Leaked Documents Further Confirm Polygraph Community’s Inability to Detect Sophisticated Countermeasures

NCCAIn September 2014, retired Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence agent Scott W. Carmichael accused Donald Krapohl, then the number two official at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA, the federal government’s polygraph school), of violating the Espionage Act by indirectly making classified information about the U.S. government’s methodology for polygraph countermeasure detection available to the government of Singapore. Carmichael alleged that the classified information was contained in a document published under the name of retired FBI Special Agent Robert Drdak that was in fact plagiarized from a 2003 NCCA paper authored by Dan Weatherman and the late Paul Menges1.

AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of the document in question (14 MB PDF), which is currently distributed to purchasers of the Lafayette Instrument Company’s polygraph software. Although the document purports to be copyrighted, if, as Scott Carmichael credibly asserts, the document is in fact plagiarized from an NCCA paper, any copyright claim is without foundation.

The allegedly NCCA-derived document further confirms that the polygraph community has no coherent methodology for detecting sophisticated polygraph countermeasures such as those outlined in Chapter 4 of AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector or in Doug Williams’ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph.

It should be noted that the countermeasure “detection” criteria outlined in the allegedly NCCA-derived document are so vague and ambiguous that any polygraph operator reviewing a recorded polygraph examination might find “indications of countermeasures,” if desired:

There are verbal and non-verbal cues commonly observed in examinees who prove to be deceptive. The examiner should be observant during the entire testing process for these non-chart related markers of deception:

  • The examinee made an attempt(s) to avoid taking the polygraph examination
  • The examinee was late arriving for the examination without a legitimate excuse
  • The examinee tries to limit the length of the polygraph session
  • The examinee expresses distrust or non-belief in polygraph
  • The examinee tries to dominate the conversation and talks incessantly
  • The examinee complains of some physical ailment or medical condition prior to being asked about his health and physical condition
  • The examinee is quick to volunteer information regarding medications and then asks “will that effect the test”
  • The examinee tries to oversell his honesty / truthfulness / character / reputation, etc.
  • The examinee gives excuses why he might fail the examination
  • The examinee’s story is absurd, illogical or in direct conflict with case facts
  • The examinee provides little details regarding critical parts of his story
  • The examinee uses memory qualifiers to excess when answering questions
  • The examinee answers relevant questions with half-truths
  • The examinee minimizes the seriousness of the allegation / crime
  • The examinee blames the person making the allegations or victim and provides reasons why he has been wrongfully accused
  • The examinee avoids answering direct questions about the relevant issues with “yes” or “no” and provides evasive answers to those questions
  • The examinee answers with a question
  • The examinee tries to buy thinking time before answering relevant questions
  • The examinee uses defensive statements when asked a direct question
  • The examinee exhibits excessive physical indicators of unconscious stress relief such as yawning, stretching, knuckle cracking, throat clearing, sniffling, burping, etc.
  • The examinee is “overly” anything
  • The examinee deviates from his norm at critical times
  • The examinee exhibits clusters of non-verbal cues
  • The examinee makes small admissions designed to cloud the relevant issue
  • The examinee exhibits an unusual interest or knowledge about polygraph

How Orwellian that any expression of distrust or non-belief in polygraphy may be interpreted as an indication of countermeasure use (and thus result in permanent blacklisting). That polygraphy is without scientific basis is well-established and not controversial among educated persons.

AntiPolygraph.org has also received and is making public the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Polygraph Countermeasure Handbook (3.2 MB PDF). This document, authored by the late AFOSI polygraph examiner Larry Victor Streepy (1933-2007), appears to have been authored in the mid-1980s and is the most candid governmental assessment of polygraph countermeasures that AntiPolygraph.org has yet reviewed. Streepy acknowledges (at pp. 2-3):

Examiners should not become complacent by holding to the idea that all countermeasures will be readily distinguishable. They should, instead, recognize that it may be difficult to identify countermeasures use…

AntiPolygraph.org welcomes both commentary and submission of relevant documents. Information on how to contact us securely is available here.

Update: There is a discussion of this article on Slashdot.org. For additional documentation of the polygraph community’s doctrine on polygraph countermeasures, see The Countermeasure Files.

  1. In 2002, Menges argued in a paper published in the American Polygraph Association’s quarterly publication, Polygraph, (then edited by Donald Krapohl) that it is unethical to make information about polygraph countermeasures available to the public and suggested that it should be made illegal. See AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke’s public response to Menges’ piece. []

How to Support Imprisoned Polygraph Critic Doug Williams

Doug Williams (still frame from final video message before reporting to prison)
Doug Williams (still frame from final video message before reporting to prison)

On Friday, 30 October 2015, Doug Williams, 70, reported to the Federal Correctional Institution at Florence, Colorado to begin serving a two year prison sentence. Williams was targeted for entrapment by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit in a sting operation dubbed Operation Lie Busters. In a 2013 speech to law enforcement polygraphers, John R. Schwartz, the head of the CBP polygraph unit, said he thought those who “protest the loudest and the longest” against polygraph testing “are the ones that I believe we need to focus our attention on.” Williams, a former police polygraphist himself, has been a vocal critic of polygraphy for more than three decades and earned the ire of the federal polygraph community by teaching others how to pass or beat a polygraph test.

If you would like to send Doug a letter to brighten his day while he is in prison, you can write to him at this address:

Douglas G. Williams 29159-064
FCI Florence
Federal Correctional Institution
Satellite Camp
P.O. Box 5000
Florence, CO 81226-5000

If you would like to help Doug financially while he is incarcerated, you can make a contribution to the Help Doug Williams campaign started by documentary filmmaker John Cotton, who is working on a film about Williams’ ordeal titled How to Sting the Polygraph. Doug Williams’ scheduled release date is 27 July 2017.

Ohio Attorney Bradley P. Koffel Showcases His Ignorance by Polygraphing Clients

Bradley P. Koffel (Twitter profile)

In an article titled “Some lawyers turning away clients who fail polygraphs,” Dean Narciso reports for the Columbus Dispatch that “[a]ttorney Bradley Koffel uses polygraph tests to screen out potential nightmare clients, especially those charged with sex crimes.”

Any competent lawyer should know that polygraph testing has no scientific basis. Moreover, polygraphy is inherently biased against the truthful and yet easily defeated using simple countermeasures that polygraph operators cannot detect. Koffel’s reliance on pseudoscientific polygraph “tests” to accept or reject clients reflects very poor judgment indeed. Those in the Columbus area in need of competent legal counsel should look elsewhere.

Polygraph Dragnet at Simpsonville, Kentucky Police Department

Members of the Simpsonville Police Department (Simpsonville P.D. photo)

Television stations WHAS and WDRB report that the Simpsonville, Kentucky Police Department‘s six members face polygraph interrogations after some $30,000 in cash along with drugs and firearms were stolen from the small department’s evidence locker in an overnight break-in. The Kentucky State Police are conducting the investigation. All members of the Simpsonville P.D. have agreed to be polygraphed.

Such polygraph dragnets have a poor record of success. AntiPolygraph.org has found no recent examples where such dragnents have solved a mystery. Examples of past polygraph dragnets with no reported success include:

  • A 2001 inquest at the Irondale, Alabama city hall to determine who in city hall may have leaked confidential police information;
  • The 2006 polygraph dragnet of Jacksonville, Florida firefighters over nooses placed on the gear of two black firefighters;
  • A 2006 polygraph dragnet at the Greensboro, North Carolina city council in an attempt to determine who leaked a confidential report on racism in the Greensboro Police Department;
  • The 2009 mass polygraph “testing” of members of the Dracut, Massachusetts Police Department regarding the disappearance of marijuana stored as evidence;
  • A 2009 polygraph dragnet at a Houston, Texas fire station regarding alleged racial and sexual harrassment.

Polygraph “testing” is thoroughly discredited pseudoscience. Polygraph “tests” are easily defeated using simple countermeasures (see chapter 4) that polygraph operators cannot detect, and truthful persons are frequently falsely accused of deception by polygraph operators. Polygraph chart readings are evidence of nothing and should never be relied on to implicate or exculpate individuals in criminal investigations.

A Final Appeal from Doug Williams to Stop the Madness of Polygraph “Testing”

A week before he is to begin serving a two year federal prison sentence, Doug Williams, the founder of Polygraph.com, has made a final appeal to the U.S. government to end its misplaced reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy. Williams, a former police polygraphist who offered training and instructional materials on how to pass a polygraph “test,” was targeted for entrapment in a sting operation dubbed Operation Lie Busters conceived by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit.


Doug Williams Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Teaching Polygraph Countermeasures to Undercover Agents

The following is a special report by attorney David C. Graham, who was present at Doug Williams’ sentencing hearing at the federal court house in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Tuesday, 22 September 2015.

I traveled to Oklahoma City to attend and report on the sentencing of Doug Williams.  I attended his trial earlier this year, in May.  Based on what I observed at his trial, I did not think the sentencing would go well for Williams.  As a practicing attorney with extensive criminal law experience, I know that pleading guilty as charged–which is what Williams did–is like going down a dark one-way, dead-end street; it’s not going to end well.

The weather in Oklahoma City was the same as it had been in May, but the atmosphere was completely different.

Before the sentencing hearing began, I spoke briefly to Williams, his wife, and two step-children.  Williams appeared prepared for whatever sentence he might receive.

In the courtroom were the government’s attorneys, Brian Kidd, and Heidi Gesch.  They were joined at counsel table by FBI agent Doug Robbins.  At the defense table were Williams and his attorneys, father and son, Stephen Buzin, and Chase O’Brien.

Also in the courtroom was a female government employee, affiliated with the prosecution, who was at the trial as well.  On the other side of the courtroom were Williams’ wife, two stepchildren, and three friends of the family.

Several security guards were in the back of the courtroom.

The judge, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, appeared and called the case.

First, the judge sought to determine Williams’ guidelines score.  The guidelines score determines the presumptive sentence length and disposition (prison or probation).

The first thing defense attorney Buzin said was that he had put all his arguments in writing and that he did not care to make any further argument.  He looked bothered and annoyed.  Perhaps he had a bus to catch.  His son also looked like he’d rather be elsewhere.

The main area of contention was whether Williams should receive a 2-point reduction for “acceptance of responsibility.”  Defense counsel argued that Williams did accept responsibility for his conduct and therefore, deserved the reduction.  The prosecutor argued that Williams did not accept responsibility for his conduct and therefore, did not deserve the reduction.  The prosecutor also argued that even if Williams did accept responsibility, he waited too long to do so to be eligible for sentencing reduction.  The judge agreed with the prosecution.

Alas, the scoring reduction for acceptance of responsibility was the only conceivable reason for Williams to plead guilty and he did not get the benefit of it.

Counsel then made their sentencing arguments.  The defense argued for probation.  The prosecutor argued for 24 to 30 months, no probation.  Williams personally addressed the court.  He said he was “embarrassed and humiliated.”  He also said he was very remorseful for his actions.

The judge sentenced Williams to 24 months and denied probation.  At the defendant’s request, she recommended he be allowed to serve his time at FCI El Reno, the federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma, so that he may be close to his family.  She allowed Williams to remain free on his personal recognizance bond, pending his report date.  Said report date and report location are to be determined later; however, the judge said Williams must report no later than noon, on October 30, 2015.

Upon release from prison, Williams will be on supervised release for 3 years.

David C. Graham is an attorney at law practicing in Overland Park, Kansas. He may be reached at 1-913-829-5445 or by e-mail to dcg2111 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Bloomberg Businessweek Profiles Doug Williams

This week’s issue of Bloomberg Businessweek includes an in-depth feature article by investigative reporter Drake Bennett profiling Doug Williams‘ decades-long efforts against the pseudoscience of polygraphy and the federal government’s efforts to silence him. We won’t summarize the article here: it’s well worth reading in full. See “Man vs. Machine: The True Story of an Ex-Cop’s War on Lie Detectors.” See also the accompanying video report by Jennafer Savino and Justin Beach:

Doug Williams Shows How to Beat a Lie Detector Test

In still frame from video, Doug Williams explains how to pass or beat a lie detector test.

Bloomberg Business has published a video report on how to beat a polygraph test featuring Doug Williams of Norman, Oklahoma, who was targeted for entrapment in the federal government’s Operation Lie Busters investigation.

Williams, himself a former police polygraph examiner, has been a vocal critic of polygraphy for some 35 years and is the author of How to Sting the Polygraph, a manual that explains the trickery on which polygraph “testing” relies and offers strategies for passing. Williams had no criminal record when federal polygraph examiners set out to engineer a crime for which to prosecute him. Explaining the effort to entrap Williams in 2013, John R. Schwartz, who heads the U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph unit, told fellow law enforcement polygraphers that he thought that those who “protest the loudest and the longest” against polygraph testing “are the ones that I believe we need to focus our attention on.”

In May 2015, Williams pled guilty to five felony counts. He awaits sentencing.