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Despite SOCOM’s apparent interest in the CVSA, the Pentagon cancelled the project. After researchers briefed SOCOM on April 4, SOCOM officers attempted to brief Carol Haave, deputy undersecretary of defense for counterintelligence and security. She delayed two meetings and cancelled a third in May and June. Humble says he learned in June that Haave terminated the project. Lt. Commander Steven Mavica, a SOCOM media relations officer, confirmed for TAS that at Haave’s request SOCOM suspended the project in the third quarter of fiscal year 2005.
Undersecretary Cambone is telling Congress a different story. He wrote in an August 26, 2005 letter to Sen. Rick Santorum that “USSOCOM reviewed the proposal and ultimately declined to fund the initiative.” Pentagon officials did not respond to questions about this inconsistency or its decision to terminate the project.
The Pentagon is also actively halting use of the CVSA in the field. When interrogators attended a training class for the CVSA this fall at Qatar’s Camp As-Sayliyah, they were required to sign an August 28, 2005, memorandum acknowledging DoD’s policy barring use of the CVSA.
IN THE FUTURE, the Pentagon may authorize use of the CVSA. But some Senate military aides believe the DoD is dragging its feet. Through Humble’s contacts with Senate Republicans as a member of the Senatorial Trust (the membership price tag is $15,000), he has rallied political backing. A handful of Republican Senators have repeatedly written DoD and other federal departments in support of the CVSA receiving a fair examination. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is aware of their inquiries, but has referred the issue to Undersecretary Cambone.
Behind the scenes, their military aides have actively examined DoD policy, especially after Cambone’s June 8, 2004 memorandum barring the use of any “credibility assessment instrument” other than the polygraph. He also promised that his staff will research technologies beyond the polygraph but, until accuracy can be independently determined, “the polygraph will remain the sole instrument.” Upset with the memo, aides held a July 13 2004, meeting with DoD counterintelligence and polygraph officials. A Senate aide in the meeting says they were told by Toby Sullivan, DoD director of counterintelligence, to expect a memo clarifying that other interrogation devices may be used, but that only the polygraph may be used for truth verification. Congressional aides haven’t seen such a memo.
While aides emphasize their desire to ensure all available technology receives a fair review, some are growing impatient with the DoD. They were promised at the July 13 meeting that the DoD would commission an independent study of the CVSA.
The DoD study is being performed by Dr. Harry Hollein at the University of Florida. Hollein declined to discuss the study with TAS until it is complete. Pentagon officials confirmed that Dr. John Capps, brother of former DoDPI director Michael Capps, is overseeing the Florida study.
One Senate military liaison is unimpressed with the CVSA and his colleagues’ efforts on its behalf. “I personally doubt the War on Terror is going to be won or lost based on this product. If you’re going to pick multiple dark arts, why spend thousands of dollars on a machine that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to work?”
Another Senate military aide said he has confirmed the CVSA’s success with interrogators and officers in the field. “If it actually proves to be a truth telling device, we’ll have missed an opportunity,” one Senate military aide said. “If it’s useful, we’ll have denied these people a useful tool. Commanders in the field ought to make these decisions….[DoD officials] don’t trust their commanders in the field.”
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