A document (5.4 mb PDF) released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reveals the existence of a criminal investigation into polygraph countermeasure training received by ten CBP applicants for employment. The document, first obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, is a summary of significant admissions obtained during polygraph examinations. The criminal investigation is revealed in the opening paragraph:
1. During the conduct of a precedence [sic] setting criminal investigation known as Operation [redacted], ten applicants for law enforcement positions within CBP were identified as receiving sophisticated polygraph Countermeasure training in an effort to defeat the polygraph requirement. None of the CBP applicants were successful, but others involved in the conspiracy were [redacted]. The Insider Threat caused by the physiological and psychological polygraph countermeasures employed against other agencies has been investigated by CBP-IA with assistance from affected agencies. This investigation provides proof of the necessity and effectiveness of the Anti-Border Corruption Act, and revelation of the previously unknown vulnerabilities of the hiring process.
The document does not state how the applicants were identified as having received polygraph countermeasure training, what the underlying crime at the heart of the alleged conspiracy is, or what precedent the investigation sets. It is not a crime to provide or receive instruction in polygraph countermeasures (although a senior federal polygraph instructor has suggested that it should be).
AntiPolygraph.org has contacted the CBP press office seeking answers to the following questions:
- Have any of these applicants been criminally charged? If so, what are their names and what crimes have they been charged with?
- The paragraph alleges a criminal conspiracy; what is the underlying crime?
- Does CBP consider it a crime for applicants to receive instruction in polygraph countermeasures?
- Does CBP consider it a crime to provide instruction in polygraph countermeasures to CBP applicants?
- The paragraph characterizes this investigation as precedent setting; what is the precedent that is being set here?
- How were the applicants in question identified as having received polygraph countermeasure training?
- Why was the name of the operation redacted? Can you now disclose it?
- Who provided the polygraph countermeasures training, and has this individual(s) been criminally charged?
- Does CBP allege that these 10 individuals were all in cahoots with one another?
This article will be updated upon receipt of a response.
Update: Laura R. Cylke of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs has informed AntiPolygraph.org that CBP is unwilling to answer any of the above questions. Instead, CBP offered the following (entirely unresponsive) statement:
CBP recognizes that public service is a public trust. It is critical that our employees conduct themselves with the highest standards of integrity as they carry out the critical mission of protecting America’s borders. Our commitment to integrity begins at the time of application for employment with CBP and continues throughout the careers of our employees.
Each applicant is subject to a rigorous pre-employment process, which includes improved initial screening of applicants, an exhaustive background investigation that begins upon the initial selection of a prospective employee, and pre-employment polygraph examinations of law enforcement candidates. Each tool is capable of identifying vulnerabilities that the other cannot, and in combination allow for a thorough vetting of the men and women seeking employment with CBP.
Falsification of application forms; cheating on any written exams, drug screening tests, or polygraph exams; and deliberate attempts to mislead background investigators are inconsistent with the highest standards of individual integrity that CBP requires of our employees. Applicants who engage in these practices will be disqualified from further consideration for employment.
In addition to the extensive pre-employment vetting process, CBP conducts recurring checks of law enforcement officers throughout their careers and upon assignment to sensitive positions to ensure continued suitability for employment with CBP.
Update 2: A discussion thread on this topic has been opened on the AntiPolygraph.org message board. See “Is It a Crime to Provide or Receive Polygraph Countermeasure Training?” We have been freely providing information on polygraph countermeasures for more than a decade, most notably in our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 mb PDF).
Update 3: The criminal investigation into polygraph countermeasure training is named Operation Lie Busters.