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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. XIV - Page 580« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Bell P. Herndon)

Mr. Specter.
Would you State your full name for the record, please?
Mr. Herndon.
My name is Bell P. Herndon.
Mr. Specter.
What is your profession or occupation?
Mr. Herndon.
I am a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. Specter.
How long have you been so occupied?
Mr. Herndon.
I have been employed as a special agent going on 14 years.
Mr. Specter.
What specialty, if any, do you have with the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
Mr. Herndon.
I am presently the polygraph supervisor and polygraph examiner assigned to the FBI laboratory, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Specter.
Would you outline briefly your educational background, please?
Mr. Herndon.
I received a bachelor of science degree from St. Lawrence University in 1947.
I have been in the FBI since 1951 and have been employed as a special agent primarily in field investigator work for approximately 10 years. The past 4 years I have been fully assigned to the laboratory in the capacity of a polygraph supervisor.
Mr. Specter.
What specialized training, if any, do you receive in order to qualify for being a polygraph operator?
Mr. Herndon.
Upon assignment to the FBI laboratory I underwent an intensive 6-months training program under a doctor, Ph.D. in psychology, who was a special agent polygraph examiner assigned to the New York office.
I also received considerable training from other special agents in the FBI laboratory who had graduate work in physiology and law.
After completion of 6 months' intensive training, I was declared qualified to handle polygraph examinations for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. Specter.
And approximately how many polygraphic examinations have you conducted during your service with the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
Mr. Herndon.
I have either given, supervised, or reviewed several thousand polygraph examinations.
Mr. Specter.
Would you outline briefly just what the polygraph machine is, and how it functions?
Mr. Herndon.
The polygraph instrument, of course, is commonly known to the public as the lie detector. In fact it is not such a device. The polygraph is simply an instrument which is designed to record certain physiological responses under stimuli in a carefully controlled interrogation. These physiological responses may accompany and indicate deception. It is used primarily as an investigative aid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. Specter.
From what does the machine derive its name "polygraph"?
Mr. Herndon.
The name polygraph is derived from the Greek derivative, poly meaning many, graph meaning writings and the actual polygraph chart will portray several writings indicating physiological responses of the examinee.
Mr. Specter.
How many writings are there specifically which are made by the polygraph instrument?
Mr. Herndon.
On the current polygraph used throughout the field the instrument records three different physiological responses.
Mr. Specter.
And would you identify those three physiological responses, please?
Mr. Herndon.
The first physiological response recorded on the polygraph pertains to the pneumograph tracing, pneumo pertains to the respiratory pattern of an individual. In other words, it records the inhalation and exhalation tracings of the person as he is normally breathing. It also records what we call the respiratory ratio, the ratio of the inhalation stroke to the exhalation stroke.
The second component utilized in the polygraph technique today is generally called the psychogalvanic skin response.
Mr. Specter.
Spell that, please.
Mr. Herndon.
Actually, it is referred to as the galvanic skin response, galvanic. This particular response is obtained by electrodes placed on the examinee's hands or fingers, a small minute amount of electrical current is passed through the skin, and the galvanometer will record the minute changes in the electrical skin resistance of the skin or the electrodermal response.
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