Tag Archives: turf war

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!

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Click on image above to order Bob's books.

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Edward Snowden Scandal Ended Year of Living Dangerously

EDITOR’S NOTE: Two years ago this week, I shared the piece below under a similar headline as above. In light of things such as the hacking of millions of personnel records held by the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management, I believe it’s worth sharing again with only minor revisions. 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.

It’s been a year of living dangerously since Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. announced his plan to bring an end to the glut of national security leaks that had many questioning his performance as the nation’s top intelligence official. I use the word, dangerously, because his plan simply hasn’t worked.

Doubts about DNI Clapper’s performance have increased, some in Congress — including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) — have called for his resignation or firing, and a scandal of epic proportions (a.k.a., “The Edward Snowden-National Security Agency-PRISM Scandal”) threatens to bring down the man atop the nation’s 17-agency Intelligence Community.

At the heart of the scandal, but not reported outside of these pages, is a question I raise after having conducted an exhaustive, four-year investigation into the use — and, in some cases, non-use — of polygraph and non-polygraph technologies by federal government agencies:

“How did Edward Snowden pass the polygraph exams required by his stints of employment as an intelligence professional?”

I made it clear in a headline published soon after the Snowden surfaced: Polygraph Exams Should Have Caught Edward Snowden. Of course, I should have added “If polygraph technology worked in the first place.” But I digress.

Screenshot of piece published June 18, 2013.

Screenshot of piece published June 18, 2013.

I questioned how Snowden, who had been employed by the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency before landing at defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, could have passed the necessary polygraph exams.

I shared the opinion of an expert:

Because his level of access would have required it, according to a source of mine (name withheld) who boasts almost three decades of counterintelligence work, Snowden must have taken — and passed – several polygraph exams as a condition of his multiple stints of employment with three-letter intelligence agencies and at least one government contractor,…

Plus, I shared a logical observation about Snowden, a man on the run from his government:

If, indeed, Snowden had had thoughts about exposing government secrets while employed by the CIA, the results of the polygraph exam(s) he took prior to and during his employment by that agency should have yielded clues to that could have led examiners to the truth about Snowden’s mindset. File this under, “Should have. Could have. Would have.”

Six days after publishing the polygraph-should-have-caught-Snowden piece, new observations about national security-related procedures surfaced in a Federal Times article.

Gregg Prillaman, a former Department of Homeland Security official, reportedly said that obtaining a security clearance in a post-Snowden world will likely be much tougher and take longer as a result of, among other things, the need to require more polygraph exams.

One needs only look at how well the polygraph has performed as an investigative tool to combat corruption in Mexico and to screen Afghan recruits to understand that DNI Clapper’s approach is flawed from the outset.

In my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, I share never-before-published details about the polygraph and about a “turf war” between polygraph loyalists and all challengers to their century-old technology that has been raging silently for more than 40 years. In addition, I share details — straight from the sources on the ground — about how both technologies have performed at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, Kuwait, Mexico, Qatar and elsewhere around the world. Most importantly, I connect the dots between three memos — including one issued by Clapper in 2007 while he was serving as Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence — and hundreds of American casualties resulting from “Green-on-Blue” or “Insider” attacks waged by so-called Afghan “allies” wearing the uniforms of their country.

There is, of course, much more to The Clapper Memo. To learn more about it, however, you’ll have to order a copy, available in paperback and ebook versions, at Amazon. Still unsure? Read the big-name endorsements.

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.

Thirty-Six Reasons Why You Should Read The Clapper Memo

Sometimes, people ask me why they should read my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo. For them, I offer the 36 reasons below:

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

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

1. If you have ever had to submit to a polygraph examination in order to land or keep a job, you should read The Clapper Memo.

2. If you hold a security clearance and are subject to periodic polygraph examinations, you should read The Clapper Memo.

3. If you are now serving in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States, you should read The Clapper Memo.

4. If you are a veteran who served in any branch of in the Armed Forces of the United States, you should read The Clapper Memo.

5. If you know someone who has served in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States, you should read The Clapper Memo.

6. If you are considering joining the Armed Forces of the United States, you should read The Clapper Memo.

7. If you have ever been subjected to a polygraph examination as part of a criminal investigation, you should read The Clapper Memo.

8. If you expect to undergo a polygraph examination as part of a criminal investigation, you should read The Clapper Memo.

9. If you know someone who was convicted of a crime based upon the results of a polygraph examination, you should read The Clapper Memo.

10. If you have ever wondered about the validity of the polygraph, you should read The Clapper Memo.

11. If you are interested in learning about countermeasures that enable anyone to beat the polygraph, you should read The Clapper Memo.

12. If you are interested in reading details of what I learned about a non-polygraph credibility assessment technology for which no countermeasures exist, you should read The Clapper Memo.

13. If you are interested in what I learned during my exclusive interview with the man who interrogated Tariq Aziz and other members of Saddam Hussein’s infamous “Deck of Cards,” you should read The Clapper Memo.

14. If you are interested in what I learned during my exclusive interview with the former Army Green Beret who set the record for the most interrogations (500+) of enemy combatants in Iraq, you should read The Clapper Memo.

15. If you are interested in what I learned during my exclusive interview with a man who has used covert interrogation methods to help resolve more than 300 kidnapping cases in Mexico and send 450 criminals to prison, you should read The Clapper Memo.

16. If you are interested in what I learned by reading hundreds of email messages exchanged between top Justice Department officials and the academics they paid to conduct taxpayer-funded studies, you should read The Clapper Memo.

17. If you are interested in understanding one of the root causes of the deadly “Green-on-Blue” attacks against American warfighters in Afghanistan, you should read The Clapper Memo.

18. If you are interested in reading about apparent conflicts of interest and ethical lapses by some of our nation’s top intelligence officials, you should read The Clapper Memo.

The Clapper Memo Info & Endorsements

Click on image above to learn more and read endorsements of the book.

19. If you are interested in reading an example of why ABC News’ Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross has been labeled “America’s Wrongest Reporter,” you should read The Clapper Memo.

20. If you are interested in reading what I learned about how U.S. Government agencies made a mockery out of the Freedom of Information Act during the four years I spent conducting research for my book, you should read The Clapper Memo.

21. If you are interested in reading what I learned about how U.S. Government agencies dole out research dollars in the form of non-competitive grants to academics, you should read The Clapper Memo.

22. If you are interested in learning about a non-polygraph technology that, despite being embraced by more than 1,800 local and state law enforcement agencies is banned for use by Department of Defense personnel, you should read The Clapper Memo.

23. If you are interested in reading about how a top Department of Defense counterintelligence official used his position to promote his private investigation business, you should read The Clapper Memo.

24. If you are interested in reading about a non-polygraph technology proven to accurately detect stress in the human voice, you should read The Clapper Memo.

25. If you are interested in what senior interrogation officials at Guantanamo Bay had to say about the non-polygraph technology that was taken away from them after proving very successful, you should read The Clapper Memo.

26. If you are interested in what several members of our nation’s Special Forces community (i.e., Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets) had to say about the non-polygraph technology that was taken away from them after proving very successful, you should read The Clapper Memo.

27. If you think the United States should use the best technology available to interrogate detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, you should read The Clapper Memo.

28. If you think the United States should use the best technology available to interrogate enemy combatants, you should read The Clapper Memo.

29. If you think the United States should use the best technology available to interrogate suspected terrorists, you should read The Clapper Memo.

30. If you think the United States should use the best technology available to interrogate criminal suspects, you should read The Clapper Memo.

31. If you think the United States should stop relying upon century-old polygraph technology, you should read The Clapper Memo.

32. If you find it difficult to believe members of the American Polygraph Association are objective in their criticism of non-polygraph technology, you should read The Clapper Memo.

33. If you want to read the bloody details of a technological “turf war” that’s been raging quietly for more than 40 years between backers of the polygraph and those behind competing technologies, you should read The Clapper Memo.

34. If you trust people who put their lives on the line for their fellow citizens more than you trust academics, bureaucrats and politicians, you should read The Clapper Memo.

35. If you appreciate thorough investigative reporting that relies upon one-on-one interviews, thorough research and thousands of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and various state “sunshine” laws, you should read The Clapper Memo.

36. If you want to find out why the face of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., our nation’s top intelligence official, appears on the cover of this book and why his name appears in the title of this book, you should read The Clapper Memo.

To find out what all of the fuss is about, order a copy of The Clapper Memo today!

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:24 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer 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.

Second Man Indicted for Teaching How to Beat Polygraph

Despite unwavering claims by polygraph loyalists that countermeasures don’t work against their century-old credibility assessment technology, federal agents continue to indict and/or arrest Americans for the “crime” of teaching people how to employ countermeasures during polygraph exams.

Polygraph Exam

Doug Williams, 69, is a former Oklahoma City law enforcement officer and owner of Polygraph.com who, according to a Department of Justice news release issued late Friday, has been indicted on obstruction of justice and mail fraud charges. The Norman, Okla., man’s alleged crime? Training customers to lie and conceal crimes during polygraph examinations.

Williams’ arrest comes almost 14 months after Chad Dixon of Marion, Ind, was sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to similar charges.

Having spent much of four years conducting an exhaustive investigation of the federal government’s use of credibility assessment technologies, I’m convinced DoJ officials have gone to great lengths to paint Williams and Dixon as evil criminals and, by doing so, are sending a clear message to anyone thinking about making a living by exposing the shortcomings of the polygraph:  “Stop now or expect to face the wrath of federal prosecutors.” At the same time, they’re admitting that the polygraph (a.k.a., “the federal government bureaucracy’s credibility assessment technology of choice”) cannot stand on its own merits.

To learn more about polygraph countermeasures and about a 40-year “turf war” that’s been raging silently between polygraph loyalists and those behind more effective and reliable credibility assessment technologies, read The Clapper Memo. After you do, you’ll likely find yourself in agreement with the people whose endorsements appear at the bottom of this page.

BETTER-LATE-THAN-NEVER UPDATE 10/8/2015 at 6:27 p.m. Central: On Sept. 22, according to this report, a federal judge in Oklahoma City sentenced Williams to two years in prison for training people to deceive during polygraph tests. Apparently having few options, Williams pleaded guilty in May to two counts of mail fraud and three counts of witness tampering.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.