“FBI Test Detects Colombia ‘Liars'”

This short BBC News article is cited here in full:

A lie detector test carried out on employees at Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s office has produced an embarrassing 20% failure rate.

The FBI-administered test was designed to root out corruption, including involvement in drugs trafficking or guerrilla and paramilitary groups.

Employees have complained that the test represented an “unacceptable interference” in their personal lives.

And Prosecutor General Luis Camilo Osorio has played down the results.

Corrupt past

The test was designed to assess the honesty of some of the 18,000 people employed by Colombia’s state prosecution service.

The employees were asked questions about bribe-taking and any involvement in the drugs trade or Colombia’s civil war.

A former head of Colombia’s anti-corruption programme has condemned the “plague of corruption”.

About 90% of crimes in the country – wracked by a long-running murderous civil war – are estimated to go unpunished.

Osorio: agrees the prosecution is having a “bad moment”

The revelation that one in five of the employees who took the test failed has put the authorities in a difficult position, says the BBC’s Jeremy McDermott in Bogota.

If they sack all those who failed, justice in Colombia – such as it is – would grind to a halt, he says.

Mr Osorio has admitted that the institution is going through a “bad moment”.

But he denied that the results were a disaster and said those that failed would not automatically lose their jobs.


The El Tiempo newspaper reports that a group of employees in the National Counter Narcotics and Maritime Interdiction Unit (Unaim) have complained about the tests.

In a letter, they spoke of the “disrespect” and “humiliation” of being tested, and insisted that the test constituted “unacceptable interference in our personal life”.

In response, Mr Osorio agreed to ask the FBI agents not to delve into intimate matters, but said the tests would continue, particularly for individuals holding or aspiring to top posts and others involved in US programmes.

With regard to 20% of Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office employees failing lie detector tests administered by the FBI, it is worth noting that when the FBI began such screening of FBI applicants back in 1994, it began by testing a class new employees who had just begun training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Reportedly, about half of the class failed! What did they FBI do? They quietly swept it under the rug. Which is just as well, since polygraph screening has zero diagnostic value.

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