Fabricator Michael Hamdani Passed Polygraph, Sent FBI on Wild Goose Chase

The FBI’s nationwide dragnet for suspected terrorist infiltrators was based on an apparently bogus tip from accused Canadian forger Michael Hamdani. In a 3 January 2003 Washington Post article titled “Fake-ID Arrest Led to FBI Hunt,” staff writer John Mintz reported that U.S. and Canadian investigators had questioned Hamdani extensively using polygraph machines. U.S. President George W. Bush authorized a nationwide manhunt for the putative terrorist infiltrators based on Hamdani’s polygraph-confirmed information. But in an 8 January 2003 Washington Post article titled “Wanted: 5 Men — The Terror Alert That Wasn’t,” Ruth Marcus and Dan Eggen report that the tip was bogus. Already, revisionists within the FBI have begun rationalizing the apparent false negative outcome of Hamdani’s polygraph interrogation, assigning blame to the Canadians for a “seriously flawed” polygraph examination.

In a case with as serious national security implications as this one, why didn’t the FBI promptly review the Canadian-administered polygraph examination? According to the Washington Post, U.S. investigators were in Canada. In a high priority case such as this one, surely a “quality control” review could have been completed within 24 hours. But it appears that it was only after Hamdani’s story was called into question by the testimony of a Pakistani jeweler whose picture Hamdani had falsely identified as that of one of the supposed “terrorists” that the FBI found any “problems” with Hamdani’s polygraph examination. Such post hoc rationalizations of erroneous polygraph outcomes are standard fare from the polygraph community. But the real problem is that polygraph “testing” is a pseudoscientific fraud. It has no scientific basis whatsoever, and unless the subject makes a confession or admission, the polygrapher can only guess as to whether he is telling the truth.

For discussion of the Hamdani case, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board thread, US-Wide Manhunt Hoax Based on Polygraph.

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