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Comment Re:Old news (Score 5, Informative) 125

MythBusters did a segment on this and they where not able to demonstrate a way to beat the test that was reliable. In fact, I don't think any of their "test subjects" where able to do so. Can some people do it? I think so. But I seriously doubt *you* could beat it unless you are a pathological liar who just doesn't care anything about truth, ethics or morals.

The MythBusters "Beat the Lie Detector" segment was particularly bad, and the producers of the show should be ashamed of it. You'll find a detailed critique here. In peer reviewed research on countermeasures, about half of programmed guilty subjects were able to fool the polygraph after a maximum of 30 minutes of instruction, and experienced polygraph examiners were unable to detect the countermeasures. See the studies by Charles R. Honts and others cited in the bibliography of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.

Submission + - Leaked Documents Confirm Polygraph Operators Can't Detect Countermeasures

George Maschke writes: has published a document (14 MB PDF) on polygraph countermeasures that is allegedly derived from classified information. The document suggests techniques that polygraph operators might use in an attempt to detect efforts to beat the polygraph, but fails to offer any coherent strategy for detecting sophisticated countermeasures such as those outlined in's The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 MB PDF) or Doug Williams' How to Sting the Polygraph . Ominously, the leaked document avers that an examinee's stated lack of belief in polygraphy is a marker of deception. has also published an older U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations polygraph countermeasure handbook (3.2 MB PDF) that similarly offers no methodology for detecting sophisticated countermeasures (such as any actual spy, saboteur, or terrorist might be expected to use).

Submission + - Man Targeted in Polygraph Sting Calls on Government to "Stop the Madness"

George Maschke writes: Doug Williams, who was targeted in a sting operation by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit for teaching people how to pass or beat polygraph examinations, will be reporting to prison to begin serving a two-year sentence on October 30, 2015. Williams has released a final video statement calling on the U.S. government to terminate its reliance on polygraph "testing," which is widely dismissed as pseudoscience by the scientific community, and yet is widely embraced by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. While the government may have succeeded in silencing Doug Williams, information about the shortcomings of polygraph testing, and how the test can be beaten, remains readily available to any who seek it.

Submission + - Veteran FBI Employee Accused of Trying to Beat Polygraph, Suspended Without Pay

George Maschke writes: A mid-career veteran of the FBI has been suspended without pay and faces revocation of his/her security clearance (which would inevitably lead to termination) because the Bureau's polygraph operators allege he/she tried to beat the polygraph. The case is currently the subject of an unpublicized Congressional inquiry. Retired FBI scientist, supervisory special agent, and polygraph critic Dr. Drew Richardson has publicly shared a memorandum he wrote in support of the accused in this case, which has heretofore been shrouded in secrecy. It should be borne in mind that polygraphy is vulnerable to simple countermeasures (PDF, see Ch. 4) that polygraph operators cannot detect. This case is yet another example of how the pseudoscience of polygraphy endangers virtually everyone with a high-level security clearance.

Submission + - Leaked Files Contradict CBP Polygraph Chief (

George Maschke writes: In January 2014, the chief of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit claimed that a criminal investigation he led, dubbed Operation Lie Busters, had revealed that sophisticated polygraph countermeasures can be routinely detected. However, an archive of CBP "confirmed countermeasure" case files leaked to contradicts this claim. In the representative sample of 65 such cases, none can be considered "sophisticated." Instead, as with the 18 DIA cases published earlier, they constituted crude efforts by people who didn't know what they were doing.

Jury selection in the trial of Doug Williams, who has been indicted for teaching two undercover federal agents how to pass a polygraph test begins on Wednesday, May 6th. It appears the government will seek to exclude jurors with polygraph experience or concerns.

Submission + - DIA Polygraph Countermeasure Case Files Leaked

George Maschke writes: (of which I am a co-founder) has published a set of leaked Defense Intelligence Agency polygraph countermeasure case files along with a case-by-case analysis. The case files, which include polygraph charts and the exact questions used, suggest that the only people being "caught" trying to beat the polygraph are those using crude, unsophisticated methods that anyone who actually understood polygraph procedure and effective countermeasures (like, say, a real spy, saboteur, or terrorist) would ever use. has previously published polygraph community training materials on countermeasures that indicate they lack the ability to detect countermeasures like those described in our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (PDF) or in former police polygraph examiner Doug Williams' manual, How to Sting the Polygraph . Williams, who was indicted last year after teaching undercover federal agents how to pass a polygraph, is scheduled to stand trial on May 12 in Oklahoma City.

Comment Re:I blame J. Edgar Hoover (Score 2) 328

J. Edgar Hoover actually took a pretty dim view toward polygraphs. When the FBI relied on them for the first time in a counterintelligence investigation, polygraph results led them to relax surveillance of a Nazi spy suspect, who promised to cooperate with the FBI. But after finishing his polygraph, he got on the next ship to Germany and was gone. See Chapter 15 of Nazi Spies in America, a book by the FBI special agent who was in charge of the bungled case.

Comment Re:First Post (Score 1) 328

It is telling, I think, that the only "crimes" that the U.S. government alleges against Williams are those it conceived, funded, and stage-managed. The government has had records of nearly 5,000 of his customers for well over a year, and yet the indictment doesn't refer to a single one of his actual customers. I think this is a clear case of the government abusing its investigatory and prosecutorial powers in order to stifle speech it dislikes. Discovery and witness cross-examination in U.S. v. Doug Williams should prove interesting.

Comment Re:Not as simple as teaching how to ... (Score 1) 328

Indeed, the indictment avoids framing the mere teaching of polygraph countermeasures as a crime. But I think it's clear that Williams was targeted for prosecution in order to silence speech that the U.S. government doesn't like. The only "crimes" in the indictment are those that the government cooked up, funded, and stage-managed. This despite the fact that the government has the names of nearly 5,000 of his customers.

A comment by the head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit last year before an audience of law enforcement polygraph examiners underscores the political nature of this prosecution. Explaining the criminal investigation, dubbed "Operation Lie Busters," Special Agent John R. Schwartz told members of the American Association of Police Polygraphists that those who “protest the loudest and the longest” against polygraph testing “are the ones that I believe we need to focus our attention on.”

Submission + - Former Police Officer Indicted for Teaching How to Pass a Polygraph Test

George Maschke writes: On Friday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment (2.6 mb PDF) of Douglas Gene Williams, a 69-year-old former Oklahoma City police polygraphist turned anti-polygraph activist for teaching two undercover agents posing as federal law enforcement applicants how to pass (or beat) a polygraph test. Williams offers instruction on how to pass polygraph tests through his website,, which remains online. Marisa Taylor of McClatchy, who has been covering polygraph policy issues for several years, has written an informative report. This appears to be a case where an individual was targeted for criminal prosecution to suppress speech that the U.S. government dislikes., which may also have been the target of an attempted entrapment, has a commentary.

Submission + - German E-mail Provider Files Criminal Complaint Against Police (

George Maschke writes: German e-mail provider Posteo is the first in the country to issue a transparency report (in German). Posteo reveals that in July 2013 (around the time Ladar Levison of Lavabit was being pressured by the FBI), German authorities pressured Posteo to provide unlawful cooperation and threatened to seize the company's business records if it refused. Instead of complying, Posteo filed a criminal complaint against the officials involved.

Submission + - Anti-Polygraph Instructor Targeted by Feds Goes Public 1

George Maschke writes: Last year, the McClatchy newspaper group reported on a federal criminal investigation into individuals offering instruction on how to pass polygraph tests. The ongoing investigation, dubbed "Operation Lie Busters," has serious free speech implications, and one of the two men known to have been targeted is presently serving an 8-month prison term. The other, Doug Williams, himself a former police polygrapher, has this week for the first time gone public with the story of federal agents' February 2013 raid on his office and home. Williams, who has not been charged with a crime but remains in legal jeopardy, is selling his story in an e-book. Public interest website (which I co-founded) has published a synopsis.

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