When you turn on the national and international news these days, no matter what channel/perspective you watch, you can’t help wondering exactly what the truth is.
Why don’t they just give a lie detector test to Bush and Cheney, and Tony Snow, and Libby and Howard K. Stern and whoever else might well be lying? And how about all of those supposed terrorists held at Gitmo? Couldn’t we have avoided all of that mess that we got ourselves into by, instead, hooking them all up (one at a time, of course) to a polygraph??
Well, I guess it’s not that simple, and a friend of mine from college, who was a polygraph operator for the CIA in Viet Nam, has a new book coming out next month that deals with that subject: Gatekeeper: Memoirs of a CIA Polygraph Examiner
Excerpted from the book description at Amazon:
John F. Sullivan was a polygraph examiner with the CIA for thirty-one years, during which time he conducted more tests than anyone in the history of the CIA’s program. The lie detectors act as the Agency’s gatekeepers, preventing foreign agents, unsuitable applicants, and employees guilty of misconduct from penetrating or harming the Agency. Here Sullivan describes his methods, emphasizing the importance of psychology and the examiners’ skills in a successful polygraph program. Sullivan acknowledges that using the polygraph effectively is an art as much as a science, yet he convincingly argues that it remains a highly reliable screening device, more successful and less costly than the other primary method, background investigation. In the thousands of tests that Sullivan conducted, he discovered double agents, applicants with criminal backgrounds, and employee misconduct, including compromising affairs and the mishandling of classified information.
John’s first book was Of Spies and Lies: A CIA Lie Detector Remembers Vietnam. According to one reviewer, who also says This book is so good I have added it to the select list of intelligence reform books recommended by the Council on Intelligence:
The entire book is a gem. While I do not relish factual and temperate evidence that our clandestine operations in Viet-Nam were largely a sham; that we were the useful idiots to local authorities using us as a cash cow and tool of vengeance on their personal enemies; that most of our officers were drunk or adulturous or incompetent or all three at once; that our top agent really did not have the access he claimed to have but was simply a high-quality channel for his uncle to sell information collected from various local and mostly open sources–all this is depressing. It is also instructive.
While John was discovering painful truths about Viet Nam, an eventually-to-be friend of mine was a student in college protesting that war. I met him years later when he became my therapist, my mentor, and a good friend.
Today, Ed Tick, through his Sanctuary: A Center for Mentoring the Soul, is doing groundbreaking work in helping individuals, particularly soldiers, to deal with PTSD. He currently is featured on the website of Voices in Wartime for his grassroots project Soldier’s Heart.
Ed’s books, War and the Soul and Sacred Mountain: Encounters With the Vietnam Beast force us to look deep into the dark destruction that war rages on the very center of our humanness and sanity.
Both John and Ed use their experiences and their narrative talents to expose truths about war and its trappings that most of us would not have a chance to learn about. They know what’s true. Believe me.