The Human Audit: What is it?
by Sue Basko
This is the third in a series of articles about businesses that sell products or services that spy on the public.
The Human Audit is the trademarked name for Psychological Services offered by Abraxas Corporation (the developers of TrapWire), through a department they call DDER (Detecting Deception Eliciting Responses). The Human Audit is a "system" of questioning people and telling if they are lying, developed by former CIA agent Barry L. McManus. At Abraxas Corporation, he gets to be titled the Managing Director for Deception Detection Services. He is also a free agent, hawking The Human Audit on his own website.
The Human Audit is the same stuff that has been written for decades in popular magazines: How to Tell if Your Man is Lying. Except, it is marketed through fear techniques as a way to tell if a person is a terrorist, or a corporate embezzler, or a secret assassin coming to join your ranks.
The Human Audit is based on developing a (fake) rapport with the person, rather than, for example, torturing them. You just take them to "a secondary location" and have a nice old chit chat with them, based on (fake) mutual respect, where you are watching to see if their eyes move up to the right and then you write on a chart that they are lying. If they hesitate to answer, they are being deceptive. And on and on.
Most of us innately know if something seems fishy.
The Human Audit is proof positive that today, our government will purchase anything, as long as it is marketed to fear. "You may have only minutes to determine friend or foe," says the ad shown below. According to The Human Audit system, if a person coming over the border hesitates in his or her answers, that could signal a terrorist. It may also be a sign of a person with common sense who hesitates to tell all to an imposing, invasive interrogator.
|The Human Audit ad. |
Abraxas Corporation also sells a program they call Street Smart, for people going overseas. It actually sounds pretty smart, although marketed to fear of terrorists and attack. Can't these folks ever just relax and expect goodness from others? Ahh, expectations of goodness are not marketable. Here's a snippet of the brochure:
I read the whole 60+ page powerpoint presentation about The Human Audit. If developing "rapport" does not elicit responses, the interrogator is to develop a "theme." A theme is where the interrogator pretends to side with the wrongdoing he believes the subject has done. The interrogator makes statements that excuse the wrongdoing and agree with it -- to see if the subject will then talk. Playing a "theme" is like having the Interrogator playing both Good Cop and Bad Cop.
I have seen a variation of this theme elicitation played by law enforcement infiltrators in the Occupy movement. The infiltrators, rather than falsely "agreeing," will argue with a reasonable, nonviolent person that their position is too tame and not effective. They will hurl abuse on the person, using name calling and threats. The goal, obviously, is to entrap the person into making statements that can be used against them later. This makes me think vulnerable people, such as those engaged in protest, should be trained to counter the manipulative techniques used by undercover agents.
"Rapport - exists from the beginning and is there for the taking if you don't destroy it." Do people on the hot seat really believe an interrogator/ interviewer is sympatico with them? lol.
The powerpoint slide on "Ways to Damage Rapport" lists such things as downgrading the person's status or interrupting them. This seems like useful, but obvious, information.
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY: Abraxas Corporation has taken an obvious skill that is innate and widely known and turned it into a product, hyped it, and marketed it as if it is something big and important. Kudos to them on their market-savvy skill. However, this is not to downplay the skills and knowledge held by Barry L. McManus, who did spend decades learning what he is sharing. The concerns are that this product is being marketed to our government entities, and whether we should be paying a high dollar amount for the obvious. Also, a great part of The Human Audit is based on assuming others are dishonest, and on manipulating them to say what the interrogator/ interviewer believes they should say. For example, The Human Audit takes it as a lie if a person says they do not know something or do not have some piece of information. In a legal deposition, if a questioner repeats a question or asks it in a different form, we object, "Asked and answered." In The Human Audit, saying "I don't know" means you are lying.
WHAT IS MOST OFFENSIVE about this is that the CIA Interrogator mindset is being spread to ordinary people. The Human Audit is a system based on distrust, trickery, and manipulation. It is a system where the interviewer is allowed to lie (create a "theory"), but expects the interviewee to respond with truth. This is not the sort of mindset we need or want in our law enforcement or corporations. This mindset is largely the crux of many problems in the U.S. today, rather than being a solution. Also, most intelligent people, when confronted with manipulation that is meant to trick them into talking, do the reverse and shut down. And wisely so.
Note: Since Abraxas Corporation chose the name The Human Audit, I wondered if the company and/or Mr. McManus were associated with Scientology, which uses the term "auditing" for their system of questioning their members. The systems and ideology seem to have many similarities. I have looked online and have not found any connection.
A Youtube channel is dedicated to videos of Barry L. McManus. Here is the most recent one, from two years ago: