the SOCOM Intelligence leadership/staff. The SOCOM members were impressed with the CVSA but wanted the laptop version modified to a hand-held system, complete with NITV’s unique automatic scoring algorithm.
Since NITV was at that time initiating research and development of a hand-held system… to be called the “Field Interrogation Support Tool” (FIST)… they were asked to submit the FIST technology for the “Defense Acquisition Challenge Program” (DACP). The FIST was later selected under DACP as the top technology for development and funding was approved for this effort. This approval is documented in DACP budget documents, as well as in the August 2005 edition of the Special Operations Technology Magazine.
However, after the FIST was selected for the DACP, NITV advised SOCOM that, if DoDPI or the Army G2 learned of the project and the approval of funding, they would attempt to have it blocked. The SOCOM staff responded that they had never had any of their top priority projects blocked and that NITV’s concerns were unwarranted.
Although there were rumblings that DoDPI was working behind the scenes, through CIFA and the USD(I), to have the project killed, the funding was subsequently approved
SOCOM then commissioned an independent survey of U.S. law enforcement organizations to determine the effectiveness of the CVSA in the field. Law enforcement agencies in eight states were surveyed by Dr. Gary Gallagher and an assistant. The result of the survey was an assessed reliability and validity rating for the CSVA of 91.38%.
Based on the survey results, SOCOM requested that Ms. Carol Haave, then a deputy to the USD(I) in charge of CIFA and DoDPI, should receive the same briefing that the SOCOM staff had received. The briefing was scheduled; however, one day prior to the meeting SOCOM was informed that Ms. Haave had to cancel due to an unscheduled out-of-town trip. SOCOM set a second date for the briefing and Ms. Haave cancelled it. A third meeting was set for 25 May 2005 and Ms. Haave cancelled that briefing, as well.
In spite of Ms. Haave’s unavailability, the funding was approved and sent to SOCOM. However, on the day that SOCOM received the funding, Ms. Haave called and ordered that the funds not be released to NITV. After some discussion, the decision was made to move ahead. Gen. Brown, Commander of SOCOM, then received a call from USD(I) Cambone, ordering him to cease all activity related to CVSA
Subsequent to the publication of the interim policy directive by USD(I) Cambone, eight members of the U.S. Senate requested a meeting with Acting Director of Counterintelligence Toby Sullivan to discuss the issue. The meeting was attended by Mr. Sullivan; Frank Horvath, then Chief of Special Studies for DoDPI and former president of the American Polygraph Association; Bill Norris, Director of DoDPI; and aides for eight senators and one congressman. A representative of NITV was invited to attend but was not allowed to participate in the meeting. The meeting was described by one senate aide as “one of the most contentious I have been in since coming to the Hill.”
The result of the meeting was an agreement by Mr. Sullivan to re-write the policy directive to allow for the limited use of CVSA. The promised “clarification” memo was never distributed.
At a subsequent meeting in Mr. Sullivan’s Washington office, a meeting attended by NITV, Gene Bissette, Polygraph Program Manager for the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA); and Michael Capps, former Director of DoDPI and Director of Management and Development for CIFA, it was made clear that all CIFA officials in attendance were opposed to the use of CVSA. That meeting too was described as “contentious.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Sullivan stated that anyone, including those then utilizing CVSA, could call him and he would grant permission for the continued use of CVSA. In addition, he disclosed that CIFA would advertise for organizations capable of conducting an independent study to determine the viability of CVSA before it could be used as a final determinant of truth or deception.
Sullivan stated, emphatically, that the study would be done “above-board,” without interference from DoDPI, and that the study would be viewed as the “final word” on CVSA use within the DoD. However, when a copy of the solicitation was reviewed by NITV, it appeared from the language and the study parameters/protocols that the proposal had been written by Michael Capps, of CIFA, or another senior member of the DoD polygraph bureaucracy. It basically replicated the two tainted studies done by DoDPI in 1996 and 2001.
After months of deliberation, CIFA eventually selected the University of Florida (CIFA Contract – FA 4814-04-0011) to assess the validity and reliability of voice stress analysis. This action is reiterated and supported in Admiral Olson’s 15 June 2008 memorandum under Section 4. Policies and Procedures, to wit, “… research and improvements on other potential credibility assessment tools continue to be a priority for DOD.”
However, in spite of Acting Director Sullivan’s assurance that the new study would be done “above board,” CIFA failed to report that the principal researcher at the University of Florida responsible for the study would be Dr. Harry Hollien, the principal author of a 1987 University of Florida study evaluating the Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE), the forerunner of CVSA.
In that study, Dr. Hollien et al wrote, “As can be seen, the voice of a stressed individual tends to change: speaking fundamental frequency (SFF) rises; vocal intensity increases; speech rate increases slightly; nonfluencies can be observed; and the number of speech bursts is reduced.”
Hollien goes on to say, “In a sense, it is immaterial how a system operates if it can perform the tasks required of it…”
Nevertheless, in the concluding paragraphs of the 1987 study, Hollien and his associates wrote, “… it must be concluded that voice analyzers are not very good tools (if they are effective at all) for the detection of deception… individuals who make claims about a device, any device, must demonstrate the validity of their contentions.”
Had Dr. Hollien and his associates been true to their own counsel… that it is immaterial how a system operates if it can perform the tasks required of it, and that individuals who make claims about a device must demonstrate the validity of their contentions… they would have reached an entirely different conclusion in their 2005-06 study. They would have known of the widespread use of CVSA in the civilian law enforcement community and the almost universal acceptance of CVSA as a critical tool among military Special Operations interrogators.
As expected, the new University of Florida study, completed in February 2006, was so seriously flawed in its methodology as to be all but meaningless. In fact, in a 15 December 2005 article in The American Spectator, titled “Nothing but the Truth,” it was reported that the University of Florida study was conducted under the supervision of Dr. John Capps, the brother of Michael Capps, former director of the DoD Polygraph Institute. That assertion of potential conflict of interest was later confirmed by the Pentagon.
University of Florida researchers were aware that the Pentagon had in its possession nearly 100 detailed “after action” reports prepared by CVSA examiners at Guantanamo Bay, all providing solid evidence of the value of CVSA as a credibility assessment tool. However, when University of Florida researchers requested copies of those documents the Pentagon refused to make them available.
It was also learned that UF researchers had administered electric shock to test subjects in the process of obtaining recorded voice samples. It was unclear why this was done since this procedure violates the basic tenets of CVSA testing and would undoubtedly skew the test data collected. CVSA testing protocols state emphatically that the best CVSA results are obtained in the absence of stress.
A subsequent independent technical evaluation of the study (not published because the University of Florida study was not widely circulated by the Pentagon) states as follows: “… the UF research and resulting study have no scientific merit or validity and appear to be another attempt by the DoD Polygraph bureaucracy to discredit VSA technologies which directly compete with and threaten the polygraph monopoly within the federal government.”
Nevertheless, in a letter dated 27 October 2006, Robert Andrews, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Counterintelligence and Security, relied heavily on the University of Florida study, concluding that CVSA performed at “chance levels,” at roughly the same level as “random guessing.” This in spite of a seriously flawed study.
During the month of October 2006, the same year that the University of Florida study was completed, the NITV began receiving reports from civilian law enforcement agencies that they were being contacted by Mr. Robert Dodd, of Dodd & Associates, Gambrills, Maryland, asking them to participate in a survey regarding their experience with CVSA.
Since NITV had not been advised of the survey they contacted Mr. Dodd, who stated that he had been subcontracted by a major defense contractor to conduct a survey of CVSA users for the federal government. He further stated that, although he believed the survey was for a different government agency, DoDPI had been assigned to oversee his work. Regardless, he insisted that an impartial survey would be conducted and that he would provide NITV with a copy of the final report.
Based on Dodd’s assurances, NITV recommended to their clients – many of whom were wary of speaking with Dodd about their use of CVSA – that they cooperate with the survey.
When NITV had not received a copy of the survey by early 2007, they contacted Mr. Dodd. He advised that he had completed the survey and had forwarded the results to the defense contractor. He also advised that, in spite of his initial promise to do so, he had been specifically prohibited from providing NITV with a copy of the survey results. Dodd provided NITV with a point of contact to request a copy of his report; however, their requests were ignored.
In June 2007, NITV contacted the office of Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and requested his assistance. Rep. Diaz-Balart was able to obtain a copy of the survey, dated March 2007, and forwarded it to NITV. The results of Dodd’s survey were so overwhelmingly positive that DoDPI and the Army G2 wanted the survey “buried.”
The DoD-funded survey stated as follows:
• Approximately 86% of the respondents indicated they thought the CVSA® was either “very effective” or “extremely effective” in detecting stress.
• 84% of respondents believed their initial training from NITV had been either “very effective” or “extremely effective.” (NOTE: None of the respondents characterized their training as “not effective” or “slightly effective.”)
• The respondents reported that 75% of the CVSA® deception indicated results were verified by obtaining a confession.
• The survey cited the CVSA® as having “a remarkably low error rate.” The survey respondents further reported a 0.4% (less than 1%) false negative or false positive rate from the CVSA®.
The survey concluded: “It is clear that the majority of the survey respondents believe the CVSA is a useful tool. Key factors in this usefulness appear to be its ease of use, timeliness, affordability, and ability to help convince guilty subjects to confess. It appears to be very helpful in clearing cases.”
One might infer from what CIFA and DoDPI researchers have written that they are interested in embracing private sector research and development in their search for new and innovative truth assessment technologies. Perhaps they are, but apparently only if their researchers are given the lion’s share of the credit. The old “not-invented-here” syndrome appears to be alive and well in the Pentagon.
Following the resignation of USD(I) Cambone, a staunch ally of the DoD polygraph program, the use of the CVSA was reconsidered since the polygraph had failed miserably at GTMO and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following a new investigation of CVSA by the U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Ft. Bragg, a decision was made to purchase the CVSA and to train Special Forces personnel. Elements of the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 10th Special Forces Groups were trained. As reports of the success of the CVSA on the battlefield were received, more were purchased and additional personnel were trained. From late-2006 through mid-2007 approximately 50 CVSAs were purchased and more than 100 Special Forces Personnel were trained. CVSA operational successes, particularly in Iraq, continued to mount.
In September 2007, a biometrics assessment team from Naval Special Warfare (NSW) was trained on the CVSA and deployed to Iraq to conduct, among other tests, an independent Proof of Principle of the system under combat conditions. During the course of that evaluation the team was able to utilize the CVSA on a High Value Detainee (HVD) who had resisted all previous interrogation attempts for over a week. Within hours of employing the CVSA, a trained military CVSA operator had a full confession from the HVD and was able to develop additional intelligence leads regarding other terrorists and bombers. This information was briefed up to the highest military command levels in Iraq. Based on these results and others, NSW immediately began purchasing CVSAs and training personnel.
In February 2008, officials of DACA (DoDPI) traveled to Iraq with a memorandum signed by the new USD(I), James R Clapper. The memo was based upon information from the Cambone regime and was essentially the same as the 8 June 2004 interim policy issued by Cambone, restricting all DoD credibility assessment activities to the polygraph. The memo was presented to field commanders, ordering them to discontinue the use of CVSA.
The field commanders initially complied. However, CVSA had become such a critical tool that operators in the field requested a meeting with the Commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Iraq. In March 2008, after the Task Force Commander was apprised of the success and legality of the CVSA, he authorized its continued use by Special Operations personnel under his command. He then forwarded his determination to the Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, who concurred and issued further written guidance that CVSA could be used by U.S. Army Special Operations Command personnel.
In June 2008, elements of the 5th Special Forces Group returned from Iraq and reported conducting some 400 CVSA examinations of suspected terrorists, infiltrators, collaborators, and recruited HUMINT sources during their deployment. The collective result of their 400 CVSA examinations was a validated accuracy rate of 98% (based on confessions and related evidence, independently obtained). This success rate is consistent with reported accuracy rates from other military operators in Iraq, as well as U.S. civilian law enforcement users.
However, in spite of this impressive record of success, the Pentagon has placed an order for 94 hand-held polygraph “gadgets” called PCASS (Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System), mentioned prominently in Admiral Olson’s 16 June 2008 memorandum. The PCASS is a direct response to the hand-held CVSA FIST (Field Interrogation Support Tool), developed by NITV.
Unlike CVSA, the new PCASS devices have not been field tested under combat conditions where the lives of U.S. military personnel are at stake. Nevertheless, the Pentagon is proceeding with the acquisition of the unproven devices, at a price of $7,500 each, and will soon deploy them to military interrogators in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, the PCASS has not been a success. The PCASS system is 60-65% accurate in DoDPI controlled tests, whereas the CVSA is 95% accurate in real world military applications. Further, reports from Special Forces, NSW, and SOCOM are that they are unable to obtain either the PCASS or the required training to use it. NITV has been advised by SOCOM personnel that the PCASS was rushed through the R&D process to provide an excuse to block CVSA use in the military.
In a 9 April 2008 report, MSNBC investigative reporter Bill Dedman describes the data sent “up the chain of command” by Pentagon polygraph proponents during the PCASS approval process. According to Dedman, a Pentagon presentation, obtained by MSNBC through a Freedom of Information Act request, claimed that the PCASS is “82 to 90 percent accurate.” However, in other Pentagon studies obtained by MSNBC, data show that, in evaluating the PCASS, scientists conducting the tests fudged the numbers by ignoring all “inconclusive” readings and using only those responses showing clear deception or truth-telling.
When “inconclusive” responses are included, the accuracy rate of PCASS falls to a level of 63 to 79 percent. Damning with faint praise, Pentagon officials have been quoted as saying that the use of PCASS is “still better than relying on human intuition.”
With more than 1,800 federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations utilizing CVSA as an important investigative tool, there is no shortage of glowing testimonials to the efficacy of CVSA technology. The same is true of Special Operations interrogators (Navy SEALS and Green Berets) who have used CVSA in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One returning Special Forces interrogator who claims to have used CVSA “day and night” for two months reports essentially 100% success in obtaining confessions and actionable intelligence… all subsequently confirmed by independent on-the-ground evidence and events.
In one instance, a suspected al Qaeda terrorist demonstrated less than complete truthfulness when asked if he had planted a roadside bomb (IED) that had killed and wounded American troops. Upon rephrasing his questions, the interrogator was able to determine that the subject did not actually plant the IED in question… but knew who did. Probing further, the interrogator learned that the subject had the name of the guilty party in his address book.
Another high value detainee (HVD), who initially denied any link to al Qaeda, was subjected to CVSA examination. When repeated denials indicated clear deception, interrogators persisted. They eventually learned that, not only had the suspect served as a driver for a senior al Qaeda leader, he admitted to having participated in the planting of roadside bombs and in the planning and execution of ambushes in which U.S. military personnel were killed or wounded.
Military interrogators have found CVSA to be particularly effective in locating insurgency safe-houses. When known al Qaeda operatives are subjected to CVSA examination, interrogators are able to divide cities and provinces into quadrants and inquire, sector-by-sector, in which area terrorist leaders are hiding. Then, as interrogators find deception in the subject’s negative responses, they are able to narrow their search to neighborhoods, even to individual houses.
When making door-to-door sweeps, female suspects represent an especially difficult problem. Under strict Islamic law, females are not allowed to go outdoors without being accompanied by a male member of their family. When U.S. and Iraqi troops have taken Iraqi women into custody, forcibly removing them from their homes, there have been angry repercussions in the streets. However, with the introduction of CVSA, the highly portable units can be taken directly into the homes and female suspects can be quickly evaluated. CVSA has an additional advantage over the polygraph in that it is not necessary for interrogators to touch their subjects in any way.
Those who have either used CVSA technology in Iraq, or trained others in its use, are quick to point out that, not only has CVSA been effective in obtaining solid leads to major terror cells, it has been equally effective in clearing the innocent… those detained because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hundreds of al Qaeda suspects are held in detainee centers throughout Iraq, many for as long as eighteen months, with no definitive results from repeated polygraph interrogations. U.S. military commanders are now hesitant to release any suspects until they have passed a final exit screening by an interrogator armed with a CVSA unit.
Upon learning of the successes of U.S. military interrogators using CVSA, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials asked to be briefed on CVSA technology. Briefings were scheduled, but before the briefings could occur, DACA officials arrived in Baghdad and ordered that they be cancelled.
A subsequent report in the Stars and Stripes (Iraqi officials given polygraph training, 12 June 2008) tells the rest of the story. American forces are now training Iraqi Defense Ministry employees to administer polygraph examinations. According to the Stars and Stripes, “The six-month-long training program is one of several measures U.S. officials are taking with Iraqi ministries, which have been accused of corruption and sectarian agendas within their ranks.”
CVSA examiners could be trained within two weeks, while the first Iraqi polygraph examiners will not be operational until sometime near years end. If time is of the essence in perfecting democratic institutions in Iraq, DACA alone seems not to be concerned.
What the Stars and Strips editors don’t know is that they are tiptoeing around the edges of a major Pentagon procurement scandal… one that has been ongoing for some twenty years. The memorandum signed by Admiral Olson on 16 June 2008 was prepared by U.S. Army G2 officers assigned to the SOCOM staff without regard for the well documented successes of the CVSA. If Admiral Olson will look into the matter and find out exactly who and what was behind the unsupported memorandum that was put before him for his signature, he will be performing a great service for those who are risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. – July 22, 2008 –