Polygraph Dragnet in Idaho Industrial Sabotage Investigation

KPVI News Channel 6 reports in an article titled, “Wastewater Investigation” regarding an investigation into sabotage at a water treatment facility in the city of Blackfoot, Idaho. This short item is cited here in full:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still searching for any information on those responsible for tampering with Blackfoot’s wastewater treatment facility’s gas line.

FBI agents administered lie detector tests to employees and former employees of the Blackfoot facility to help find out who may have tampered with the gas line. Officials say that say that seven or eight people took the test over the weekend and Monday.

In late November, someone opened the natural gas line at the Blackfoot wastewater treatment plant. An employee could smell the gas in the facility and quickly shut off the gas to the facility. By doing this it may have prevented an explosion that could have left the city without water for months.

Blackfoot police say they expect to hear from the FBI sometime after Christmas about the results from the tests.

The Idaho State Journal reported on this planned polygraph dragnet on 9 December 2004 in an article by Debbie Bryce titled, “Blackfoot looks into gasline tampering,” which is cited here in full:

BLACKFOOT – Blackfoot Chief of Police Dave Moore said the investigation of an incident last week at the city’s waste water treatment center has heated up.

Someone tampered with a gas line at the Blackfoot Waste Water Treatment Center, Moore said. An employee shut off the gas line averting a potential explosion that would have disrupted services to the entire city.

“The only reason that plant is still standing is because it was so saturated with gas it sucked all the oxygen out of the building,” Moore said.

Blackfoot investigators interviewed full-time, part-time and past employees and this week contractors who worked at the facility will be questioned.

Blackfoot officers, in cooperation with the FBI will begin conducting polygraph examinations to narrow their investigation.

“We will pick certain key people and conduct polygraphs to eliminate them,” Moore said. “There are no suspects and everyone is a suspect.”

The department is making the ongoing investigation a priority due to the seriousness of the situation.

A $10 million project to upgrade the Blackfoot facility was recently completed.

Investigators in the case are working to determine who had knowledge and motive to commit the crime.

Chief Moore’s notion that the polygraph can be used to eliminate suspects is a dangerous delusion. Polygraph “testing” has no scientific basis, and the results not a reliable indication of truth or deception. Moreover, the “test” is easily circumvented through the use of simple countermeasures. Indeed, the long lead time between the public announcement of the planned polygraph dragnet and the administration of the polygraph interrogations ensured that the perpetrator would have ample time to learn how to pass the polygraph.

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