On the afternoon of Friday, 14 November 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment (the day before) of Douglas Gene Williams, a former Oklahoma City police polygraphist and the proprietor of Polygraph.com, who has been teaching individuals how to pass polygraph “tests” since 1979. The 21-page five-count indictment accuses Williams of two counts of mail fraud for having received payment for his services through the U.S. Postal Service and three counts of witness tampering for allegedly “persuad[ing] or attempting to persuade” two undercover agents posing as customers “to conceal material facts and make false statements with the intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony” of the undercover agents “in an official proceeding….”
Williams is not charged with any alleged crime not involving an undercover agent posing as a customer. Whatever the legal merits of the government’s case against Williams, it seems clear that the overarching motivation of the criminal investigation against him is to suppress speech that the government dislikes. U.S. v. Doug Williams has serious implications for free speech in the United States.
For the time being, Williams is limiting his public comments based on legal counsel. However, he has previously described the February 2013 entrapment operation and raid that federal agents conducted on his home and office. Using business records seized during the raid, federal officials compiled an inter-agency watch list comprising the names and personal details of thousands of Williams’ customers, as well as a lesser number of customers of a second man, Chad Dixon, who was also targeted for prosecution.
The indictment (2.6 mb PDF) of Doug Williams is an implicit admission by the U.S. government that 1) polygraph countermeasures work, 2) it has no effective means of detecting them, 3) it is deeply concerned about polygraph countermeasures.
A decade ago, an instructor at the federal government’s polygraph school suggested in a polygraph trade journal that providing information about polygraph countermeasures to the public should be outlawed. AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke posted a public response, never thinking that the U.S. government would actually pursue such a radical plan. But it appears to be happening.
- “In Federal crackdown, ex-cop indicted for coaching to beat polygraphs” by Marisa Taylor for McClatchy Newspapers
- “Polygraph.com owner indicted for training customers to beat the polygraph” by David Kravets for Ars Technica. See also the active comments section
- “Owner of Polygraph.com indicted for ‘training customers to lie’ on polygraph tests” by Brian Ries for Mashable
- “Anti-polygraph crusader indicted, entrapped by Department of Homeland Security” by Julia Davis for Examiner.com
- “DOJ Indicts Polygraph.com Expert” by Cheri Roberts for BeforeItsNews.com
Also, for discussion of the indictment from the time it was first made public, see the AntiPolygraph.org message board thread Doug Williams of Polygraph.com Indicted. Comments may also be posted here. Registration is not required.