Mike Kemp, Snitch Detector
This article was written for the Loompanics
Unlimited fall 1998 catalog supplement. Some people will
be skeptical about the technology covered here. So was
I -- until I saw Mike Kemp in action. Following the article,
you'll find instructions for contacting Mike and preparing
a tape or digital wave file for analysis.
Kemp went to jail because of a snitch. If he gets busted
again, it just might be because he's found a way to challenge
- and defeat - the whole snitch system. Cops have ways
of punishing people who compromise their power. Not so
good for Mike. But then, he's been in government's face
so long he doesn't expect anything but trouble.
the rest of us, Mike's discovery could be a pure blessing.
The "discovery" is actually 30 years old. It's a technology
that's been around and been praised, debunked and used
since 1971 - voice stress analysis (VSA). What's new is
the way Mike's using it - on behalf of peaceful, politically
incorrect people, rather than against them.
the military and CIA spooks have been using VSA for years
- sometimes for legitimate purposes, sometimes not so
legit. Now Mike's on a crusade to let freedom lovers,
citizen activists, drug users, gun owners and, above all,
militia members, turn the table on government agents.
put, VSA is lie detection technology that measures vibrations
in the human voice. As with all lie detection technologies,
its part science, part art. The science is fairly straightforward.
As Paul B. Dennis, developer of the TVSA3 software Mike
uses, writes:[Note A]
All muscles in the body, including the vocal chords,
vibrate in the 8 to 12 Hz range....This is known to
be caused by the production and release of a chemical,
as explained in the Scientific American Article "Psychological
Tremor" Vol. 224, No. 3, 1971. In moments of stress,
like when you tell a lie that you dare not get caught
at, the body prepares for fight or flight by increasing
the readiness of its muscles to spring into action.
Their vibration increases from the relaxed 8 to 9 Hz,
to the stressful 11 to 12 Hz range.
...Some people have high average stress levels, and
some have low, and averages change from day to day along
with mood. What all people have in common is that their
stress levels are constantly changing within their current
range, changes which indicate the "perceived jeopardy"
or "danger" of statements being made. A lie is often
dangerous, humiliating, or injurious to get caught at,
so lies tend to stand out on stress measurements.
it matters to Mike
stumbled across TVSA3 while doing research for a political
novel. "I was looking for a plausible, fictional means
of verifying loyalty and I was directed to this technology,"
he says. "I thought, 'Boy, this is interesting.' I downloaded
the software from the net and started playing with it.
That's when it dawned on me that this was more than a
fictional device. I put aside the book and I've been doing
this ever since."
now marketing voice analysis, offering a free trial run
to anyone in the freedom movement.
is a self-proclaimed redneck, a chemical and electrical
engineer, interested in voice stress analysis, or for
that matter, in the whole question of loyalty? That goes
back to 1992.
was the year Mike sued to stop the state of Louisiana
using illegal roadblocks as an excuse to confiscate uninsured
vehicles. He lost. But he drew attention to himself as
after, a grass fire mysteriously ignited on a pasture
he'd burned off weeks earlier. It gave firefighters an
excuse to enter his house while he was away, and that
gave the cops evidence he'd been growing cannabis. (Mike,
a lifelong diabetic and epileptic, uses cannabis for medicine
and pleasure). Mike went to jail, where he almost died.
He eventually forfeited his house and land in order to
buy off the Law before trial.
at the family home in Alabama, his jail experience inspired
him to form the Gadsden Minutemen - which rapidly inflicted
national embarrassment on one of the federal government's
most brutal agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
media likes to recite a false credo of militia racism.
But in 1995, Mike and his militia friends "got the goods"
showing the BATF - and some VIP politicians - to be as
racist as any gang of Klansmen.
Minutemen handed the media videotape and photographs of
racist antics at the BATF's annual Good O' Boys rally.
At the rally, federal agents and their guests set up "nigger
check points," offered "nigger-hunting licenses" and staged
playlets showing God creating the black race out of a
watermelon. Nobody knew how much hard evidence of racism
the Minutemen actually possessed - or whom it implicated.
weeks, Mike was arrested in a warrantless raid - again
for cannabis. Again he almost died in jail. But by now,
Mike had friends around the country and he was released
following a barrage of letters, calls and faxes - including
a call from a CBS News producer inquiring about his health.
Louisiana bust might have resulted from a fishing expedition.
Or maybe the fire really was an accident. But the second
bust was the work of a snitch. And Mike knew it.
in jail with dangerous illnesses raging out of control
gives you time to think. Mike thought about loyalty. And
honesty. VSA was a natural.
first, Mike thought it was going to be easy.
test the system, he converted existing audiotapes of known
truth or lies into digital wave files, then ran the waves
through TVSA3 software. The software adds beeps of varying
frequency and duration where it finds stress above a baseline
stress level. So far, so good.
Mike began analyzing statements whose truthfulness he
didn't know, provided by friends who did know. He learned
he could usually recognize a true statement, even when
the speaker carried a lot of stressful baggage that showed
up in the analysis. He could detect a false statement
almost flawlessly. Mike was becoming confident when he
ran afoul of Internet journalist and self-described brat,
Patricia Neill. One night, Neill got on the phone with
Mike and casually recorded a series of lies like, "I'm
wearing purple underwear" and "I'm a member of the Soviet
matter how she lied, the VSA software read her statements
as blandly true.
the machine be fooled? Some sociopaths and highly trained
subjects can baffle other forms of lie detector. Is VSA
vulnerable? If so, was Neill simply an exceptionally cool
as she continued to talk about more serious matters, with
the recorder running, Mike got what he needed to figure
it out. It's not the lie itself, but fear, unease or other
emotional stress about the lie, that puts the bleeps in
the VSA. A person with no compunction could tell casual
lies to the machine all day. But when the same person
talks of significant matters, VSA detects the stress.
the other hand, as Mike also discovered, someone who's
exceptionally scrupulous about truth often shows signs
of stress that - to an inexperienced or prejudiced operator
- might sound like lies. Similarly, someone who's rapidly
thinking ahead to his next statement might show spikes
of stress that reflect his thoughts, rather than the words
emerging from his mouth. Anger and fear also set off VSA
stress reactions. This is where the art comes in; the
operator has to learn to recognize patterns of stress
and has to know something about the psychology of honest
and dishonest people to read VSA results accurately. Although
TVSA3 is freeware and anyone with a properly equipped
computer can use it, it's not a tool for the inexperienced,
judgmental or sloppy.
concludes, "It's been alleged people can be trained to
beat this, and that doesn't surprise me. But trained,
professional agents are rare birds. Most people being
used by the government as informants are simply criminals,
snitches, people without any sort of morality. Them I
it to the real test
he has detected them. He has also cleared people who've
been wrongly accused.
the time Mike completed his initial tests, he heard from
Dave Rydel, a Michigan businessman better known among
militia members as "Eagleflt," national coordinator of
the u. S Theater Command (u.S.T.C.).
had been accused of being a snitch -- the plague of the
militias. The militia movement started in the early 90s
in response to the Brady Law and the so-called "assault
weapons" ban. Growth was spurred by Ruby Ridge and Waco.
For a while, the movement was strong. Then group after
group blew apart under the influence of agents provocateur.
Leaders were entrapped, framed and arrested, usually on
vague statutory charges like "possession of..." or "conspiracy
to..." Members were jailed or scared off. Much of the
remaining movement went underground.
although the movement is growing once again, trust is
shaky. Anyone who comes forward with an idea or assumes
a leadership role is likely to be accused of being an
agent or informant. Routine disagreements rage into he-said/she-said
sessions about who's a snitch.
he ever learned about Mike's discovery, Rydel had been
looking for a way to end destructive dissension, "The
real snitches are hiding among us doing their work," he
observes, "while we're accusing each other."
asked for a VSA analysis, opening himself to any questions
Mike wished to pose. Mike grilled him on a variety of
subjects, including whether Rydel worked or informed for
any government agency. Mike's verdict: "He came through
with flying colors. He's not a fed."
how can Mike be sure Rydel isn't simply one of those trained
liars? Rydel laughs, "When we were just talking, Mike
said to me, 'I sent you an article. Did you read it?'
I didn't want to disappoint him, so I said, 'Yeah,' when
I'd only skimmed it. He caught me."
more serious "catch" came when the snitch who'd helped
engineer Mike's arrest came to his door. The man swore
he'd seen the error of his ways and offered to act as
a double agent on Mike's behalf. Mike was taping. The
snitch was lying. VSA analysis showed screams of stress
on key words.
says, "I want to make a recommendation. Every patriot
who's going to deal nationally should have this test done
every three months to make sure their heart is in the
right place. I don't want to infringe on rights, but a
security clearance is done on everyone who's in the military.
We can't do that because the government alters records
and makes false histories of its agents and informants.
VSA is a way of absolutely getting to what is in the individual's
heart. Right now there are a lot of people who are considered
agitators and no one will listen to them because they
speak loudly. If we know they're true blue, we can trust
each other more."
is still in order. Even with the most accurate analysis,
someone who's not a snitch today may become one tomorrow
(which is why Rydel recommends analysis be done repeatedly).
Weak people will cave if the government threatens them
with prison. Some agencies, rich from civil forfeiture,
now offer snitches serious money to betray their friends.
And unfortunately, a person can be completely honest,
yet still attract the attention of law enforcement if
he behaves idiotically.
periodic checks might indeed help restore some confidence
to a battered movement. Just knowing VSA is out there
might be enough to keep some people from turning.
Dennis, the developer of TVSA3, has another purpose in
mind for his baby. He wants it used by citizen activists
to detect lies uttered by politicians, judges and bureaucrats,
in hopes of forcing reform upon the government.
readers might think reforming government is as futile
as reforming a cesspool. Others object that, even if reform
is worthy, politicians are such conscienceless liars they
could fool any machine. But in fact, politicians can be
caught - emphatically and revealingly.
to a VSA-processed recording of Bill Clinton proclaiming
the glories of another expansion of federal government
and (with asterisks indicating stress beeps) you'll hear:
It's to empower people to make the most of *their*
own lives, to enhance *their* security and the help*
create opportunity as a partner.
other words, the statement is dead, flat true - except
that Clinton, in his secret heart, believes the new power
and security actually work to benefit someone other than
the people of the United States.
also analyzed taped statements made by Janet Reno and
FBI spokesmen at the Branch Davidian siege. When Reno
makes her famous remark about the tanks that smashed holes
in the church, enabling the spread of the fatal fire:
...these pieces of equipment were unarmed as I understand
it...and it was like a good rent-a-car...
reveals almost a steady squeal of stress, particularly
over the word "unarmed."
beeps also scream above the words of an FBI spokesman,
Dozens and dozens of rounds have been fired at FBI
agents. The FBI, in an effort to demonstrate its extraordinary
restraint, has not returned fire, thus far.
federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 prevents
most private-sector employers from using truth detection
on employees or applicants. And, like polygraph results,
VSA analysis isn't admissible in court. Otherwise, laws
on use of voice stress analysis vary from state to state.
Penal Code section 637.3 rules so strictly against VSA
that you could be arrested for analyzing the above Clinton
statement in the privacy of your own home. (Cops exempted,
of course; they always have special privileges.) In most
states, including California, you can record and analyze
people as long as they give consent. Elsewhere, its legal
to run an analysis if only one party to a conversation
- you, rather than your subject - consents to the taping.
how accurate is VSA, objectively? No one really knows.
After early interest, scientific attention died down,
and little serious study has been done.
February 1998, the American Polygraph Association stated
it "does not endorse the use of voice stress analysis."
On September 11, 1996, the U.S. Department of Defense
Polygraph Institute flatly decreed VSA technology to be
ineffective. However, neither organization cited any supporting
data for its assertion, and each has a vested interest
in a competing technology, the polygraph.
the other hand, the Diogenes Group, a vendor of VSA technology,
notes that its system is built to specifications put forth
by the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps - which tends
to give the lie to the DoD's statement.
thinks enough of VSA to list it as one of many tests prospective
police or highway patrol officers may be required to take.
The CIA uses it on agents, contacts and (probably) citizens.
VSA has also been used by police departments around the
world. Diogenes Group notes one instance:
During a live police interrogation, a witness was shown
a photo line-up and asked to pick which subject shot
the bartender during a drug-related robbery/homicide.
Her response, which took only 1.01 seconds, was captured
real-time and immediately analyzed by the police examiner.
The examiner graded the overall narrative response with
a 92.5% abnormal stress pattern, indicative of deception.
When confronted with the obvious deceptive response,
the subject readily admitted that she was trying to
cover for a friend who had actually shot the bartender,
then identified the correct suspect....The suspect's
information was later corroborated by another eyewitness
leading to the killer's arrest.
clear that some debunking of VSA may merely be turf-protection
or misdirection by agencies wishing to keep the technology
to themselves. However, it is true that no large-scale,
controlled, scientific study of VSA exists. The first
Justice Department evaluation of VSA technology just got
underway in September 1997.
solid study results, it's probably safest to say that
the effectiveness of VSA depends largely upon the skill
of the operator. Engineer, "gadget person," long-time
computer user, and observer of human nature both inside
and outside of jail, Mike Kemp understands the technology
and the psychology of VSA.
adds, "He's got an ability to think. He plans, analyzes
and re-analyzes. Mike also has good character and ethics.
I don't think he would speak behind someone's back unprofessionally
or make snap judgments." Getting the snitches out of peaceful
upon a time," Mike says, "if there was a crime, there
was either a victim who could complain or a dead body.
Nowadays, nobody's complaining, so they have to send people
flying false colors to find out if I'm committing a crime.
Or they have to send those people to try to get me to
commit a crime. I want to get the snitches out.
technology could be used by anybody who operates clandestinely.
I don't care if it's Hamas. I don't care if its the mob.
I don't care if it's the Colombian cartel. On the other
hand, the big boys are going to get their own people to
do this sort of work. I don't have any credibility with
the Colombian cartel. I do with the militia movement."
hoping all of the freedom movement - or any association
of people who have doubts about their membership, leadership
or whatever, would voluntarily vet themselves. I'd like
to see them make tapes just for the comfort of their fellows.
I'd like to see disputes 'taken to the box.' I'd like
to see public officials terrified that a big light would
go on over their heads every time they told a lie. I would
like those who think they'd rather snitch than go to prison
learn that there's no protection in a lie."
short: "I want to balance the scales up some."
why take the risk of embarrassing cops when your health
is a mess and you've already got half the Law in the region
itching to shut you up?
grandmother's grandfather is buried under a Confederate
monument 10 or 12 miles from here. He was a small farmer
with a mule and a few acres. He was severely wounded in
the arm with a lead ball. He had been captured and it
was presumed he was dying, so he was paroled on condition
that he go home to die. He went back to his unit and did
everything a one-armed man could do. "Like him, I am motivated
by sheer, redneck mule-headedness.
Want to see for yourself if it works?
- Make a cassette tape or digital wave file
containing 5-10 brief, to-the-point statements
(mono, 16-bit, 11025 bps sampling rate).
- You can record yourself or another subject.
- When taping a second party, a recording
made candidly is most effective. Next best
is a staged question-and-answer session, similar
to a polygraph examination. Good questions
include: "Is it moral to allow criminals to
escape their punishment by infiltrating the
citizenry in search of some statutory violation?"
"Do you or have you passed information to
governmental entities against the interests
of your trusted associates?" or "Is there
any reason for your associates to fear your
allegiance?" Avoid long, rambling statements.
- If possible, include at least one known
lie. It should be one that evokes an emotional
reaction in the speaker (not, "I'm wearing
- Include brief information about how the
tape was made and why you want the analysis.
- E-mail wave files to:
You may send recordings in your own name or
anonymously, as long as you give enough information
for Mike to return the results. You can request
Mike's PGP key via the above address. For
more detailed instructions, see the article
on VSA at: http://www.eagleflt.com.
- Mail tapes or diskettes to:
P.O. Box 873
Attalla, Alabama, 35954
Be sure to include an address to which Mike
can return the results.
- The fee is $20, payable in cash or money
order with the "to" line left blank. First
analysis free if you're a member of the freedom
- ALWAYS be aware of the law in your own state.
Mike will presume all recordings have been
(Update: July 30, 1998. Although the truthvsa site is
still "live," the download link and the e-mail link to
Paul Dennis have gone inactive. I don't know how to reach
Dennis, but the software can be found at http://www.involved.com/ewolfe/vsa/.
If you download the program, please recall that a lot
of experimenting and testing is needed for accurate analysis.
Don't just assume every bleep or squeal you hear indicates