Marisa Taylor and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. report for McClatchy that the federal government is targeting for criminal prosecution those who teach methods for passing a polygraph test, noting that at least two instructors have been targeted by undercover sting operations thus far: former police polygrapher Doug Williams, who runs Polygraph.com, and Chad Dixon, who ran a now defunct website called PolygraphExpert.net. McClatchy reports that in the course of the investigation, which is called “Operation Lie Busters,” [i]nvestigators confiscated business records from the two men, which included the names of as many as 5,000 people who’d sought polygraph-beating advice.”
Dixon has pleaded guilty to unspecified charges that remain under seal and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, though prosecutors are seeking a two-year sentence. Williams is not reported to have been charged with any crime, and he “declined to comment other than to say he’s done nothing wrong.”
AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke may also have been targeted by an attempted sting. McClatchy reports:
George Maschke, a former Army Reserve intelligence officer who’s a translator and runs a website that’s critical of polygraph testing, said he also suspected he’d been targeted although he’d done nothing illegal.
In May, the translator received an unsolicited email in Persian from someone purporting to be “a member of an Islamic group that seeks to restore freedom to Iraq.”
“Because the federal police are suspicious of me, they want to do a lie detector test on me,” the email read.
The emailer asked for a copy of Maschke’s book, which describes countermeasures, and for Maschke to help “in any other way.”
Maschke said he suspected the email was a ruse by federal agents. He advised the person “to comply with applicable laws,” according to an email he showed McClatchy.
Although federal authorities haven’t contacted him, Maschke said he worried that visitors to his site, AntiPolygraph.org, would be targeted simply for looking for information about polygraph testing.
“The criminalization of the imparting of information sets a pernicious precedent,” he said. “It is fundamentally wrong, and bad public policy, for the government to resort to entrapment to silence speech that it does not approve of.”
Instead of criminalizing truth-telling about the weaknesses of polygraphy, the U.S. government should heed the warnings of the scientific community and terminate its misplaced reliance on this pseudoscientific ritual.