Aron Ra, Texas state director of American Atheists and host of the Ra-Men podcast spoke with AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke for the 44th episode of his Ra-Men podcast. Topics covered include the origins of AntiPolygraph.org, polygraphy’s lack of scientific underpinnings, why the U.S. government persists in its reliance on polygraphy, polygraph countermeasures, and Operation Lie Busters, which targeted polygraph countermeasure instructors for criminal prosecution.
The following is a guest post from Doug Williams, who writes from the federal prison camp at Florence, Colorado. Williams, who for decades had taught people how to pass or beat polygraph “tests” without incident (and whose website, Polygraph.com, remains online), was targeted for entrapment in a federal criminal investigation dubbed Operation Lie Busters. On 21 February 2013, federal agents searched Williams’ home and office, seizing business records. Williams was later indicted on two counts of mail fraud and three counts of witness tampering, and pled guilty during a trial held in May 2015. On 30 October 2015, Williams began serving a two-year prison sentence. The only crimes of which Williams was convicted are those that federal agents conceived and stage managed.
It is now very obvious that my book From Cop to Crusader: The Story of My Fight Against the Dangerous Myth of Lie Detection has been distributed to just about every polygraph operator on the face of the earth. And while it is true that I have still not achieved my goal of destroying the dangerous myth of lie detection, I have most certainly succeeded in infuriating those who administer these so-called lie detector tests. Polygraph operators know they are perpetrating a massive fraud, and they know that they cannot detect deception by simply measuring changes in a person’s breathing, pulse rate, and sweat activity on the hand – in fact the whole idea that a polygraph is a “lie detector” has been debunked and all the scientific evidence proves it is no more accurate than the toss of a coin – but still the myth persists. And the polygraph industry has grown into a four billion dollar a year enterprise so they will do whatever it takes to keep this very lucrative con game going. Polygraph operators know they can’t win a debate with me about the validity of the polygraph as a lie detector – many have tried and all have failed. And they know they can’t present any valid reason for their continued use of the polygraph as a lie detector. They know that I have proved the polygraph industry is just an evil scam, so in an attempt to keep the myth of lie detection intact, they realized they had to destroy me – or I would certainly destroy them.
So, one man came forward with a desperate plan designed to finally try to stop me for good. This man’s name is John R. Schwartz, and his plan was called Operation Lie Busters. Schwartz was the head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency’s Internal Affairs Credibility Assessment Division (the polygraph section). He spent literally years working with his subordinate polygraph operator, Fred Ball, devising the scheme (Operation Lie Busters) to set me up on manufactured charges and throw me in prison. Schwartz’s and Ball’s insidious plan was a desperate attempt to stop me from “protesting against the polygraph” and stop me from giving personal training (practice polygraph tests) which is, in essence, just allowing people to understand how the polygraph works and teaching them how to overcome their nervousness and learn how to prove their truthfulness by producing a perfect “truthful” chart – they knew they had to stop me because I was going to destroy the myth of “lie detection” and put them out of business.
According to newspaper reports about Operation Lie Busters, Schwartz is quoted as saying those who “protest the loudest and the longest against polygraph testing are the ones we need to focus our attention on.” And in this same speech Schwartz acknowledged that teaching the techniques (techniques found in my manual How to Sting the Polygraph) known in polygraph circles as “countermeasures” isn’t always illegal and might be protected under the First Amendment in some situations. “I’m teaching countermeasures right now. The polygraph schools are supposed to be teaching about countermeasures,” he said. “So teaching about countermeasures in and of itself is not only not illegal, it’s protected. You have a right to free speech in this country. But (Doug Williams) may be prosecuted if he knows that the people he is teaching plan to lie about crimes during federal polygraphs.”
This marks the very first time that a polygraph operator has admitted that is is possible for me to train a person to pass the polygraph test regardless of whether or not they were telling the truth or lying. This is a very important admission because if it is true that I can indeed do that, that is prima facie evidence that the polygraph is absolutely worthless as a lie detector. Schwartz admitted that I can do this by the statement that he made in that same speech. He said, “It makes more sense to me to try to investigate the party (Doug Williams) that’s doing the training because when you do that, you eliminate dozens or hundreds or thousands of people…from getting that training.” So not only does Schwartz admit that I can indeed train a person to always pass the polygraph test but he shows his fear that this has been happening in thousands of cases.
So, there is no doubt that I am the one who has protested the loudest and the longest against polygraph testing. But when did protesting the fraud and abuse of an out of control government agency become a felony crime? Why did the Department of Justice decide to go along with Schwartz and indict, prosecute, and imprison me for daring to speak out against the abuse cause by the use of the insidious Orwellian instrument of torture commonly referred to as the “lie detector?” Their motives are very clearly stated and there is no doubt that that is what the prosecution was all about – they went after me simply because I was protesting (and exposing) the waste, fraud and abuse that is rampant in the polygraph industry.
Yes, John R Schwartz freely admitted to – and even bragged about – using the criminal justice system to go after me, to silence me, and destroy me because I was exposing him and his cohorts as frauds and con men, and pointing out the fact that they have ruined the lives of many people by falsely accusing them of deception. But the real question those in authority who rely on the polygraph should be asking is: Why is the polygraph industry so afraid of me? Why did they mount a massive attack on me for speaking out against them? I’ll tell you why – because I am telling the truth about their evil scam and they know they cannot withstand even a cursory examination of their procedures. Why? Because I am right and they are wrong! That reminds me of an old saying, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”
It is frightening when you consider the fact that at the urging of one vindictive government polygraph operator, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, the CBP, the FBI, and many other government agencies would form a task force and raid my office – that they would hold me against my will for hours, terrorize my wife and me, search my office and my home, and seize all of my computers, my polygraph instruments and every scrap of information that was of any interest to them. All this because I was protesting their fraudulent and abusive use of the polygraph as a “lie detector.” Schwartz and his fellow polygraph con men knew they could not prove their polygraph was accurate and reliable – and they knew that I would continue to expose their fraud. So they conceived of Operation Lie Busters as a way to not only get their revenge and punish me but to try to stop me from doing what I had been doing for almost forty years.
Basically, Operation Lie Busters consisted of sending two undercover agents in to pose as people wanting to learn how to pass their polygraph tests. They knew exactly how to entrap me in their scheme – they used the two things that are the hallmark of their profession – trickery and deceit. They set me up and unfortunately for me, I fell into their trap. They knew I had spent decades helping people pass the polygraph test – because I knew that just telling the truth only worked about half the time. So the agents started off by saying they were telling the truth and were just frightened about taking the test. The undercover agents were just following a carefully devised script, and they knew exactly how to approach me so that I would fall into their trap.
They got me to agree to train them under false pretenses – telling me that they were just afraid they would be falsely accused of doing something wrong or that what they told the polygraph examiner would get them in trouble with the job they had – then when they got to me, they changed their story and started making outrageous statements about crimes they had committed.
I’ll admit I was confused and did not handle the situation correctly, but I swear I had no criminal intent. I reasoned that if a person could not refuse to take the polygraph test without suffering consequences as a result of that refusal, they should at least be able to protect their rights under the Fifth Amendment and not be forced to give evidence against themselves – even if that “evidence” was a reaction on the polygraph chart. But it is important to note that this was a completely fabricated, manufactured crime – they had to manufacture a crime because they had no evidence of a real crime. The undercover agents were lying about lying – they never even took a polygraph test, and even the pre-sentence report by the probation officer said very clearly that “there are no victims of this crime” – it was all just pretend. I have often said that since this was just a pretend crime, I should just pretend to go to prison.
More evidence that there was never any real crime committed is in the fact that federal agents seized the records of almost 5,000 people who had either received my personal training or my manual and DVD. They interviewed most, if not all, of them. The agents told them: “We’re not after you, we are after Doug Williams.” They asked them over and over again if I ever told them to lie or if they ever told me they were going to lie, and if so, would they testify against me in court. Not one of those 5,000 people ever said that I told them to lie or that they told me they were going to lie.
So, after over three years of investigating me, the government still had no evidence that I had ever committed any real crime or even said or done anything that they could twist into a crime – so they had to manufacture a crime with which to charge me. It should also be noted that my attorney asked the U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma why he was not prosecuting my case, and why the Justice Department was sending attorneys from the Public Integrity section out of Washington DC instead. He simply said, “We looked at the case and we didn’t want anything to do with it.”
Also, the charges listed on the search warrant were different than the charges they indicted me on. They obviously had a real problem finding some statute or some phrase in some statute that they could twist into something with which to charge me. The statutes they used were certainly not used in the manner in which they were intended by the lawmakers. More details about Operation Lie Busters can be found in my book From Cop to Crusader in the chapter entitled “Big Brother Is Here, and He Is Really Pissed Off.”
God knows my motives – I have spent forty years trying to help people get past the most traumatic experience most of them will ever endure. All I ever did was try to help people avoid being falsely accused of deception. Polygraph operators routinely call people liars simply because they had a nervous reaction on the wrong question – and I was only trying to avoid what the polygraph operators euphemistically refer to as “false positives.” I had demonstrated the terrible problem with false positives on CBS 60 Minutes thirty years ago. In that investigative expose of the abusive nature of polygraph testing, three out of three different polygraph operators called three different people liars on a crime that never even happened. Go to the media of www.polygraph.com to see that program – and other media clips which prove my statement that the polygraph, when used as a “lie detector,” is nothing but a sick joke.
As a matter of fact the problem with “false positives” is worse than it has ever been. The government’s own records indicate that two thirds of all applicants for federal positions requiring pre-employment polygraph exams are accused of deception and denied employment. That is entirely unacceptable – especially when you consider that those figures represent tens of thousands of people who have had their lives ruined and their careers destroyed by the thugs running this evil polygraph scam!
I hate the polygraph industry because they are perpetrating an evil fraud that has destroyed the lives of literally millions of people during the one hundred year history of the scam of “lie detection.” It is the longest running con game in the history of this country and it must be exposed and stopped! And, of course, the polygraph industry hates me because for forty years I have been actively exposing the waste, fraud and abuse that is rampant in this evil industry.
Now, let’s explore the motives of the government polygraph operators who were behind Operation Lie Busters. Their motivation is no secret. Customs and Border Protection polygraph chief John R Schwartz clearly stated what their motives were. He said that “those who protest the loudest and the longest against polygraph testing are the ones what we need to focus our attention on.” And he was desperately trying to stop people from getting the training that I had been providing. Training that they had always claimed was ineffective. Prior to this, everyone in the polygraph industry had staunchly maintained that it was impossible for me to train a person to pass the polygraph test – and further that they could easily detect any attempt to do so by using my technique.
So, now I’m in prison for doing something that all the polygraph operators have heretofore said was impossible to do – and that is to teach a person to “beat” the polygraph. So, the basis of the charges against me is that I taught people to “beat” the polygraph – but let me reiterate, if I can indeed teach a person to “beat” the test, that is prima facie evidence that the polygraph is absolutely worthless as a lie detector.
So, you can attribute to me whatever motive you like – but the fact remains that this is the first time the polygraph industry has admitted that a person can be taught to “beat” the polygraph. And by making that admission, they also admit that they have been lying all these years about their ability to detect when a person is using these so-called “countermeasures” – and more importantly that they have been lying about the accuracy and validity of the polygraph as a “lie detector.”
So let me ask you, who is more patriotic? The government polygraph operators who insist that we should trust our national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system to the polygraph – or me, who warns that it is foolish and dangerous to put our trust and confidence in an instrument that has been proven to be unreliable? Who is telling the truth? The polygraph operators who falsely claim to be able to detect deception with the polygraph and claim it is accurate 98% of the time – or me, who has proved the polygraph only detects nervousness and that nervousness has no systematic correlation to deception – and further who has proved that it can be beaten rather easily? Think about it!
In the private sector, it is a violation of federal law to even ask a person to submit to a polygraph test. But in the government, the polygraph is considered to be an “official process” – and I am serving time in a federal prison for teaching people how to “beat” it. Think about that! Does that make any kind of sense? Polygraph testing is outlawed in the private sector because it is no more accurate than the toss of a coin. The courts do not allow it to be used as evidence for the same reason. Yet when the government uses it to screen applicants and employees and to determine the truth in criminal and internal investigations, the polygraph test somehow magically transforms from a test, the administering of which is a federal crime in the private sector, into an “official process” that is deemed to be 98% accurate and reliable. What a crock of shit!
I appeal to those in positions of power in the government to take note of what my prosecution actually means. By prosecuting me for teaching people how to “beat” the polygraph, polygraph operators have admitted that the polygraph is absolutely worthless as a lie detector. So, please tell me – why in hell do you still rely on it? Wake up! You are the victims of the polygraph operator’s fraud. Stop the madness! Stop relying on this fraudulent polygraph procedure!
It is foolish and dangerous to continue to trust our national security and the integrity of the criminal justice system to what amounts to an outrageous – and criminal – scam. In fact it is criminally negligent of you who are in positions of power to continue to use and rely on the results of the polygraph “examination.” There is no excuse for you to be deliberately ignorant about the waste fraud and abuse which is rampant in the polygraph industry.
I also appeal to our elected officials. Stop this insane waste of government resources on something that is a proven fraud. Educate yourselves! Go to www.polygraph.com – read the articles I have posted there, read my manual, my book, watch my DVD and watch the media clips – educate yourselves!
Around midnight on the evening of 22-23 February 2015, two armed men accosted Matthew Yussman at his New Britain, Connecticut home. They held Yussman and his mother at gunpoint, forced Yussman, the chief financial officer of a credit union, to wear a device that they said was a bomb, and early in the morning made him call his credit union’s New Britain branch and direct a fellow employee to evacuate the building and meet him there to provide the combination to the vault. The credit union employee called the police, and the two armed men eventually released Yussman without having obtained any money from the credit union. The device strapped to Yussman turned out not to be an actual bomb.
Later that same day, Yussman failed a polygraph “test” administered by the New Britain police, who used the polygraph results to obtain a warrant to search Yussman’s home, car, computer, cell phone, and other items. Yussman, the victim of a violent crime, became a suspect and had his good name besmirched thanks at least in part to the New Britain police’s reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy.
In September 2014, retired Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence agent Scott W. Carmichael accused Donald Krapohl, then the number two official at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA, the federal government’s polygraph school), of violating the Espionage Act by indirectly making classified information about the U.S. government’s methodology for polygraph countermeasure detection available to the government of Singapore. Carmichael alleged that the classified information was contained in a document published under the name of retired FBI Special Agent Robert Drdak that was in fact plagiarized from a 2003 NCCA paper authored by Dan Weatherman and the late Paul Menges1.
AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of the document in question (14 MB PDF), which is currently distributed to purchasers of the Lafayette Instrument Company’s polygraph software. Although the document purports to be copyrighted, if, as Scott Carmichael credibly asserts, the document is in fact plagiarized from an NCCA paper, any copyright claim is without foundation.
The allegedly NCCA-derived document further confirms that the polygraph community has no coherent methodology for detecting sophisticated polygraph countermeasures such as those outlined in Chapter 4 of AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector or in Doug Williams’ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph.
It should be noted that the countermeasure “detection” criteria outlined in the allegedly NCCA-derived document are so vague and ambiguous that any polygraph operator reviewing a recorded polygraph examination might find “indications of countermeasures,” if desired:
There are verbal and non-verbal cues commonly observed in examinees who prove to be deceptive. The examiner should be observant during the entire testing process for these non-chart related markers of deception:
- The examinee made an attempt(s) to avoid taking the polygraph examination
- The examinee was late arriving for the examination without a legitimate excuse
- The examinee tries to limit the length of the polygraph session
- The examinee expresses distrust or non-belief in polygraph
- The examinee tries to dominate the conversation and talks incessantly
- The examinee complains of some physical ailment or medical condition prior to being asked about his health and physical condition
- The examinee is quick to volunteer information regarding medications and then asks “will that effect the test”
- The examinee tries to oversell his honesty / truthfulness / character / reputation, etc.
- The examinee gives excuses why he might fail the examination
- The examinee’s story is absurd, illogical or in direct conflict with case facts
- The examinee provides little details regarding critical parts of his story
- The examinee uses memory qualifiers to excess when answering questions
- The examinee answers relevant questions with half-truths
- The examinee minimizes the seriousness of the allegation / crime
- The examinee blames the person making the allegations or victim and provides reasons why he has been wrongfully accused
- The examinee avoids answering direct questions about the relevant issues with “yes” or “no” and provides evasive answers to those questions
- The examinee answers with a question
- The examinee tries to buy thinking time before answering relevant questions
- The examinee uses defensive statements when asked a direct question
- The examinee exhibits excessive physical indicators of unconscious stress relief such as yawning, stretching, knuckle cracking, throat clearing, sniffling, burping, etc.
- The examinee is “overly” anything
- The examinee deviates from his norm at critical times
- The examinee exhibits clusters of non-verbal cues
- The examinee makes small admissions designed to cloud the relevant issue
- The examinee exhibits an unusual interest or knowledge about polygraph
How Orwellian that any expression of distrust or non-belief in polygraphy may be interpreted as an indication of countermeasure use (and thus result in permanent blacklisting). That polygraphy is without scientific basis is well-established and not controversial among educated persons.
AntiPolygraph.org has also received and is making public the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Polygraph Countermeasure Handbook (3.2 MB PDF). This document, authored by the late AFOSI polygraph examiner Larry Victor Streepy (1933-2007), appears to have been authored in the mid-1980s and is the most candid governmental assessment of polygraph countermeasures that AntiPolygraph.org has yet reviewed. Streepy acknowledges (at pp. 2-3):
Examiners should not become complacent by holding to the idea that all countermeasures will be readily distinguishable. They should, instead, recognize that it may be difficult to identify countermeasures use…
AntiPolygraph.org welcomes both commentary and submission of relevant documents. Information on how to contact us securely is available here.
- In 2002, Menges argued in a paper published in the American Polygraph Association’s quarterly publication, Polygraph, (then edited by Donald Krapohl) that it is unethical to make information about polygraph countermeasures available to the public and suggested that it should be made illegal. See AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke’s public response to Menges’ piece. [↩]
On Friday, 30 October 2015, Doug Williams, 70, reported to the Federal Correctional Institution at Florence, Colorado to begin serving a two year prison sentence. Williams was targeted for entrapment by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit in a sting operation dubbed Operation Lie Busters. In a 2013 speech to law enforcement polygraphers, John R. Schwartz, the head of the CBP polygraph unit, said he thought those who “protest the loudest and the longest” against polygraph testing “are the ones that I believe we need to focus our attention on.” Williams, a former police polygraphist himself, has been a vocal critic of polygraphy for more than three decades and earned the ire of the federal polygraph community by teaching others how to pass or beat a polygraph test.
If you would like to send Doug a letter to brighten his day while he is in prison, you can write to him at this address:
Douglas G. Williams 29159-064
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 5000
Florence, CO 81226-5000
If you would like to help Doug financially while he is incarcerated, you can make a contribution to the Help Doug Williams campaign started by documentary filmmaker John Cotton, who is working on a film about Williams’ ordeal titled How to Sting the Polygraph. Doug Williams’ scheduled release date is 27 July 2017.
In an article titled “Some lawyers turning away clients who fail polygraphs,” Dean Narciso reports for the Columbus Dispatch that “[a]ttorney Bradley Koffel uses polygraph tests to screen out potential nightmare clients, especially those charged with sex crimes.”
Any competent lawyer should know that polygraph testing has no scientific basis. Moreover, polygraphy is inherently biased against the truthful and yet easily defeated using simple countermeasures that polygraph operators cannot detect. Koffel’s reliance on pseudoscientific polygraph “tests” to accept or reject clients reflects very poor judgment indeed. Those in the Columbus area in need of competent legal counsel should look elsewhere.
Television stations WHAS and WDRB report that the Simpsonville, Kentucky Police Department‘s six members face polygraph interrogations after some $30,000 in cash along with drugs and firearms were stolen from the small department’s evidence locker in an overnight break-in. The Kentucky State Police are conducting the investigation. All members of the Simpsonville P.D. have agreed to be polygraphed.
Such polygraph dragnets have a poor record of success. AntiPolygraph.org has found no recent examples where such dragnents have solved a mystery. Examples of past polygraph dragnets with no reported success include:
- A 2001 inquest at the Irondale, Alabama city hall to determine who in city hall may have leaked confidential police information;
- The 2006 polygraph dragnet of Jacksonville, Florida firefighters over nooses placed on the gear of two black firefighters;
- A 2006 polygraph dragnet at the Greensboro, North Carolina city council in an attempt to determine who leaked a confidential report on racism in the Greensboro Police Department;
- The 2009 mass polygraph “testing” of members of the Dracut, Massachusetts Police Department regarding the disappearance of marijuana stored as evidence;
- A 2009 polygraph dragnet at a Houston, Texas fire station regarding alleged racial and sexual harrassment.
Polygraph “testing” is thoroughly discredited pseudoscience. Polygraph “tests” are easily defeated using simple countermeasures (see chapter 4) that polygraph operators cannot detect, and truthful persons are frequently falsely accused of deception by polygraph operators. Polygraph chart readings are evidence of nothing and should never be relied on to implicate or exculpate individuals in criminal investigations.
Artist and Rebel News writer Vera Wilde comments on the federal government’s entrapment and imprisonment of Doug Williams in “Need to Beat a Lie Detector? He Could Have Taught You.”
A week before he is to begin serving a two year federal prison sentence, Doug Williams, the founder of Polygraph.com, has made a final appeal to the U.S. government to end its misplaced reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy. Williams, a former police polygraphist who offered training and instructional materials on how to pass a polygraph “test,” was targeted for entrapment in a sting operation dubbed Operation Lie Busters conceived by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit.