Birmingham, Alabama Police Captain Suspended for Refusing Polygraph

In an article entitled “Captain Suspended Over Missing Computers,” Carol Robinson of the Birmingham News writes:

A Birmingham police captain has been suspended for nearly nine weeks for refusing to take a lie detector test in connection with missing departmental computers.

Capt. Ellison Beggs, the highest-ranking officer suspended in recent memory, will be off without pay for 45 working days beginning Feb. 12, according to Chief Mike Coppage’s disciplinary notice filed Wednesday with the Jefferson County Personnel Board.

In many parts of the United States, public employees accused of wrongdoing can be ordered to submit to pseudoscientific lie detector “testing” and punished for merely refusing to submit. By eliminating the governmental exemptions to the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act, we can put an end to such abuse.

Jenny Jones Again Promotes the Pseudoscience of Polygraphy

Today on the Jenny Jones television talk show: “Those Guests Thought They Were The Best, But They Couldn’t Pass The Test.”

A look at some of the year’s most entertaining lie detector tests. Meet one man who wants his girlfriend to take a lie detector test to prove she isn’t having an affair with another woman. Also, meet women who swear their body parts are “au naturel.”

See George Maschke’s bulletin board message “Set Jenny Jones Straight on Lie Detector ‘Tests'” for more on this show’s promotion of pseudoscience, and how to send a message to Jenny Jones.

“National Academy Begins Polygraph Study”

Steven Aftergood reports in today’s edition of the electronic newsletter Secrecy News:


The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences is undertaking a new review of the validity and reliability of the polygraph, or “lie detector.”

The 18 month review, which was proposed by Sen. Jeff Bingaman and funded by the Department of Energy, will examine the controversial use of polygraph testing for personnel security screening. And it “will include what is known about the effect of medications, sleep deprivation, and illnesses on the physiological responses measured.”

The first meeting of the study panel has been scheduled for January 26-27 at the National Academy building in Washington, DC. Most of the meeting will be open to the public.

Further information, including the names of the proposed panel members, may be found here:

See George Maschke’s bulletin board message “National Academy of Sciences Polygraph Study” for links to proposed panel members’ home pages.

Lie Detectors on the Jenny Jones Talk Show

Today on the Jenny Jones television talk show: “If you went astray, I’ll find out today.”

Meet a man who suspects his girlfriend is cheating on him with another woman, but his girlfriend denies it. Also, meet a guest who wants to know if her best friend is sleeping with her man. Jenny makes these cheating guests take lie detector tests.

This show may provide some insight into popular belief in lie detector “tests.”

“The Fallout at Los Alamos”

Dave Marash reports for ABC Nightline on the security crackdown at Los Alamos National Laboratory, including the new DOE polygraph screening program. Excerpt:

JOHN BROWN, DIRECTOR, LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LAB The–the polygraph issue is a real challenge for a scientific culture like ours.

DAVE MARASH (VO) Los Alamos lab director John Brown doesn’t hide his discomfort with the polygraph plague. He’s proud of his record of resistance to it.

JOHN BROWN It’s been reduced by limiting the numbers to selected people who have access to the most sensitive information that this laboratory possesses. The numbers are small at this laboratory right now. It’s less than about 200 people.

DAVE MARASH Just days after our interview with Dr. Brown Congress mandated wider use of the polygraph, putting hundreds more employees at Los Alamos lab, and potentially thousands more within the Department of Energy, on the list for regular, periodic polygraph examinations.

Ohio Prosecutor Drops Charges Against Woman Who Passes Lie Detector “Test”

Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Susan Ruiz Patton writes in an article entitled, “Sheriff releases trailer owner, awaits lab test results in slaying”:

RAY, Ohio – An owner of the trailer where police found the body of a former Shaker Heights woman was released from jail yesterday after passing a lie-detector test.

Vinton County Prosecutor Timothy P. Gleeson said he dropped a charge of receiving stolen property against Kathryn McKnight because she had passed the test….

“Lawyers Battle Over Polygraph: State Wants to Tell Jurors Chmura Refused to Take a Lie-Detector Test”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff writer Lisa Sink writes:

[Mark] Chmura, 31, a former Green Bay Packers tight end, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of third-degree sexual assault and child enticement. Authorities have accused him of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in a bathroom in the home of Chmura’s neighbor Robert Gessert.

The prosecutors’ motion contends they should be allowed “to admit evidence concerning the defendant’s refusal to submit to a polygraph examination as evidence relevant to the defendant’s consciousness of guilt.”

If you are suspected of a crime, whether you are innocent or guilty, you should never agree to submit to a polygraph interrogation. Polygraphy is an unreliable procedure that fundamentally depends on trickery, and a defendant’s refusal to submit should never be allowed in court as evidence of guilt.

Government Still Relying on Polygraphy in Wen Ho Lee Investigation

Washington Post staff writer Walter Pincus, in an article entitled, “For Government, Wen Ho Lee Mystery Deepens” writes that efforts to recover from a New Mexico dump the data tapes that Dr. Lee allegedly threw in a trash bin have been fruitless. Pincus observes:

Under the terms of Lee’s plea agreement, the 10 days of questioning granted the government are over; the only step left for the government is to administer a polygraph or “lie detector” exam.

“If he shows deception” on the fundamental questions of why he made the tapes and whether he destroyed them, a senior official said, “we are right back where we were when we first discovered what he had done.”

Pincus’ anonymous senior official needs to learn about the lie behind the lie detector: polygraph chart readings cannot provide the answers the FBI and Energy Department are looking for.

“ETHICS COMPLAINT: Polygraph Expert: Test Inconclusive”

Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Frank Geary reports on a polygraph “test” that the Review-Journal paid Nevada polygrapher Dick Putnam to administer to Gene Smith, a fired Clark County, Nevada employee who has filed an ethics complaint “accusing Clark County Commissioner Erin Kenny of conspiring to break into the county administration building to copy records in an attempt to hurt Commissioner Mary Kincaid’s re-election chances.”

Results of Smith’s test were inconclusive, according to a report released Monday by the examiner, Dick Putnam, a Reno area resident who performed polygraph tests for 16 years for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department and who state courts recognize as an expert in the field.

The test, which lasted about three hours, was performed at a downtown Las Vegas law office and only Putnam and Smith were in the room at the time.

Smith’s results don’t indicate whether he was being truthful in his allegations against Kenny, Putnam said. Five percent to 10 percent of polygraph tests come back with inconclusive results, which can occur if a subject is nervous or if the questions are poorly worded, according to polygraph experts outside Nevada. Experts say such results can also occur when the subject is being deceptive.

“The charts obtained from two separate sets of questions were not adequate to support any opinion with regard to (Smith’s) truthfulness,” Putnam said. “Why inconclusive results occur has been studied, but no one has been able to come up with an answer.”