McClatchy investigative reporter Marisa Taylor reports that the Drug Enforcement Agency has agreed to pay 14 contract translators $500,000 to settle a lawsuit brought under the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA).
While the EPPA includes exemptions that allow individuals under contract to the FBI, NSA, DIA, and CIA, among others, to be polygraphed, no such exemption exists for DEA contractors.
The translators also filed suit against their direct employer, Metropolitan Interpreters and Translators, Inc., and that legal action remains ongoing with respect to nine plaintiffs. An April 2012 statement of claim in that litigation may be downloaded here. One translator’s polygrapher asked her “if she had engaged in sexual activity with animals” and another’s polygraph examination “included a question regarding his sexual conduct and whether he cheated on his partner.”
The lawsuit against the DEA for illegally administering polygraph examinations in direct violation of a federal law, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, points out two things that I think merit much more scrutiny. The first and most important is that this lawsuit pulls back the curtain and exposes the terribly intrusive and abusive tactics employed by polygraph operators – something I have been railing against since my testimony in congress in support of the EPPA in 1985. The unconscionable actions of these polygraph operators are the very reason I have said that the use of this insidious Orwellian instrument of torture, aka the “lie detector” should be banned completely!
Secondly, let’s consider the case where federal employees were clearly violating a federal law – administering polygraph examinations in a deliberate and flagrant violation of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act! There is no indication that anyone in Criminal Division Public Integrity Section of the DOJ – or anyone from the DOJ – did anything to investigate the criminal activity committed by federal employees. These federal polygraph operators were engaged in criminal activity and obviously violated the federal law, but there is no indication that any investigation was conducted, no search warrants were issued, and no equipment or records were seized – nor were there any charges filed. I wonder how many other federal polygraph operators have (and are still) engaged in this very same criminal activity, both on duty and off! Where is the Criminal Division Public Integrity Section of the DOJ, and what, if anything, are they doing to investigate this ongoing criminal activity by these public officials? What did the Inspector General of the DEA do? Did anyone in authority do any investigation? Is there going to be any prosecution for the criminal acts committed by these federal polygraph operators?