Aldrich Ames on Beating a Polygraph

The CIA double agent Aldrich Ames famously passed two lie-detector tests.

The first time he had a test scheduled he asked for advice from his KGB handlers, who wrote back, “Get a good night’s sleep, and rest, and go into the test rested and relaxed. Be nice to the polygraph examiner, develop a rapport, and be cooperative and try to maintain your calm.”

“Dear Mr. Aftergood,

Having had considerable experience with the polygraph (well beyond that which you referred to), I read your very sensible essay in Science with great interest. I offer you a few comments on the topic for whatever interest or use they may have.

Like most junk science that just won’t die (graphology, astrology and homeopathy come to mind), because of the usefulness or profit their practitioners enjoy, the polygraph stays with us.

Its most obvious use is as a coercive aid to interrogators, lying somewhere on the scale between the rubber truncheon and the diploma on the wall behind the interrogator’s desk. It depends upon the overall coerciveness of the setting — you’ll be fired, you won’t get the job, you’ll be prosecuted, you’ll go to prison — and the credulous fear the device inspires. This is why the Redmond report ventures into the simultaneously ludicrous and sinister reality that citizens’ belief in what is untrue must be fostered and strengthened. Rarely admitted, this proposition is of general application for our national security apparatus.

You didn’t mention one of the intriguing elements of the interrogations of Dr. Lee which is in fact quite common — the false representation to the subject of the polygraph results. Because interrogations are intended to coerce confessions of one sort or another, interrogators feel themselves entirely justified in using their coercive means as flexibly as possible to extract them. Consistency regarding the particular technique is not important; inducing anxiety and fear is the point.

Polygraphers are fond of the technique used by psychics called cold reading, as a slightly less dramatic practice than actually lying to the subject about the results. In this sort of cold reading, the interrogator will suggest to the subject that there may be a potential problem, an ambiguous result, to one of the questions and inquire whether the subject knows of anything that might help clear it up, etc, etc.

Your account of the Redmond report — I haven’t seen it — shows how another hoary slider is thrown past the public. The polygraph is asserted to have been a useful tool in counterintelligence investigations. This is a nice example of retreating into secret knowledge: we know it works, but it’s too secret to explain. To my own knowledge and experience over a thirty year career this statement is a false one. The use of the polygraph (which is inevitably to say, its misuse) has done little more than create confusion, ambiguity and mistakes. I’d love to lay out this case for you, but unfortunately I cannot — it’s a secret too…

…Deciding whether to trust or credit a person is always an uncertain task, and in a variety ofI’ve seen these bureaucratically-driven flights from accountability operating for years, much to the cost of our intelligence and counterintelligence effectiveness. The US is, so far as I know, the only nation which places such extensive reliance on the polygraph. (The FBI, to its credit in a self-serving sort of way, also rejects the routine use of the polygraph on its own people.) It has gotten us into a lot of trouble.

On the other hand, there have been episodes in which high-level pressures to use or acquire certain persons entirely override pious belief in the polygraph. One instance which made the press is that of the Iranian connection in the Iran-Contra affair.

I wish you well in this particularly important theater of the struggle against pseudoscience: the national security state has many unfair and cruel weapons in its arsenal, but that of junk science is one which can be fought and perhaps defeated by honest and forthright efforts like yours.

    • Sincerely,

Aldrich H. Ames
40087-083
P.O. Box 3000
White Deer, PA 17887

P.S. I should say that all my outgoing mail goes through the CIA — unlawfully — for review, censorship and whatever use it chooses to make of it.”

Letter to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, November 28, 2000.

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Leonid Brezhnev: The Man and His Style, by Henry Kissinger

MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT, SENSITIVE/EYES ONLY

“With experience and exposure in dealing with Western leaders, Brezhnev has gained assurance. He has come to enjoy the prerequisites of office–he enjoys fancy cars, natty clothes and a certain elevated lifestyle. In short, he has some of the characteristics of the nouveau-riche. Yet he is proud, as Khrushchev was, of his proletarian background and his march up the ladder of power.

… Brezhnev is a nervous man, partly because of personal insecurity, partly for physiological reasons traced to his consumption of alcohol and tobacco, his history of heart disease and the pressures of his job. You will find his hands perpetually in motion, twirling his gold watch chain, flicking ashes from his ever-present cigarette, clanging his cigarette holder against an ash tray. From time to time, he may stand up behind his chair or walk about. He is likely to interrupt himself or you by offering food or drink. His colleagues obviously humor him in these nervous habits.”

Henry A. Kissinger.
(Box 1 – 11/1/74 – 11/12/74) at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

The Reason Keith Haring Chose a Baby Logo

“When I was 21 I spent a summer teaching ‘Art’ at a day-care center in Brooklyn. It was the most fulfilling summer of my life. There is nothing that makes me happier than making a child smile. The reason that the ‘baby’ has become my logo or signature is that it is the purest and most positive experience of human existence.

Children are the bearers of life in its simplest and most joyous form. Children are color-blind and still free of all the complications, greed, and hatred that will slowly be instilled in them through life.

I will never forget some of the adults who touched me through my childhood. Sometimes very brief encounters have made an impact that is very lasting and very real. If it is possible for me to have that kind of effect on any children, I think that would be the most important and useful thing I could do.

Touching people’s lives in a positive way is as close as I can get to an idea of religion…

…Children know something that most people have forgotten. Children possess a fascination with their everyday existence that is very special and would be very helpful to adults if they could learn to understand and respect it.

I am now 28 years old on the outside and nearly 12 years old on the inside. I always want to stay 12 years old on the inside.” Keith Haring, July 7, 1986, Montreux.

Keith Haring Journals, Penguin Books, 1996.

The Official Website for Vincent Gallo Merchandise

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I, Vincent Gallo, star of such classics as Buffalo 66 and The Brown Bunny have decided to make myself available to all women. All women who can afford me, that is. For the modest fee of $50,000 plus expenses, I can fulfill the wish, dream, or fantasy of any naturally born female. The fee covers one evening with Vincent Gallo…

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The Official Website for Vincent Gallo by Vincent Gallo

Photo: Bluefairyturnedred

George H. W. Bush Outlines Richards Nixon’s Hang-Ups about Ivy League Bastards

Yalie George H.W. Bush served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee under Richard Nixon. Despite this appointment, he felt he did not enjoy the President’s trust and he fretted that Nixon viewed him as a mere “Ivy League bastard.” Nixon’s conflicted feelings about an Ivy League education extended even to his consigliore, the Harvard-educated PhD and Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger. * Bush outlined his worries in a 1972 letter to his sons:

“The President’s hang-up on Ivy League is two-fold.** The first relates to issues. He sees the Ivy League type as the Kennedy liberal Kingman Brewster on the war–arrogant, self-assured, soft professors moving the country left. Soft on Communism in the past–soft on socialistic programs at home–fighting him at every turn– close to the editors that hate him. In this issue context he equates Ivy League with anti-conservatism and certainly anti-Nixon.

Secondly I believe there is rather insecure social kind of hang-up. Ivy League connotes privilege and softness in a tea sipping, martini drinking, tennis playing sense. There’s an enormous hang-up here that comes through an awful lot. I feel it personally. It stings but it doesn’t bleed.”

*“That fucker doesn’t perform surgery or make house calls does he?” Bush is reputed to have asked staffers when they referred to the Secretary of State as “Doctor” Kissinger.

**Bush was correct. “The Ivy League presidents?” Nixon told Kissinger after his meeting with Ivy League College Presidents about Vietnam, “Why I’ll never let those sons of bitches in the White House again. Never, never, never. They’re finished. The Ivy League schools are finished… Henry, I would never have had them in. Don’t do that again… They came out against us when it was tough… Don’t ever go to an Ivy League school again, ever. Never, never, never.”

George Bush letter, July 23, 1972, All the Best, George Bush, Touchstone, 1999.

The Soviet Ambassador Comments on Reagan’s Interview with ABC, 1985

reagan“25 September 1985
WASHINGTON             SOVIET AMBASSADOR

In his recent appearances, the head of the White House has frequently falsified quotes that he attributed to V.I. Lenin. For example, during Reagan’s interview with ABC on September 18, 1985 the president of the U.S.A. acknowledged that ‘he often quotes Lenin’s statements,’ which allegedly speak of seizing Eastern Europe, organizing East Asian hordes, taking over Latin America and the United States. Grossly distorting the history and politics of the Soviet State, the American president attempted and continues to cast a shadow on the external and internal politics of the Soviet state. As is known, there are no such statements by V.I. Lenin.

This is not the first time that such allegations have been made. Such a practice is unacceptable in relations between countries. It creates justifiable indignation in the Soviet Union, as an insult to the Soviet people, a premeditated distortion of the Soviet state.

The Soviet Union demands the American side end such practices which are incompatible with normal relations between countries.

[signature illegible]”

Revelations from the Russian Archives: Documents in English translation, edited by Diane P. Koenker and Ronald D. Bachman, Library of Congress, Washington, 1997.

Donald Trump Announces his Presidential Run

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We understand this is not a traditional ‘background job,’ but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought.

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This will take place inside / interior.

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Please let us know and we will get back to you with confirmation.”