Tag Archives: federal government

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.

Federal Government Continues to Rely Upon Technology That Likely Enabled Mexican Drug Kingpin’s Escape

The United States government relies upon polygraph technology to prevent national security breaches. At the same time, the government of Mexico relies upon polygraph to screen out “bad apples” and thwart corruption among the ranks of its law enforcement and prison officials. One needs only look at news headlines to see how well the century-old technology has worked on both sides of the border.

To read story, click on image above.

To read story, click on image above.

Two years ago, the world learned how Edward Snowden took advantage of “truly insane” policies and defeated all of the safeguards — including multiple periodic polygraph exams — intended to prevent individuals from people like him from executing nefarious plans and damaging national security.  Over the weekend, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a billionaire drug kingpin, escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico for the second time, reportedly assisted by guards, all of whom have been subjected to polygraph exams as a condition of their employment. Combined, these two incidents prove little has changed since 2009, when the Los Angeles Times reported polygraph testing in Mexico inspires little confidence. Likewise, they prove little has changed since the release of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, in May 2013.

Based on four years of in-depth investigation into the federal government’s use of so-called “credibility assessment technology,” The Clapper Memo, contains irrefutable proof that a better, non-polygraph technology exists to screen government agency personnel and determine whether or not they should be allowed to remain in positions of trust.

To learn more about the no-touch, no-torture, non-polygraph technology, 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.

Obscure Justice Department Agency No Stranger to Me

Yesterday, I came across The Washington Free Beacon article about the U.S. Department of Justice concentrating on “far-right” groups in a new half-million-dollar study of social media usage aimed at combating violent extremism. It was, however, writer Elizabeth Harrington’s mention of the National Institute of Justice in the second paragraph of the piece that caught my attention.

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

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

Why the interest in this obscure little agency that serves as the research, development, and evaluation arm of DoJ? For starters, because it deals in large quantities of taxpayer dollars. Beyond that, because I was already painfully familiar with NIJ after having dealt with its people while conducting the four-year investigation into the federal government’s unholy reliance on century-old polygraph technology that resulted in publication of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, in May 2013.

During the course of my investigation, I used the federal Freedom of Information Act and the Oklahoma Open Records Act to obtain copies of print and electronic communications between NIJ officials and academics involved in the conduct of 22 studies that cost taxpayers almost $4.5 million — or more than $202,000 per NIJ grant. If you take time to read some of the communications highlighted in Chapters 11 and 18 of The Clapper Memo, you’ll probably experience the same hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck feeling I did and think — just like the polygraph — something doesn’t pass the “smell test.”

For more info about The Clapper Memo, visit TheClapperMemo.com. To order a copy of the book, see below.

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.

Tool Exists to Expose Lying Politicians

“What did they know?” and “When did they know it?” are two questions frequently directed at American politicians associated with wrongheaded actions or programs run amok. In response to those questions, politicians seem to lie more frequently than they tell the truth. Is there a way to stop them? In short, the answer is “Yes.” As I told Denver talk radio host Ken Clark at Freedom 560 Thursday, a tool exists to expose politicians who lie, and it’s not the polygraph. Unfortunately, some powerful people seem committed to preventing it from being used by federal government agencies.

Click image above to order book.

Click image above to order book.

In much the same way as lying is not limited by party affiliation, investigators trying to learn the truth about someone’s activities through credibility-assessment testing are not limited to using the polygraph. In my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, I share the findings of my exhaustive four-year investigation into the federal government’s use of credibility assessment technologies, including both polygraph and its chief non-polygraph challenger.

Order a copy, read it, and I think you’ll agree with that a credibility assessment tool exists to expose politicians who lie, and it’s not the polygraph. bBeyond that, you’ll come to understand why politicians and bureaucrats — Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. comes to mind — in Washington, D.C., working in concert with polygraph loyalists, do not want to see any non-polygraph technologies used in the nation’s capitol.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.