Tag Archives: credibility assessment

FLASHBACK: What Works in Mumbai Might Work in D.C.

EDITOR’S NOTE: While diving into my archives, I came across a piece I wrote and published seven years ago this week. Because direct links to a newspaper report and a public opinion survey cited in the article were “dead,” I replaced them with Wayback Machine links. Considering recent terror events such as the ones in Paris last month and the one in San Bernadino, Calif., yesterday, I think the article remains worth sharing. See if you agree.

Click on image above to view article via Wayback Machine.

Click on image above to view article via Wayback Machine.

After reading a British newspaper report about plans law enforcement officials in Mumbai have to use truth serum on the only Islamic terrorist captured following last week’s attacks, I couldn’t help but think this “narcoanalysis” might come in handy as a tool for cleaning up the mess being being made of this country by our elected officials in Washington, D.C.

Though the use of truth serum is, according to the TimesOnline report, banned in most democracies, I think most Americans would approve an exception as long as it is applied in a bipartisan fashion as follows:

• First in line to have truth serum administered would be President-elect Barack Obama.  He would, of course, set the example for others to follow as he answered questions that required him to tell the truth about where he was born, about his core beliefs and about the plans he has for this country.

• Next up, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).  They would be asked a series of questions aimed at determining, once and for all, whether either is truly smarter than a fifth grader.

• Finally, the other 433 members of Congress — who, as a group, garner an approval rating of only 19 percent — would be given the opportunity to come clean about any skeletons they might have in their closets.  Members who disclose illegal and/or unethical behavior would be given two options:  resign or face prosecution.

For those who think the use of truth serum constitutes a step too radical for the planet’s longest-lasting constitutional republic, I offer a final thought for your consideration:

What’s more damaging to the nation’s long-term interests: An attack by radical Islamic terrorists from some distant land that does millions of dollars in damage and kills a few hundred or a few thousand lives OR the seemingly-endless assault on American citizens — let’s call it “domestic terrorism” — by elected officials who, with each passing year, drift further away from the intent of the nation’s founding fathers? I say the latter.

Now how do we get this ball rolling?  Ideas?

ENDNOTE: At the time I wrote the piece above, I had not yet begun the four-year investigation of the federal government’s use of so-called “credibility assessment technologies” that would result in the publication of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo. If you’re interested in learning about a painless and touch-free tool that has already been used with great success to interrogate detainees at Guantanamo Bay, members of Saddam Hussein’s “Deck of Cards” and members of both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, you should order a copy of the book. Likewise, if you’re interested in learning why the Department of Defense banned the same tool from use by our warfighters, you need to order a copy of the book.

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.

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.  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.

Military, Government Security Clearance Holders Vulnerable to Blackmail After Hackers Share Ashley Madison Data

How many more Aldrich Ames and Edward Snowden types are lurking among the millions of people who hold U.S. Government security clearances, vulnerable to blackmail as a result of their involvement in the AshleyMadison.com data breach?

Click on image above to read Wired.com article about Ashley Madison data breach.

Click on image above to read Wired.com article about Ashley Madison data breach.

If you haven’t heard of AshleyMadison (dot) com, let me offer some background information borrowed from Wired.com’s article published Tuesday:

“Ashley Madison is the most famous name in infidelity and married dating,” the site asserts on its homepage. “Have an Affair today on Ashley Madison. Thousands of cheating wives and cheating husbands signup everyday looking for an affair…. With Our affair guarantee package we guarantee you will find the perfect affair partner.”

Also in the article is news that the data breach included some 15,000 .mil or .gov addresses.

Now that you understand what’s at stake, I’ll continue.

While serving as an Air Force public affairs officer and possessing such a clearance during the last few years of the Cold War, I was regularly reminded of the types of behavior and activities that could prevent a person from obtaining or maintaining his security clearance. Atop the list of things were activities that might make you vulnerable to blackmail by a foreign agent — things such as sexually-promiscuous behavior, financial mismanagement and drug and alcohol abuse, just to name a few. And while those things may sound like everyday activities for members of Congress, those of us in uniform had higher standards. Back then.

Now, fast forward to more-recent days and the four years I spent investigating the federal government’s use of so-called “credibility assessment” technologies, including the polygraph. During those years, I learned a lot about the system via which U.S. government personnel — especially in Defense and Intelligence positions — are vetted in advance of being granted security clearances. Truth be told, I learned more about the subjects of security clearances and background checks during my investigation than I did while in uniform. I also learned CIA employee-turned spy Ames, NSA contractor-turned Russian house guest Snowden and countless others who engaged in unauthorized dissemination of classified information — and, in many cases, blatant espionage — had had to pass periodic polygraph exams as a condition of their employment with U.S. military and intelligence agencies. And pass the polygraph exams, they did!

Even after I exposed a plethora of serious concerns associated with such practices via the May 2013 release of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, leaders of the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, led by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. — continue to rely upon the century-old polygraph in the security clearance vetting process and cause me to ask, “WHY?”

The Clapper Memo offers the closest thing to an answer to that question.

Click here to learn more about the book and read some of the high-profile endorsements it has received.  Click here to order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

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.

Have You Ever Wondered Why DoD Relies on the Polygraph?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below first appeared on this site Aug. 7, 2013. Several months later, it vanished — along with nearly 5,000 others written and published since October 2006 — as detailed in a post eight months ago. Today, I rescued it from where it appears on an alternate site in order to share it below with only minor modifications. Please read and share.

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

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

You’ve probably never wondered why the Department of Defense relies so heavily on the polygraph.  Likewise, you’ve probably never thought about how polygraph technology has maintained its place as the only DoD-approved credibility assessment technology.  After reading the details in my latest nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, you’ll know why and how.

On no fewer than three occasions since 2004, top DoD officials — including Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper while he was serving as Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in 2007 — have declared the polygraph to be the only such technology approved for use by DoD personnel.  Though many on the front lines, including elite U.S. Special Operations personnel I interviewed for the book, ignored the DoD declarations for as long as they possibly could (see Sample Chapter for details), the Pentagon’s polygraph-only stance remains in place today and is having an often-deadly impact in the form of “Green-on-Blue” attacks against American and Coalition Forces personnel in Afghanistan.

Part of the blame for DoD’s polygraph-only stance lies in the fact that DoD officials withheld critical information from members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee when they were conducting an inquiry into the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and at other detention facilities in Iraq (i.e., Abu Ghraib, Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca) in 2008. That inquiry resulted in the publication of an unclassified 263-page report, “INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN U.S. CUSTODY,” dated November 20, 2008.

That wasn’t all they kept to themselves.  DoD officials also withheld critical information about an Air Force talking paper on Relevant/Irrelevant Screening Tests (R/IST) conducted on detainees in the Iraqi theater of operations from Aug. 1, 2004, to Oct. 15, 2006.

Notable among the 50-page document’s results, found after conducting polygraph tests on 768 detainees, was the finding that “detainee personnel are just as likely to have committed the suspected act as not.” That finding stemmed from the fact that 47 percent of the tests yielded “No Deception Indicated” results while 46 percent yielded “Deception Indicated” and seven percent “No Opinion.”

In addition to the fact the tests yielded results showing polygraph no more effective than flipping a coin, a quarter of the polygraph examiners surveyed pointed out problems posed by language barriers.

“The Arabic language itself presents an obstacle due to the different translations and dialect and at times the wrong translation of the question was noted by other interpreters,” one examiner said.

“Many interpreters were not fluent in the written Arabic language, precluding them being used by polygraph,” another reported. “They could not translate questions from English to Arabic and back again.”

“I was fortunate to have had motivated interpreters,” a third responded.  “Without them we can’t do the job (without language/culture knowledge).”

A fourth examiner reported, “there was definitely a difference in the level of interpreter experience. Some knew the language and some had a hard time.”

Click image above to order book.

Click image above to order book.

In The Clapper Memo, the 268-page product of an exhaustive four-year investigation, I highlight the fact that a non-polygraph technology was used at GITMO more than 90 times and achieved a success rate — defined as developing new, previously-unknown intelligence which was independently confirmed or confirmed existing information that otherwise could not be verified — of 92 percent despite the fact most exams were conducted using interpreters.

Now, I ask again:  Have you ever wondered how polygraph technology has maintained its position as the only Department of Defense-approved credibility assessment technology?

In their endorsement of The Clapper Memo, Gold Star parents Billy and Karen Vaughn used words such as “dirty little secrets of politics and greed” and “filthy backroom deals” to describe events and actions that have enabled the polygraph to remain DoD’s credibility assessment technology of choice.  The Vaughns lost their son, U.S. Navy SEAL Aaron Carson Vaughn, two years and one day ago in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan that is the subject of a soon-to-be-published book, BETRAYED: The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father, co-authored by Billy.

Retired U.S. Navy SEAL Capt. Larry W. Bailey, co-founder of Special Operations Speaks and former commander of the U.S. Navy SEALs Basic Underwater Demoliton/SEALs (“BUD/S”) Training Program, describes what I uncovered in The Clapper Memo as “an unconscionable cover-up.”

Others have endorsed it, too, but you should judge for yourself!  Order a copy of The Clapper Memo today!

SEE ALSO:  Horrific Tragedy Ensues After AC-130 Gunship Crew Denied Opportunity to Engage Afghan ‘Squirters’ in Tangi Valley.

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.

Bob McCarty’s Weekly Recap: Feb. 1-7

In addition to spending a lot of time working on my first screenplay, I adopted a one-post-per-day approach to things during the first week of February 2015 at BobMcCarty.com.

INELIGIBLE: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).

INELIGIBLE? Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). Click image above to read about this topic.

On the same day I published my last weekly recap, I shared a guest piece written by Paul R. Hollrah, a resident of Oklahoma who writes from the perspective of a veteran conservative politico who served two terms as a member of the Electoral College, the piece makes some people angry. See if it makes you angry. Read Is Writer ‘Beating Dead Horse’ or Adhering to Constitution?

Markers are mandatory after passage of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002.

Click image above to read my piece about underground pipeline dangers.

After reading news about a ruptured natural gas pipeline forcing the evacuation of area residents near Bowling Green, Mo., I decided to share anew a story I had written and published Sept. 13, 2010, about one Missouri family’s experience with underground pipelines running through their backyard. Read the piece I published Feb. 1 under the headline, Bowling Green Pipeline Rupture Stirs Backyard Fears.

Barely one year ago, six members of Congress called for Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. to resign after he lied to Congress about the National Security Agency’s data collection programs. On Feb. 1, I shared an update. Read it under the headline, Intel Chief Remains in Post One Year After Call for His Ouster.

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

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

After reading multiple articles about the 80th anniversary of the first occasion on which the polygraph was used to help bring about a conviction in a U.S. court, I felt compelled to share some unique observations from my perspective as author of The Clapper Memo, a book in which I share findings from my exhaustive four-year investigation of credibility assessment technologies. Read my take on the polygraph in a Feb. 3 piece published under the headline, Polygraph Makes Headlines for Age, Not Reliability.

After anchor Brian Williams used his NBC Nightly News platform to offer what his network would later describe as “clarification” about an incident that had allegedly taken place more than a decade earlier, I shared details of a personal experience I had with Williams at the Air Force base where I was stationed in the spring of 1991. Read the humorous details in my Feb. 5 piece, NBC Anchor ‘Clarifies’ Fact He’s Been Lying for 12 Years.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz

Click on image above to read about my personal experience with Brian Williams.

When I asked a former Army Green Beret how many kills he had recorded as an American sniper during three tours of duty in Iraq, he used a lot of words to explain how such numbers can be hard to tally but never gave me an actual number. Find out what he did tell me in my Feb. 5 piece, Sniper: ‘I believed I had the ability to change the playing field’.

Former Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart in Iraq.

Click on image above to read about an American sniper whose story turned out different than Chris Kyle.

Though a Department of Defense puff piece focused on the Capitol Hill testimony Thursday of a high-ranking DoD official and the question of whether or not the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay should be closed, I focused on GITMO-focused statements made about the facility and detainees held there by first-term Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in a piece published Feb. 7. Read it: Arkansas’ Freshman Senator Shreds Obama Administration False Narrative on Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.

The list of other items I shared on my Facebook page this week includes a photo taken by Brian Williams when he became the first man to walk on the moon July 21, 1969, and a piece in which retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely is quoted as calling for NBC’s Williams to be canned. Yes, he’s the same Army general who endorsed my book, The Clapper Memo.

As I say every week, thanks for stopping by!

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.