Intelligence: Polygraph Plus Procured

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February15, 2007: The U.S. Department of Defense has changed the way it uses polygraph tests (lie detector equipment). These tests, given mainly to people working for the government, will now be supplemented by additional techniques. This has produced a new term for "line detector test." Now it's a "Credibility Assessment."

These new techniques are basically skills that some people have naturally, but repackaged so they can be taught quickly. An example of existing skills can be found in poker players who can detect another players "tells." When a player gets very good, or bad, cards, or is bluffing, they usually exhibit a unique physical sign, or "tell." Some players are very good at avoiding tells, and are thus said to have a "poker face."

An example of these new techniques can be found in the Israeli system passenger screening system, called "observation and questioning." This approach has a near perfect record in keeping Israeli commercial aircraft free from terrorist attack. The system is based on the principal that anyone up to no-good will act differently than innocent people. They will display a "tell." Screeners are taught what signs to look for, and the types of questions that will elicit a response that confirms the assessment.

The downside is that the system is time consuming. For about 90 percent of the people screened, it takes less than a minute. But for one or two percent, it can take an hour. The rest fall in between those two extremes. Airlines don't like to delay passengers this long. The Israeli method is also labor intensive, and the labor is expensive. The preferred screeners are above-average college grads, who have to successfully complete a nine week training course. Even then, the Israeli find that most screeners only last three to five years, because of the grueling demands of the work. Since September 11, 2001, many more nations have adopted the Israeli system, but few have applied it as widely as the Israelis. The system does work, with many terrorists, or criminals up to no good, getting nabbed.

Details of these new techniques must, for obvious reasons, be kept secret. But the stuff does work. Some people are able to fool polygraph machines, and some can fool "observation and questioning" type tests. But far fewer people can fool all these techniques.

 


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