DHS OIG Whitewashes CBP Polygraph Complaints (or, CBP Dismisses 5 out of 6 Valid Complaints Against Its Polygraph Operators)

On 26 July 2018, the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General published report OIG-18-68, titled “Most Complaints About CBP’s Polygraph Program Are Ambiguous or Unfounded” (PDF).

The 17-page report’s findings are summarized on page 5:

Review of CBP’s Polygraph Complaints
We reviewed 157 complaints to determine whether CBP had an effective process and whether the complaints were true. The complaints fell into three categories — those missing information or otherwise too vague to review; those which were not true (the allegation was not substantiated by an audio review); and those which were true (the allegation was substantiated by an audio review). Of the 157 complaints, we determined that:

  • 130 (83 percent) were either not specific or did not have enough information to review;
  • 21 (13 percent) were not true based on the allegation; and
  • 6 (4 percent) were true.

We determined CBP did not adequately address five of the six substantiated complaints. For the complaint it addressed adequately, CBP conducted an audio review and allowed the applicant to retest.

What stands out is that 83% of complaints were judged as either “not specific” or “did not have enough information to review.” No breakdown is provided between these two categories, and no examples of such complaints are provided. However, it seems likely that DHS OIG would have placed in this category any complaint by any CBP applicant who alleged she told the truth yet was accused of lying by her CBP polygraph operator , simply because one cannot prove the negative in such a situation. That is, there is no way any CBP applicant falsely accused of lying can prove that she did not lie. It appears DHS OIG therefore dismisses such complaints out of hand. Yet complaints of being falsely branded as a liar by CBP polygraph operators are by far the most common ones heard.

The above citation also shows that “CBP did not adequately address five of the six substantiated complaints.” A more informative title for this DHS OIG report would be “CBP Dismisses 5 out of 6 Valid Complaints Against Its Polygraph Operators.”

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