Polygraph Exonerates Man Days Before He Confesses to Murder

The headline of a Winnipeg (Mb.) Free Press article published Sunday refers to Michael Lynn Pearce as “an unlikely killer” and raises the question, “How could ‘gentle’ artist confess to such a brutal crime?”  While I can neither pretend to know what goes on in the mind of a man like Pearce nor answer the 10-word question, I can point out the role a polygraph exam played in this Canadian criminal case:  It got everything wrong!

Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 12.58.32 PMOn July 10, 2007, according to the article, Pearce voluntarily took a polygraph examination at the behest of police, passed it easily and seemingly exonerated himself of the murder of his friend and occasional lover Stuart Mark almost six months earlier.  Most importantly, the police polygraph examiner reportedly told Pearce, “I’m going to tell investigators that you’re not involved in this at all.”  Then, five days later, Pearce returned to the police station and confessed to the crime.

Had he not returned to the police station, it’s quite possible the crime would have gone unsolved or someone else might have been suspected of committing the crime and/or — worst-case scenario — prosecuted, convicted and sentenced for something he didn’t do.

The Clapper Memo Front CoverThis murder case reminds me of a high-profile crime I highlighted in my book, THE CLAPPER MEMO.

On Feb. 23, 2005, nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford was kidnapped in the middle of the night from her grandparents’ home in Homosassa, Fla., never to be seen alive by her loves ones again.

Lieutenant David Wyllie, the now-retired criminal investigator who headed up the Citrus County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit investigating the case, told me he used a non-polygraph technology known as the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer® to conduct an exam of the girl’s father, Mark Lunsford.  Following that exam, he was able to clear the father of any involvement.

Conversely, he said, polygraph exams of the father conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI yielded conflicting results — one “deceptive” and the other “inconclusive.”

Fortunately for Mark Lunsford, the results of the CVSA® exam were proven accurate after John Evander Couey, a 46-year-old convicted sex offender, confessed to abducting Jessica Lunsford and then burying her alive.

The Lunsford case is one of several about which I provide details in THE CLAPPER MEMO.  The product of an exhaustive four-year investigation, the book is available in paperback and ebook versions and has been endorsed by several high-profile Americans who understand the implications of my findings. Order your copy today!

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Man’s Acquittal During Retrial Kills ABC Reporter’s Credibility

A jury’s decision in the retrial of a 15-year-old murder case adds more substance to my reporting about the case that appears Chapter 14 of my second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO.  Notably, it proves ABC News Chief Investigative Reporter Brian Ross was way off base in his reporting about the case during a segment that aired March 30, 2006, on the network’s news magazine show, Primetime.*

LA Times LogoOn Dec. 6, according to a Los Angeles Times report, jurors acquitted 44-year-old Richard Tuite on charges he murdered 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe in the bedroom of her family home in Escondido, Calif., in January 1998.  The mentally-ill transient and petty theft may have become a convenient “fall guy” to take the rap, but he was not the first person charged with the crime.

According to the Times report, the district attorney at the time of the killing not only charged Stephanie’s brother Michael Crowe, then 14, and two of his friends** in the killing, but went so far as to say Michael had confessed under questioning.  In addition, the DA said a murder weapon had been found beneath the bed of one of her brother’s friends.

The Clapper MemoExcerpts from THE CLAPPER MEMO reveal much of what Ross reported about the case, including his bias:

“We’re about to take you somewhere with a lofty-, even futuristic-sounding name,” he said, “the National Institute for Truth Verification.

“It’s run by Dr. Charles Humble, who has become a wealthy man by selling what he says is a virtually-foolproof system to help catch criminals and liars — not by what they say, but how they say it.

“But some critics say his invention is no better than a sewing machine for determining the truth,” Cuomo continued. Then he introduced Ross.

With “Voice Lie Detector?” superimposed on the lower-left corner of the screen, the segment began with video showing Humble seated before a laptop computer and speaking into a microphone as the voice of the reporter described what viewers were seeing on their television screens.

“This is Dr. Charles Humble’s truth-verification system – - a laptop, equipped with a microphone and loaded with a software program called ‘the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer’ — The C-V-S-A. It captures a kind of voice print said to detect stress and, therefore, deception.”

The scene shifted to a typical interview set up, with Ross sitting across from Humble in a well-lit South Florida hotel room as Humble described how his technology works, apparently in response to a question from the reporter.

Humble concluded his remarks by saying, “We have a remarkable record of success with the system.”

“This has become the ‘gold standard’?” Ross asked. “That’s correct,” Humble replied.

The on-screen image shifted to B-roll footage of law enforcement officers sitting in front of laptop computers in a classroom setting, learning about CVSA®. The reporter’s voice accompanied the footage.

“But it has become the gold standard, being sold to more and more police departments every week, despite growing questions about the scientific validity of the machine and about the credentials of Dr. Humble himself.”

The scene shifted back to the one-on-one interview setting with Ross asking Humble another question.

“Is there a single scientific study that shows that this actually works?”

“I don’t believe that there has been an independent scientific study that shows this actually works,” Humble replied, his face filling the screen in an extreme close-up. Keyword: independent.

“Not one?” asked Ross, shown waving one finger in front of him, left to right.

“I don’t believe there has been,” Humble confirmed, again in close-up.

Again, the scene changed and viewers were shown video footage, shot by a camera mounted atop a wall inside a sparsely-furnished room. A young man could be seen seated on a bench against a wall on the opposite side of the room. The reporter’s voice returned.

“Dr. Humble says the machine can only really be tested in the field where he says it has an accuracy rate of 98 percent.”

At this point, it would have made sense for Ross to speak with CVSA® end users like the ones I interviewed; instead, he took the interview in the opposite direction.

Without warning, the distressed voice of the young man shown on screen could be heard — “I didn’t do it, I swear to God” — while his words were superimposed on the screen. Then the reporter’s voice returned.

“But he clearly was not including what happened in the case of 14-year-old Michael Crowe, the California boy who confessed to killing his sister,” Ross continued in voiceover mode. “The machine got it very wrong.”

Quickly, the head-and-shoulders image of a young girl appeared on the screen and the camera slowly pushed in until the girl’s face was filling the screen, accompanied by the reporter’s voice.

“Twelve-year-old Stephanie Crowe was found stabbed to death in her bedroom,” Ross explained as the on-screen image changed to show the outside of a police station. “Michael was brought into the Escondido Police Department for questioning and hooked up to the CVSA in the middle of the night.”

The scene returned to the interrogation room where an exchange took place between a police detective and the young man. The words of each appeared, superimposed on the screen.

“Is today Thursday?” the detective asked. “Yes,” Michael answered. “Did you take Stephanie’s life?” “No.”

The reporter’s voice returned, informing viewers that the detective was telling Michael about the results of the CVSA® exam.

“And it showed that you had some deception on some of the questions,” the detective could be heard saying.

The scene shifted to a full-frame image of Michael’s face years later as he described his thoughts about this episode in his life.

“I started to think that maybe the machine’s right,” Michael said, “especially when they added on top of it that the machine was getting my subconscious feelings on it, that I could be lying and not even know it.”

The reporter’s voice returned to accompany video imagery of Michael inside the interrogation room, sobbing.

“Once he was told he had failed the test, Michael says he began to doubt his own memory and wonder whether maybe he had killed his sister.”

Michael’s face appeared in close-up again. “I didn’t want to go to prison, and I just wanted to be out of that room,” he said, “so my only option was to say, ‘Yeah, I guess I did it,’ and then hope for the best.”

More interrogation-room imagery appeared and viewers were able to hear and read Michael’s confession as the halfway point of the video neared.

“I got a knife, went into her room and then I stabbed her,” he said.

Next, the scene shifted to courtroom footage showing a long-haired man with a walrus-style mustache as Ross chimed in again.

“Just one week before the trial was to begin, police found DNA evidence that lead to the real killer, a transient who is now in prison for killing Michael’s sister.”

Or so they thought.

The Clapper Memo by Bob McCartyMore details will, no doubt, surface as this murder case is reopened and investigators hunt for the person(s) who murdered Stephanie Crowe.  In particular, it will be interesting to see if investigators turn their attention back to the original suspects, Michael Crowe and his aforementioned friends and, if they do, whether any one will seek the return of some $7.25 million reportedly paid to the boys’ families as part of settlement.

Want to learn more about this case and other details related to the use of credibility assessment technologies, including the polygraph and the CVSA® mentioned in the Crowe case?  Order a copy of THE CLAPPER MEMO.

The product of an exhaustive four-year investigation, THE CLAPPER MEMO is available in paperback and ebook versions and has been endorsed by several high-profile Americans who understand the implications of my findings.  Order your copy today!

NOTES:  *Inexplicably, video of the ABC News Primetime segment no longer appears on the network’s website.  Only a print version remains available to site visitors.  **A site related to a film about the case lists names that are, supposedly, those of Michael Crowe’s friends.  Because I could not independently verify them today, I have not included them in this piece.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Government Funds Research to Find Polygraph Replacement Though One Already Exists

While investigating the federal government’s use of credibility-assessment technologies, including the polygraph, I found numerous individuals eager to disparage the idea that one can detect deception by measuring stress in the human voice. Toward the end of my exhaustive four-year investigation, however, I learned about an effort to develop voice stress-based technology despite the fact that the technology already exists.

The Clapper Memo Front CoverSlightly modified for stand-alone publication, details of my brief electronic exchanges with a man involved in the aforementioned research appear below, excerpted from my second nonfiction book, 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.

AVATAR GraphicNext, 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.

ORDER A COPY TODAY. It comes highly recommended.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct '11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May '13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13). To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Polygraph Business Owner Sends More ‘Fan Mail’ to Book’s Author

Lo and behold, I awoke Wednesday morning to find I had received more criticism (a.k.a., “fan mail”) from John J. Palmatier, Ph.D., following the publication Tuesday of a piece, Author Answers Inquiry From Well-Known Polygraph Loyalist, at my primary website, BobMcCarty.com.

TheClapperMemoFrontCoverLR 6-5-13“In fairness Mr. McCarty,” he wrote in the first of several paragraphs of feedback, “I was sincerely looking to see if you had accessed the claimed journal as I’ve been dealing with the claims and counter-claims of Mr. Humble now for almost 20 years, all I’ve ever asked for is objective evidence, which, based upon your response, isn’t your focus.”

Dr. Palmatier went on to write five more less-than-laudatory paragraphs, including one in which he described as “factually inaccurate” my labeling of him as a “polygraph loyalist.”  Beyond the comments I share below, however, the remainder will receive little, if any, attention in this space.  But don’t worry, the polygraph business owner/psychologist/professor informed me that he had posted the rest of his comments on a blog where he first learned of my “affiliation with this issue” and added that he’s “more than open” to having “an open, cogent conversation about ascertaining what’s true.”


It makes little difference whether or not I’ve actually laid my hands on a physical copy of Criminalistics and Court Expertise, because I’m not even fluent in the language used by the editors who published the research paper, “A Long-Term, Retrospective Field Evaluation Of Voice Stress Analysis In A Criminal Justice Setting.” What’s important is that I did receive a translated-into-English version of pages 238-251 of Vol. 57 of the journal, published in December 2012.  On those pages, I found the research authored by the late Professor James L. Chapman and accomplished research scientist Marigo Stathis and was impressed by the breadth and depth of the study, highlights of which I included in Chapter 22 of THE CLAPPER MEMO and in yesterday’s piece.


As founder of the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based National Institute for Truth Verification, Charles Humble has been attacked before. Many of those attacks stem from the fact that his company is behind the non-polygraph credibility assessment technology known as the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer® that some view as the greatest threat to the future of the polygraph.

In the chapter that begins on page 133 of THE CLAPPER MEMO, I dissect a stinging broadcast segment, “Innocent Until Proven Guilty,” that aired on ABC News’ Primetime program March 30, 2006. Unlike those with a vested interest in the future of the polygraph, however, I refused to close my eyes and “swallow” everything reported in the piece by Brian Ross, the alphabet network’s chief investigative correspondent.

If I had fallen for everything Ross had been “selling” during the program, an online version of which I came across several years after the original broadcast, I would have stopped the investigation that led to write THE CLAPPER MEMO. Instead, I dug deeper than Ross, the man some in the media have described as a notoriously “desperate” reporter. While digging, I found a slightly-different print version of the story in which Dr. Palmatier was quoted. I share it below in an excerpt from page 142 of THE CLAPPER MEMO:

The article continued with the remaining paragraphs devoted to CVSA®-focused opinions of two less-than-unbiased “experts.”

The first, John Palmatier, holds a Ph.D. in psychology and runs a polygraph examination business in Florida. He was quoted as saying “(CVSA) is nothing more than a prop” and explaining that his own study found no scientific basis for claims made by Humble.

Later, he was quoted as saying, “You could not accurately discriminate between truthful and deceptive subjects using that device.”

Dr. Palmatier’s comments run 180 degrees opposite of what I was told during interviews with end users at some of the more than 1,800 U.S. law enforcement agencies and with members of the U.S. military and intelligence community who’ve used CVSA® with great success to interrogate members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle (a.k.a., the “Deck of Cards”) in Iraq, high-profile detainees at Guantanamo Bay, members of terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban, at locations around the world and members of drug and kidnapping cartels in Mexico.


Largely a result of what I learned during an exhaustive four-year investigation into the federal government’s use of credibility assessment technologies, including the polygraph, I have no desire to spend time conversing with people I suspect the late Lieutenant Colonel Allan D. Bell Jr. might describe as polygraph loyalists who are willing to do almost anything to discredit challengers to their beloved polygraph.

In the chapter that begins on page 33 of THE CLAPPER MEMO, I share portions of a 1981 article written by Colonel Bell, one of three retired Army intelligence officers credited with developing the precursor to CVSA® more than 40 years ago. In the article, he shares his belief that the development of his technology was forcing polygraph professionals to consider three difficult options as they weighed plans for their future. Those options are explained below in the book excerpt below:

Their first option, he explained, was to accept the new technology and change over to it, realizing such a change would involve scrapping polygraph equipment and purchasing the new technology.

In lieu of that, they could attempt to continue with the polygraph and hope for the best, realizing this course would probably result in the “slow death” of the polygraph.

As a last resort, the colonel wrote, they could attempt to ensure the survival of the polygraph by eliminating the challenger. And that’s what they did.

“The polygraph professional leadership reportedly selected the third course of action, which was not necessarily an illogical choice,” Colonel Bell wrote, noting that polygraph loyalists would ensure the survival of their preferred technology if the new technology “could be nipped in the bud.”

Though Colonel Bell’s technology is more than 40 years old and his prediction older than 30, both seem very accurate today.

An example of the accuracy of his prediction can be found in the fact that it took high-ranking Department of Defense officials — one of whom was James R. Clapper Jr., now the nation’s Director of National Intelligence — no fewer than three attempts during a ten-year period to ban the use of CVSA® by DoD personnel. Only after the third try, in 2009, did the ban stick and members of the Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets finally quit using CVSA®.

Today, the only credibility assessment technology authorized for use by DoD personnel is the polygraph. So, is it a coincidence that American warfighters in Afghanistan find themselves subjected to frequent “Green-on-Blue” attacks by the same Afghans who have somehow made it through a vetting process prior to being allowed to wear the uniforms of their government?  I don’t think so.

See for yourself whether or not you think a connection exists. Order a copy of THE CLAPPER MEMO today. It’s available in paperback and ebook versions and comes highly recommended.

FYI: Cross-posted at BobMcCarty.com.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Well-Known Polygraph Loyalist Seeks Answers From Author

Barely a month after sharing news about an Army polygraph instructor telling me he purchased a copy of THE CLAPPER MEMO, I received an inquiry from another polygraph loyalist, John J. Palmatier, Ph.D, whose name appears twice inside the pages of my second nonfiction book. What can I surmise from these communications? The book has generated interest among polygraph loyalists and, perhaps, has them worried.

TheClapperMemoFrontCoverLR 6-5-13Dr. Palmatier, who contacted me via my website Friday, wrote that he had just finished reading Chapter 22 of my book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, and needed my assistance in verifying some information presented in that chapter. Specifically, he pointed to details I shared about a research article by Professor Emeritus James L. Chapman and neuroscientist Marigo Stathis that appears on page 232 of the book. The article focuses on the duo’s research about the effectiveness of the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer® (CVSA®), a credibility assessment technology that competes head to head with the polygraph.

Though he included only an excerpt of a single paragraph from the chapter, I think it’s worthwhile to share all of CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: The Capstone before proceeding. With only minor changes for stand-alone publication, the correction of a typo, the replacement of one footnote from the book with a hyperlink and the omission of another footnote to the study research paper in question, the text of that chapter appears below, accompanied by graphics that do not appear in the book:

Twenty-four-hundred miles east of Tucson, a man in Upstate New York spent more than four decades believing stress can be detected in the voice utterances of individuals facing real-life jeopardy.

Not your stereotypical academic, Professor Emeritus James L. Chapman began his adult life as a United States Marine and served in Southeast Asia. From there, he went on to become a New York cop and, later, a criminology justice and forensic crime professor at the State University of New York. And, oh yes, he’s the same professor I mentioned as having contacted Professor Kelly R. Damphousse and the other researchers involved in The Oklahoma Study.

Professor James Chapman (7/04/1942 – 4/17/2012)

Professor James Chapman
(7/04/1942 – 4/17/2012)

When he wasn’t teaching, Professor Chapman helped law enforcement professionals across the nation use CVSA® as an investigative tool.

During Professor Chapman’s four decades of work in the field of credibility assessment, he conducted more than 15,000 exams, ascended to the level of Master CVSA® examiner, served as director of Standards and Training of the National Association of Computer Voice Stress Analysts (NACVSA), and built a reputation as the world’s foremost authority on the application of CVSA® as an investigative tool.

After retiring from full-time teaching, Professor Chapman refocused his efforts on finding a more global way to disseminate the positive findings he had gathered on the use of CVSA®. Although he wrote a lengthy white paper detailing his data and results, his ultimate mission was to publish the latter in a peer-reviewed, criminology-based scientific journal.

In June 2010, Professor Chapman teamed up with Marigo Stathis, hoping she could help him reach the goal he had previously been unable to reach on his own.

Stathis, a well-respected neuroscientist and research analyst, brought to the equation her in-depth knowledge of the scientific method, statistics, and academic research experience that includes authorship of 27 published scientific articles.

Before working together, both Professor Chapman and Stathis discussed the obstacles each foresaw regarding their collaboration and the creation of a manuscript worthy of publication.

Professor Chapman warned Stathis of the turf war between polygraph loyalists and others advocating the use of other credibility-assessment technologies, including CVSA®. In turn, Stathis reassured the professor that the statistical analyses and numbers would hold their own and reveal the “truth” of the matter if CVSA® was truly as effective as he claimed.

Stathis also made it clear that, as a scientist, her goal was not to disprove other technologies (of which she had no prior knowledge or bias), but to illuminate and showcase Professor Chapman’s particular study of CVSA®. In addition, she reiterated that a scientific study worthy of publication should present hypotheses, methodologies, data, results, and conclusions that stand on their own merits.

After six months of intense collaboration which included consultations with world-class statisticians at The Johns Hopkins University, Professor Chapman and Stathis completed the first version of their paper showcasing the CVSA®-focused research study. After choosing a few reputable criminology-oriented, scientific journals in North America, they submitted the paper to the first, hopeful for a positive response. Soon thereafter, they received their first rejection letter. Still hopeful, however, they used the criticisms they received to rewrite the paper, and submitted it to their second choice journal. A few months later, they received the reply: another rejection letter.

Although disappointed, Professor Chapman was not surprised. He had, after all, witnessed the turf war firsthand.

Stathis was surprised, but undaunted, having amassed considerable experience when it came to editorial peer reviews and publications. She was familiar with rejection and understood that rewriting a paper based on reviewers’ comments and suggestions only makes for a stronger end product.

Despite the level of harshness, the types of editorial criticism to which she was accustomed were always grounded in validity and solid reasoning. Conversely, she was taken aback by some of what she perceived to be illogical, inaccurate, and even emotional feedback about the paper she and Professor Chapman had submitted.

One journal reviewer cited the studies completed by researchers at the universities in Florida and Oklahoma as reasons to discount the CVSA® study, apparently not realizing they had already been debunked.

Another cited the lack of laboratory studies to prove the technology works, despite the fact that Professor Chapman’s study was clearly cited as a “field-based” one, requiring real-world settings where jeopardy is present.

Still another reviewer, obviously not aware of the research being done in Arizona, claimed there was little or no scientific basis for claims that voice stress can be measured.

Due to their shared conviction in the validity and worth of the study, however, Professor Chapman and Stathis decided to remain persistent despite the opposition. After several months of further rewriting and chiseling, the duo finalized the last version of their manuscript in March 2012 and submitted it for peer review to editors at Criminalistics and Court Expertise, one of the world’s oldest and most-reputable scientific journals.

Although nervous about the fate of the paper, Professor Chapman and Stathis knew their final manuscript was scientifically sound. Every “i” was dotted, and every “t” was crossed. Several more months passed as the peer-review process took place. Then, finally, the pair’s efforts culminated in acceptance. Their paper, “A Long-Term, Retrospective Field Evaluation Of Voice Stress Analysis In A Criminal Justice Setting,” was published in the journal’s December 2012 edition. [Footnote appears in book.]

Unfortunately, Professor Chapman passed away unexpectedly at the age of 69, one month after the paper had been submitted for peer review, and never got to see it published. Others, however, will see the paper and learn from it, a capstone on the professor’s long and distinguished career.

The retrospective field study was, according to its authors, based upon actual CVSA® examinations Professor Chapman conducted in the United States and Canada during an 18-year period. It involved conducting four extremely thorough statistical analyses of data related to actual criminal cases, suspects and persons of interest. No white coats or lab rats were involved.

The total inventory of cases submitted was culled for ones that met several key criteria: A) A confession was a potential outcome; B) There was no involvement with veracity testing of previous statements; C) No employment clearance was involved; D) The case was not used as confirmation of prior witness testimony; and E) The facts of the case were such that responses could be verified by means of structured CVSA® follow-up questioning.

After excluding cases that did not meet all of the above criteria, the number of criminal cases remaining for study totaled 2,109. Those cases were then numbered in consecutive order, and 236 cases for study were randomly selected, by chance, from that number.

The cases selected involved 329 specific crimes, including — but not limited to — multiple homicides, corporate theft, organized crime, contract murders, sexual abuse of children and arson for hire.

Subjects examined represented a wide spectrum of people, male and female, and included individuals with no criminal history as well as others with arrest and/or conviction records.

The socio-economic strata ran the gamut from wealthy, well-educated professionals to illiterate indigents and included several subjects who had been professionally evaluated and found to be of below-normal intelligence.

The livelihoods of those within the study group ranged from elected public officials to professional criminals and even included some organized crime “hit men.”

Of the cases studied, according to the study’s final report, 91 percent represented criminal investigations in which legal authorities had reached investigative impasses. In other words, after following standard investigative protocols, investigators had been unable to reach firm conclusions as to the guilt or innocence of the subjects.

Each subject named in the “Confession Possibility List” was individually interviewed by the CVSA® examiner with two goals in mind: (1) To exonerate the innocent and identify the guilty, and (2) To obtain legally-valid and independently-verifiable confessions from those subjects who were unable to clear the CVSA® process.

Each interview, according to the final report, was conducted according to a standard protocol in which the wording of the interview, but not the methodology, was adapted on site to the specifics of each case.

In each case, the procedure used by the CVSA® researcher consisted of six steps:

Step 1 — The CVSA® examiner was briefed by the requesting authorities in order to become familiar with the circumstances of each case. This briefing included available physical evidence, witness and suspect statements collected to date, and any background information concerning the subject to be tested. A determination of focus areas for questioning was made at that time by the CVSA® examiner.

Step 2 — A recorded pre-test interview with the subject was conducted. Also, during this portion of the interview, sufficient time was allotted to: a) obtain the subject’s informed consent for the interview; b) review the topical areas of questioning with the subject; c) attempt to help the subject relax and feel at ease with the examiner; d) provide an opportunity to discuss the subject’s concerns and to clarify terms and issues; and e) allow the examiner to formulate precise questions to be asked of the subject during the CVSA® examination.

Step 3 — The initial test questions were then presented to the subject. Examinations contained from nine to 31 questions, consisting of relevant, irrelevant, and control questions for which the subject provided “yes” or “no” answers. The initial set of questions was designed to address specific issues concerning the crime(s). As the examination progressed, the questions became more specific about the crime issue(s). Included in the set of questions, interspersed among the relevant questions, were questions with known answers, such as, “Is your name Bob Smith?” To this, the subject was directed to answer correctly. Other questions with known answers were also included, but to which the subject was directed to answer incorrectly. The CVSA® graphs produced by these non-relevant questions provide the examiner with additional reference points for the interpretation of the CVSA® results.

Step 4 — The fourth step included processing the responses with the CVSA® instrument, after which the resulting CVSA® charts were analyzed and interpreted by the examiner.

Step 5 — If stress patterns associated with specific relevant questions were observed by the examiner, an opportunity was given for the subject to provide additional clarification regarding the stress. Prior to the re-examination, questions were reformulated by the examiner to evaluate the veracity of the explanations offered by the subject. This procedure was repeated until all necessary questions had received responses that included no displays of stress reaction, or until the remaining stress reactions could not be eliminated by the explanation or the re-questioning.

Step 6 — The final step of the process was to provide a conclusion regarding the outcome of the CVSA® examination. If the relevant questions produced a “No Stress” chart, the subject was “cleared” by the CVSA® procedure. This information was then turned over to the agency requesting the examination.

If a confession was made by the subject during the CVSA® examination, the examiner would ask the subject to support his/her confession by verifying details or by providing further details concerning the events under investigation. Further, if a confession occurred, the subject was asked to provide a written statement and to confirm evidence that had not been made public about the case. Another CVSA® examination would then be conducted to validate the accuracy of the written statement. If no confession occurred, the examiner reported the findings to the agency requesting the CVSA® examination, such that the information could guide further investigation.

Of the 329 confession possibilities in this study, 92.1 percent of the CVSA® examinations produced a “Stress Indicated” result and 89 percent of those culminated in actual confessions. Most notably, suspects made self-incriminating confessions during 96.4 percent of the interviews during which CVSA® indicated stress.

The results of this study, according to its authors, clearly demonstrate CVSA® is not only a useful tool in obtaining valid confessions, but also that the likelihood of obtaining valid confessions increases based upon whether or not stress is present for relevant crime issues.

In each of the 236 cases included in the study, inclusive of 329 confession possibilities, a trained and experienced CVSA® examiner (i.e., Professor Chapman) used well-established CVSA® protocols with the objectives of producing legally-admissible confessions and obtaining additional supporting evidence from suspects and/or persons of interest.

With current scientific research revealing that only 20 percent to 50 percent of police interviews/interrogations produce valid confessions, the study’s authors explained, a 96.4 percent-verified confession rate is considered phenomenally high.

Adding to the conclusions above, the study’s authors shared additional findings.

“More importantly,” they wrote, “this study also proves CVSA® to be a useful and predictive tool in separating the innocent from the guilty, by conclusively demonstrating the ability to discriminate stress from no-stress in the human voice. In one stand-alone case of Grand Larceny, 20 individuals were considered suspects. Of the 20 CVSA® examinations conducted for this case, 19 resulted in a finding of ‘No Stress Indicated,’ while only one produced a ‘Stress Indicated’ finding – resulting in a confession.

By use of the CVSA®, the accurate identification/ separation of the 19 innocent individuals from the one who was guilty, far surpassed a “chance” rate of accuracy. The probability of 20 successful evaluations would have been less than 1 in 1,000,000.”

In summary, the conclusions of the study were: (1) During criminal justice investigations, CVSA® can serve as a reliable decision support tool to help discriminate between “Deception” and “No Deception”; (2) Voice stress and confession rates are interdependent; (3) The CVSA® process can precisely and accurately discriminate stress from no stress in real-life crime situations involving consequence and jeopardy; and (4) the level of consequence and jeopardy associated with specific crimes can affect the confession rates obtained from guilty individuals under examination.

In January 2013, Stathis shared the results of the study with attendees at a worldwide conference of CVSA® examiners held in South Florida. In addition to highlighting the information outlined above, Stathis delivered a clear message to those who discount the technology proven to work by Professor Chapman.

“Just as you would not call an X-ray scan a prop if it provides accurate information that helps a medical doctor in formulating a diagnosis,” she said, “you would not call the CVSA chart a prop if it reveals accurate information that helps a trained detective in making an assessment. The CVSA is not a prop. It’s a tool.”

Why did I opt to share the entire text of Chapter 22? Because I found it odd how Dr. Palmatier seemed to demonstrate through the heart of his inquiry that he is more interested in discrediting the journal than he is in evaluating the research conducted by Professor Chapman and Stathis. Of course, I hope I’m wrong.

“I publish in peer reviewed journals and thought that this journal as you described it may be an excellent resource for substantive information,” he wrote. “But alas, I could not find the Journal through any of the databases that I have access to for research and so asked reference librarians at the Shepard Broad Law School at Nova Southeastern University, Michigan State University, and John Hopkins University, using their resources to try and find this journal to no avail.

“Before I write something, as a scientific researcher, due diligence is a requisite before placing something to print,” he continued. “Consequently, I am asking for your assistance in locating ‘one of the world’s oldest and most-reputable scientific journals’ that three reputable ‘RESEARCH’ universities have not been able to locate.”

Dr. Palmatier went on to describe himself as an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University who teaches “credibility assessment” in the national security affairs graduate program. He closed his inquiry by writing, “Your assistance in locating this reference will help in my efforts to teach future thinkers. Thank you in advance,… JP”

Now, regarding Dr. Palmatier’s request for assistance in obtaining a copy of the study, I offer a concise reply.

As I recall, Professor Chapman and Stathis advised me that, prior to it being published, the paper was submitted to the non-U.S. scientific journal in both English and the language of the country in which it is published. It was accompanied by a lot of legal documentation and certifications prior to the journal’s peer-review process taking place.  So, am I going to offer you the contact information for the editor of the foreign journal that published the study?  Ne.  Nee.  O.  Non.  Nein.  Nincs.  Nyet.  Nej.  No.  Afraid not.

Why? Because I spent much of the past four years conducting my own due diligence and think you should find it on your own — that is, if you’re not too busy teaching polygraph courses in China and running your polygraph business in Miami.

FYI: Crossposted at http://BobMcCarty.com.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Defense Department Relying on Investigative Technology That Deserved to Die 10 Years Ago

In an MIT Technology Review article published ten years ago this week, writer Bruce Sterling offered his list of ten technologies that deserve to die. Though I find it difficult — without caveats, that is — to agree with Sterling on nine of his choices, I share a similar opinion when it comes to one item on his list: Lie Detectors.

MIT Technology Review 10-01-03Having spent much of the past four years conducting an exhaustive investigation into the federal government’s use of credibility assessment technologies, I became intimately aware of the technologies competing in this arena — one of which, the polygraph, is often mistakenly referred to as the “lie detector.” When I read the explanation Sterling gave for including this century-old technology as the ninth item on his list, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly:

They just plain don’t work. They might have some vague use in increasing the psychological stress of a subject under interrogation, but galvanic skin response and heart rate have little to do with the process of lying. The use of lie detectors is basically a voodoo ritual that allows large institutions to lie to themselves about the trustworthiness of their employees.

Even if lie detectors did work-say, with newfangled nuclear magnetic-resonance brain scans-they would become an Orwellian intrusion. Furthermore, there would likely be a social revolution as major actors in society, from top to bottom, had to admit to fabricating their lives out of spin and wishful thinking. The official public version of our means, motives, and opportunities is severely divorced from the private world of our interior thoughts. If we were forced to confront and reveal our brain functions through technological means, most of us would soon discover that we led half-baked lives of quiet intellectual desperation, in which very little thought of any kind ever took place.

I do not claim or pretend to be an expert on the polygraph; instead, my agreement with Sterling is based upon what I discovered during my aforementioned investigation.

Perhaps most important among my findings is evidence of an unconventional war — a “turf war” — that’s been raging silently for 40 years, shows no signs of easing, and impacts Americans around the world.

James R. Clapper Jr.

James R. Clapper Jr.

On one side of the turf war are polygraph loyalists who seem willing to do almost anything to maintain their technology’s foothold as the federal government’s credibility assessment tool of choice. On the other side are backers of a newer credibility assessment tool proven more reliable and more effective than polygraph in places like Guantanamo Bay and Iraq before being banned by the Department of Defense no fewer than three times since Sterling’s article was published. One of those bans was issued in 2007 by then-Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., the man now serving as Director of National Intelligence (i.e., our nation’s top intelligence official).

Of course, there is much more to this turf war than I’ll share in this space. For all of the graphic details, you’ll need to order a copy of my latest nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO. Released in May, it’s available in ebook and paperback versions at Amazon.com and comes highly endorsed.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

‘Elephant in the Room’ Ignored by Prosecutor Touting Conviction of ‘Beat the Polygraph’ Instructor

In a news release issued Friday, Neil H. MacBride offered details about the case of Chad Dixon, a 34-year-old Marion, Ind., man convicted and sentenced to eight months in prison plus three years of supervised release and a fine of $17,091.07 “for his role in a scheme to deceive the federal government during polygraph examinations conducted as part of federal security background investigations.” At the same time, however, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia ignored the reason why Dixon got involved in his line of work in the first place.

DoJ News Relase Dixon 9-6-13As someone who spent much of the past four years conducting an exhaustive investigation of the U.S. Government’s use of credibility assessment technologies, including the polygraph, I didn’t expect MacBride to mention the proverbial “elephant in the room” — that is, the fact so many countermeasures exist to make it possible for any individual to “beat” or pass a polygraph exam. And he didn’t.
Instead, MacBride merely described Dixon’s illegal activities — a sampling of which appear below — made possible by the inherent flaws in polygraph technology:

• Dixon operated an Internet-based business that trained customers how to “beat” polygraph examinations;

Dixon taught physical and mental polygraph countermeasures designed to obstruct polygraph examinations by producing “truthful” polygraph charts ”even if you are flat out lying”;

Dixon customized his trainings by asking each customer the purpose of their polygraph examination and the information they wanted to conceal from the government;

Dixon instructed his customers to conceal their misconduct, to deny receiving polygraph countermeasures training, and to lie during their exams;

Dixon provided private training sessions around the country to his customers, including applicants for federal law enforcement and national security positions;

Dixon trained undercover agents posing as applicants for Customs and Border Patrol law enforcement positions to lie in order to beat polygraph tests; and

Dixon also admitted to providing training to nine convicted sex offenders who were required to take polygraph examinations as a condition of court-ordered probation or parole.

TheClapperMemoFrontCoverLR 6-5-13Do you see any problem with what Dixon was able to do as a man who, reportedly, had no polygraph experience or expertise before deciding to learn how to teach people how to beat the polygraph? I do.

Do you think the virtual cottage industry that has developed around the century-old technology’s flaws will go away? I certainly don’t. Instead, it will simply go underground and/or overseas (remember, Dixon ran an “Internet-based business”).

In my latest nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, the product of my aforementioned investigation, I learned a lot about polygraph and non-polygraph technologies competing for lucrative government contracts. The details I share will shock you.

To learn about those details, order a copy of THE CLAPPER MEMO. Available in paperback and ebook version at Amazon.com, it comes highly recommended.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Bob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August and THE CLAPPER MEMO. To learn more about either book or to place an order, click on the graphic above.

Hat tip: Reason.com.

THE CLAPPER MEMO Nears Publication as First Book Marks One-Year Anniversary

My second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, is inching closer and closer to  publication as my first book, Three Days In August, turned one-year old this week.

TheClapperMemoFrontCoverLR 6-5-13THE CLAPPER MEMO tells the story of a 40-year-old turf war few Americans even realize is taking place.

What started out in April 2009 as a 27-day effort to obtain answers from the Pentagon about the deployment of new interrogation technology to combat zones turned into almost four years of research, investigation and interviews during which I learned more than I ever imagined I might about the people, products and problems inside the interrogation area. And, trust me, it contains details high-ranking government officials would rather not see made public.

Most importantly, I learned how wrong decisions made by some of those aforementioned government officials have resulted in dozens of American soldiers and citizens being injured or killed in Afghanistan, the victims of so-called “insider” or “green-on-blue” attacks. One of those people bearing some responsibility is Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.

People from all walks of life shared insights, insider information and occasional doses of insanity related to their personal experiences in the arena.

People from across the United States as well as around the world — in places like Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Mexico — shared. They shared during scheduled and unscheduled interviews. Through official and unofficial channels. By phone, email message, Facebook message, Twitter and “snail mail.”

Some shared without being asked. Most told the truth. Some did not.

Some were forthcoming with information. Others forced me to use the federal Freedom of Information Act and state “sunshine” laws as tools for flushing out answers.

More than anything else, it was old-fashioned detective work that produced results.

I hope you’ll make plans now to read it.

Until then, I hope you’ll read Three Days In August, my book chronicling the life story and wrongful conviction of Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart.  It’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com.

During the past 12 months, I’ve had many opportunities to share the basics of Stewart’s story and have found many Americans nod their heads and empathize with the highly-decorated combat veteran’s plight but refuse to engage — by reading the whole story, that is — and speak out on behalf of those in uniform who have been victimized by the military justice system. I hope that changes.

Regardless, I will continue to tell Stewart’s story and to tell the stories of others who, after reading Three Days In August, have approached me with stories of their loved ones — usually husbands and sons — that are eerily similar to Stewart’s.

Note: THE CLAPPER MEMO is the working title of this book but, for reasons I will explain in the near future, will change upon publication.


Order Books Graphic LR 6-15-13

Bob McCarty is the author of two nonfiction books, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13).

Department of Defense: ‘To Hell With Saving American Lives’

FLASHBACK:  I shared this piece one year ago this week.

An Army Times article published Friday contains details of a story that ring eerily similar to the story I’ll be telling in my upcoming second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO.  Both seem to share a similar message coming out of the Department of Defense: “To hell with saving American lives!”

TheClapperMemoFrontCoverLR 6-5-13The Times reports that high-ranking Army officials issued a memo prohibiting the use of a certain software program after finding out that some Army units went outside official channels to obtain the software because they think its use could save soldiers’ lives.

THE CLAPPER MEMO tells the true story of how Department of Defense officials issued no fewer than three memos aimed at prohibiting the use of a certain interrogation technology that had proven itself superior to the one and only technology they had approved for use throughout DoD.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Unfortunately for those DoD officials, many soldiers in the field ignored the memos and, along with interrogation professionals at places like Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq, shared with me never-before-published details about this scandal as well as their feelings about having their best interrogation tool taken from them at a critical time in the nation’s history.

After spending almost four years conducting research and interviews as part of my investigation leading up to the THE CLAPPER MEMO, I guarantee Pentagon officials will not appreciate this book hitting the market.  At the same time, however, Blue Star and Gold Star families will.

The THE CLAPPER MEMO is set for release this fall AVAILABLE NOW!

If you need something to read until then, order a copy of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August.  It’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. Thanks in advance!


Order Books Graphic LR 6-15-13

Bob McCarty is the author of two nonfiction books, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice (Oct ’11) and THE CLAPPER MEMO (May ’13).

DIA Employs Army Tactics in Response to FOIA Request — UPDATED

A letter received yesterday seems to indicate that officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency are stealing a page from the U.S. Army’s playbook when it comes to dealing with pesky Freedom of Information Act requests — mine!

Described as an “interim response” to my request for copies of certain technology-related contracts, the letter included the following wording:

We will be unable to respond to your request within the FOIA’s 20 day statutory time period due to unusual circumstances… your request has been placed in our queue and will be worked in the order the request was received. Our current administrative workload is in excess of 1,352 requests.

I followed up receipt of the letter by asking DIA FOIA officials to comply with the law by providing a specific date by which my request will be fulfilled.  Still waiting for a response.

Exactly what is it that I’ve requested via FOIA? Can’t say yet, but it has to do with certain defense interrogation technology contracts about which I’ve been suspicious since 2009. Those details and more will appear in my next book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, set for release this fall.

UPDATE 7/30/12 at 12:15 p.m. Central:  I spoke with Alesia Y. Williams, chief of the DIA’s Freedom of Information Office staff, about the interim response I had received as described above.  I told her that, by law, she must provide a specific date by which I should expect a reply.  She told me I should not expect a reply earlier than nine months from today — or April 30, 2013.  I asked her to put it in writing.  She said she would.  So much for adhering with the law.


Order Books Graphic LR 6-15-13