Former DoD Polygraph Chief Casts Doubt on Policy of Denying Visas to Afghan Interpreters Based on Polygraph Results

Christian Bryant and Sasha Ingber

In a report published online on Tuesday, 27 July 2021, Newsy In the Loop presenter Christian Bryant asked national security reporter Sasha Ingber about the plight of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants who have been rejected because they failed a polygraph:

Bryant: You know, one of the things that we’ve talked about is the fact that, you know, we’re going to see some arrivals at Fort Lee, but there are some people who’ve applied and already been denied because of—because they failed a polygraph. What can you tell us about the Afghan interpreters who have already failed this polygraph test. I mean, what can you tell us about that hurdle for some of these interpreters and their families?

Ingber: Well, I spoke with the former chief of polygraph at the Defense Department, and it was a fascinating conversation because he seemed to cast some doubt on the, the weight and gravity of the polygraph as being the way to determine whether or not an Afghan should come to the country. If you don’t get through the polygraph test, then your visa application is denied. And he says that it should be one piece in a mosaic, essentially, that helps to determine whether or not you should be allowed to come here, that a security check, looking at your background, should also weigh heavily into that decision, that cultural clashes, and even who your polygrapher is, can affect how you do on that test, Christian.

While Ingber did not state the name of the former DoD polygraph chief with whom she spoke, we commend him for his candor and hope that he will continue to speak out about this urgent policy matter.

The entire In the Loop report, which begins with discussion of the evacuation of some Afghans to Fort Lee, Virginia, may be viewed here (14 MB MP4 file).

The lives of Afghans who served honorably with U.S. forces but were denied visas simply because they failed a polygraph “test” are in imminent danger with the United States completing its withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of August 2021 and the Taliban gaining control over increasingly large parts of the country.

Please write to President Biden and your members of Congress and urge them to reverse the policy of denying visas based on polygraph results. See Special Immigrant Visas Should Not Be Denied Based on Polygraph Results on the Action Alerts forum of the AntiPolygraph.org message board for links and suggested wordings.

CNN on Plight of Afghan Interpreters Terminated for Failing Polygraphs

Abdul Rashid Shirzad: Terminated for failing a polygraph “test” and denied Special Immigrant Visa

In a report presented by foreign correspondent Anna Coren, CNN chronicles the plight of Afghan linguists who served with United States forces but have been denied Special Immigrant Visas. Both interpreters showcased in the video report were fired because they failed pseudoscientific polygraph “tests.”

The following is an excerpt from the written article accompanying the video report:

Abdul Rashid Shirzad…served for five years as a linguist working alongside America’s military elite, translating for US Special Forces.

He showed CNN photographs of his time on missions in the Kejran Valley in Uruzgan province working with the US Navy’s SEAL Team 10. But according to Shirzad, his service has now amounted to a death sentence. The US government rejected his Special Immigrant Visa, and he said that’s made him a target for the Taliban.

“If they catch me they’re going to kill me, kill my kids and my wife too. It’s payback time for them you know,” he said.

The father of three said his contract with the US military was terminated in 2014 after he also failed a polygraph test. He had applied for his visa the year before.

But Shirzad’s letters of recommendation from SEAL commanders, seen by CNN, reflect a translator who went above and beyond duty. They describe him as a “valuable and necessary asset” who “braved enemy fire” and “undoubtedly saved the lives of Americans and Afghans alike.”

Shirzad said he was excited to work with the Americans, and became a lead liaison between US and Afghan Special Forces. One recommendation letter for the visa, from a US commander, described how Shirzad took part in 63 “high-risk direct action combat missions” and was “vital” to the success of his team’s operations. It detailed how he helped the recovery of a team member who was caught in a blast and left with life threatening injuries.

Shirzad said he has no idea what he did wrong and never received an explanation for his termination. His visa rejection letter from the US Embassy stated “lack of faithful and valuable service.”

Sohail Pardis with U.S. Army colonel
(Source: Afghans Left Behind Association, @AllieLeft on Twitter)

The situation for the second interpreter showcased, Sohail Pardis, is more grim. Pardis worked as an interpreter for U.S. military contractor Mission Essential Personnel from 17 May 2011 until 18 August 2012 when, as CNN reports, he was terminated after failing a polygraph “test.” Pardis was subsequently denied a Special Immigrant Visa.

Mission Essential Personnel letter regarding Sohail Pardis’ employment
(Source: Afghans Left Behind Association, @AllieLeft on Twitter)

According to family members, on 12 May 2021, the Taliban stopped Pardis at a checkpoint, dragged him out of his car, and beheaded him. CNN showed a blurred copy of the following photograph, which we believe readers should see unedited:

Sohail Pardis’ corpse
(Source: Afghans Left Behind Association, @AllieLeft on Twitter)

CNN correspondent Anna Coren spoke with Pardis’ friend and fellow Special Immigrant Visa reject Abdulhaq Ayoubi and visited Pardis’ gravesite. The video report may be viewed here.

Numerous other Afghan interpreters who served honorably with U.S. forces have been denied Special Immigrant Visas because of failed polygraph “tests.” (See our article from last week, Afghan Interpreters Denied Special Immigrant Visas Based on Polygraph Results.)

It is unconscionable that Special Immigrant Visas are being denied based on polygraph outcomes. In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences completed a thorough review of the scientific evidence on polygraphs and advised that “[polygraph testing’s] accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies.”

Please write to President Biden and your members of Congress and urge them to reverse this policy. See Special Immigrant Visas Should Not Be Denied Based on Polygraph Results on the Action Alerts forum of the AntiPolygraph.org message board for links and suggested wordings.

Steve Wilkos on Lie Detectors: “Hell No…I Would Never Take One!”

Steve Wilkos and Angela Lee

Steve Wilkos, who routinely uses lie detector tests on his eponymous television talk show, claimed in a 2016 Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread that “[t]he lie detector tests are like 99% accurate.”

But more recently, Wilkos admitted in an interview with New York radio station WWPR’s nationally syndicated program, The Breakfast Club, that he would never take a lie detector test and that he beat one when he was younger.

Wilkos made the admission on air on Friday, 29 March 2019, in response to a question from Breakfast Club co-host Angela Lee, who asked, “How credible are lie detectors, because people are always saying they know how to beat it?”

Steve Wilkos: “Hell no, I mean I would never take one!”

Wilkos’s reply, and the ensuing conversation between Wilkos, Lee and The Breakfast Club’s other co-hosts, Charlamagne tha God and DJ Envy, are transcribed below:

Wilkos: Well, put it this way. My son did a school project, science project, right? So he did it on lie detector tests and he came in with my guy Dan Ribacoff and he did the, you know, test and stuff and they asked, and it was a hundred percent, you know what I mean? So like, would I ever take one? Hell no, I mean I would never take one!

Lee: What are you hiding? What are you hiding Steve?

Wilkos: It’s not that I’m hiding anything, but like, if it came like, were, you know, would you let anything in your life that’s important to you fall into the hands of a lie detector test–

Charlamagne tha God: Not if it’s not accurate.

Wilkos: That’s what I’m saying, like… I’ll say this. I did beat a lie detector test when I was younger. I had to take a lie detector test, and I lied on that thing.

Lee: What were you lying about?

Wilkos (laughing): I really don’t want to get into that right now.

Lee: We have to know this.

Charlamagne tha God: You said you lied, Steve.

Lee: You’re a habitual liar, Steve. (laughter)

Wilkos: After I have bleeding on the brain, I just got discharged [from the hospital], I don’t know, I… Who knows what I said? But, yeah, so I took a lie detector test and I beat it, you know, and…

DJ Envy: How did you beat it? ‘Cause they tell you like if you breathe normally?

Wilkos: So, I’ll tell you this. I was a young guy, and I was working somewhere, and something went down. I was not involved, but I knew what happened, okay? I knew what happened. So the company came in, they brought in a lie detector. So I came into work and they’re like, “Oh, you’re taking a lie detector test.”

Well, immediately I like crumbled. I’m like “Oh my God!” you know? But like, so, they called in like three or four other people before me, and then when it came to me, I was already calmed down. So then when I got in there, the guy goes—I had my high school jacket on the thing—and he goes, “Oh, you go to Lane Tech?” I go “Yeah.” He goes, “Oh, I went there, too!” So right off the bat the guy’s putting me at ease, you know? And then I just went on. I lied, like basically I didn’t know—

Charlamagne tha God: You lied to that nice guy.

Wilkos: I lied, I lied because I didn’t want to be a rat.

Charlamagne tha God: No snitching!

Wilkos: Right. I didn’t want to be a rat, and I just didn’t—I really didn’t even want to be involved. And some of the dudes I would have to say about, they were scary guys, right?

Charlamagne tha God: Got you, got you.

Wilkos: I don’t want nothin’ to do with that.

Lee: Like the blue wall of silence thing?

Wilkos: Well, I wasn’t a cop. I was a high school… Cops don’t take lie detector tests. They—I never…

Lee: Really? They don’t have to do that?

Wilkos: I—no, I was on the job for twelve years. I never…

On 10 December 2019, nine months after Wilkos’s admission that he would never take a lie detector test, he accused Anca Pennington, a guest on his show, of having burned her infant daughter with cigarettes, because she had failed a lie detector “test” administered by the show’s polygraph operator, Daniel Ribacoff. In fact, no one had burned Pennington’s daughter: lesions that had appeared on the child’s leg turned out to be the result of a ringworm infection. The anguish of being falsely accused and publicly humiliated led to Pennington’s attempted suicide later the same day.

Viewers and potential guests of the Steve Wilkos Show should be aware that when it comes to lie detectors, Wilkos is unwilling to eat his own dogfood.

Steve Wilkos’ admission that he would never take a lie detector test may be viewed below:

Afghan Interpreters Denied Special Immigrant Visas Based on Polygraph Results

Former US military interpreter Ajmal Sediqi, denied visa over failed polygraph

Ben Schamisso reports for Newsy on the plight of Afghan interpreters who have been denied Special Immigrant Visas based, among other things, on failed polygraph “tests.” Transcript excerpt:

Despite risking their lives for the U.S. military, many interpreters can’t get a U.S. visa because they failed a polygraph test once.

When Afghan interpreter Ajmal Sediqi worked for the U.S. Army, he was nicknamed “Bob” so the Taliban wouldn’t overhear his real name during combat.  

“They called me Bob Marley,” he recalled. 

For nearly three years, he fought side-by-side with American and Aghan soldiers at great risk to himself and his family. 

“One time we were on mission. We caught some of the Taliban insurgents. They said that we will get free and we will cut your head off,” Sediqi said. 

With the Taliban gaining ground, the White House tells Newsy it will start relocating in late July thousands of interpreters and family members waiting for Special Immigration Visas, or SIV.

But it’s unclear what will happen to Afghan allies, like Sediqi, who either don’t meet the narrow criteria for the interpreter visa or who have been repeatedly denied. 

“My family, my wife also, they are worried. They say that you work with Americans. So now if they come and they catch you, what would happen?” Sediqi said.  

The U.S. Army fired Sediqi after 36 months of service because he failed the same polygraph test he had passed multiple times before during routine security checks. 

As a result, the 31-year-old man is now blacklisted. And he’s not the only one.

Two decades ago, the National Academy of Sciences completed a thorough review of the scientific evidence on polygraphs and found polygraph screening to be completely invalid. It is both irrational and immoral for the United States to deny Special Immigrant Visas to those who honorably served with our military forces based on pseudoscientific polygraph results.

The complete Newsy report may be viewed here:

https://www.newsy.com/stories/afghan-interpreters-fear-being-left-out-of-evacuation-plans/

Update: Please write to President Biden and your members of Congress and urge them to reverse this policy. See Special Immigrant Visas Should Not Be Denied Based on Polygraph Results on the Action Alerts forum of the AntiPolygraph.org message board.

SDPD Adds Questions About Hate Crimes and Biases to Pre-Employment Polygraph Process, Acknowledges 50% Failure Rate

Left to right: Captain Rudy Tai, Assistant Chief Keith Lucas, Lieutenant Steve Waldheim

At a meeting of the San Diego City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee held on 16 June 2021, Captain Rudy Tai of the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) mentioned that the pre-employment polygraph screening process now includes questioning about hate crimes and racial bias. As part of a “Recruitment and Retention Update” Tai told the committee:

As far as our polygraph update, what we notice is we meet with our polygraphers—our polygraphers are in-house—we meet with them once a quarter, just to make sure that we’re all on the same page. As we see issues coming up nationwide, take for example we wanted to make sure we were capturing questions in the polygraph that have to do with hate incidents, hate crimes, any biases a person may have, any associations they may have—on social media—make sure we capture that within the polygraph process.

San Diego Councilman Raul Campillo

In response, Councilmember Raul Campillo asked:

I do have a question about the one slide put—about the steps that go through—the polygraph test. I’m just curious what questions are asked on the polygraph test.

SDPD Lieutenant Steve Waldheim responded without actually disclosing precisely what questions are asked:

So, regarding the polygraph, they ask a plethora of questions. So, they actually break it down into four different categories, and they break it down into drugs, serious crimes, again what we added there was pertaining to any uh racial uh anything to that, that uh basically any bias, things like that, so they ask just about anything and everything on the polygraph. So they cover a lot. Usually it takes at least two hours to go over with a polygrapher, um, and they ask just about everything. And they reiterate, again, with our background detectives, we meet with them before, and we have pre-polygraph interview with the background detective. They go over all the questions, again, and they are getting asked on the pre-investigative questionnaire and the personal history statement. So we ask just about everything. And then they confirm that on the polygraph with them hooked up on the machine.

Councilmember Campillo responded:

Okay. Understood. I’m glad to hear that issues of the bias, it, whether they’re racial, social, gender, of all sorts, I, I, I’m glad to hear that. It’s a concern of mine, and we’ve be—know we want to continue to, to find and prevent folks who do have those sorts of biases from being able to be part of law enforcement just because of how much—how important the role is in criminal justice. I was gonna ask if—when we have a police officer transfer from a different department, from a different agency, maybe I should say, into SDPD, do they go through that same polygraph test as well?

To which Lt. Waldheim replied:

Yes sir, they do. They all go through the same polygraph. They all go through the same background investigation.

On 20 June 2021, AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke wrote to Councilmember Raul Campillo regarding the inadequacy of Lieutenant Steve Walheim’s reply and asked, among other things, whether he would support polygraph screening of applicants for employment with the San Diego city attorney’s office (his former employer):

Dear Councilmember Campillo,

I write for AntiPolygraph.org, a non-profit, public interest website dedicated to polygraph policy reform. I listened with interest to the discussion of polygraph policy at last week’s meeting of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee and am preparing to publish an article that will quote your question about that.

At that meeting, you expressed satisfaction with Lt. Steve Waldheim’s reply that the police department’s polygraph screening process includes questions about racial bias. However, Lt. Waldheim actually dodged your question with generalities. You had asked him what questions are asked on the polygraph test. He didn’t actually tell you what questions are asked.

AntiPolygraph.org published the precise questions asked on the SDPD pre-employment polygraph examination two years ago:

https://antipolygraph.org/blog/2019/06/22/sdpd-polygraph-screening-documents-disclosed/

It appears that the question, “Have you ever committed any serious crime?” remains unchanged, with the exception that its scope, which is discussed with the subject during the pre-test phase, has been expanded to include hate crimes (which it previously did not). The following SDPD graphic shows the areas that were previously covered by this question:

https://antipolygraph.org/documents/sdpd/Serious%20Crimes%20UPDATED%20Map.pdf

A question not raised at last week’s meeting is whether SDPD should be relying on polygraph screening at all. In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences completed a thorough review of the scientific evidence on polygraphs and found polygraph screening to be completely invalid and advised against its use by federal agencies.

You should also be aware that polygraphy is vulnerable to simple, effective countermeasures that anyone can learn and that polygraph operators cannot detect. You’ll find such countermeasures explained in Ch. 4 of our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.

In view of polygraphy’s scientific shortcomings, do you support the SDPD’s reliance on it to screen applicants? If so, why?

And if you do support the SDPD’s use of polygraphs on applicants, would you also support a polygraph screening requirement for those seeking employment with the city attorney’s office? If not, why not?

I will be happy to address any questions you may have regarding the foregoing.

Sincerely,

George W. Maschke, Ph.D.
AntiPolygraph.org
Tel/SMS: 1-202-810-2105 (Please use Signal Private Messenger or WhatsApp)
Wire: @ap_org
E-mail/iMessage/FaceTime: antipolygraph.org@protonmail.com
Twitter: @ap_org

Councilmember Campillo did not resond to our inquiry.

San Diego Councilman Stephen Whitburn

At the same meeting, Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn asked about attrition in the hiring process, in response to which Lt. Waldheim stated:

…a little over 50% fail the written exam, then 15% will fail the physical aspect, then when it comes to the PIQ, the pre-investigative questionnaire, we lose about half of them at that step, because then they’ll be disqualified for some reason or another… Then our polygraph examination, we lose about 50% on that aspect. However, even though we lose fifty percent, the majority of the failures actually have new disclosures, which then tells us that the polygraph test is doing its job, catching people in a lie.

The 50% pre-employment polygraph failure rate mentioned by Waldheim is not unusual among governmental agencies with a pre-employment polygraph screening requirement. Given that polygraphy has no scientific basis, it is inevitable that many honest applicants are being falsely branded as liars and wrongly disqualified from employment.

Waldheim’s claim that the majority of those who fail make “new disclosures” should not be uncritically accepted. Polygraph operators are typically rated on the basis of their confession rates after a failed “test.” They are thus incentivized both to seek admissions and to amplify their significance.

Waldheim’s use of the weasel words “new disclosures” suggests that not all such disclosures are necessarily admissions to having lied on the polygraph.

New York Metropolitan Transit Authority Police Department Has Polygraph Contract With Daniel Ribacoff’s Fraud-Tainted Firm

In a 22 April 2021 YouTube interview with retired NYPD detective Ron Licciardi, polygraph operator Daniel Ribacoff, who is best known for his appearances on the lowbrow daytime television talk program, the Steve Wilkos Show, disclosed that he has the contract for administering pre-employment polygraph examinations to New York Metropolitan Transit Authority Police Department applicants, stating:

We happen to have the contract for the MTA police, the Metropolitan Transit Authority Police, so we do the polygraphs for pre-employment, where we search for what we call undetected crimes.

Daniel Ribacoff (right) speaking with retired NYPD detective Ron Licciardi on 22 April 2021

As previously reported by AntiPolygraph.org, Ribacoff’s company, International Investigative Group, is the defendant in current civil litigation credibly alleging billing fraud in the millions of dollars.

On 17 June 2021, AntiPolygraph.org submitted the following inquiry to Metropolitan Transit Authority media relations:

Is the MTA aware that the contractor who does pre-employment polygraph screening for the MTA Police Department (International Investigative Group) is the defendant in a civil lawsuit credibly alleging billing fraud in the millions of dollars? AntiPolygraph.org reported yesterday on the latest developments in this litigation:

https://antipolygraph.org/blog/2021/06/15/ny-lawsuit-details-alleged-fraud-by-tv-polygraph-operator-daniel-ribacoffs-international-investigative-group-surveillance-of-actress-leah-remini-for-church-of-scientology/

We’re planning to report on the MTA having selected the fraud-tainted International Investigative Group (IIG) to screen police applicants and would like to know 1) when the MTA awarded this company its first contract to screen applicants, 2) when the current contract period ends, 3) whether MTA intends to cancel the current contract before it ends, 4) whether MTA intends to renew its contract with IIG, and 5) how many applicants have been polygraphed by IIG?

Any additional comment MTA may have on its dealings with IIG is also welcome.

MTA media relations neither responded to nor acknowledged this inquiry, which was submitted directly via their website.

Facebook post by Lisa Ribacoff dated 14 May 2021 mentioning polygraph screening of MTA applicants

A pre-employment polygraph examination conducted for the MTAPD in late 2020 by Daniel Ribacoff’s daughter, Lisa Ribacoff (a member of the American Polygraph Association’s board of directors), is at issue in a racial discrimination complaint currently pending before the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

NY Lawsuit Details Alleged Fraud by TV Polygraph Operator Daniel Ribacoff’s International Investigative Group, Surveillance of Actress Leah Remini for Church of Scientology

International Investigative Group proprietors Daniel D. Ribacoff, daughter Lisa J. Ribacoff, and son Lance Ribcoff

In a 29-page “Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Partial Summary Judgment” (12 MB PDF) filed on 7 June 2021 in the case of David M. Smith v. International Investigative Group Ltd., et al., attorney Steven Cohn of Carle Place, New York presented overwhelming evidence that the private investigation company run by TV polygraph operator Daniel D. “Dan” Ribacoff engaged in fraudulent billing practices.

The evidence of fraud includes numerous text messages supplied by former International Investigative Group (IIG) employee Saul Roth, a retired Nassau County, New York police officer. Roth attests to the fraudulent billing (apparently admitting to a felony crime) in a 16-page affidavit (4 MB PDF) filed in the case.

Former IIG employees James Marr and Yanti Greene also made out affidavits stating that IIG directed them to inflate their invoices.

Leah Remini

Also of note, text messages submitted in evidence (23 MB PDF) document IIG’s surveillance of actress Leah Remini on behalf of the Church of Scientology—a cult founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard that uses a simple lie detector called an E-meter to “audit” (interrogate) its members.

Remini was indoctrinated into Scientology as a child and incurred the cult’s wrath by publicly leaving Scientology and, among other things, producing a documentary series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, exposing physical and mental abuse inflicted upon members.

IIG spied on Leah Remini for the Church of Scientology while she was in New York for filming of the 2018 romantic comedy Second Act. The memorandum filed in support of the motion for summary judgment alleges that IIG directed investigator Yanti Greene, a retired New York Police Department officer, to double bill for work on the case.

Among other things, the text messages include discussion of a March 2018 article by Tony Ortega titled “Leah Remini is still being stalked, and now Scientology has turned to an ex-NYPD detective” that reveals Greene’s surveillance of Remini without mentioning him by name.

After these documents were filed in court, the Ribacoffs’ attorney filed a motion to seal all of the filings. Neither the memorandum nor the numerous exhibits are presently available for download from the New York state court system. Counsel for David M. Smith is contesting the request to seal, and the ultimate disposition of the matter is yet to be determined.

AntiPolygraph.org downloaded the three case documents mentioned and mirrored in this article before the court removed public access to them.

For prior reporting on this litigation and the related case of Susanne Gold-Smith v. Daniel Ribacoff et al., see TV Polygraph Operator Dan Ribacoff’s International Investigative Group Allegedly Bilked Client.

LAPD Polygraph Operator Michael Ward Spins the Truth About Polygraphy

LAPD Polygraph Operator Michael Ward with Officer Roseann Adams

In a public relations video posted to Facebook on 24 April 2020, LAPD polygraph operator Michael Ward explains for applicants the special procedures in place for polygraph screening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of the video is straightforward and non-controversial. However, in two segments, Ward makes false and misleading claims about polygraphy that call for comment.

In his scripted interview with LAPD recruiting officer Roseann Adams, Ward denies that nervousness in any way affects polygraph results:

Roseann Adams: So, I know a lot of candidates are nervous to take the polygraph exam. Does being nervous affect the result in any way?

Mike Ward: Aah, great question. Probably the top question that we get asked in the polygraph unit. The answer is absolutely not. My best advice to you is don’t be nervous about being nervous. Expect it. Being nervous just proves you’re normal, and it has absolutely no effect at all on your ability to successfully complete the polygraph exam. So relax.

Ward’s claim that nervousness does not in any way affect polygraph results is simply not true. If the subject is more nervous when answering the relevant questions than when answering the so-called “control” questions (answers to which are secretly expected to be untrue), then the subject is likely to fail the polygraph, whether or not she answers the relevant questions truthfully.

Second, Ward denies that any polygraph countermeasures work:

Adams: There is a lot of things on the internet on how to beat the polygraph exam, like sticking a thumbtack in your shoe. Is this true, and do any of these tactics work?

Ward: Heh heh. Well, don’t try that at home, I guess. Umm, you know, we have this saying around here for police officers that take their advice from the internet: give it a rest. Listen, there’s only two ways you can fail the polygraph exam. The first one is of course, if you lie, the test will definitely detect that. It’s what it’s designed to do. Two, if you try to manipulate or regulate your physiology during the test, you will also get a negative result.

We always ask candidates not to look for tips on how to pass a polygraph, because the internet is full, of course, of bad advice that if followed will by itself cause a candidate to fail their exam, even if they were truthful.

The examiner will give every candidate very easy and clear instructions that are easy to follow. If a candidate does not follow those instructions and instead resorts to internet gimmicks or tricks to try and beat the polygraph, they will end up, quite frankly, with an unfavorable result. The best advice is, give that countermeasures stuff a rest.

This response by Ward contains multiple untruths. While sticking a thumbtack in one’s shoe is indeed inadvisable as a countermeasure, Ward’s claim that there are only two ways to fail the polygraph—lying and manipulating one’s physiology (a euphemism for using polygraph countermeasures)—is a lie. Because polygraphy has no scientific basis, it is common for honest applicants who do nothing to manipulate their physiology to fail, and pre-employment polygraph failure rates tend to be high. Shortly after the LAPD mandated pre-employment polygraph screening in 2001, then Chief Bernard C. Parks acknowledged the failure rate to be 50%.

For examples of truthful persons who failed the LAPD polygraph despite not “manipulating their physiology,” see the following personal statements:

Ward lied in stating that the polygraph will “definitely” detect if you lie. False negatives (an untruthful person passing) do occur in polygraphy. One of the most notorious examples is CIA officer Aldrich Hazen Ames, who passed the polygraph twice while committing espionage against the United States.

Ward’s claim that “if you try to manipulate or regulate your physiology during the test, you will also get a negative result” is not necessarily true. No polygraph operator has ever demonstrated any ability to detect the kinds of countermeasures outlined in AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector. Moreover, the available scientific literature supports the view that polygraph operators are unable to detect such countermeasures.

Contrary to Ward’s claim, the reason that the LAPD polygraph unit “always ask[s] candidates not to look for tips on how to pass a polygraph” is not because they don’t work, but precisely because they do. A second reason polygraph operators don’t want applicants to research polygraphy is that the procedure is entirely dependent on trickery. An educated subject ruins the trick.

Truthful applicants may wish to learn and use polygraph countermeasures to protect themselves against the high risk of a false positive outcome. The Lie Behind the Lie Detector is a good primer. For further reading on the LAPD polygraph unit’s policies and procedures, see our 2020 report, “LAPD Polygraph Policy Documents Disclosed” and the message board thread, “LAPD Polygraph Questions Disclosed.”

On a final note, polygraphy is not the only pseudoscience Michael Ward practices. The LAPD video introduces him as “Dr.” Michael Ward but doesn’t mention whether he is an M.D. or a Ph.D. In fact, he is neither. Dr. Michael Ward is a doctor of chiropractic, “a pseudoscientific complementary and alternative medicine.”

The LAPD recruitment video is mirrored below:

Racial Discrimination Alleged in New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Polygraph Screening

An applicant for employment with the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department has filed a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint in connection with a pre-employment polygraph screening “test” administered by that department. Anthony M. DeStefano reports for Newsday. Excerpt:

An NYPD officer from Nassau County trying to get a job with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority police is accusing the agency of racial and disability discrimination in a government filing.

Jonathan Kyle Carter, 29, of Uniondale, alleges in a complaint that a conditional job offer he received from the MTA to join its police force in late 2020 was rescinded after he took a polygraph test.

Carter, a five-year NYPD veteran, claimed in his filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the MTA used polygraph tests to “suppress the hiring of African American (Black) police officer candidates. “

“This racially motivated invidious discrimination is done to facilitate a covert policy and procedure by MTA that denies black candidates equal opportunity, among other reasons, in favor of white applicants with family already employed by the MTA, that is nepotism, at the expense of the constitutional rights of black candidates,” Carter alleged in his filing.

His attorney, Peter Crusco of Farmingdale, said the EEOC will investigate the case and either decide to mediate the matter or give Carter the right to sue the MTA for discrimination.

A spokesman for the MTA said in a statement that as a matter of policy the agency doesn’t comment on personnel matters or “matters of pending litigation or that could become litigation.”

EEOC official said under federal law they can’t confirm or deny whether any complaint is filed.

In the filing, Carter said that he completed several parts of the MTA police application process, including an interview on Jan. 13, 2020. He said he was given a conditional offer of employment for a police officer position on Nov. 3, 2020. The employment was conditioned on a medical exam and the polygraph test, he said.

In an interview with Newsday, Carter said that he wanted to switch to the MTA police because it offered a better work schedule and better quality of life. Carter, who works for the city’s Transit Police, has 43 arrests with the NYPD, records show.

Carter said that during the polygraph exam he mentioned to the examiner that he had been diagnosed with “White Coat Syndrome,” a condition in which he gets nervous in any kind of clinical situation.

“My heart and my blood pressure goes up, so usually when I take any kind of medical exam I usually fail the initial one,” said Carter.

The polygraph examiner then became hostile when Carter mentioned White Coat Syndrome, telling him it wasn’t a real medical condition, Carter’s filing said. 

On Dec.11, 2020, after the polygraph test, Carter said he received notification from an MTA employment manager that the agency was rescinding its offer because of the results of the polygraph test. 

Based on the polygraph result, “the MTA had determined that you do not meet the requirements of the MTA police officer position, ” the letter from the agency stated, according to the EEOC complaint.

Polygraph screening provides government agencies perfect cover for unlawful discrimination in hiring. A suppressed study by the federal polygraph school showed innocent blacks failing the polygraph at a significantly higher rate than innocent whites.

Part 2 of the Pretend Podcast’s Interview with Doug Williams

In season 7, episode 7 (The Lie Detector part 2) of the Pretend true crime documentary podcast, Javier Leiva concludes what is likely the last public interview of the late polygraph critic, Doug Williams. AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke and private polygraph operator Andrew Goldstein were also interviewed.

In this episode, Leiva addresses Williams’ decision to continue providing polygraph countermeasures training to an undercover federal agent after the agent stated that he had engaged in illegal behavior that would preclude him from the federal job he was pretending to be seeking. Additional text commentary and a video clip from the undercover operation are available on the Pretend podcast’s web page for this episode.