CBP Polygraph Chief John R. Schwartz Claims “Sophisticated Countermeasures Can Be Routinely Identified”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs Credibility Assessment Division Director John R. Schwartz (detail from organizational chart)

John R. Schwartz, who heads the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit, claims that sophisticated polygraph countermeasures (the kind described in AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector), can be routinely identified “when all best practices are employed, including proper training of examiners and stringent Quality Control.” Schwartz made the claim in a January 2014 memorandum nominating his colleague and friend, Fred C. Ball, Jr., for the American Polygraph Association’s David L. Motsinger Horizon Award, which is presented annually “in recognition of a new shining star in the profession or association who early in their career demonstrates loyalty, professionalism and dedication to the polygraph profession (less than 10 years).”

Schwartz bases his nomination of Ball on the latter’s role as case agent in Operation Lie Busters, a federal criminal investigation targeting individuals providing training in how to pass polygraph tests. A copy of Schwartz’s memo was made available to AntiPolygraph.org and is reproduced in full below:

David L. Motsinger Horizon Award
Nomination of Fred C. Ball, Jr.

This accomplishment arguably represents the single most significant development in our profession in many decades.  Its impact is profound and far reaching, and has already affected, or will affect, legal precedence, new polygraph case law, policies, scientific research, teaching, Quality Control, best practices and procedures, our view of polygraph validity, and many other aspects of forensic psychophysiology.

In 2011, a novel and complicated criminal investigation was initiated regarding the training of individuals in sophisticated polygraph countermeasures, and their effectiveness in defeating the polygraph protocols and procedures employed by federal, state, and local agencies including the court systems.  The investigation revealed that sophisticated countermeasures can be routinely identified when all best practices are employed, including proper training of examiners and stringent Quality Control, but failure to endorse and employ these best practices results in the unacceptable risk that such countermeasures could be effective.

Popularly known as Operation LieBusters, the investigation combined novel and precedent-setting legal strategies, lengthy and technical undercover operations, voluminous and complicated analytical methodologies, complex investigative procedures, esoteric technical knowledge of polygraph countermeasures and physiology, and extremely effective interview and elicitation skills to ensure confirmatory confessions.

A graduate of the National Center for Credibility Assessment on April 6, 2011, Senior Special Agent Fred C. Ball, Jr. of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Credibility Assessment Division was the case agent and polygraph expert responsible for orchestrating and conducting the investigation.  The three-year endeavor resulted in several arrests, convictions, and probation revocations at the federal, state, and local level.  Of even greater significance to our national security and the safety of our citizens, the investigation identified and thwarted Insider Threats and infiltration attempts as well as many convicted sex offenders who had been able to continue their offenses through the use of polygraph countermeasures.  The investigation also provides a unique data set, including ground truth data, which will be invaluable for scientific research and polygraph training, as well as an investigative blue print for future investigations.

Schwartz’s claim that sophisticated polygraph countermeasures can be routinely identified is noteworthy because to our knowledge, there is nothing in the polygraph literature that would support such a claim. On the contrary, polygraph countermeasure documentation published by AntiPolygraph.org in 2013 suggests that the polygraph community has no coherent methodology for detecting countermeasures.

On Friday, 17 January 2014, AntiPolygraph.org e-mailed Schwartz seeking comment, noting that if he could provide evidence that sophisticated countermeasures can indeed be routinely identified, we are prepared to withdraw any suggestion that examinees consider using countermeasures and to instead expressly advise against any such use. Schwartz did not respond.

AntiPolygraph.org makes information about polygraph countermeasures available to the public to provide truthful individuals with an option for protecting themselves against the significant risk of a false positive outcome.

AntiPolygraph.org also e-mailed National Center for Credibility Assessment director William F. Norris and American Polygraph Association president Chuck Slupski seeking comment on Schwartz’s claim that sophisticated polygraph countermeasures can be routinely identified. Neither replied.

It seems to AntiPolygraph.org that if sophisticated polygraph countermeasures truly could be “routinely identified,” as Schwartz claims, that there would have been no need for for Fred Ball to concoct an elaborate scheme to entrap and imprison Chad Dixon, an electrician who taught fewer than 100 people how to pass polygraph tests in his spare time, or to attempt to entrap former police polygraphist Doug Williams, who has been teaching people how to pass polygraph examinations since 1979. Nor would there have been any need for a polygraph watch list of Williams’ customers to be circulated among federal agencies with polygraph programs. Nor would there have been any need for the attempted entrapment of AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke, evidently by a U.S. government employee or contractor. Nor would the NSA feel the need to target visitors to AntiPolygraph.org.

Indeed, the very existence of Operation Lie Busters makes Schwartz’s claim that sophisticated countermeasures can be routinely identified difficult to believe. Who will polygraph the polygraphers?

Comments 1



    Describing my training as teaching “countermeasures” so liars can pass the polygraph “test” is the same thing as describing the polygraph as a “lie detector”! Both descriptions are PURE, UNADULTERATED BULLSHIT! The word “countermeasures” can only be used to describe polygraph chart manipulation by the subject of a polygraph “test” when two conditions are met: 1) The polygraph “test” must be proven to be 100% accurate and reliable as a “lie detector”, and 2) the person is attempting to deliberately lie. There is never a case where BOTH of these conditions are met. In other words, you could only claim “countermeasures” are being used to thwart the polygraph operator’s ability to detect deception IF the polygraph is able to detect deception accurately 100% of the time and that that deception would be detected were it not for the use of “countermeasures” by a person intent on being deceptive. But, since many people know that just telling the truth only works half the time – i.e. the US Supreme Court, and the NAS report, among others, saying it is no more accurate than the toss of a coin – then a prudent person would try to mitigate the very strong probability of being falsely branded as a liar by learning how to produce a “truthful” chart. That would not be using “countermeasures” – that would be using common sense!

    Why do polygraph operators tell people not to research the polygraph before they take their test? It is very simple – the only way they can intimidate people with the polygraph is to keep them ignorant about how it works. When polygraph operators say I teach people “countermeasures” in order for them to “beat the test”. I simply say, that’s bullshit, because polygraph operators routinely call truthful people liars – and my technique is the only way for honest, truthful people to protect themselves from being falsely accused of lying. Go to the MEDIA page and watch the CBS 60 MINUTES investigative report I helped to produce and see the proof yourself – three out of three polygraph operators called three different truthful people liars on a crime that never even happened! You may also enjoy watching me prove THE LIE DETECTOR IS BULLSHIT on Showtime’s PENN & TELLER: BULLSHIT!

    So, let me emphasize this – I DON’T TEACH SO-CALLED “COUNTERMEASURES” – I simply teach people how to ALWAYS PASS by knowing how to show a perfect “truthful” polygraph chart! The word “countermeasures” is a word that has been misappropriated by polygraph examiners – it is used to describe what they say is a means to thwart their ability to detect deception. But polygraph operators have always maintained that they can tell when a person is using these so-called “countermeasures”. If that is true, how can anyone use them “beat” the test? But, for the sake of argument, let me ask a few more pertinent questions: If people can indeed be taught to use “countermeasures” to “beat the test”, wouldn’t that prove the polygraph is not a “lie detector”? Does the validity and reliability of the polygraph test demand that the subjects of the test must be ignorant about how it works? If anyone could be taught how to produce and/or prevent a reaction on the polygraph at will, wouldn’t that make the whole idea of a “lie detector” a fraud? And wouldn’t polygraph operators have to admit their little machine is actually just a sick joke – and that the polygraph instrument is simply a prop used by an interrogator to frighten people into making admissions and confessions? And would it not be prudent for the government to quit wasting money on something that is nothing but a fraud and a con job? The fact is the answer to all these questions is a resounding YES!

    Polygraph operators do not want to debate the validity of the polygraph as a “lie detector” because they will lose. And these con men certainly don’t want to answer any of the questions I have posed! They know they cannot prove the polygraph is valid and reliable as a “lie detector”, and they know they can’t justify their actions – so they just say that people who get my training are all lying and are only doing research on the polygraph in order to “beat the test”. Again, I say that is just BULLSHIT! I have spent almost forty years proving that the “lie detector” is just a myth, and it is common knowledge that just telling the truth only works half the time, so people are smart enough to know that they must LEARN HOW TO PASS or they will be falsely accused of lying. I don’t teach any so-called “countermeasures”! I don’t teach people how to “beat” the test! The fact is, people are getting my manual & video/DVD and my personal training because they are telling the truth and just want to make sure they pass – they know that just telling the truth doesn’t work! The methods I teach are very simple. I just show people how to remain calm when answering a relevant question and how to produce a reaction when answering the control questions so as to always produce what the polygraph operators say is a “truthful chart”. I have a manual, entitled HOW TO STING THE POLYGRAPH, and a DVD that teaches people exactly how to do this – it is available in the STORE page of my website http://www.polygraph.com. I also give practice polygraph tests on my own polygraph instrument to show them how well my technique works – for more information about this, go to the PERSONAL TRAINING page of my website.

    I am the only licensed polygraph expert who has ever told the truth about the polygraph, and the truth is, the polygraph is not a “lie detector”. I have been telling the truth about the scam called lie detection for almost forty years now in hopes of destroying the dangerous myth of “lie detection”. Carl Sagan said, “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.” I was instrumental in destroying a large part of the polygraph industry by getting most polygraph testing outlawed in the private sector. In 1988, with the passage of the EMPLOYEE POLYGRAPH PROTECTION ACT, administering polygraph tests actually became a federal crime! Even the U.S. Supreme Court refused to admit polygraph results into evidence, and ironically it was the U.S. Justice Department who argued that the polygraph results were not reliable and should not be admitted into evidence! I was a member of the Office of Technology Assessment, (an investigative arm of the U.S. Congress), studying the validity and reliability of the polygraph – our report basically said it was worthless as a “lie detector”. I also testified in the U.S. Congress in support of the EPPA. Click here to read a transcript of my testimony: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015011381806;view=1up;seq=281 (My testimony begins on pg 275) Here is an interesting piece of historical trivia: When I testified in Congress, I put my manual, HOW TO STING THE POLYGRAPH into the Congressional Record, and the Senators and Representatives distributed more copies of my manual between 1984 and 1988 than anyone has ever distributed – including me! They sent them out by the tens of thousands in response to requests from constituents. But, there were exclusions written into the law that allowed the government – local state and federal – to continue to use the polygraph. They attempt to justify these exclusions on the grounds that the government needs this tool to protect national security and the law enforcement officials need it to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system. I have proved the polygraph is not a “lie detector” – the Congress, the Justice Department, the OTA, and all those with any scientific credibility agree with me – so there is no justification for the government to continue to use it on the pretext that it protects our national security or the integrity of the criminal justice system.

    It is FOOLISH and DANGEROUS to use the polygraph as “lie detector” – the theory of “lie detection” is nothing but junk science. It is based on a faulty scientific premise. The polygraph operators have the audacity to say that there is such a thing as a “reaction indicative of deception”, when I can prove that “lying reaction” is simply a nervous reaction commonly referred to as the fight or flight syndrome. In fact, the polygraph is nothing but a psychological billy club that is used to coerce a person into making admissions or confessions. It is FOOLISH and DANGEROUS for government agencies to rely on the polygraph to “test” applicants, or to conduct any type of investigations relating to national security. It is FOOLISH and DANGEROUS for the criminal justice system to rely on an instrument that has been thoroughly discredited to determine whether or not a person is truthful or deceptive, or to use it to guide their investigations in any way – especially when the results cannot even be used as evidence in a court of law! And it is FOOLISH and DANGEROUS for anyone to believe they will pass their polygraph “test” if they just tell the truth! When you factor in all the damage done to people who are falsely branded as liars by these con men and their unconscionable conduct, this fraud of “lie detection” perpetrated by the polygraph industry should be a federal crime! The protection provided to some people by the EPPA should be extended to protect everyone from this insidious Orwellian instrument of torture! Shame on anyone who administers these “tests” – and shame on the government for continuing to allow this state sponsored sadism!

    So, here we have this diabolical dichotomy – the government protects some people from polygraph abuse and perpetrates polygraph abuse on others! The Congress outlaws the use of the polygraph in the private sector, (and distributes my manuals, teaching people how to pass their tests), the Justice Department argues that it should not be used as evidence in court, the Supreme Courts agrees and refuses to allow polygraph results into evidence, and the OTA issues a report saying all the scientific evidence proves it is not reliable – yet, after all this, many government agencies greatly expand the use of the polygraph to numbers never seen before in the history of the country!

    So what explains this schizophrenia in the government? Why do they outlaw it in one area and expand it in another? I’m afraid I know – I think President Nixon told us why the government uses it when he said, “I don’t know anything about polygraphs, and I don’t know how accurate they are, but I know they’ll scare the hell out of people, and that’s why I like to use them!” That mentality regarding the polygraph is the very reason I do what I do! I educate people about the polygraph so that the polygraph thugs can’t use it to scare the hell out of them – and even worse, call them liars simply because they have a nervous reaction on a relevant question! I teach people how to prove they are telling the truth because just telling the truth really only works about half the time! A person will probably fail their polygraph test unless they are trained to show the polygraph examiner what he expects to see from a truthful person. I have been asked this question many times: Can liars use this information to pass just as easily as truthful people? The answer to that question is YES! I have no control over who gets the information in my manual and video/DVD. But let me make this perfectly clear – I assume that people come to me for personal training because they know that just telling the truth only works about half the time. And, except for frivolous cases such as fidelity testing, or for demonstrations on television programs, speaking engagements and seminars, I will not knowingly teach a person to deliberately lie! Besides, liars can pass easily whether they have been trained or not – history is full of people who have lied and passed polygraphs with no problem. Aldridge Ames, the notorious spy, passed many polygraph exams – and he was an active spy when he took, (and passed) several polygraph tests! Recently, the government said they need to use the polygraph in order “to stop the next Edward Snowden” and “prevent leaks by keeping employees honest”. This reasoning is absolutely absurd! Snowden has said he got that job at NSA solely for the purpose of getting access to that information – information he planned from the outset to disclose – and he passed two polygraph tests knowing what he planned to do. How is the use of the polygraph going to stop “the next Edward Snowden” when it didn’t stop the first one? As a matter of fact there has never been even one spy ever caught by the polygraph! I have often demonstrated how simple it is to “beat the box” on national television programs. It is true that anyone can use my techniques to pass their polygraph test regardless of whether they are nervous or not, lying or not, no matter what. I have said that for over 40 years. I say it in hopes that those who use this instrument will realize that it is not accurate or reliable as a “lie detector” and will quit using it!

    By describing my training as “countermeasures” that people use in order to pass a polygraph as a form of cheating, or something used only by liars who are trying to “beat” the “lie detector”, polygraph operators are asserting something as a fact that is absolutely false – something that all evidence proves is false; i.e. that the polygraph is accurate, reliable, and effective in detecting truth and detecting deception. All the scientific evidence available proves that the polygraph is none of those things. The polygraph is no more accurate than the toss of a coin – in other words it is only able to detect deception approximately 50% of the time. This also means that unless truthful people get prepared to pass the test, over 50% of the time the polygraph con men will brand them as liars just because they are nervous. A sad irony is that often the people polygraph operators accuse people of using “countermeasures” are those who have no idea what that even means! As a matter of fact, polygraph operators are now so paranoid that one of the questions frequently asked on the polygraph test itself is if the subject has read my manual. Many of these unscrupulous jerks will fail or disqualify people just because they are suspected of the horrible Orwellian “thought crime” of educating themselves! But trying to “catch” anyone who uses the information in my manual and video/DVD to pass their polygraph test is an exercise in futility on the part of the polygraph operator, because everyone who uses the Sting Technique will ALWAYS PASS – and the only thing the polygraph operator will see is a perfect, natural truthful chart! As a matter of fact, the information in my manual is so effective, (and because the polygraph as a “lie detector” is so ineffective), the information in my manual and video/DVD is considered to be “contraband” – it is actually prohibited by Big Brother polygraphers in the government! This proves that polygraph operators are today’s version of the thugs employed by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth! The thugs in the ministry spread a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak in which, for example, “truth” is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants – or in the case of the polygraph operators a nervous reaction ALWAYS indicates deception. Polygraph operators, (and the agencies who employ them), are trying desperately to keep the myth of “lie detection” intact, and will do everything they can to punish anyone who exposes them for the frauds and conmen that they are! Click here http://www.polygraph.com/index.php?from-cop-to-crusader to read an excerpt from the second edition of my book FROM COP TO CRUSADER and see how far the government will go to punish me for exposing the myth of “lie detection”!

    It is bad, (but perhaps understandable, and even sometimes necessary), to use the polygraph as a prop for polygraph interrogators to frighten and intimidate people in order to get confessions or admissions of wrong doing – but it is never acceptable to take it a step further and disqualify applicants, deny security clearances, and revoke probations simply because a person has a nervous reaction on the polygraph “test” or because the polygrapher accuses them of using so-called “countermeasures”. Most polygraph operators and all polygraph associations say that the polygraph should only be used as an aid to guide investigators, and that the polygraph test results should never be the sole determinant of guilt or innocence, or truth or deception, or whether or not a person gets or keeps a job or a security clearance, (see AAPP statement in footnote below) – but the sad fact is, that happens every day to thousands of people. That fact alone should be the basis for malpractice lawsuits against polygraph operators! Polygraph operators are out of control – they no longer abide by the commonly accepted protocols agreed upon by their own professional associations – they don’t answer to anyone, and they don’t give a damn about the millions of people who are traumatized, and whose lives are ruined by their arbitrary and capricious actions. That is not only wrong, it should be illegal!

    Wouldn’t responsible policy makers in the government stop the use of the polygraph if they were aware of these problems? One would think they would, but the sad fact is they already know all these things – they have known since at least 1985 when I testified in Congress and got the EPPA passed into law. But, knowing the polygraph is worthless as a “lie detector”, knowing that people were wrongly accused of lying, and knowing that many were abused by polygraph operators asking illegal questions was still not enough to convince government agencies to stop using the polygraph. In fact, these agencies demanded that they be excluded from this law in order to “protect national security” and to “assure the integrity of law enforcement and the criminal justice system”. The lawmakers caved and allowed the exclusions to be written into the law because that was the only way to be assured that even the watered down version prohibiting the polygraph in the private sector would pass. Why do government agencies still staunchly defend the use of the polygraph and even harass, intimidate and try to punish me for proving the polygraph is not a “lie detector” by demonstrating that I can teach anyone to easily control the results of the “test”? Why do they do everything in their power to prevent any information that discredits the “lie detector” from being exposed? Why do they intimidate applicants and others who are required to submit to polygraph “testing” by monitoring their internet activity and punishing them for educating themselves about the polygraph? Why does the government love to use this “Frankenstein’s Monster”, (a description given to the polygraph by its inventor Dr. Larson)? And why do they insist on continuing to use it?

    After much thought, I have come to what I consider to be the only logical conclusion that can be drawn as to why government agencies, (federal, state, & local) continue to use the polygraph even though all the scientific evidence proves it is worthless as a “lie detector”. I believe they are using the polygraph as a subterfuge to avoid complying with federal employment regulations! What else explains the 65% “failure” rate for applicants who have already passed a very thorough background investigation? These agencies can circumvent federal laws and discriminate against people, ask illegal questions, interrogate/terrorize them for hours, and use the polygraph as an excuse to deny employment to anyone they don’t want to hire. They can be totally subjective in their hiring and firing practices when they use the polygraph, because all they have to do is to say the applicant “failed” a polygraph test. By simply saying the person has “failed” a polygraph test, government agencies can hire and fire people at will and then just blame it on the “failed” polygraph test. There is no way anyone can appeal a hiring or firing decision that is based on a “failed” polygraph – and those who are denied employment or terminated have no recourse – they can’t bring a lawsuit for discrimination or wrongful termination! Do I believe the government agencies who utilize the polygraph are this nefarious? YES! And it is tantamount to criminal negligence on the part of those charged with oversight of these government agencies to allow them to continue to use this so-called “lie detector testing”!

    Now back to the so-called “countermeasures”. I have always said that I do not teach countermeasures simply because of the negative connotations associated with the term. I teach people how to protect themselves from being falsely accused of lying simply because they happen to have a nervous reaction on the wrong question. The late Professor David T. Lykken, who was the preeminent scientific expert on polygraphy, observed “If I were somehow forced to take a polygraph test in relation to some important matter, I would certainly use these proven techniques rather than rely on the truth and my innocence as safeguards; an innocent (person) has nearly a 50:50 chance of failing. And those odds are considerably worse than those involved in Russian roulette.” When the EPPA was enacted into law, the word “protection” was not put in the title of that law by accident. It was put there deliberately because the legislators in their wisdom knew that people needed to be protected from this unreliable instrument, and that they needed to be protected from being falsely accused of lying simply because they were nervous. So if you’re going to take a polygraph examination and, as Dr. Lykken said, you have a 50% chance of failing just because you’re nervous on the wrong question it would only be prudent to utilize my training so as to mitigate the danger of being accused of being deceptive when in fact you are simply nervous.

    So, I don’t use this word “countermeasures” to describe what I do. As I said, that is a word that is misused by polygraph operators. All I do is educate people about the polygraph and teach them how to control every tracing on the polygraph charts so as to always produce what the polygraph examiner expects to see from a truthful subject. Since many people do not have the protection afforded by the Employee Polygraph PROTECTION Act, they must have some way to protect themselves from being falsely branded as liars!

    For almost 40 years, I have been crusading against the use of the “lie detector” and the abuses caused by what its inventor, Dr. John Larson, described as “Frankenstein’s Monster”. This is what Larson said about his own invention: “The lie detector is nothing more than a psychological third-degree aimed at extorting a confession as the old physical beating were. I’m sorry I ever had any part in its development.” I would like nothing better than to stop my crusade. I would love to shut down my website and quit – my goal has always been to put myself out of business. My fervent hope, a hope shared by millions of polygraph victims, is that the day will soon come when no one will need my services because the polygraph is no longer being used. I am tired of this never ending, and very frustrating fight – and I will be happy to quit the day after all the polygraph operators quit running their scam! But I can’t give up yet – I still get far too many calls and emails from people telling me how the polygraph has ruined their lives. I started this crusade in 1979 and I plan to finish it. For more information about what I have done for all these years, get my book FROM COP TO CRUSADER: THE STORY OF MY FIGHT AGAINST THE DANGEROUS MYTH OF “LIE DETECTION” – it is available in the STORE page of my website http://www.polygraph.com. You can help me in my fight by getting this book and sending it to as many people as you possibly can! But, as long as the thugs and con men who call themselves polygraphers continue to use the “lie detector” to frighten and intimidate people, I will continue to fight them! I am committed to this fight – until the polygraph is no longer being used, and people’s lives are no longer being ruined by this myth of “lie detection”, I will teach people how to protect themselves from being falsely accused of being a liar.

    Footnote: The American Association of Police Polygraphists: “Polygraph testing, forensic psychophysiology, and credibility assessment, are evolving fields of science, intended to be used as decision support tools. These tools should aid investigators and referring agencies in making decisions about the truthfulness or deception of individuals in diagnostic and screening test circumstances. The role of scientific testing is to provide information, while professional evaluators are the final authority on all matters that require expert judgment.”

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