Feds Indict Another Person For Teaching People How To Beat Polygraph Tests
from the it's-blue-it's-blue-the-goddamn-pen-is-blue dept
Polygraph technology is far from infallible and has been for so long that it’s practically common knowledge. And yet, the federal government still wants everyone to believe polygraphs tests separate the honest from the liars with incredibly high accuracy. So, it cracks down on those who claim to be able to help others beat the tests.
In 2012, federal agents began investigating Chad Dixon and Doug Williams, two men who sold books, videos and personal instruction sessions on beating polygraph tests. Late last year, Dixon was sentenced to eight months in prison for obstruction and wire fraud charges. The government claimed his actions jeopardized national security, pointing to a client list that included intelligence employees, law enforcement agents and sex offenders.
The government has just handed down an indictment [pdf link] of its second target — former Oklahoma City police polygraph administrator Doug Williams.
The 69-year-old Norman, Oklahoma, man is the owner of Polygraph.com and charged customers thousands of dollars for instructions on how to beat lie detector tests administered for federal employment suitability assessments, federal security background investigations, and internal federal agency investigations, court documents show.
The government wants to see Williams locked up for fraud, claiming his polygraph-beating business allowed unqualified applicants to “obtain and maintain positions of Federal employment” and the “salary attendant to such positions.”
The 23-page indictments details the fed’s sting operation, which utilized two undercover agents posing as potential government employees with shady pasts. In both cases, the agents made Williams aware of past wrongdoing (over his initial objections) that should disqualify them from positions in the DHS or Border Patrol. Williams, unfortunately, decided to follow through with personally training both agents, despite his initial hesitance to knowingly assist admitted criminals with obtaining government jobs.
The indictment said that, during a telephone call with an undercover federal agent, Williams said, “I haven’t lived this long and fucked the government this long, and done such a controversial thing that I do for this long, and got away with it without any trouble whatsoever, by being a dumb ass.”
Well, if the indictment is legit, Williams made some dumbass moves. The unanswered question, though, is if providing instructions on how to beat polygraph tests is illegal or protected speech. The judge handling the conviction of Chad Dixon had a hard time finding a “bright line” between the two.
O’Grady acknowledged “the gray areas” between the constitutional right to discuss the techniques and the crime of teaching someone to lie while undergoing a government polygraph. “There’s nothing unlawful about maybe 95 percent of the business he conducted,” the judge said.
Despite this, Judge O’Grady still gave the government what it wanted: a prison sentence to “deter” activities that were “95 percent” free speech. Obviously, the government is hoping for the same outcome here.
The real weakness here is the government’s reliance on polygraph testing, but no one’s interested in addressing that. The government farms out employee vetting to private contractors who can’t be bothered to do the job properly. Negative results are ignored by government agencies when they stand in the way of hiring the people they want to hire.
A system that can be successfully gamed shouldn’t be afforded as much deference (bordering on reverence) as the government gives to polygraph testing. It’s a method that’s just as likely to reject legitimate candidates as it is to be duped by criminals. Prosecuting those who show others how the test can be beaten is nothing more than punishing the symptom because it’s so much easier than dealing with the disease.