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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2000 > Dec > Dec 7

Secrecy News -- 12/06/00

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood@igc.org>
Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2000 11:47:53 -0500
Fwd Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000 08:01:57 +0000
Subject: Secrecy News -- 12/06/00


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
December 6, 2000

**  A BOOM IN POLYGRAPH STUDIES
**  CHALK POINSETTIA AND OTHER PENTAGON POETRY



A BOOM IN POLYGRAPH STUDIES

Now that Congress has drastically expanded the number of
national security personnel who are subject to polygraph
testing, the government is belatedly initiating new studies to
test the validity of the polygraph.

The Department of Energy will release $860,000 to the National
Academy of Sciences for an 18 month study, the Albuquerque
Journal reported December 5:

http://www.abqjournal.com/news/191809news12-05-00.htm

Senator Jeff Bingaman, who had requested the study over a year
ago, said in a press release: "The distinguished scientists and
engineers who work at Sandia and Los Alamos deserve to know
whether polygraphs produce valid results and this study will
help make that determination." See:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2000/12/bingaman.html

Meanwhile, the Department of Defense announced in Commerce
Business Daily today that it is seeking a contractor to perform
a new study on polygraph validity.

"The goal of this project is to manipulate volunteers into
telling specific lies during polygraph examination to test the
accuracy of the polygraph examination procedure," the DoD
announcement said. See:

http://services.sciencewise.com/content/index.cfm?objectid=2684

But there is a methodological difficulty in such tests that
tends to render them useless: There is no way to ensure that a
volunteer who is instructed to lie in an artificial setting will
present the same physiological signs as an actual liar in a
setting where the stakes are genuine.

The irony of these new polygraph studies is that they follow,
rather than precede, the expansion of polygraph testing. This
reflects the fact that the congressional radicals who are
driving security policy are largely indifferent to questions of
scientific validity.

Worse, the new National Academy study might make it more
difficult to repeal the latest increase in polygraph testing in
the short term. This is because proponents will be able to argue
that no action should be taken during the eighteen months that
the matter is under review by the Academy.


CHALK POINSETTIA AND OTHER PENTAGON POETRY

The hundreds of secret compartmented programs at the Pentagon
are each assigned a two word nickname and a classified codeword.
The names are selected and combined, more or less arbitrarily,
from lists of pre-approved words, giving rise to an oddly
suggestive form of Pentagon poetry.

William M. Arkin, the independent analyst and author, picked out
the names of 26 particularly resonant Pentagon programs --
DIAGONAL GLANCE, CHALK POINSETTIA, CREDIBLE WOLF -- for a
feature he wrote in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

Several of these terms have not appeared previously in the
public domain. Furthermore, in several cases Arkin has gone
where no uncleared person has gone before and has provided a
thumbnail description of the contents of the secret programs.
Someone, somewhere in the Pentagon, will be grinding his teeth
at the impudence. See:

http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20001203mag-lexicon.html

An additional layer of obscurity is attached to these names
because of the fact that over time they may be reused for other
secret programs.

For example, Arkin identifies CLOUD GAP as a "classified Air
Force program." In the 1960s, however, CLOUD GAP was a joint
program of the Department of Defense and the Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency "to test the feasibility of theoretical arms
control and disarmament measures." The earlier edition of CLOUD
GAP, now practically forgotten, culminated in a test to
demonstrate the verifiable destruction of nuclear warheads.


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___________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
http://www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
Email: saftergood@igc.org




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