Sunday, March 25, 2007

Zahid Ali Khan, editor of Siasat, attacked

Hyderabad, March 21 The editor of a prominent Urdu daily in Hyderabad was attacked late in the night when he was returning home, prompting Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy to order an inquiry.

Zahid Ali Khan, editor of Siasat, was attacked Tuesday night at Mehdipatnam here while he was returning home. Some unidentified people intercepted his car and threw filth on him.

Khan alleged that Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator Muqtada Afsar Khan was behind the assault as his newspaper had been exposing the legislator's alleged land grabbing activities.

The incident led to tension in the area as activists of Telugu Desam party (TDP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Majlis Bachao Tehreek gathered in large numbers to protest the attack. The editor refused to leave the place until the police took action against the miscreants.

Minister for Information Mohammed Ali Shabbir, Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh and other officials rushed to the scene as the protest led to a massive traffic jam on the busy road. Meanwhile, protestors attacked a reporter and a photographer of another Urdu daily when they reached the scene to report the incident.

Khan later drove to state Home Minister K. Jana Reddy and the chief minister's residences to brief them about the attack. Police have detained three youths in connection with the assault.

As soon as the state assembly met Wednesday, opposition parties raised the issue and sought to move an adjournment motion.

The chief minister informed the house that Khan and two journalists were attacked. He said an inquiry would be conducted into both the incidents.

As Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member G. Kishan Reddy continued to stall the house demanding action against the culprits, speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy suspended him for a day.

Voicing their concern over the incident, leaders of TDP, CPI, CPI-M and BJP said press freedom was under attack. They alleged that the attack on Khan was the latest in a series of such incidents.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Larka, Larki Aur Smartee -- Shehlah Zahiruddin

Larka, Larki Aur Smartee
Shehlah Zahiruddin
November 10, 2002

I was always a willing recipient to performance of any number of ceremonies as long as I was the center of attention. Given that an actual marriage would be a part of it too was a bonus. I am a mixed breed, but my dad made sure it was his Hyderabadi roots to be followed to the tee when his only daughter was to be dethroned from her house and sacrificed at the next.

The Larka and LarkaykiAmma came to view and examine me on a lazy afternoon at the time of the Jerry Springer Show. As I sat in front of them I twitched my toes and wrung my fingers in anticipation of their departure. Shuttling between the kitchen and drawing room, I caught quickglances at the “If-your-ex-follows-you” theme on Springer. The Larka did not talk. I wondered about his ability to talk. I had my phone number written on a econosize chit of paper to push into his hands. However, he left without shaking hands with me and I was left with my dejected and dismayed number.

LarkaykiAmma called the next hour regaling at Potential Bahu’s nervous and reticent demeanour. A lightening of joy made its round through other people’s house via the phone. My mother in a controlled voice asked for some time to think the obvious. I winced and Ammi agreed. She had played this game thrice before.

Every Tom, Kiran and Taufiq arrived at Larka’s office periodically throughout the next day. Some wanted a job. Some had just sauntered in by chance. Some had been referred to by a friend. Some came with a job offer. Some were undercover CBR officers. Some were selling Office Harassment Insurance. Some wanted to offer the services of a spare masi to Larka’s house. All of course inquired about the well being of his wife and kids. Larka did not get much work done that day. And I was flooded with phone calls with animated descriptions of Larka’s expression on hearing the wife and kids query. A sigh of relief made its rounds through other people’s house via the phone once more. It has been established beyond doubt by my buoyant family that the Larka did not have a clandestine family tucked away somewhere.

Ammi said yes in a very nondescript way. She called LarkaykiAmma up when I was wiping an oniontear from my eye while simultaneously asking the masi to clean the tiles above the sink and eyeing my dad reading the instruction manual of how to use the microwave. My mother placed the mouthpiece on the hand set and told my father that “they” would be coming to settle further details soon. My father folded the instruction manual and asked me to put it in TheBaksa. He could not bear to see himself using the microwave any more.

On Friday my mother told me that “paaon maiz” was to happen. Long after it happened my father informed me that I was an engaged woman. But for the present I just wondered what my foot measurement had anything to do with my reproductive or culinary skills. Thinking that the Larka and LarkaykiAmma had decidedly very weird measurement criteria, I scrubbed my foot of toe jam and weak nails.

Larka, LarkaykiAmma and Nand came in full force on Friday with a retinue of thaals. One thaal had a beautiful dress, ring, sandals and bangles and the other had shoes, sweet meats, flowers and yet a third had a long string of pearls. I wondered which of the embellishments I would get to keep till my father informed me once more that I could get to keep all of it and ask for more too! Suddenly it occurred to me that the whole concept of getting married was not such a bad idea at all and I blessed my mother immediately for it.

My eye glistened with anticipation as I watched the string of pearls hungrily. However, the pearls were more than an arm’s length away from me. LarkaykiAmma first put garlands around my neck with such surgical precision that not once did my dupatta veer from my slippery head. Next I got to taste all the sweets she had and I whispered to her to get Smarties next time. I don’t think she understood what Smarties were otherwise she would not have given me such an angry glare.

Next began the arduous process of measurements. I was asked to stand and Ammi hurriedly whispered in my ear that my measurements were to be taken. I was petrified by mortal fear. Never in my life did I remember giving my measurements to my darzi! It was always “make is a little looser than ‘this’ kameez” and the darzi would size me up visually and nod his bleached head. “But we don’t have a measuring tape in the house,” I told LarkaykiAmma hurriedly, “I don’t use a measuring tape or a weighing machine.” LarkaykiAmma just smiled and picked up the pearls stringed in a rich red thread. I held my breath and sucked in my stomach but it only expanded my chest. Suddenly, I did not know what to do with my body. I saw angry goose pimples rising their red heads on my newly waxed arms. Larkay ki Amma gently took my hand and wound the pearls around my ring finger. I looked at the ceremony queerly. She then tied a knot at one end and let go of my hand. “Mashallah very slim fingers,” said LarrkaykiAmma out loud to everyone. “Yeah its because the fat got deposited at the wrong places,” I thought to my self. “She is going to save us a lot of money in gold,” LarkaykiAmma said again and everyone laughed at this silly joke. “Maybe you can get me Smarties with the money you save,” I suggested in earnest. However, my father gave me one quick jab in the ribs and I had to shut up.

I sized up the pearls once more and concluded once more that they were not enough to take the measurement of my waist. LarkaykiAmma then took the measurement of my neck and cracked the now-clichéd joke of saving her gold again. I was wincing with pain from the old jab and so kept my peace this time. Next LarkaykiAmma bent down almost on all fours and encased my foot with the string of pearls again and tied a knot at one end once more. She seemed visibly pleased with herself and I tried to visualize her at a shoe shop asking for a shoe the size of a pre determined pearl string! I let out a muffed laugh and was hurriedly rushed to my room before I broke out into a guffaw.

My next few days were spent in a surreal mode. I wandered around the house, but was miffed a little for it smelt different. I wondered about Larka again and his ability to speak. I eyed the phone in the hope it would ring, but my mother rudely interrupted my reverie. She asked me to get ready for my “Manjah” and I wondered how I was supposed to do that. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach as if a hundred stones had descended upon it and were now kneading its folds. I clutched my stomach and angrily looked at the calendar that showed my departure only a couple of days away.

The Manjah was even more ceremonious than my Paaon Maiz. It started off with the exchange of a “nashta” that would put the Nizam of Hyderabad to shame. My mother and a retinue of phoophis and chachis spent 2 nights preparing Dam ki Murghi, Bhagar-e-Baigan, Double ka Meetha and Kachay Ghost ki Biryani and spent another half day decorating the food in fancy trays and chandi kay warq. I wondered why my family went through such a horrendous exercise for LarkaykiAmma sent the same! I quipped that we could have just re-decorated the same food and returned to the sender. However, my brilliance in Energy Conservation, Economics, Efficiency and Lateral Thinking was not appreciated.

Once done with the eatables, the retinue of women decided to handle me the same way they had handled food – with ceremonious roughness. I was led to a “mandak” in ceremonious procession where all my cousins and aunt applied as much ubtan as my body would allow them too. I ended up reeking of Haldi chiksa, ground sugar, chambeli ka tael, sandal wood and ground coconut. The concoction felt cold even though the colour was warm yellow. I wondered what colour and smell emit from my skin once this yellow blob was massaged off me. As my cousins enveloped me in the yellow muck, they started humming tunes softly. The humming turned to muted songs often distorted because no one seemed to remember the complete lyrics. I felt strangely ceremonial. Amongst the humdrum I was made to get up and under the penumbra of a red duppatta I was led to the bathroom which now being called a “hammam” by every one. I failed to comprehend why a perfectly sane English description was being replaced by a ghastly Urdu word – one that evoked images of barbers` shops, naked men and an equally rude Urdu idiom. I was asked to take a bath and thank fully alone. I scrubbed myself raw, but was interrupted again by my chachi who was insistent that they pour water over me. I was aghast! Surely she couldn’t be serious. But not only was she serious but so were 6 other women who insisted they were the “Saat Suhagans” who would bless me with their holy touch. I protested and asked them take a dip in the Mangrove Swamps for all I cared, but the whacking on the door was unrelenting. Admist a barrage of verbal protest I opened the door hastily clad in jeans and T-Shirt that had my chachis and phoophis go into a whirl of squeals. I was adamant that I ridicule an already ridiculous ritual and so they conceded and grudgingly poured water on me sans any songs. This little intrusion was wrapped up rather quickly and I had the luxury of an uninterrupted bath. I was then told to dress and wait inside the “hammam” with the door opened, but eyes closed. By now I was really scared for I had not idea where the next assault would come from. I felt my mumani’s hand grip mine and keep it on something leathery. In quick anticipation I opened my eyes to find a Quran in front of me. I knew I would be expected to read from it, but suddenly I had the urge to be left alone. The retinue was relatives was asphyxiating. I wanted to read the Yaseen at my own leisure as I did facing the sun during late afternoons with the shadows of the crocheted curtains bathing the stylized Arabic fonts. However, what was not to be was not to be and what was to be was thrust upon me. I read the Yaseen in a low voice somewhat like a last conversation with Allah. My nose meanwhile piqued and my throat coughed at the rush of a suddenscentedsmoke. It was “Dhooan” or “Dohooni” (in another vernacular). Laden with Aggarbarian and Awadh the Dhooni was circulated from my head to toe seven times and then kept very near me so that the smoke could waft and settled into my hair and epidermis. I enjoyed this sweet smelling composite and my phoophi sensing my pleasure covered the Dhooni with a bamboo basket asked me lie down for a while with my damp hair enveloping the basket. I lay like that in respite for some time till it was time for prayers and beginning of Milaad.

I felt sobered (as opposed to being heady earlier) as I sat amongst my numerous cousins and friends all adorned with garlands by my doting Ammi. For the first time in my life I actually listened to na’ats – those lovely poems of devotion. I was quiet throughout yet another ceremony where my parents received gifts from their near ones. As Milaad revolutionized into Sanchak I perked up a little. My cousins remarked how I looked like a regal Hyderabadi princess in that six feet long duppatta careful tapestered around my shoulders all along to the inside of my pajama! My cousins stood behind me throughout yet another ceremony that had all my relatives garland my parents and myself. All my loving shopping was laid out near me, which included all my clothes, purses, shoes, jewelry, make up for others to view and comment on. I was horrified as my maid also decided to bring out my lingerie at which point I could no longer be the demuredulhan and instead lunged forward almost tripping on my yard long duppatta. Everyone surged forward to save me from tripping as I simultaneously screamed, “Azra go inside the house immediately”. I am not too sure if she had mastered English till that time, but she marched right into the house nevertheless.

Sandalwood, roses, fruits, assorted sweetmeats, chiksa, choba, paan and missi lined numerous intricately carved silver trays. My eyes were stinging with the amalgamation of colours, movie lights and people. I bowed my head in exhaustion when a female’s ring finger made its way into my mouth and smeared some missi on its inside. My mouth went dry and my body nauseous. Someone gave me a glass of water to gargle the blackness out. No sooner had I spat the missi, a paan was shoved with equal brutality in my mouth. I chewed on it a little but then decided to spit that out also. Some nameless faceless sympathizer offered a tissue to me and I was amazed at what all I could get away with with my head bowed low. A curious black-red colour now danced upon my lips making them look rustic and lovely. The photographer fascinated by the addition of colour on my pale face took numerous photographs of my psychedelic and comatose stares.

In a bid to save on dinners, the next set of rasms had also been integrated in the same evening so once my Sanchak was over, I had to proceed to be guineapigged for my Mehndi. Several women shoved themselves and me in my small room and detached my yardful duppatta. Next I was reassembled into a green saari with not-so-matching jewelry. I felt primal with multiple rings in my fingers and toes apart from the usual plethora of necklaces and earrings and teeka and choori and bracelets. As if the above was not enough I was garlanded once again and made to sit on the same podium that had been my host an hour earlier too. Someone shouted that the “Goud Bharana” should begin soon. I was aghast! Wasn’t this queer ceremony used to announce a woman’s success at her reproduction abilities? Here I was waiting to witness some concealed parts of life, but my family was going to do my Goud Bharaee already? “I swear to you I am not pregnant,” I told Ammi with tears in my eyes. “I swear I have never met Larka”, I quivered with further tears in my eyes. She slam dunked her hand on my pinned head and told me to “shut up”. I think she did not believe me.

Goud Bharna was what it said it would do. I was made to sit on a chowki covered with a velvet red cloth adorned with a yellow gold edges curiously called a “masala”. Next a tray adorned with a similar cloth was laid in my lap with the usual ensemble of paan, chaalia, sandalwood and etcetera and etcetera and etcetera on it. Similar trays were put in my choc-a-block “goud”. Just as I was preparing to begin the display of my jugglery skills, many of my cousins rushed out with happy squeals of Larka’s arrival. I groaned under the weight of the trays and my parents’ frugality on packing it all in an All-Rasms-One-Night-One-Dinner Package.

“Waran Pheri” was conducted on Larka. His mouth was first stuffed with sweet meats followed by the subsequent stuffing of ‘his’ goud. Then came the rasm that had initially sent my cousins squealing towards the Larka. It was the rasm of “Ungli Pakarna”. First they all laid out in front of the Larka the goodies he would receive from us which consisted of multiple suits, ties, shoes, shaving kits, perfumes, combs, brushes, surma, surma dani, dasta, chappal and shorts. I cringed at the fact that his shopping cost us more than all my shopping put together and I swore I would spend my entire honeymoon shopping at Larka’s expense. A veil was temporarily erected in front of the Larka and my cousin eagerly caught hold of Larka’s pinky through the veil. However, he pulled it back saying “Meri Baandi bano phir ungli pakro”. So my cousin sat on the floor with utmost respect and proceeded to apply mehndi on Larka’s finger. Once she had caked his finger completely, she then tied a red triangular piece of cloth on the mehndi and the demand for money began. Each of my cousins to whom money mattered more than respect partook in this activity. Haggling continued till the movie wallah was exhausted and he threatened to film no more until he was given his share of the money too! Compromise was reached on a couple of thousand rupees – the actual amount never told to me for I was demanding my share from it too! Next Larka got to wear a silver ring lovingly put on by my cousin and she asked for a further Mehndi ki Salaami. Larka was jolted by more demand for money. Little did he know that in these times, demand for money was no longer only a prerogative of the Larkawalas only!

That night Larka called. I wondered at his power of comprehension given he took almost a month to decipher my scribbled number. Given my disorientation all I remember are moments of conversation where I could almost taste his sweetness and kindness without remembering a word of what he said. I felt new. I felt happy. And most importantly I felt rested. I found out that Larka made parts for some biscuit manufacturing machines. I asked him how soon before he set up a Smarties factory. He completely missed the joke. And I went to sleep. Afterall, I had a big wedding to attend the next day.

I had funny dreams through the night - dreams where I saw a bottle of Coke getting married to a bottle of Miranda with lil Sprite popping out of his mother’s not-so-curvaceous body immediately after she slurped Coke. I think my own burp woke me up. But the whole house was asleep. I went around kissing all my dear relatives on their foreheads uttering a prayer in my heart. The distant crickets mocked my distended emotions and I just quietly lay down next to Ammi. She hauled me in her arms and we cried.

Many were pooped on Shadi morning, but I was in a hurry. I had heard my salon gave a margin of only fifteen minutes for a bride to be late. After that she was shown the way to the nearest barbershop. I was hurried through the bath, Dhooan and prayers rituals and rushed to the salon before I could change my mind about the wedding altogether. After all that dangerous moment only lasts till the make-up is applied. After that every woman is dying to be in a King’s harem – or at least that is what SpinsterPhoopo thought.

Evening crept up to me doused in cakes of foundations, rouges, eyeliners and mascaras. I stared blankly at the woman in the mirror. Even the damned tear would not creep out of its decked up prison. I arrived home and sat alone in an AC room with my held low for the first time. A person’s chin is only up to the point he knows what he is doing. I did not even know if I was myself anymore. Mamoo, Chacha, Abbu and Maulvi came into the room, took some quick signatures and made me utter a few Qabools and were out in no time. I was left holding Abba’s favourite Mont Blanc and that damned tear that still wouldn’t visit.

I flaunted my gait and regalia to all admist the multiple lights of the movie walla, camera flashes and center spotlights. I sat next to MyLarka and a ghoongat was put over both of us. A mirror was duly placed on our laps that we curiously were almost sharing already! MyLarka and I were asked to gaze into the mirror. I admired myself while MyLarka proceeded to utter some quranic verses and I listened carefully lest it consisted of a “La hol”. MyLarka then gave me a watch, which I thought was to remind me to kick up a fuss if it got too late. However, the watch never came with a manual of how to kick up that fuss.

My parents then garlanded me with Widai kay Phool and gave my hand in MyLarka’s hand asking him to duck all the dishes I would throw at him in future and that he did not have much to worry for I was just a case of bad shot laden with crockery. And yes in the meantime, he would also be responsible to take care of me and all those other things that parents say at this time of the shadi.

MyLarka and I were paraded and kissed and hugged for the next three and a half hours before we were finally abandoned in the quiet of our room where I proceeded to greet that damned tear along with a deluge of its friends. MyLarka handed me tissues all night long begging me not to insist that he drop me home that instant. Finally he gave me a few Smarties and I munched on them the entire night.

Next morning my cousins arrived with Khichri and Kheer to my room. They garlanded my patience and gave me money too. Finally I could go home! As I descended the stairs, LarkaykiAmma gave me a paandaan, some money and gratuitous smiles. Once home I slept alone for suddenly Ammi’s arms felt alien. In the evening MyLarka and his band of merry followers arrived at my house armed with tomatoes, eggs, phool ki dandi, phool kay pathar, water, oil and rang. What followed was a melange of screams, colours, ducking exercises and a lot of happiness. In the process MyDirtyLarka’s shoes were also hidden and he had to bribe his way into going home with dignity. MyDirtyLarka was given salaami as day two farewell and I happily rushed home to prepare for the Valima the next evening.

The uneventful Valima was followed on every Friday by a “Jumaaya”. Each Jumaaya consisted of a dinner at either of the houses with me not being allowed to do any housework for 5 consecutive weeks. On the fifth Jumaaya Ammi came to Myhome with flour, ghee, kheer, badaam, vermicelli, belan, karhai, kafgeer, bartan and choola! We made puris, kheer and sawaiyaan together and from this FifthFriday it was established that the objective of spending all that money and conducting all those rasms was finally achieved. I was domesticated.

Footnote: Just an attempt at chronicling Hyderabadi weddings before all these delicious rasms are lost. The fact that all this actually happened to me is supposed to be the fine print. Serious.

Shehlah Zahiruddin
I`m just a regular average beychari karachiite who has had surreal experiences in life. Those who say god created order out of chaos has not visited our lives! Am a Marketing Manager by profession and a parhi likhi by education and a mother worshipper by religion and anti-military as a politician. Have acted in and directed stage plays, raced cars and bungee-jumped with Life till it dawned how much responsibilty and work for others has been straitjacketed in these tiny lives of ours and hell if Maulana Edhi can do it so can we armed with all our fancy degrees, english gibberish, cars and money! Did my schooling from St. Joseph`s. Hold a masters in Business Admin from IBA and another from Khi Uni in International Relations. The only real education though is limited to the two years of A Levels studying English Literature, Comparitive Religion and Philosophy and a course in Development Economics much later. The rest was taught by life and people pretty adequately thank you! Have my mother to thank for giving me the incredible courage to think, feel, observe, read, talk, write and most importantly, to just go out there and EXPERIENCE.

Comment posted by Asif
at 5/8/2007 9:24:00 AM
why this article?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rationalizing treason

An interview with Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Ames was probably the most damaging mole in CIA history. A career agency official, Ames began selling U.S. secrets to the KGB in 1985; within a decade he had revealed more than 100 covert operations and betrayed at least 30 agents, 10 of whom were later executed by the Soviets. Along with his co-conspirator and wife, Rosario, Ames was paid more than $2.7 million for the information before he was arrested in 1994. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Ames was interviewed for the COLD WAR series in March 1998.

On becoming disillusioned at the CIA:
By the late '70s I had come to question the point, the value, of a great deal of what we were doing, in terms of the [CIA's] overall charter, and to question whether this was having any significant impact on American policy. ...
By the early '80s, when I moved into a new job in the counterintelligence branch in the Soviet division ... I discovered that my growing misgivings were even truer than I had thought. And I found myself looking around me at the history of our Soviet espionage program with some amazement and some feeling that my earlier doubts had been confirmed in spades. I found that, for example, our Soviet espionage efforts had virtually never, or had very seldom, produced any worthwhile political or economic intelligence on the Soviet Union. ...
Sources [in the Soviet Union] demonstrated ... [there was] a rather ad hoc defensive approach from Gromyko and Brezhnev and the Soviet foreign policy establishment at the time. ... Not this secret master plan for world conquest that was so much at issue in the late '70s, when many people, including policymakers, took the view that the West was under a new coordinated aggressive assault. These materials just simply not only didn't support it, but tended to contradict it.
On selling U.S. secrets to the Soviets:
At the time that I handed over the names and compromised so many CIA agents in the Soviet Union ... I had come to the conclusion that the loss of these sources to the United States government, or to the West as well, would not compromise significant national defense, political, diplomatic interests. ... And I would say that this belief of the noninjurious nature of what I was doing ... permitted me to do what I did for much more personal reasons. ...
The reasons that I did what I did in April of 1985 were personal, banal, and amounted really to kind of greed and folly. As simple as that. [I decided] to do that in order to make some quick and easy money, at very low risk and doing very little damage. Because at that time, in April, I saw [my actions] as almost like a scam I was running on the KGB: by giving them people that I knew were their double agents fed to us. ...
But it was a matter of pursuing an intensely personal agenda, of trying to make some money that I felt I needed very badly, and in a sense that I felt at the time, one of terrible desperation. I mean, you might as well ask why a middle-aged man with no criminal record might go and put a paper bag over his head and rob a bank. I mean, it's that kind of dramatic, and perhaps interesting, but when you get right down to it, kind of banal answer. ...
These beliefs and ideas that I had had and developed over a long time enabled me to act out of personal desperation, as if there were no taboo against it, in running my little scam in April '85: "Give me $50,000 -- here's some names of some people we've recruited." And of course, I knew that these were really harmless, because these were [double-agents] the KGB had sent to us. I assumed that they'd be happy to pay the $50,000 because I was a CIA officer, and it was cheap. ...
I could have stopped it after they paid me the $50,000. I wouldn't even have had to go on to do more than I already had: just the double agents' names that I gave. And the reason that I didn't stop will forever be inexplicable to me, as well as, I suppose, to everyone else. ... The KGB would have been happy to have planted the one little hook: they wouldn't have pressured me; they wouldn't have tried to blackmail me into doing more. They would have sat back and said, you know, "What brought him to us first will bring him again." I wasn't afraid of any pressure from the Soviet side.
But what happened after I got the $50,000, I think, was the realization that despite my ideas and beliefs that there was nothing really damaging in all of this -- which I continue to subscribe to -- [I] had overlooked the element of betrayal, the taboo; that, granted, I hadn't given away agents who would suffer; I hadn't given away information that would, in my view or in practically anyone's, really do any serious damage; I had received some money. But the taboo, the betrayal -- I trafficked with the devil. This I hadn't factored in.
And I am not trying to present myself, in April or May or June, as a fully rational person -- I wasn't. But in the kinds of calculations I had been making, I hadn't taken that into account. And what happened to me in May, when I got the money, the whole burden, in a sense, descended on me -- and the realization of what I had done. And it led me then to make the further step, which in a sense was to cast myself into it, which meant an unreserved offer of loyalty, if you will -- a change of loyalties. I mean, it's not particularly ideological or political, but much more personal in that sense: a change of loyalties, in which I said, "I'm yours. I've cast myself out, and I realize what I've done to myself, and I don't belong here anymore, I belong there." And that's what I did. And that's when I gave the names. ...
I compiled a list [of names] and, together with documents, delivered them, feeling that I was completing something I'd started -- that I had not had the original intent to do, but realizing that this was a completion. ...
We never discussed the issue of what would be done with the names.
On the people he betrayed:
I knew quite well, when I gave the names of our agents in the Soviet Union, that I was exposing them to the full machinery of counterespionage and the law, and then prosecution and capital punishment, certainly, in the case of KGB and GRU officers who would be tried in a military court. And certainly others, that they were almost all at least potentially liable to capital punishment. There's simply no question about this.
Now, I believed that the KGB, with the support of the political leadership, would want to keep it very much under wraps. And I felt at the time that not only for the overriding practical reason of protecting me, they would also find it useful to cover up the embarrassing fact of who so many of these people were, and that this would all have a somewhat dampening effect on the results of the compromise [of the agents' identities]. But of course, you know, given time and circumstances, obviously I knew these folks would have to answer for what they'd done. And certainly I felt I inured myself against a reaction to that.
The only thing I ever withheld from the KGB were the names of two agents whom I personally had known and handled and had a particular feeling for. So obviously I was feeling something; I distinguished two agents from all the rest on the basis of my personal feelings. Later, after the compromises, when I was in Rome, feeling that for particular reasons these folks would not be persecuted, much less prosecuted, I did give the KGB their names, but I felt confident when I did that, that the consequences to them would not be significant. And they have not been.
But it is important to at least recognize in retrospect that while a number of the agents that I compromised were executed, others were treated with relative leniency. At least one KGB officer only got 15 years, and of course later [was] released under the amnesty, and traveled to the United States, where he lives. Now this is a KGB officer who worked in place for the FBI and the CIA. ...
The point is simply this: that men like Polyakov and the others did what they did because they had what they considered sufficient reasons for doing so. What they did was, they gave up names, they gave up secrets, they gave up what their countries, their governments, and the people in those countries generally considered deep, important secrets of tremendous weight; and they gave up people, they gave up the names of people who had placed their trust in them. I did the same thing, for reasons that I considered sufficient to myself. I gave up the names of some of the same people who had earlier given up others. It's a nasty kind of circle, with terrible human costs and maybe a few political implications, but not much more. ...
I never felt I was betraying my country as I did this. I was betraying a whole series of other loyalties, though, the enormity of which came to me very soon.
On the effects of the information he sold to the Soviets:
First of all, the Soviet Union did not achieve victory over the West, so the question is: was my information inadequate to help them to victory, or did it play no particular role in their failure to achieve victory? ... In my own view, it certainly helped the counterespionage organs of the Soviet Union. ... It helped them to carry out their duties, which is to identify, find and prosecute people who've broken Soviet laws. Certainly it helped them. It certainly helped those counterintelligence specialists in the KGB who wanted to understand how the CIA worked and what the CIA was all about. They found themselves, no doubt, with much more information than they could ever possibly use in the short span of time left to them. ...
[But] there's another way of looking at it, which might be a little odd. ... Perhaps my information hurt the Soviet Union more than it helped. I have no idea. It was not something I ever discussed with the KGB officers that I was dealing with. I have no idea how this mass of information, starting with the dramatic impact of names [I revealed] -- and not really so much the names themselves but the organizations in which those names were embedded -- how that shock was really felt and perceived and worked itself out. ... There's no question in my mind it had to have discredited the KGB and the GRU tremendously. ... The overall effect had to be a devastating one on the intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union. ... It's my guess it was probably as harmful, overall, a development to Soviet interests (if we could ever agree on a definition of what those interests were) as it was a help.
I mean, I've speculated -- again, it has to be pure speculation -- that the impact of my reporting probably helped Gorbachev in his intra-party struggle to push glasnost and to push these reformist views in the Soviet Union, in at least the limited sense that Gorbachev, with [KGB chief Vladimir] Kryuchkov backing him up, could say, "Don't worry" to the opposition; [he] could say, "Don't worry -- you know, these guys ... were not penetrated to the hilt by the CIA." And that "This adviser, or that liberal or that liberal -- don't worry, we know they're not CIA agents undermining us." This is a crude way to put it, but it may have given Gorbachev ... valuable political cover, if you will, vis-a-vis the more hard-line and paranoid members of the leadership. But as I say, it's speculation.
So this all gets into the question of how was the Soviet Union helped, and that's a question that's just about impossible to answer. And how the United States was harmed -- well, as I said, the disappearance of those Soviet sources, their drying up, appeared to have had no effect on our intelligence collection and our ability to understand what's going on in the Soviet Union.
On espionage:
Espionage, for the most part, involves finding a person who knows something or has something that you can induce them secretly to give to you. That almost always involves a betrayal of trust: whether it's a Japanese businessman giving you some technical information that his company has entrusted him with; whether it's an official of another government who obviously has a position of trust within that government; whether it's the wife of a military officer whom you've induced to betray the trust placed in her by her husband, in order to get information that might enable you to recruit him. There's a betrayal of trust. Espionage revolves around the many different forms of betrayals of trust. ...
In any open-eyed view of things, it is corrupting to engage in such activities: corrupting to the person who does it [and] it's corrupting to the people or institutions who sponsor it. This is why espionage has never been respectable; this is why espionage has always been disreputable -- because people instinctively understand it. You know, I don't think the films of James Bond and romantic views of spies have done anything to alter the public revulsion to what espionage really is, any more than people -- despite law-and-order, tough-on-crime views -- are likely to really like the public hangman. That stench is there.

Comment posted by Maqsood Qureshi
at 3/22/2007 3:41:00 AM
“most bloggers have ENABled comment moderation because there is a chance u might pop up saying something rude...”

1. That’s notorious! Where do you pick up these rumors eh?

2. I’m NOT rude. I just love bashing you young people.

3. I’m jealous. You’d draw--I can’t . . . you get hits--I don’t.

4. Of course, you’d speak out. That’s er-ahem-oh yep-drat-feminism!

5. “i think ur blog is the most boring blog i ever came across”

Why do you think so? Give me some constructive criticism!

Come on! I’m an old man..would turn 35 real soon..average male mortality..Indian Expatriate Intellectual 50! I’ve got 15 years left…let me powwow with you young people..I relive my youth memories horrors…and BTW you’d take fire.. criticism ..badgering…you people just conk out! One more thing: Why you and your cow are praying like kafirs huh? LOL

Comment posted by Islamic ChoCoHoLic
at 3/19/2007 2:01:00 PM
just like u seem to express ur opinion about me freely... i feel very comfortable doing the same to you.. i think ur blog is the most boring blog i ever came across... and i think ur comments on anyones blog are always the rudest.. and i know as a fact most bloggers have ENABled comment moderation because there is a chance u might pop up saying something rude...

So anyway.. pls spare me ur comments.. and dont pass by my "boring" blog.. i really have better things to do rather than deal with u...

really dont read my blog if its so boring..


CIA Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) do?
The Central Intelligence Agency's primary mission is to collect, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist the President and senior US Government policymakers in making decisions relating to the national security. The Central Intelligence Agency does not make policy; it is an independent source of foreign intelligence information for those who do. The Central Intelligence Agency may also engage in covert action at the President's direction in accordance with applicable law. [Return to top]

Who works for the Central Intelligence Agency? The CIA carefully selects well-qualified people in nearly all fields of study. Scientists, engineers, economists, linguists, mathematicians, secretaries, accountants and computer specialists are but a few of the professionals continually in demand. Much of the Agency’s work, like that done in academic institutions, requires research, careful evaluation, and writing of reports that end up on the desks of this nation’s policymakers. Applicants are expected to have a college degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and must be willing to relocate to the Washington, D.C., area. Selection for Agency employment is highly competitive and employees must successfully complete a polygraph and medical examination and a background investigation before entering on duty. The Agency endorses equal employment opportunity for all employees. For further information, see the CIA Careers page. [Return to top]

How many people work for the Central Intelligence Agency and what is its budget? Neither the number of employees nor the size of the Agency's budget can, at present, be publicly disclosed. A common misconception is that the Agency has an unlimited budget, which is far from true. While classified, the budget and size of the CIA are known in detail and scrutinized by the Office of Management and Budget and by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Defense Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees in both houses of Congress. The resources allocated to the CIA are subject to the same rigorous examination and approval process that applies to all other government organizations. In 1997, the aggregate figure for all U.S. government intelligence and intelligence-related activities—of which the CIA is but one part--was made public for the first time. The aggregate intelligence budget was $26.6 billion in fiscal year 1997 and $26.7 billion for fiscal year 1998. The intelligence budgets for all other years remain classified. [Return to top]

Does the Central Intelligence Agency give public tours of its headquarters buildings?
No. Logistical problems and security considerations prevent such tours. The CIA provides an extremely limited number of visits annually for approved academic and civic groups. A brief virtual tour is available on this Web site. [Return to top]

Does the Central Intelligence Agency release publications to the public?
Yes. The CIA releases millions of pages of documents each year. Much of this is material of historical significance or personal interest that has been declassified under Executive Order 12958 (a presidential order outlining a uniform system for handling national security information) or the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act (statutes which give U.S. citizens access to U.S. Government information or U.S. Government information about themselves, respectively). The Agency handles thousands of cases each year and maintains the CIA’s FOIA Electronic Reading Room at to release this information to the public and to provide guidance for requesting information. Some released information of significant public interest or historical value is also available at the National Archives and Records Administration. Specific copies of any previously declassified records are available directly from the CIA FOIA office. The Agency frequently releases items of more general public interest on this Web site. The site includes general information about the CIA, unclassified current publications, speeches and congressional testimony, press releases and statements, careers information, and basic references, including the CIA World Factbook. Many documents, including the CIA World Factbook, reports on foreign economic or political matters, maps, and directories of foreign officials are also available in hard copy; these are listed in CIA Maps and Publications Released to the Public which is also posted available from the Office of Public Affairs. Publications on this list may be purchased from the Government Printing Office, the National Technical Information Service, and the Library of Congress. Most CIA publications are classified, however, and are not publicly available. For more information, contact the CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator at (703) 613-1287 or the Office of Public Affairs at (703) 482-0623.[Return to top] Does the CIA spy on Americans? Does it keep a file on you? By law, the CIA is specifically prohibited from collecting foreign intelligence concerning the domestic activities of US citizens. Its mission is to collect information related to foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence. By direction of the President in Executive Order 12333 of 1981 and in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General, the CIA is restricted in the collection of intelligence information directed against US citizens. Collection is allowed only for an authorized intelligence purpose; for example, if there is a reason to believe that an individual is involved in espionage or international terrorist activities. The CIA's procedures require senior approval for any such collection that is allowed, and, depending on the collection technique employed, the sanction of the Director of National Intelligence and Attorney General may be required. These restrictions on the CIA have been in effect since the 1970s. [Return to top]

Who decides when CIA should participate in covert actions, and why? Only the President can direct the CIA to undertake a covert action. Such actions usually are recommended by the National Security Council (NSC). Covert actions are considered when the NSC judges that US foreign policy objectives may not be fully realized by normal diplomatic means and when military action is deemed to be too extreme an option. Therefore, the Agency may be directed to conduct a special activity abroad in support of foreign policy where the role of the US Government is neither apparent nor publicly acknowledged. Once tasked, the intelligence oversight committees of the Congress must be notified. [Return to top]

What is the Central Intelligence Agency's role in combating international terrorism? The Central Intelligence Agency supports the overall US Government effort to combat international terrorism by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating intelligence on foreign terrorist groups and individuals. The CIA also works with friendly foreign governments and shares pertinent information with them. [Return to top]

The CIA has been accused of conducting assassinations and engaging in drug trafficking. What are the facts?
The CIA does neither. Executive Order 12333 of 1981 explicitly prohibits the Central Intelligence Agency from engaging, either directly or indirectly, in assassinations. Internal safeguards and the congressional oversight process assure compliance. Regarding recent allegations of CIA involvement in drug trafficking, the CIA Inspector General* found no evidence to substantiate the charges that the CIA or its employees conspired with or assisted Contra-related organizations or individuals in drug trafficking to raise funds for the Contras or for any other purpose. In fact, the CIA plays a crucial role in combating drug trafficking by providing intelligence information to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the State Department. * See: Overview of Report of Investigation Concerning Allegations of Connections Between CIA and The Contras in Cocaine Trafficking to the United States Report of Investigation—Volume I: The California Story Report of Investigation—Volume II: The Contra Story [Return to top]
Who oversees the CIA? Does it act on its own initiative? Both the Congress and the Executive Branch oversee the Central Intelligence Agency’s activities. In addition, the CIA is responsible to the American people through their elected representatives, and, like other government agencies, acts in accordance with US laws and executive orders. In the Executive Branch, the National Security Council—including the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense—provides guidance and direction for national foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities. In Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as other committees, closely monitor the Agency’s reporting and programs. The CIA is not a policy-making organization; it advises the Director of National Intelligence on matters of foreign intelligence, and it conducts covert actions only at the direction of the President or Director of National Intelligence.[Return to top]

Where is the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters? Is it in Langley or McLean, Virginia? Technically, you could say CIA headquarters is in both. "Langley" is the name of the McLean neighborhood in which the CIA resides. The town of McLean was founded in 1910, but before then, the area where CIA Headquarters is located was known as Langley. In 1719, Thomas Lee purchased a tract of land from the sixth Lord Fairfax (for whom Fairfax County, the county in which McLean is located, was named), and he named it "Langley" after his ancestral home in England. Though Lee never lived on the land, the Langley area soon became home to many European settlers. A few were wealthy people whom England had granted land, and they established large plantations in the area. During the War of 1812, President James Madison and his wife Dolley fled the British siege of Washington to the safety of family and friends in Langley. Langley was a Union stronghold in Virginia, a southern state, during the Civil War and had two forts, Camp Griffin and Camp Pierpont, which housed soldiers who helped protect Washington. With the building of the Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad, 1903 was a defining year for Langley. John McLean, president of Washington Gas Light Company and, later, editor of the Washington Post, and Senator Stephen B. Elkins of West Virginia collaborated on construction of a railroad which would bring vacationing Washingtonians to nearby Great Falls and provide people who worked in Washington the choice of living outside of the city. In 1906, the railroad began operating, and the population of Langley and nearby Lewinsville quickly grew. In 1910, the post offices of these towns closed and, named for the man who helped the area grow, a new post office named "McLean" was opened. In 1959, the Federal government broke ground for the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters. Construction was completed in 1961, adding another chapter to McLean's long history. Despite the name change in 1910, the name "Langley" still lingers to describe the McLean neighborhood where the CIA is located. Source: Ellis, Rafaela "A Community Called McLean" [Return to top]

How do I cite a document on CIA’s web site as a source in my research paper/school report/term paper? There are many different styles for citing sources in a school paper. Various academic communities prefer one style to another, so consult with your instructor to find out which one is preferred. One of the most popular styles is the following: Central Intelligence Agency.The World Factbook./cia/publications/factbook/index.html(date accessed)1 Heuer, Richards J. Jr.1999Psychology of Intelligence Analysis/csi/books/19104/index.html(date accessed)1

Declassified CIA manuals -- Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual

On January 24, 1997, two new manuals were declassified in response to a FOIA request filed by the Baltimore Sun in 1994. The first manual, "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation," dated July 1963, is the source of much of the material in the second manual. The second manual, "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual - 1983," was used in at least seven U.S. training courses conducted in Latin American countries, including Honduras, between 1982 and 1987.

Both manuals deal exclusively with interrogation and have an entire chapter devoted to "coercive techniques."[64] [65] These manuals recommend arresting suspects early in the morning by surprise, blindfolding them, and stripping them naked. Suspects should be held incommunicado and should be deprived of any kind of normal routine in eating and sleeping. The manuals describe coercive techniques to be used "to induce psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Paul Ekman

Paul Ekman was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and New York University. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Adelphi University (1958), after a one year internship at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute. After two years as a Clinical Psychology Officer in the U.S. Army, he returned to Langley Porter where he worked from 1960 to 2004. His research on facial expression and body movement began in 1954, as the subject of his Master's thesis in 1955 and his first publication in 1957. In his early work, his approach to nonverbal behavior showed his training in personality. Over the next decade, a social psychological and cross-cultural emphasis characterized his work, with a growing interest in an evolutionary and semiotic frame of reference. In addition to his basic research on emotion and its expression, he has, for the last thirty years, also been studying deceit. Currently, he is the director of the Paul Ekman Group, LLC (PEG), a small company that produces training devices relevant to emotional skills, and is initiating new research relevant to national security and law enforcement. In 1971, he received a Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health; that Award has been renewed in 1976, 1981, 1987, 1991, and 1997. His research was supported by fellowships, grants and awards from the National Institute of Mental Health for over forty years. Articles reporting on Dr. Ekman's work have appeared in Time Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Psychology Today, The New Yorker and others, both American and foreign. Numerous articles about his work have also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post and other national newspapers. He has appeared on 48 Hours, Dateline, Good Morning America, 20/20, Larry King, Oprah, Johnny Carson and many other TV programs. He has also been featured on various public television programs such as News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and Bill Moyers' The Truth About Lying. Ekman is co-author of Emotion in the Human Face (1971), Unmasking the Face (1975), Facial Action Coding System (1978), editor of Darwin and Facial Expression (1973), co-editor of Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research (1982), Approaches to Emotion (1984), The Nature of Emotion (1994), What the Face Reveals (1997), and author of Face of Man (1980), Telling Lies (1985, paperback, 1986, second edition, 1992, third edition, 2001), Why Kids Lie (1989, paperback 1991), and Emotions Revealed, (2003). He is the editor of the third edition of Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1998). He has published more than 100 articles.

Faculty Research Lecturer, University of California, San Francisco
Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award - American Psychological Association's highest award for basic research
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Chicago
William James Fellow Award, given by the American Psychological Society
Named by the American Psychological Association as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century based on publications, citations and awards


The term microexpression denotes a brief facial expression that lasts less than a quarter of a second. They often occur involuntarily, and can reveal emotions not deliberately expressed.

In the 1960s, William Condon pioneered the study of interactions at the fraction-of-a-second level. In his most[verification needed] famous research project, he scrutinized a four-and-a-half-second film segment frame by frame, where each frame represented 1/45th second. After studying this film segment for a year and a half, he discerned interactional “micromovements”, such as the wife moving her shoulder exactly as the husband's hands came up, which combined yielded “microrhythms”.

American psychologist John Gottman began video-recording living relationships, microsecond to microsecond, to study how couples interact. By studying these micro-movements, Gottman was able to predict which relationships would hold and which would dissolve.

Most people do not seem to perceive microexpressions in themselves or others. In the Diogenes Project, for example, researcher Paul Ekman found that these tiny movements often can expose lying, and that a very, very small percentage of those he studied had a preternatural knack for detecting them. He now claims that anyone can be trained to see such microexpressions relatively easily.

The Micro Expression Training Tool

This interactive graphic is based on "The Micro Expression Training Tool" developed by Paul Ekman, PH.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco.

Facial Expressions Test

How good are you at interpreting facial expressions? Take our test and find out.
By Meridith Levinson

The Naked Face

August 5, 2002
Can you read people's thoughts just by looking at them?

Some years ago, John Yarbrough was working patrol for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. It was about two in the morning. He and his partner were in the Willowbrook section of South Central Los Angeles, and they pulled over a sports car. "Dark, nighttime, average stop," Yarbrough recalls. "Patrol for me was like going hunting. At that time of night in the area I was working, there was a lot of criminal activity, and hardly anyone had a driver's license. Almost everyone had something intoxicating in the car. We stopped drunk drivers all the time. You're hunting for guns or lots of dope, or suspects wanted for major things. You look at someone and you get an instinctive reaction. And the longer you've been working the stronger that instinctive reaction is."
Yarbrough was driving, and in a two-man patrol car the procedure is for the driver to make the approach and the officer on the passenger side to provide backup. He opened the door and stepped out onto the street, walking toward the vehicle with his weapon drawn. Suddenly, a man jumped out of the passenger side and pointed a gun directly at him. The two of them froze, separated by no more than a few yards. "There was a tree behind him, to his right," Yarbrough recalls. "He was about seventeen. He had the gun in his right hand. He was on the curb side. I was on the other side, facing him. It was just a matter of who was going to shoot first. I remember it clear as day. But for some reason I didn't shoot him." Yarbrough is an ex-marine with close-cropped graying hair and a small mustache, and he speaks in measured tones. "Is he a danger? Sure. He's standing there with a gun, and what person in his right mind does that facing a uniformed armed policeman? If you looked at it logically, I should have shot him. But logic had nothing to do with it. Something just didn't feel right. It was a gut reaction not to shoot-- a hunch that at that exact moment he was not an imminent threat to me." So Yarbrough stopped, and, sure enough, so did the kid. He pointed a gun at an armed policeman on a dark street in South Central L.A., and then backed down.
Yarbrough retired last year from the sheriff's department after almost thirty years, sixteen of which were in homicide. He now lives in western Arizona, in a small, immaculate house overlooking the Colorado River, with pictures of John Wayne, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, and Dale Earnhardt on the wall. He has a policeman's watchfulness: while he listens to you, his eyes alight on your face, and then they follow your hands, if you move them, and the areas to your immediate left and right-- and then back again, in a steady cycle. He grew up in an affluent household in the San Fernando Valley, the son of two doctors, and he is intensely analytical: he is the sort to take a problem and break it down, working it over slowly and patiently in his mind, and the incident in Willowbrook is one of those problems. Policemen shoot people who point guns directly at them at two in the morning. But something he saw held him back, something that ninety-nine people out of a hundred wouldn't have seen.
Many years later, Yarbrough met with a team of psychologists who were conducting training sessions for law enforcement. They sat beside him in a darkened room and showed him a series of videotapes of people who were either lying or telling the truth. He had to say who was doing what. One tape showed people talking about their views on the death penalty and on smoking in public. Another featured a series of nurses who were all talking about a nature film they were supposedly watching, even though some of them were actually watching grisly documentary footage about burn victims and amputees. It may sound as if the tests should have been easy, because we all think we can tell whether someone is lying. But these were not the obvious fibs of a child, or the prevarications of people whose habits and tendencies we know well. These were strangers who were motivated to deceive, and the task of spotting the liars turns out to be fantastically difficult. There is just too much information--words, intonation, gestures, eyes, mouth--and it is impossible to know how the various cues should be weighted, or how to put them all together, and in any case it's all happening so quickly that you can't even follow what you think you ought to follow. The tests have been given to policemen, customs officers, judges, trial lawyers, and psychotherapists, as well as to officers from the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the D.E.A., and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms-- people one would have thought would be good at spotting lies. On average, they score fifty per cent, which is to say that they would have done just as well if they hadn't watched the tapes at all and just guessed. But every now and again-- roughly one time in a thousand--someone scores off the charts. A Texas Ranger named David Maxwell did extremely well, for example, as did an ex-A.T.F. agent named J.J. Newberry, a few therapists, an arbitrator, a vice cop-- and John Yarbrough, which suggests that what happened in Willowbrook may have been more than a fluke or a lucky guess. Something in our faces signals whether we're going to shoot, say, or whether we're lying about the film we just saw. Most of us aren't very good at spotting it. But a handful of people are virtuosos. What do they see that we miss?
All of us, a thousand times a day, read faces. When someone says "I love you," we look into that person's eyes to judge his or her sincerity. When we meet someone new, we often pick up on subtle signals, so that, even though he or she may have talked in a normal and friendly manner, afterward we say, "I don't think he liked me," or "I don't think she's very happy." We easily parse complex distinctions in facial expression. If you saw me grinning, for example, with my eyes twinkling, you'd say I was amused. But that's not the only way we interpret a smile. If you saw me nod and smile exaggeratedly, with the corners of my lips tightened, you would take it that I had been teased and was responding sarcastically. If I made eye contact with someone, gave a small smile and then looked down and averted my gaze, you would think I was flirting. If I followed a remark with an abrupt smile and then nodded, or tilted my head sideways, you might conclude that I had just said something a little harsh, and wanted to take the edge off it. You wouldn't need to hear anything I was saying in order to reach these conclusions. The face is such an extraordinarily efficient instrument of communication that there must be rules that govern the way we interpret facial expressions. But what are those rules? And are they the same for everyone?
In the nineteen-sixties, a young San Francisco psychologist named Paul Ekman began to study facial expression, and he discovered that no one knew the answers to those questions. Ekman went to see Margaret Mead, climbing the stairs to her tower office at the American Museum of Natural History. He had an idea. What if he travelled around the world to find out whether people from different cultures agreed on the meaning of different facial expressions? Mead, he recalls, "looked at me as if I were crazy." Like most social scientists of her day, she believed that expression was culturally determined-- that we simply used our faces according to a set of learned social conventions. Charles Darwin had discussed the face in his later writings; in his 1872 book, "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals," he argued that all mammals show emotion reliably in their faces. But in the nineteen-sixties academic psychologists were more interested in motivation and cognition than in emotion or its expression. Ekman was undaunted; he began travelling to places like Japan, Brazil, and Argentina, carrying photographs of men and women making a variety of distinctive faces. Everywhere he went, people agreed on what those expressions meant. But what if people in the developed world had all picked up the same cultural rules from watching the same movies and television shows? So Ekman set out again, this time making his way through the jungles of Papua New Guinea, to the most remote villages, and he found that the tribesmen there had no problem interpreting the expressions, either. This may not sound like much of a breakthrough. But in the scientific climate of the time it was a revelation. Ekman had established that expressions were the universal products of evolution. There were fundamental lessons to be learned from the face, if you knew where to look.
Paul Ekman is now in his sixties. He is clean-shaven, with closely set eyes and thick, prominent eyebrows, and although he is of medium build, he seems much larger than he is: there is something stubborn and substantial in his demeanor. He grew up in Newark, the son of a pediatrician, and entered the University of Chicago at fifteen. He speaks deliberately: before he laughs, he pauses slightly, as if waiting for permission. He is the sort to make lists, and number his arguments. His academic writing has an orderly logic to it; by the end of an Ekman essay, each stray objection and problem has been gathered up and catalogued. In the mid-sixties, Ekman set up a lab in a ramshackle Victorian house at the University of California at San Francisco, where he holds a professorship. If the face was part of a physiological system, he reasoned, the system could be learned. He set out to teach himself. He treated the face as an adventurer would a foreign land, exploring its every crevice and contour. He assembled a videotape library of people's facial expressions, which soon filled three rooms in his lab, and studied them to the point where he could look at a face and pick up a flicker of emotion that might last no more than a fraction of a second. Ekman created the lying tests. He filmed the nurses talking about the movie they were watching and the movie they weren't watching. Working with Maureen O'Sullivan, a psychologist from the University of San Francisco, and other colleagues, he located people who had a reputation for being uncannily perceptive, and put them to the test, and that's how Yarbrough and the other high-scorers were identified. O'Sullivan and Ekman call this study of gifted face readers the Diogenes Project, after the Greek philosopher of antiquity who used to wander around Athens with a lantern, peering into people's faces as he searched for an honest man. Ekman has taken the most vaporous of sensations-- the hunch you have about someone else-- and sought to give them definition. Most of us don't trust our hunches, because we don't know where they came from. We think they can't be explained. But what if they can?
Paul Ekman got his start in the face-reading business because of a man named Silvan Tomkins, and Silvan Tomkins may have been the best face reader there ever was. Tomkins was from Philadelphia, the son of a dentist from Russia. He was short, and slightly thick around the middle, with a wild mane of white hair and huge black plastic-rimmed glasses. He taught psychology at Princeton and Rutgers, and was the author of "Affect, Imagery, Consciousness," a four-volume work so dense that its readers were evenly divided between those who understood it and thought it was brilliant and those who did not understand it and thought it was brilliant. He was a legendary talker. At the end of a cocktail party, fifteen people would sit, rapt, at Tomkins's feet, and someone would say, "One more question!" and they would all sit there for another hour and a half, as Tomkins held forth on, say, comic books, a television sitcom, the biology of emotion, his problem with Kant, and his enthusiasm for the latest fad diets, all enfolded into one extended riff. During the Depression, in the midst of his doctoral studies at Harvard, he worked as a handicapper for a horse-racing syndicate, and was so successful that he lived lavishly on Manhattan's Upper East Side. At the track, where he sat in the stands for hours, staring at the horses through binoculars, he was known as the Professor. "He had a system for predicting how a horse would do based on what horse was on either side of him, based on their emotional relationship," Ekman said. If a male horse, for instance, had lost to a mare in his first or second year, he would be ruined if he went to the gate with a mare next to him in the lineup. (Or something like that-- no one really knew for certain.) Tomkins felt that emotion was the code to life, and that with enough attention to particulars the code could be cracked. He thought this about the horses, and, more important, he thought this about the human face.
Tomkins, it was said, could walk into a post office, go over to the "Wanted" posters, and, just by looking at mug shots, tell you what crimes the various fugitives had committed. "He would watch the show "To Tell the Truth,' and without fault he could always pick the person who was lying and who his confederates were," his son, Mark, recalls. "He actually wrote the producer at one point to say it was too easy, and the man invited him to come to New York, go backstage, and show his stuff." Virginia Demos, who teaches psychology at Harvard, recalls having long conversations with Tomkins. "We would sit and talk on the phone, and he would turn the sound down as Jesse Jackson was talking to Michael Dukakis, at the Democratic National Convention. And he would read the faces and give his predictions on what would happen. It was profound."
Ekman's most memorable encounter with Tomkins took place in the late sixties. Ekman had just tracked down a hundred thousand feet of film that had been shot by the virologist Carleton Gajdusek in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea. Some of the footage was of a tribe called the South Fore, who were a peaceful and friendly people. The rest was of the Kukukuku, who were hostile and murderous and who had a homosexual ritual where pre-adolescent boys were required to serve as courtesans for the male elders of the tribe. Ekman was still working on the problem of whether human facial expressions were universal, and the Gajdusek film was invaluable. For six months, Ekman and his collaborator, Wallace Friesen, sorted through the footage. They cut extraneous scenes, focussing just on closeups of the faces of the tribesmen, and when the editing was finished Ekman called in Tomkins.
The two men, protégé and mentor, sat at the back of the room, as faces flickered across the screen. Ekman had told Tomkins nothing about the tribes involved; all identifying context had been edited out. Tomkins looked on intently, peering through his glasses. At the end, he went up to the screen and pointed to the faces of the South Fore. "These are a sweet, gentle people, very indulgent, very peaceful," he said. Then he pointed to the faces of the Kukukuku. "This other group is violent, and there is lots of evidence to suggest homosexuality." Even today, a third of a century later, Ekman cannot get over what Tomkins did. "My God! I vividly remember saying, "Silvan, how on earth are you doing that?' " Ekman recalls. "And he went up to the screen and, while we played the film backward, in slow motion, he pointed out the particular bulges and wrinkles in the face that he was using to make his judgment. That's when I realized, "I've got to unpack the face.' It was a gold mine of information that everyone had ignored. This guy could see it, and if he could see it, maybe everyone else could, too."
Ekman and Friesen decided that they needed to create a taxonomy of facial expressions, so day after day they sat across from each other and began to make every conceivable face they could. Soon, though, they realized that their efforts weren't enough. "I met an anthropologist, Wade Seaford, told him what I was doing, and he said, 'Do you have this movement?'" --and here Ekman contracted what's called the triangularis, which is the muscle that depresses the corners of the lips, forming an arc of distaste-- "and it wasn't in my system, because I had never seen it before. I had built a system not on what the face can do but on what I had seen. I was devastated. So I came back and said, 'I've got to learn the anatomy.' " Friesen and Ekman then combed through medical textbooks that outlined each of the facial muscles, and identified every distinct muscular movement that the face could make. There were forty-three such movements. Ekman and Friesen called them "action units." Then they sat across from each other again, and began manipulating each action unit in turn, first locating the muscle in their mind and then concentrating on isolating it, watching each other closely as they did, checking their movements in a mirror, making notes of how the wrinkle patterns on their faces would change with each muscle movement, and videotaping the movement for their records. On the few occasions when they couldn't make a particular movement, they went next door to the U.C.S.F. anatomy department, where a surgeon they knew would stick them with a needle and electrically stimulate the recalcitrant muscle. "That wasn't pleasant at all," Ekman recalls. When each of those action units had been mastered, Ekman and Friesen began working action units in combination, layering one movement on top of another. The entire process took seven years. "There are three hundred combinations of two muscles," Ekman says. "If you add in a third, you get over four thousand. We took it up to five muscles, which is over ten thousand visible facial configurations." Most of those ten thousand facial expressions don't mean anything, of course. They are the kind of nonsense faces that children make. But, by working through each action-unit combination, Ekman and Friesen identified about three thousand that did seem to mean something, until they had catalogued the essential repertoire of human emotion.
On a recent afternoon, Ekman sat in his office at U.C.S.F., in what is known as the Human Interaction Laboratory, a standard academic's lair of books and files, with photographs of his two heroes, Tomkins and Darwin, on the wall. He leaned forward slightly, placing his hands on his knees, and began running through the action-unit configurations he had learned so long ago. "Everybody can do action unit four," he began. He lowered his brow, using his depressor glabellae, depressor supercilli, and corrugator. "Almost everyone can do A.U. nine." He wrinkled his nose, using his levator labii superioris, alaeque nasi. "Everybody can do five." He contracted his levator palpebrae superioris, raising his upper eyelid.
I was trying to follow along with him, and he looked up at me. "You've got a very good five," he said generously. "The more deeply set your eyes are, the harder it is to see the five. Then there's seven." He squinted. "Twelve." He flashed a smile, activating the zygomatic major. The inner parts of his eyebrows shot up. "That's A.U. ---- distress, anguish." Then he used his frontalis, pars lateralis, to raise the outer half of his eyebrows. "That's A.U. two. It's also very hard, but it's worthless. It's not part of anything except Kabuki theatre. Twenty-three is one of my favorites. It's the narrowing of the red margin of the lips. Very reliable anger sign. It's very hard to do voluntarily." He narrowed his lips. "Moving one ear at a time is still the hardest thing to do. I have to really concentrate. It takes everything I've got." He laughed. "This is something my daughter always wanted me to do for her friends. Here we go." He wiggled his left ear, then his right ear. Ekman does not appear to have a particularly expressive face. He has the demeanor of a psychoanalyst, watchful and impassive, and his ability to transform his face so easily and quickly was astonishing. "There is one I can't do," he went on. "It's A.U. thirty-nine. Fortunately, one of my postdocs can do it. A.U. thirty-eight is dilating the nostrils. Thirty-nine is the opposite. It's the muscle that pulls them down." He shook his head and looked at me again. "Oooh! You've got a fantastic thirty-nine. That's one of the best I've ever seen. It's genetic. There should be other members of your family who have this heretofore unknown talent. You've got it, you've got it." He laughed again. "You're in a position to flash it at people. See, you should try that in a singles bar!"
Ekman then began to layer one action unit on top of another, in order to compose the more complicated facial expressions that we generally recognize as emotions. Happiness, for instance, is essentially A.U. six and twelve-- contracting the muscles that raise the cheek (orbicularis oculi, pars orbitalis) in combination with the zygomatic major, which pulls up the corners of the lips. Fear is A.U. one, two and four, or, more fully, one, two, four, five, and twenty, with or without action units twenty-five, twenty-six, or twenty-seven. That is: the inner brow raiser (frontalis, pars medialis) plus the outer brow raiser (frontalis, pars lateralis) plus the brow-lowering depressor supercilli plus the levator palpebrae superioris (which raises the upper lid), plus the risorius (which stretches the lips), the parting of the lips (depressor labii), and the masseter (which drops the jaw). Disgust? That's mostly A.U. nine, the wrinkling of the nose (levator labii superioris, alaeque nasi), but it can sometimes be ten, and in either case may be combined with A.U. fifteen or sixteen or seventeen.
Ekman and Friesen ultimately assembled all these combinations--and the rules for reading and interpreting them-- into the Facial Action Coding System, or FACS, and wrote them up in a five-hundred-page binder. It is a strangely riveting document, full of details like the possible movements of the lips (elongate, de-elongate, narrow, widen, flatten, protrude, tighten and stretch); the four different changes of the skin between the eyes and the cheeks (bulges, bags, pouches, and lines); or the critical distinctions between infraorbital furrows and the nasolabial furrow. Researchers have employed the system to study everything from schizophrenia to heart disease; it has even been put to use by computer animators at Pixar ("Toy Story"), andat DreamWorks ("Shrek"). FACS takes weeks to master in its entirety, and only five hundred people around the world have been certified to use it in research. But for those who have, the experience of looking at others is forever changed. They learn to read the face the way that people like John Yarbrough did intuitively. Ekman compares it to the way you start to hear a symphony once you've been trained to read music: an experience that used to wash over you becomes particularized and nuanced.
Ekman recalls the first time he saw Bill Clinton, during the 1992 Democratic primaries. "I was watching his facial expressions, and I said to my wife, 'This is Peck's Bad Boy,' " Ekman says. "This is a guy who wants to be caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and have us love him for it anyway. There was this expression that's one of his favorites. It's that hand-in-the-cookie-jar, love-me-Mommy-because-I'm-a-rascal look. It's A.U. twelve, fifteen, seventeen, and twenty-four, with an eye roll." Ekman paused, then reconstructed that particular sequence of expressions on his face. He contracted his zygomatic major, A.U. twelve, in a classic smile, then tugged the corners of his lips down with his triangularis, A.U. fifteen. He flexed the mentalis, A.U. seventeen, which raises the chin, slightly pressed his lips together in A.U. twenty-four, and finally rolled his eyes--and it was as if Slick Willie himself were suddenly in the room. "I knew someone who was on his communications staff. So I contacted him. I said, 'Look, Clinton's got this way of rolling his eyes along with a certain expression, and what it conveys is "I'm a bad boy." I don't think it's a good thing. I could teach him how not to do that in two to three hours.' And he said, 'Well, we can't take the risk that he's known to be seeing an expert on lying.' I think it's a great tragedy, because . . ." Ekman's voice trailed off. It was clear that he rather liked Clinton, and that he wanted Clinton's trademark expression to have been no more than a meaningless facial tic. Ekman shrugged. "Unfortunately, I guess, he needed to get caught--and he got caught."
Early in his career, Paul Ekman filmed forty psychiatric patients, including a woman named Mary, a forty-two-year-old housewife. She had attempted suicide three times, and survived the last attempt--an overdose of pills--only because someone found her in time and rushed her to the hospital. Her children had left home and her husband was inattentive, and she was depressed. When she first went to the hospital, she simply sat and cried, but she seemed to respond well to therapy. After three weeks, she told her doctor that she was feeling much better and wanted a weekend pass to see her family. The doctor agreed, but just before Mary was to leave the hospital she confessed that the real reason she wanted to go on weekend leave was so that she could make another suicide attempt. Several years later, a group of young psychiatrists asked Ekman how they could tell when suicidal patients were lying. He didn't know, but, remembering Mary, he decided to try to find out. If the face really was a reliable guide to emotion, shouldn't he be able to look back on the film and tell that she was lying? Ekman and Friesen began to analyze the film for clues. They played it over and over for dozens of hours, examining in slow motion every gesture and expression. Finally, they saw it. As Mary's doctor asked her about her plans for the future, a look of utter despair flashed across her face so quickly that it was almost imperceptible.
Ekman calls that kind of fleeting look a "microexpression," and one cannot understand why John Yarbrough did what he did on that night in South Central without also understanding the particular role and significance of microexpressions. Many facial expressions can be made voluntarily. If I' m trying to look stern as I give you a tongue-lashing, I'll have no difficulty doing so, and you' ll have no difficulty interpreting my glare. But our faces are also governed by a separate, involuntary system. We know this because stroke victims who suffer damage to what is known as the pyramidal neural system will laugh at a joke, but they cannot smile if you ask them to. At the same time, patients with damage to another part of the brain have the opposite problem. They can smile on demand, but if you tell them a joke they can't laugh. Similarly, few of us can voluntarily do A.U. one, the sadness sign. (A notable exception, Ekman points out, is Woody Allen, who uses his frontalis, pars medialis, to create his trademark look of comic distress.) Yet we raise our inner eyebrows all the time, without thinking, when we are unhappy. Watch a baby just as he or she starts to cry, and you'll often see the frontalis, pars medialis, shoot up, as if it were on a string.
Perhaps the most famous involuntary expression is what Ekman has dubbed the Duchenne smile, in honor of the nineteenth-century French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne, who first attempted to document the workings of the muscles of the face with the camera. If I ask you to smile, you' ll flex your zygomatic major. By contrast, if you smile spontaneously, in the presence of genuine emotion, you' ll not only flex your zygomatic but also tighten the orbicularis oculi, pars orbitalis, which is the muscle that encircles the eye. It is almost impossible to tighten the orbicularis oculi, pars lateralis, on demand, and it is equally difficult to stop it from tightening when we smile at something genuinely pleasurable. This kind of smile "does not obey the will," Duchenne wrote. "Its absence unmasks the false friend." When we experience a basic emotion, a corresponding message is automatically sent to the muscles of the face. That message may linger on the face for just a fraction of a second, or be detectable only if you attached electrical sensors to the face, but It's always there. Silvan Tomkins once began a lecture by bellowing, "The face is like the penis!" and this is what he meant--that the face has, to a large extent, a mind of its own. This doesn't mean we have no control over our faces. We can use our voluntary muscular system to try to suppress those involuntary responses. But, often, some little part of that suppressed emotion--the sense that I' m really unhappy, even though I deny it--leaks out. Our voluntary expressive system is the way we intentionally signal our emotions. But our involuntary expressive system is in many ways even more important: it is the way we have been equipped by evolution to signal our authentic feelings.
"You must have had the experience where somebody comments on your expression and you didn't know you were making it,"Ekman says. "Somebody tells you, "What are you getting upset about?' "Why are you smirking?' You can hear your voice, but you can't see your face. If we knew what was on our face, we would be better at concealing it. But that wouldn't necessarily be a good thing. Imagine if there were a switch that all of us had, to turn off the expressions on our face at will. If babies had that switch, we wouldn't know what they were feeling. They' d be in trouble. You could make an argument, if you wanted to, that the system evolved so that parents would be able to take care of kids. Or imagine if you were married to someone with a switch? It would be impossible. I don't think mating and infatuation and friendships and closeness would occur if our faces didn't work that way."
Ekman slipped a tape taken from the O.J. Simpson trial into the VCR. It was of Kato Kaelin, Simpson's shaggy-haired house guest, being examined by Marcia Clark, one of the prosecutors in the case. Kaelin sits in the witness box, with his trademark vacant look. Clark asks a hostile question. Kaelin leans forward and answers softly. "Did you see that?" Ekman asked me. I saw nothing, just Kato being Kato-- harmless and passive. Ekman stopped the tape, rewound it, and played it back in slow motion. On the screen, Kaelin moved forward to answer the question, and in that fraction of a second his face was utterly transformed. His nose wrinkled, as he flexed his levator labii superioris, alaeque nasi. His teeth were bared, his brows lowered. "It was almost totally A.U. nine," Ekman said. "It's disgust, with anger there as well, and the clue to that is that when your eyebrows go down, typically your eyes are not as open as they are here. The raised upper eyelid is a component of anger, not disgust. It's very quick." Ekman stopped the tape and played it again, peering at the screen. "You know, he looks like a snarling dog."
Ekman said that there was nothing magical about his ability to pick up an emotion that fleeting. It was simply a matter of practice. "I could show you forty examples, and you could pick it up. I have a training tape, and people love it. They start it, and they can't see any of these expressions. Thirty-five minutes later, they can see them all. What that says is that this is an accessible skill."
Ekman showed another clip, this one from a press conference given by Kim Philby in 1955. Philby had not yet been revealed as a Soviet spy, but two of his colleagues, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, had just defected to the Soviet Union. Philby is wearing a dark suit and a white shirt. His hair is straight and parted to the left. His face has the hauteur of privilege.
"Mr. Philby," he is asked. "Mr. Macmillan, the foreign secretary, said there was no evidence that you were the so-called third man who allegedly tipped off Burgess and Maclean. Are you satisfied with that clearance that he gave you?"
Philby answers confidently, in the plummy tones of the English upper class. "Yes, I am."
"Well, if there was a third man, were you in fact the third man?"
"No," Philby says, just as forcefully. "I was not."
Ekman rewound the tape, and replayed it in slow motion. "Look at this," he said, pointing to the screen. "Twice, after being asked serious questions about whether he's committed treason, he's going to smirk. He looks like the cat who ate the canary." The expression was too brief to see normally. But at quarter speed it was painted on his face--the lips pressed together in a look of pure smugness. "He's enjoying himself, isn't he?" Ekman went on. "I call this--duping delight-- the thrill you get from fooling other people." Ekman started the VCR up again. "There's another thing he does." On the screen, Philby was answering another question. "In the second place, the Burgess-Maclean affair has raised issues of great"-- he pauses-- "delicacy." Ekman went back to the pause, and froze the tape. "Here it is,"he said. "A very subtle microexpression of distress or unhappiness. It's only in the eyebrows-- in fact, just in one eyebrow." Sure enough, Philby's right inner eyebrow was raised in an unmistakable A.U. one. "It's very brief," Ekman said. "He's not doing it voluntarily. And it totally contradicts all his confidence and assertiveness. It comes when he's talking about Burgess and Maclean, whom he had tipped off. It's a hot spot that suggests, 'You shouldn't trust what you hear.' "
A decade ago, Ekman joined forces with J. J. Newberry--the ex-A.T.F. agent who is one of the high-scorers in the Diogenes Project-- to put together a program for educating law-enforcement officials around the world in the techniques of interviewing and lie detection. In recent months, they have flown to Washington, D.C., to assist the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. in counter-terrorism training. At the same time, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has asked Ekman and his former student Mark Frank, now at Rutgers, to develop experimental scenarios for studying deception that would be relevant to counter-terrorism. The objective is to teach people to look for discrepancies between what is said and what is signalled--to pick up on the difference between Philby's crisp denials and his fleeting anguish. It's a completely different approach from the shouting cop we see on TV and in the movies, who threatens the suspect and sweeps all of the papers and coffee cups off the battered desk. The Hollywood interrogation is an exercise in intimidation, and its point is to force the suspect to tell you what you need to know. It does not take much to see the limitations of this strategy. It depends for its success on the coöperation of the suspect--when, of course, the suspect's involuntary communication may be just as critical. And it privileges the voice over the face, when the voice and the face are equally significant channels in the same system.
Ekman received his most memorable lesson in this truth when he and Friesen first began working on expressions of anger and distress. "It was weeks before one of us finally admitted feeling terrible after a session where we' d been making one of those faces all day," Friesen says. "Then the other realized that he'd been feeling poorly, too, so we began to keep track." They then went back and began monitoring their body during particular facial movements. "Say you do A.U. one, raising the inner eyebrows, and six, raising the cheeks, and fifteen, the lowering of the corner of the lips," Ekman said, and then did all three. "What we discovered is that that expression alone is sufficient to create marked changes in the autonomic nervous system. When this first occurred, we were stunned. We weren't expecting this at all. And it happened to both of us. We felt terrible . What we were generating was sadness, anguish. And when I lower my brows, which is four, and raise the upper eyelid, which is five, and narrow the eyelids, which is seven, and press the lips together, which is twenty-four, I' m generating anger. My heartbeat will go up ten to twelve beats. My hands will get hot. As I do it, I can't disconnect from the system. It's very unpleasant, very unpleasant."
Ekman, Friesen, and another colleague, Robert Levenson, who teaches at Berkeley, published a study of this effect in Science. They monitored the bodily indices of anger, sadness, and fear--heart rate and body temperature--in two groups. The first group was instructed to remember and relive a particularly stressful experience. The other was told to simply produce a series of facial movements, as instructed by Ekman-- to "assume the position," as they say in acting class. The second group, the people who were pretending, showed the same physiological responses as the first. A few years later, a German team of psychologists published a similar study. They had a group of subjects look at cartoons, either while holding a pen between their lips--an action that made it impossible to contract either of the two major smiling muscles, the risorius and the zygomatic major-- or while holding a pen clenched between their teeth, which had the opposite effect and forced them to smile. The people with the pen between their teeth found the cartoons much funnier. Emotion doesn't just go from the inside out. It goes from the outside in. What's more, neither the subjects "assuming the position" nor the people with pens in their teeth knew they were making expressions of emotion. In the facial-feedback system, an expression you do not even know that you have can create an emotion you did not choose to feel.
It is hard to talk to anyone who knows FACS without this point coming up again and again. Face-reading depends not just on seeing facial expressions but also on taking them seriously. One reason most of us--like the TV cop-- do not closely attend to the face is that we view its evidence as secondary, as an adjunct to what we believe to be real emotion. But there's nothing secondary about the face, and surely this realization is what set John Yarbrough apart on the night that the boy in the sports car came at him with a gun. It's not just that he saw a microexpression that the rest of us would have missed. It's that he took what he saw so seriously that he was able to overcome every self-protective instinct in his body, and hold his fire.
Yarbrough has a friend in the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, Sergeant Bob Harms, who works in narcotics in Palmdale. Harms is a member of the Diogenes Project as well, but the two men come across very differently. Harms is bigger than Yarbrough, taller and broader in the chest, with soft brown eyes and dark, thick hair. Yarbrough is restoring a Corvette and wears Rush Limbaugh ties, and he says that if he hadn't been a cop he would have liked to stay in the Marines. Harms came out of college wanting to be a commercial artist; now he plans to open a bed-and-breakfast in Vermont with his wife when he retires. On the day we met, Harms was wearing a pair of jean shorts and a short-sleeved patterned shirt. His badge was hidden inside his shirt. He takes notes not on a yellow legal pad, which he considers unnecessarily intimidating to witnesses, but on a powder-blue one. "I always get teased because I'm the touchy-feely one," Harms said. "John Yarbrough is very analytical. He thinks before he speaks. There is a lot going on inside his head. He's constantly thinking four or five steps ahead, then formulating whatever his answers are going to be. That's not how I do my interviews. I have a conversation. It's not "Where were you on Friday night?' Because that's the way we normally communicate. I never say, "I'm Sergeant Harms.' I always start by saying, "I'm Bob Harms, and I'm here to talk to you about your case,' and the first thing I do is smile."
The sensation of talking to the two men, however, is surprisingly similar. Normal conversation is like a game of tennis: you talk and I listen, you listen and I talk, and we feel scrutinized by our conversational partner only when the ball is in our court. But Yarbrough and Harms never stop watching, even when they're doing the talking. Yarbrough would comment on my conversational style, noting where I held my hands as I talked, or how long I would wait out a lull in the conversation. At one point, he stood up and soundlessly moved to the door-- which he could have seen only in his peripheral vision--opening it just before a visitor rang the doorbell. Harms gave the impression that he was deeply interested in me. It wasn't empathy. It was a kind of powerful curiosity. "I remember once, when I was in prison custody, I used to shake prisoners' hands," Harms said. "The deputies thought I was crazy. But I wanted to see what happened, because that's what these men are starving for, some dignity and respect."
Some of what sets Yarbrough and Harms and the other face readers apart is no doubt innate. But the fact that people can be taught so easily to recognize microexpressions, and can learn FACS, suggests that we all have at least the potential capacity for this kind of perception. Among those who do very well at face-reading, tellingly, are some aphasics, such as stroke victims who have lost the ability to understand language. Collaborating with Ekman on a paper that was recently published in Nature, the psychologist Nancy Etcoff, of Massachusetts General Hospital, described how a group of aphasics trounced a group of undergraduates at M.I.T. on the nurses tape. Robbed of the power to understand speech, the stroke victims had apparently been forced to become far more sensitive to the information written on people's faces. "They are compensating for the loss in one channel through these other channels," Etcoff says. "We could hypothesize that there is some kind of rewiring in the brain, but I don't think we need that explanation. They simply exercise these skills much more than we do." Ekman has also done work showing that some abused children are particularly good at reading faces as well: like the aphasics in the study, they developed "interpretive strategies"--in their case, so they could predict the behavior of their volatile parents.
What appears to be a kind of magical, effortless intuition about faces, then, may not really be effortless and magical at all. This kind of intuition is a product of desire and effort. Silvan Tomkins took a sabbatical from Princeton when his son Mark was born, and stayed in his house on the Jersey Shore, staring into his son's face, long and hard, picking up the patterns of emotion--the cycles of interest, joy, sadness, and anger--that flash across an infant's face in the first few months of life. He taught himself the logic of the furrows and the wrinkles and the creases, the subtle differences between the pre-smile and the pre-cry face. Later, he put together a library of thousands of photographs of human faces, in every conceivable expression. He developed something called the Picture Arrangement Test, which was his version of the Rorschach blot: a patient would look at a series of pictures and be asked to arrange them in a sequence and then tell a story based on what he saw. The psychologist was supposed to interpret the meaning of the story, but Tomkins would watch a videotape of the patient with the sound off, and by studying the expressions on the patient's face teach himself to predict what the story was. Face-reading, for those who have mastered it, becomes a kind of compulsion; it becomes hard to be satisfied with the level and quality of information that most of us glean from normal social encounters. "Whenever we get together," Harms says of spending time with other face readers, "we debrief each other. We're constantly talking about cases, or some of these videotapes of Ekman's, and we say, "I missed that, did you get that?' Maybe there's an emotion attached there. We're always trying to place things, and replaying interviews in our head."
This is surely why the majority of us don't do well at reading faces: we feel no need to make that extra effort. People fail at the nurses tape, Ekman says, because they end up just listening to the words. That's why, when Tomkins was starting out in his quest to understand the face, he always watched television with the sound turned off. "We are such creatures of language that what we hear takes precedence over what is supposed to be our primary channel of communication, the visual channel," he once said. "Even though the visual channel provides such enormous information, the fact is that the voice preëmpts the individual's attention, so that he cannot really see the face while he listens." We prefer that way of dealing with the world because it does not challenge the ordinary boundaries of human relationships. Ekman, in one of his essays, writes of what he learned from the legendary sociologist Erving Goffman. Goffman said that part of what it means to be civilized is not to "steal" information that is not freely given to us. When someone picks his nose or cleans his ears, out of unthinking habit, we look away. Ekman writes that for Goffman the spoken word is "the acknowledged information, the information for which the person who states it is willing to take responsibility," and he goes on:
When the secretary who is miserable about a fight with her husband the previous night answers, "Just fine," when her boss asks, "How are you this morning?"--that false message may be the one relevant to the boss's interactions with her. It tells him that she is going to do her job. The true message--that she is miserable--he may not care to know about at all as long as she does not intend to let it impair her job performance.
What would the boss gain by reading the subtle and contradictory microexpressions on his secretary's face? It would be an invasion of her privacy and an act of disrespect. More than that, it would entail an obligation. He would be obliged to do something, or say something, or feel something that might otherwise be avoided entirely. To see what is intended to be hidden, or, at least, what is usually missed, opens up a world of uncomfortable possibilities. This is the hard part of being a face reader. People like that have more faith in their hunches than the rest of us do. But faith is not certainty. Sometimes, on a routine traffic stop late at night, you end up finding out that your hunch was right. But at other times you'll never know. And you can't even explain it properly, because what can you say? You did something the rest of us would never have done, based on something the rest of us would never have seen.
"I was working in West Hollywood once, in the nineteen-eighties," Harms said. "I was with a partner, Scott. I was driving. I had just recently come off the prostitution team, and we spotted a man in drag. He was on Sunset, and I didn't recognize him. At that time, Sunset was normally for females. So it was kind of odd. It was a cold night in January. There was an all-night restaurant on Sunset called Ben Franks, so I asked my partner to roll down the window and ask the guy if he was going to Ben Franks-- just to get a reaction. And the guy immediately keys on Scott, and he's got an overcoat on, and he's all bundled up, and he starts walking over to the car. It had been raining so much that the sewers in West Hollywood had backed up, and one of the manhole covers had been cordoned off because it was pumping out water. The guy comes over to the squad car, and he's walking right through that. He's fixated on Scott. So we asked him what he was doing. He says, "I was out for a walk.' And then he says, "I have something to show you.'"
Later, after the incident was over, Harms and his partner learned that the man had been going around Hollywood making serious threats, that he was unstable and had just attempted suicide, that he was in all likelihood about to erupt. A departmental inquiry into the incident would affirm that Harms and his partner had been in danger: the man was armed with a makeshift flamethrower, and what he had in mind, evidently, was to turn the inside of the squad car into an inferno. But at the time all Harms had was a hunch, a sense from the situation and the man's behavior and what he glimpsed inside the man's coat and on the man's face-- something that was the opposite of whatever John Yarbrough saw in the face of the boy in Willowbrook. Harms pulled out his gun and shot the man through the open window. "Scott looked at me and was, like, "What did you do?' because he didn't perceive any danger," Harms said. "But I did."