On 9 December 2000, I sent the following inquiry to American Polygraph Association president Skip Webb and the APA officers and directors. On 15 December 2000, President Webb replied. -- George Maschke

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Date: Sat, 09 Dec 2000 20:43:55 +0100
From: "George W. Maschke" <>
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To: "American Polygraph Association President Milton O. (Skip) Webb Jr." 
        "Chairman Don A. Weinstein" <>,
        "Secretary Vickie T. Murphy" <>,
        "Vice-President - Private - Terrence V. (TV) O'Malley" 
        "Vice-President - Law Enforcement - John E. Consigli" 
        "Vice-President - Government - Donnie W. Dutton" <>,
        "Executive Director - Michael L. Smith" <>,
        "Director - Sylvia B. Gage" <>,
        Director - David Knefelkamp <>
Subject: APA Standards of Practice and Informed Subjects
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Dear President Webb and American Polygraph Association 
Officers and Directors:

Does a subject's understanding of the psychological 
manipulations on which polygraph "tests" are theoretically 
dependent constitute a mental condition within the meaning of 
Section 3.3.1 of the American Polygraph Association Standards 
of Practice ( 
such that "valid results could not be reasonably foreseen" 
and hence "[n]o test should be conducted?"

For example, could valid results be reasonably foreseen in 
the case of someone who has read and understood Chapter 3 of 
The Lie Behind the Lie Detector? This on-line book, which I 
coauthored with Gino Scalabrini, is available on the website at:

If such understanding does not constitute a condition whereby 
"valid results could not be reasonably foreseen," then when 
an APA member encounters a subject who admits to having such 
an understanding of the procedure, how is the APA member to 

At page 67 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, we noted:

    One graduate of [the Department of Defense Polygraph 
    Institute] has cautioned that if a subject were to 
    follow this "complete honesty" approach [i.e., openly 
    admitting knowledge of the psychological manipulations 
    on which the procedure in theory depends], the 
    polygrapher would probably go ahead with the polygraph 
    interrogation anyhow and arbitrarily accuse the subject 
    of having employed countermeasures. Maureen Lenihan is a 
    case in point. She worked as a research assistant with 
    the federal Commission on Protecting and Reducing 
    Government Secrecy, also known as the "Moynihan 
    Commission." She later applied for employment with the 
    CIA. She explained to her CIA polygrapher that she had 
    researched polygraphy while working with the Commission. 
    The polygrapher proceeded with the interrogation anyhow, 
    and later accused her of having employed countermeasures.
I would hope that no APA member would ever engage in such 
unethical behavior, and look forward to your clarification of 
the APA's position.


George Maschke

PS: A copy of this message will be posted on the website at: