Category Archives: Book Excerpt

Government Funds Program to Develop Voice Stress-Based Vetting Technology Despite Fact Technology Already Exists

Would it surprise you to learn the federal government has been spending millions of dollars to develop a voice stress-based credibility-assessment technology to vet foreign individuals seeking entry into the United States from places like Syria? Hardly. But it might surprise you to learn the money has been spent despite the fact that kind of technology already exists and has proven itself over and over again in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

AVATAR – University of Arizona BORDERS Program

AVATAR – University of Arizona BORDERS Program

During an exhaustive four-year investigation of the federal government’s use of credibility-assessment technologies, including the polygraph, I found numerous individuals — most of whom worked with or for government agencies — eager to disparage the idea that one can detect deception by measuring stress in the human voice. Toward the end of my investigation, I learned about a government-funded effort at the University of Arizona to develop a voice stress-based technology despite the fact such a technology already exists and has proven itself to the point that more state and local law enforcement agencies use it than use the polygraph.

Slightly modified with the addition of links in place of footnotes for stand-alone publication, details of my brief electronic exchanges with a man involved in the aforementioned research at the U of A appear below as excerpted from my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo:

Click image above to order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

Click image above to order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

If, as polygraph loyalists have claimed for decades, it is not possible to detect stress in the human voice, then why have so many taxpayer dollars been dedicated to pairing the study of the human voice with credibility-assessment technologies?

Seeking an answer to that question, I contacted Jay F. Nunamaker, Ph.D. and lead researcher at the National Center for Border Security and Immigration  (a.k.a., “BORDERS”) at the University of Arizona in Tucson.  In reply to my inquiry August 6, 2012, Dr. Nunamaker shared details about the project.

He began by explaining that the program has received funding from several sources, including — but not limited to — the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and no fewer than three branches of the U.S. military.

Next, he described the history of the project.

“We started down this path to develop a non-intrusive, non-invasive next-generation polygraph about 10 years ago with funding from the Polygraph Institute at Ft. Jackson,” he wrote.

Ten years?

If, per Dr. Nunamaker, the effort began 10 years ago at Polygraph Headquarters, that means it got its start at about the same time the 2003 National Research Council report, “The Polygraph and Lie Detection,” was published and offered, among other things, that the majority of 57 research studies touted by the American Polygraph Association were “unreliable, unscientific and biased.”

In a message August 31, 2012, Dr. Nunamaker offered more details about his research.

“The UA team has created an Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessment in Real-Time (AVATAR) that uses an embodied conversational agent–an animated human face backed by biometric sensors and intelligent agents–to conduct interviews,” he explained.  “It is currently being used at the Nogales, Mexico-U.S. border and is designed to detect changes in arousal, behavior and cognitive effort that may signal stress, risk or credibility.”

In the same message, Dr. Nunamaker pointed me to a then-recent article in which the AVATAR system was described as one that uses “speech recognition and voice-anomaly-detection software” to flag certain exchanges “as questionable and worthy of follow-up interrogation.”

Those exchanges, according to the article, “are color coded green, yellow or red to highlight the potential severity of questionable responses.”  Ring familiar?

Further into the article, reporter Larry Greenemeier relied upon Aaron Elkins, a post-doctoral researcher who helped develop the system, to provide an explanation of how anomaly detection is employed by AVATAR.

After stating that it is based on vocal characteristics, Elkins explained a number of ways in which a person’s voice might tip the program.  One of his explanations was particularly interesting.

“The kiosk’s speech recognition software monitors the content of an interviewee’s answers and can flag a response indicating when, for example, a person acknowledges having a criminal record.”

Elkins clarified his views further during an interview eight days later.

“I will stress that is a very large leap to say that they’re lying…or what they’re saying is untrue — but what it does is draw attention that there is something going on,” he said.  At the end of that statement, reporter Som Lisaius added seven words — precisely the intent behind any credibility assessment — with which I’m certain every [sic] Computer Voice Stress Analyzer® examiner I’ve interviews during the past four years would agree.

To even the most-impartial observer, Elkins’ explanations confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that BORDERS researchers believe stress can be detected in the voice utterances of individuals facing real-life jeopardy.

NOTE:  Though I tried twice between August 2012 and February 2013 to find out from officials at the BORDERS program how much funding they have received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and all other sources since the inception of the program, I received no replies to my inquiries.

To learn more about why federal government agencies are funding this kind of research despite the fact a polygraph replacement already exists and has proven itself in a wide range of applications, one must understand that a technological “turf war” is to blame and has been raging silently for more than 40 years.  Details of that turf war can be found inside The Clapper Memo.

It comes highly recommended. ORDER A COPY TODAY!

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  Thanks in advance!

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TDIA Book Excerpt: ‘I Wasn’t Going To Be That Dog’

Despite the fact prosecutors presented no evidence or eyewitnesses, members of a U.S. Army court-martial panel found Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart guilty of sexually assaulting a 29-year-old German woman with whom he admitted having had a one-night stand one year earlier. Below is an excerpt from my book, Three Days In August, about what happened in the life of this elite Green Beret after he was railroaded by the politically-correct military justice system:

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Click on image above to order book.

“So, they find me guilty. It’s late at night. In an instant, my whole life got flushed right down the toilet,” said Stewart, recalling the verdict that changed his life just before midnight on August 19, 2009. “I am smart enough to know that my life is screwed. The rest of my life.  No matter what. My life is done.

“Clearly, I felt that I was shafted, and I knew there was no way to fix it,” he explained. “This is an analogy I use. It might come across as messed up, but this is my analogy, and this is why I chose to do what I did.

“I was not going to have everybody do prison time with me,” said Stewart, recalling his thoughts after a court-martial panel found him guilty of sex crimes against a German woman and handed down a sentence that included a reduction in rank, from E-7 to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, eight years of confinement and a recommendation for dishonorable discharge upon release.

“I wasn’t going to go to prison and have my kids have to go through having their dad in prison and my wife having to stand by my side and go without a husband for years—and, at that time, I didn’t know the length of the years,” said Stewart, a Special Forces combat medic and Level One-trained sniper. “I didn’t know the length of my sentence; I just knew that I was found guilty.”

Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart's uniform was covered with signs of his life as a Top One Percent Special Forces Soldier. Click on image above to order book.

Kelly A. Stewart’s uniform was covered with signs of his life as a Top One Percent Special Forces Soldier.

That’s when he made a decision.

“I never thought I was going to prison,” Stewart said. “When I got back after (being convicted), I had a reality check in the hotel room” at the Krystal Inn, the on-post hotel where he was staying near the court building where his trial was taking place at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany.

About the only plans he made took place during the last intermission in the courtroom before his guilty verdict was announced. After calling his wife and telling her he wouldn’t be coming home soon, Stewart also called his military-friendly bank, USAA, and transferred all of the money in his account into his wife’s account.

“I already knew what I was gonna do,” he recalled.

Back in their room at the Krystal Inn, Stewart and his buddy, Sergeant First Class Detrick Hampton, laid in their beds and talked most of the night until Sergeant Hampton fell asleep around 5 a.m. Less than an hour later, Stewart began to implement his hastily-crafted plan.

Careful not to wake Sergeant Hampton, Stewart got up out of his bed about an hour later, put on his Army Combat Uniform and low-quarter shoes and collected a few items—including a combat knife and a rubber band—he thought he might need. Oddly, he left his black Army jump boots in the room.

Kelly Stewart on a gun truck in Iraq.

Kelly Stewart on a gun truck in Iraq.

Quietly, he walked out of his second-floor room at the Krystal Inn where, even after he was found guilty, he was not kept under guard—an indication, perhaps, that some in the Army still didn’t think he was as dangerous as the charges, eventual conviction and news media coverage of his case might have indicated. He had, after all, never been deemed a danger to others or a flight risk.

Because he had not planned to go away for a long time, Stewart didn’t prepare by gathering lots of clothes, money and 16 passports. Instead, he ensured only that he had enough money for gas to go where he needed to go to take his own life. And with three combat tours in Iraq and other stints in Kosovo and Macedonia under his belt, he knew enough about medicine to make it happen.

Once outside the hotel room, Stewart walked the short distance to a staircase in the center of the building, down a single flight of stairs and through an open-air hallway out to the parking lot where his rental car, an Audi Q5, was parked.

He drove the SUV a short distance to the Shoppette—the name the Army and Air Force Exchange Service gives its convenience stores located on military installations—where he purchased a laundry list of items:  three 50-count bottles of Tylenol caplets, one 72-count package of Sominex tablets, two 16-ounce bottles of Gatorade Riptide Rush, some writing paper and a couple of pencils.”

Find out what happened next in the life of this man who sacrificed so much for his country only to be betrayed! Order a copy of Three Days In August.

To read other articles about the the wrongful prosecution of Sergeant Stewart, including one about a post-trial statement that should have netted him a new trial, click here.

To read about other cases of military justice run amok, click here.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

GREEN BERET: ‘The next thing you know, it felt like someone put lighter fluid on me and caught me on fire’

Having already survived several combat deployments in Iraq, Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart never expected to come face to face with death during a tour of “schoolhouse duty” at a NATO training center in Germany, but he did. Some of the details of the Green Beret’s brush with death appear in the excerpt below from my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August:

Kelly Stewart returns from a mission in Iraq.

Kelly Stewart returns from a mission in Iraq.

Panicking because they had eaten up some time, they began hooking up bottles and IVs and then another bad thing happened: Stewart had an allergic reaction to a drug the German doctors used and went into anaphylactic shock.

“(There’s) nothing like being double-handcuffed and (having) your feet shackled and strapped to a bed (while) going into anaphylaxis,” Stewart said. “I’ve seen a lot of people go through it, but being conscious and going through it is very difficult.

“It just started off as being real tight in the chest,” he continued. “The next thing you know, it felt like somebody put lighter fluid on me and caught me on fire.

“I couldn’t breathe at all, and everybody was kind of panicking around me, trying to give me medication to stop what was happening.”

Soon, the Germans said they didn’t have a doctor who could treat him, that he was probably having liver and kidney failure and was probably going to die. Their message to the American cops: “We need to get him out of here.”

“Of course, I’m understanding what the Germans are saying and what they’re telling the cops,” Stewart said. “They’re kind of underhanded, saying, ‘We can’t treat him here. We need to send him over to Landstuhl,’” the U.S. Army’s largest hospital in Europe.

“What they’re saying in German is, ‘We need to get him out of here, because he’s not going to survive,’ and they didn’t want that (outcome) in their hospital.”

To learn details about the events leading up to and following Stewart’s hospital stay, order a copy of Three Days In August today!

Show your support and help keep these articles coming by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same. To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

SHOCK: Army Prosecutor Cited Wikipedia as Source During Green Beret’s Court-Martial on Sexual Assault Charges

On Day Two of the Army’s court-martial of one of it’s finest Green Berets, a prosecution attorney cited a suspect source as he questioned Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart about his training. See if you can spot the source in the excerpt from the Record of Trial that appears below:

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Click on image above to order book.

TC: At the SERE course you’re taught how to resist violent captors, is that correct?
Stewart: Again, sir, unless I’m authorized by the SOCEUR Public Affairs Officer, I can’t discuss the training that I received at the SERE-level C School.

TC: You’re taught how to resist torture?
Stewart: Again, sir–

TC: We’re going to go through this, so, that’s fine–
Stewart: No, again, sir, I don’t know what I’m authorized to discuss with you because I’m not the releasing authority of my training.

TC: I got this off of Wikipedia.com.

[Legend: SERE = Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape; TC = Trial Counsel; SOCEUR = Special Operations Command Europe; CDC = Civilian Defense Counsel; and MJ = Military Judge.]

That’s right! He said, “I got this off of Wikipedia.” Unbelievable!

How would you feel if you were found guilty by a court-martial panel (i.e., the military equivalent of a jury) that sided with a prosecutor who cited Wikipedia.com as a source during your cross-examination?

Find out how Stewart feels about his conviction inside my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight for Military Justice, which went on sale for the first time just over four years ago.

FYI: I shared the piece above for the first time four years ago today. Since then, I’ve covered many other military justice cases. I hope you’ll read and share this story as well as the others I’ve written and published. Thanks in advance!

Show your support and help keep these articles coming by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same. To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Book Excerpt: Nation’s First Latino President Takes Office

Coming only days after the passage of a controversial trade agreement, recent Supreme Court Decisions on gay marriage and healthcare have many Americans upset with the folks in Washington, D.C., who claim to represent their interests. If you count yourself among them, I think you’ll enjoy the timely excerpt below from Chapter 11 of my recently-released crime-fiction novel, The National Bet:

Click image above to order a copy of the book.

Click image above to order a copy of the book.

With the line of succession to the presidency obliterated, surviving members of the U.S. House and Senate met for five days straight to discuss a one-time, extra-Constitutional means for resolving this never-before-experienced crisis. They were joined by a select number of individuals from outside the legislative branch who had been instrumental in securing the top-level resignations. Together, they worked to select a successor to serve out the remainder of President Obama’s second term.

Minus any smoke signals, several rounds of papal election-style voting took place during an exhausting three-day period until one man, a proven leader without the baggage of a Beltway insider, emerged from the pack.

Governor Franklin G. Rivera was a second-term governor from Wyoming who some people—but not the man himself—liked to refer to as “FGR.” Far more conservative than the three-term president who, decades earlier, had been associated with a similar three-letter acronym, Governor Rivera’s public approval ratings were higher than any other statewide office holder in the country.

With much trepidation, the governor accepted the job just a few minutes before noon Saturday, July 4, 2015.

After taking the oath of office behind closed doors and without fanfare, the nation’s first Latino president addressed the nation at 3 p.m., delivering the first of many difficult messages he would be called upon to share as Commander- in-Chief:

My fellow Americans, many of you have suffered tremendous losses during the past several months. To you, I offer a sincere apology on behalf of every elected official in Washington.

Members of Congress have, with the cooperation of too many American presidents, gotten away with robbery for far too long. They’ve allowed taxing and spending to get out of control. And they’ve allowed government regulation to trample common sense and decency. As a result, we’ve all paid a price higher than most of us care to calculate.

During the next twelve months, I pledge to work tirelessly to establish legal safeguards in our system via which we will do more than simply prevent members of Congress from increasing the national debt. The safeguards I propose will involve imposing stiff financial penalties on individual members of Congress who choose to waste taxpayers’ dollars on any projects or programs that increase the national debt and the burden on our children and grandchildren.

Even more important than that, however, is my top priority—ensuring that all of your assets, taken from you illegally by the previous administration, are returned to you as quickly as possible.

I’ve set July 4, 2016, as the date by which your money, the money that is rightfully yours, will be returned, with interest, to your bank accounts, to your 401K accounts and to your other retirement savings vehicles. It will be a Financial Independence Day when government no longer has its hands on your money.

President Rivera’s speech resonated with the justifiably jaded American people.

After learning more about the energetic sixty-year-old president’s background via biopic news and feature reports that surfaced following his appointment, most Americans seemed genuinely appreciative of the fact his legal-immigrant parents had set a good example for their oldest son and his five younger siblings, all of whom had been born in the United States.

Not surprisingly, they liked knowing Rivera’s parents had realized success as farmers, growing mostly wheat and soybeans on the flatlands of eastern Colorado. And they liked the fact that the new president’s four adult children seemed to be decent, well-educated people not seeking to ride their father’s political coattails.

In addition, they liked the fact he had become successful through hard work, determination and a steadfast refusal to run with the pack when the pack was heading in the wrong direction. And they liked how he seemed to take time to think before opening his mouth to speak and refused to compromise his Christian faith.

Most importantly, they liked how President Rivera’s early actions spoke even louder than his personal history.

In addition to signing an executive order on Day One that banned the use of taxpayer dollars on inaugural activities, he signed another that prohibited all federal employees from participating in inaugural activities, public or private.

The new president also completed the process of appointing cabinet members within two days and warned members of Congress not to waste any time in approving his nominees, saying, “We have important business to take care of!”

During his first year in office, President Rivera worked too hard and slept too little while waging a gallant effort to restore stability. Not a single round of golf was played, and vacations were off limits for White House staffers and all who remained employed on Capitol Hill.

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from The National Bet. Beyond that, I hope you’ll share it and order a copy to see what happens before and after this presidential moment.

Click here to read other excerpts from The National Bet and my two nonfiction books, The Clapper Memo and Three Days In August.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.