Gatekeeper: Memoirs of a CIA Polygraph Examiner

Overview

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. Here Sullivan describes his methods, emphasizing the importance of psychology and the examiners' skills in a successful polygraph program. But Gatekeeper is more than Sullivan's memoirs. It is also a window to the often acrimonious and sometimes alarming internal politics of the CIA: the turf wars over resources, personnel, and mandate; the slow ...

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Gatekeeper: Memoirs of a CIA Polygraph Examiner

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Overview

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. Here Sullivan describes his methods, emphasizing the importance of psychology and the examiners' skills in a successful polygraph program. But Gatekeeper is more than Sullivan's memoirs. It is also a window to the often acrimonious and sometimes alarming internal politics of the CIA: the turf wars over resources, personnel, and mandate; the slow implementation of quality control; the aversion to risk-taking; and the overzealous pursuit of disqualifying information. In an age when the intelligence community's conduct is rightly being questioned, Sullivan contributes a fascinating personal account of one of the Agency's many important tasks.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Sullivan] gives an insightful view of the problems the polygraph experience creates and the extensive efforts undertaken to minimize their impact on the subjects. No other book gives such a comprehensive look at the polygraph and its utility as a security tool in the community."

“This is a well-written work that should prove a most valuable source for those interested in intelligence matters.”

“. . . .this book can help us better understand the dark underside of the CIA’s operations during the war of aggression in Vietnam.”

"An intriguing, unusual survey which moves beyond 'memoir' status to examine the foundations of CIA quality and strengths."

"....fascinating and troubling....Sullivan opens bare the controversy, including within the agency itself, over the validity of the polygraph. Gatekeeper sheds considerable light on aspects of what was—and remains—one of the most secretive and controversial U.S. government organizations."

“The polygraph is a much-maligned procedure, but I shudder to think what security and counterintelligence at the CIA would have been without it. John Sullivan was a virtuoso of the ‘box,’ the best examiner we ever produced. He has an amazing inside story to tell, as only he could tell it. His book is a major contribution to the intelligence literature. I found it absolutely riveting.”

“I learned more about the workings of the CIA’s polygraph program from reading Gatekeeper than I learned during the twenty-seven years I served in the Agency’s Directorate of Operations. The polygraph is the CIA’s most important tool for validating the intelligence information it collects and for protecting itself from hostile penetration and peddlers of false information. This book provides a wealth of detail about the growth and maturation of the Agency’s polygraph program.”

“Only John Sullivan would have written Gatekeeper. He had the experience of the perfect insider, and his conscience did not make him a coward unwilling to tell the bad as well as the good. Having often worked closely with John, I agree with his premise that evaluating polygraph results is much more of an art than a science. Among the examiners I have known, John Sullivan was a Rembrandt.”

“CIA’s most experienced polygrapher lifts the shroud surrounding an instrument which plays a pivotal and often greatly misunderstood role in the agency’s personal vetting and agent validation systems. Sullivan demystifies many of the misconceptions about this instrument and the role played by its practitioners. Counterintelligence historians will learn much new and useful information as to how the polygraph was employed in the investigations of CIA turncoats Ames, Nicholson, and Scranage.”

“The CIA censors have taken the handcuffs off John Sullivan. The whole story is out, warts and all, including Operation Bad Apples.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597970464
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/30/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 292
  • Sales rank: 1,397,046
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John F. Sullivan retired from the CIA's polygraph division after thirty-one years of service. His previous book is Of Spies and Lies: A CIA Lie Detector Remembers Vietnam. He lives in Reston, Virginia.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     vii
Author's Note     ix
Glossary     xi
Introduction: The Art of the Polygraph     1
The Path Less Traveled     11
In the Beginning     15
The Crawford Era     19
First Impressions     25
A New Day     49
Hard (But Exciting) Times     63
Respite     75
The New Breed     93
The Era of Good Feeling     127
Coming of Age     149
Bad Apples     163
Hits, Misses, and Distractions     173
Aldrich Ames     185
Twilight     195
Out to Pasture     227
Intelligence Community and 9/11     241
Interrogation and Torture     249
Epilogue     261
Index     265
About the Author     273
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 19, 2010

    A good read on the polygraph and its operator's mind set.

    I found this a very interesting historical review and the less understood preparation for a good examination. Somewhat disconnected in some areas but very infomative for the casually interested.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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