AntiPolygraph.org Marks 20 Years Online

Friday, 18 September 2020 marks AntiPolygraph.org’s 20th anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have published five editions of our featured publication, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, which with hundreds of thousands of downloads, is arguably the most widely read book on the topic of polygraphy.

Archive.org Wayback Machine's first snapshot of AntiPolygraph.org
Archive.org’s earliest snapshot of AntiPolygraph.org, dated 14 December 2000

AntiPolygraph.org has also curated the internet’s largest public repository of polygraph documentation. Key government policy documents that were previously unavailable to the public are now readily accessible to all, including the federal polygraph handbook and administration guides for such polygraph techniques as the Test for Espionage and Sabotage (TES), the Test for Espionage, Sabotage, and Corruption (TES-C), and the Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test (LEPET).

AntiPolygraph.org has made extensive documentation about polygraph countermeasures—information both the federal government and the polygraph community at large have actively sought to keep hidden from the public—readily available and free for all who seek it.

In addition, we’ve done original reporting and commentary on polygraph-related topics, most notably on our blog. We have never revealed the identity of a source who requested anonymity, and we’ve never received a secret government order for information about any of our visitors or sources. In recent years, we’ve made available a means for secure and anonymous submission of files.

We avoided an apparent entrapment attempt in the federal government’s misbegotten Operation Lie Busters, in which federal polygraph operators targeted individuals who provided instruction on how to pass or beat a polygraph “test” for entrapment and criminal prosecution, and we provided on-scene reporting from the courtroom in Oklahoma City where prominent polygraph critic Doug Williams stood trial in 2015.

Over the years, we have also received and rejected take-down demands from lawyers for:

AntiPolygraph.org continues to host the internet’s preëminent forum for discussion of polygraph-related topics, with nearly 6,000 registered users and over 44,000 posts. We have privately responded to inquiries from thousands of individuals as well as numerous press inquiries and interview requests.

In recent years, AntiPolygraph.org has also provided pro bono consultation for both prosecution and defense in various legal matters.

Thanks are due to all who have helped to make AntiPolygraph.org a success over the years.

We look forward to continuing our efforts to educate the public about polygraph matters, to assist polygraph victims, and to ultimately bring about the abolishment of the pseudoscience of polygraphy.

Accused Russian Spy Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins Evidently Beat the Polygraph to Penetrate the NSA, INSCOM and the DIA

Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins

On Thursday, 20 August 2020, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted former U.S. Army Special Forces officer Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins of Gainesville, Virginia on a single count of “Conspiracy to Gather or Deliver Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government.” Debbins was arrested on Friday, 21 August 2020.

The indictment states that the 45-year-old Debbins graduated from the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at the University of Minnesota in 1997 and served on active military duty from July 1998 until November 2005. During this time, Debbins served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Korea and at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and with the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group in Germany. Debbins was investigated for a security violation during a deployment to Azerbaijan in 2004, as a consequence of which he was relieved of command and his Top Secret/SCI security clearance was suspended. After leaving active duty, Debbins served in the inactive army reserve until 2010.

The indictment alleges that throughout his military service, indeed while still an ROTC cadet, Debbins was working on behalf of a Russian intelligence service. The indictment alleges, among other things, that during a meeting with two Russian intelligence officers in 2003, Debbins provided information about the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, noting at para. 46 that he was instructed not to take a polygraph “test’:

46. During the meeting, RIS 5 and RIS 6 instructed DEBBINS not to take a polygraph and offered to give him training on how to deceive polygraphs. They further encouraged DEBBINS to continue pursuing a career in the Special Forces.

It is not specified whether Debbins ever received such polygraph countermeasure training.

The indictment does go on to note:

60. In January 2010, an Adjudicator with the U.S. Army Central Personnel Security Clearance Facility sent DEBBINS a letter notifying him that he had been granted a TS/SCI security clearance….

The indictment does not state for what purpose Debbins was granted this security clearance, but in a profile of Debbins on the website of the Institute for World Politics he states:

I got a job working at Fort Meade as a Russian analyst and did that for three years. I then transitioned to working as a cyber instructor for CACI for another three years.

Fort Meade is home to the National Security Agency (NSA). All analyst positions at the NSA, including contractor jobs, require a full-scope (lifestyle) polygraph examination that includes questions about contacts with foreign governments.

If the espionage allegations against Debbins are true—and they seem to be well-documented, including a signed confession—then Debbins necessarily beat the polygraph to work at Fort Meade.

902nd Military Intelligence Group Crest

Debbins’ LinkedIn profile indicates that from January 2011 to March 2014, he worked as a “senior research analyst” for Mission Essential Intelligence Solutions, a government contractor. Debbins’ resume, made public on 27 August 2020 (after this article was first published), shows that this contract work was for the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, a counterintelligence unit falling under the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) and headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland. This position, for which Debbins needed a TS/SCI clearance, would have required polygraph screening.

Thereafter, from April 2014 to December 2015, Debbins indicates that he was an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton, another government contractor that among other things provides services to the NSA. However, Debbins’ resume indicates that his work with Booz Allen Hamilton was as a “Russian cyber analyst” for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Since 1 July January 2017, the Defense Intelligence Agency has required that all contractors outside inside the continental United States with SCI access pass a polygraph “test.” This requirement was extended to contractors outside the continental United States as of 1 July 2017. Thus, it is possible that Debbins also beat the DIA polygraph, though it’s possible that a previously passed NSA army polygraph might have obviated the need for a DIA polygraph.

After that, Debbins indicates that he worked as an instructor for military contractor CACI International, Inc. from January 2016 to September 2017. A statement by DIA Senior Expert for Counterintelligence David L. Tomlinson indicates that this work was with DIA’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Activity.

Accused spy Debbins at RAF Molesworth nuclear bunker, 30 January 2018

Debbins’ profiles on LinkedIn and the Institute for World Politics indicate that after leaving CACI International, he worked through contractor CoSolutions, Inc. as a Russian studies instructor at the Defense Intelligence Agency-run Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe (JIOCEUR) Analytic Center at RAF Molesworth, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom from August 2017 to January 2020.

DIA Senior Expert for Counterintelligence David L. Tomlinson’s statement indicates that the specific organization for which Debbins worked was the DIA’s Regional Joint Intelligence Training Facility (RJITF) at RAF Molesworth. The RJITF is closely associated with the DIA-operated Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe (JIOCEUR) Analytic Center.

In 2015, the U.S. Air Force’s 501st Combat Support Wing produced the following public relations video about the JIOCEUR Analytic Center, commonly called the Joint Analytic Center (JAC):

Other recent failures of the NSA’s polygraph screening program include contractors Harold Thomas Martin III and Nghia Hoang Pho, both of whom are currently serving prison sentences for unlawfully retaining classified information.

In addition, the The DIA’s former top analyst for Cuban affairs, Ana Belen Montes, was a Cuban spy who received instruction in polygraph countermeasures from her handlers and beat at least one DIA polygraph while spying for Cuba. Ironically, in response to Montes having beaten the polygraph, the Department of Defense Inspector General recommended more polygraphs, and the DIA complied.

That spies and security violators are beating the polygraph is not surprising. Polygraphy has no scientific basis to begin with, and as explained in AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, its methodology makes it vulnerable to simple, effective countermeasures that polygraph operators cannot detect.

Debbins’ arrest comes just a week after the espionage arrest in Honolulu of former CIA officer and FBI contract linguist Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, who evidently beat the polygraph to obtain employment with the FBI.

Note: This article was updated on 28 August 2020 to reflect new information made public in court filings associated with a detention hearing in this case.

Accused Spy Alexander Yuk Ching Ma Evidently Beat the Polygraph to Penetrate the FBI

Alexander Yuk Ching Ma
Alexander Yuk Ching Ma
(LinkedIn profile picture)

On Thursday, 13 August 2020, FBI Special Agent Chris Jensen filed under seal a criminal complaint against Alexander Yuk Ching Ma of Honolulu, Hawaii, charging him with “Conspiracy to Gather and Communicate National Defense Information of the United States to a Foreign Nation.” On Monday, 17 August 2020, the complaint was unsealed.

In an accompanying affidavit, SA Jensen adduces evidence that Ma, a 67-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Hong Kong who worked for the CIA from 1982-1987, acted as a “compromised asset” of the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) “at least by early 2001.”

The evidence against Ma appears to be strong, consisting in part of a video recording of meetings he and an unnamed 85-year-old relative who worked for the CIA from 1967-1983 held with “at least five (5) MSS intelligence officials in a Hong Kong hotel room” from 24-26 March 2001. The 85-year-old relative “suffers from an advanced and debilitating cognitive disease,” and the FBI has therefore not sought his arrest.

SA Jensen’s affidavit states at paras. 22-26:

22. Following the March 2001 Hong Kong meetings, MA continued to remain in contact with MSS officials and to work on their behalf. The investigation has revealed that as a mechanism to once again give himself access to U.S. government information, MA applied for employment with the FBI. On December 26, 2002, MA applied for the position of “Special Agent.” On or about December 30, 2002, after being advised by the FBI that he did not meet the age requirements for the FBI Special Agent position, MA submitted an online job application to the FBI for a “contract linguist/monitor/tester” position.

23. On or about April 14, 2003, MA submitted a written application for a contract linguist position, in Chinese languages, at the FBI Honolulu Field Office, in Honolulu, Hawaii. On or about April 21, 2003, MA used a prepaid calling card to call his MSS handlers to notify them of the status of his efforts to gain FBI employment.

24. On or about May 20, 2004, MA was notified that his background investigation for the contract linguist position was complete and that an employment contract would be ready for review in several weeks. MA agreed to continue the hiring process.

25. On or about August 10, 2004, one day before reporting to work with the FBI, MA telephoned a suspected accomplice and stated that he would be working for “the other side.”

26. On or about August 11, 2004, MA reported to work with the FBI….

Left unsaid in the affidavit is that as a condition of FBI employment, Ma necessarily sat for and passed a pre-employment polygraph “test.” The counterintelligence portion of the polygraph procedure used by the FBI includes relevant questions such as “Have you been involved in espionage or terrorism against the US?” and “Have you had any unauthorized foreign contacts?”

Alexander Yuk Ching Ma
Alexander Yuk Ching Ma
(Facebook, 6 August 2015)

If, as seems likely, the criminal allegations are true, then Ma beat the polygraph to penetrate the FBI.

It is to be noted that around the time Ma applied for employment with the FBI, the Bureau had a roughly 50% polygraph failure rate for special agent applicants, with many honest persons being wrongly branded as liars and barred for life from FBI employment.

SA Jensen’s affidavit goes on to chronicle instances of Ma’s alleged espionage against the FBI up to 30 November 2010. It is possible that Ma faced a second, periodic polygraph screening “test” some time during his FBI employment.

It is not surprising that Ma could have fooled the polygraph. As documented in Chapter 4 of AntiPolygraph.org’s free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (which Ma might have easily found online in 2003), polygraphy is vulnerable to simple, effective countermeasures that polygraph operators cannot detect.

Ma would not be alone in having beaten the FBI’s pre-employment polygraph “test.” On 26 April 2004, Marine Corps veteran Leandro Aragoncillo, acting for current and former officials in the Philippines, beat an FBI pre-employment polygraph “test” to gain employment as an FBI analyst.

Other spies known to have passed the polygraph include Nazi spy Ignatz Theodor Griebl (in the FBI’s first use of the polygraph in a counterintelligence investigation), Czech spies Karel Frantisek Koecher and Jiri Pasovsky, Chinese spy Larry Wu-tai Chin, Russian spy Aldrich Hazen Ames, and Cuban spies Ana Belen Montes and Nicolás Sirgado.

Alexander Yuk Ching Ma in January 2019 meeting with an undercover FBI agent
Alexander Yuk Ching Ma in January 2019 meeting with undercover FBI employee

In 2002, some two years before Ma and Aragoncillo beat the polygraph, the National Academy of Sciences advised that “[polygraph testing’s] accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies.”

Sadly, in the aftermath of 9/11, federal agencies ignored this advice. How many more catastrophic failures like the Ma case will it take before the U.S. government terminates its misplaced reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy?

Ignatz Theodor Griebl: The Nazi Spy Who Escaped Thanks to the Polygraph

The FBI’s first documented use of the polygraph in an espionage investigation came in 1938 in connection with a Nazi German spy ring operating in the United States. The most important suspect interrogated with the polygraph was Dr. Ignatz Theodor Griebl, a medical officer in the U.S. army reserve who is believed to have been the ring’s coordinator.

According to the lead FBI investigator, Special Agent Leon G. Turrou, the results of a polygraph examination administered to Dr. Griebl on 5 May 1938 “made us relax all vigilance, all watchfulness over him.” Five days later, Griebl fled to Germany aboard the S.S. Breman.

AntiPolygraph.org has previously made available Chapter 15 of Leon Turrou’s memoir, Nazi Spies in America, which discusses the role of polygraphy in the Nazi spy ring investigation. We have also obtained and published FBI case file documents related to Griebl’s polygraph examination.

However, until recently, we had never seen a photograph of polygraph-passing spy Theodor Ignatz Griebl. Recently, two archival news photographs of Griebl were offered for public sale. AntiPolygraph.org has obtained both of them and places them into the public domain.

The first photograph has a mimeographed short news story dated 18 May 1938 (eight days after Griebl fled the country) glued to the back. It appears that a person behind Griebl has been painted out of the picture with gray paint. Features of Griebl’s face, hair, and spectacles have also been retouched with paint.

Ignatz Theodor Griebl (second photograph)
241255 KEY SPY WITNESS FEARED KIDNAPED DR. IGNATZ T. GRIEBL, (ABOVE), THE GOVERNMENT’S CHIEF WITNESS AGAINST A FOREIGN SPY RING, LEFT NEW YORK QUIETLY ON THE LINER BREMEN, RECENTLY, AND IS NOW BELIEVED TO BE IN GERMANY, IT WAS REVEALED TODAY. DR. GRIEBL, NATURALIZED AMERICAN CITIZEN, WAS KEPT AWAY FROM THE FRENCH SURETE OF POLICE WHEN THEY BOARDED THE LINER AT CHERBOURG TO QUESTION HIM AT THE REQUEST OF THE UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE, WILLIAM C. BULLITT. THE MASTER OF THE BREMEN ORDERED THE FRENCH DETECTIVES TO LEAVE THE VESSEL. G-MEN ARE INVESTIGATING TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE PHYSICIANS WAS “SHANGHAIED” ABOARD THE LINER AND FORCED TO RETURN TO GERMANY, OR WHETHER HIS DEPARTURE WAS VOLUNTARY. DR. GRIEBL FORMERLY WAS AN OFFICER IN THE GERMAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE. A WOMAN AT THE PHYSICIAN’S HOME SAID HE WAS “ON VACATION.” CREDIT LINE (ACME) 5/18/38 (#1 FOR JAP IT MEX BA)

Initial fears that Griebl had been kidnapped proved to be unfounded.

The second photograph has a mimeographed news story dated 14 October 1938 glued to the back. However, this unretouched photograph appears to have been taken at the same time as the previous photograph, as Griebl appears to be in the same location wearing the same clothes.

Ignatz Theodor Griebl (second photograph)
675533..WATCH YOUR CREDIT..INTERNATIONAL NEWS PHOTO SLUG(GRIEBL) HE’LL BE AT SPY TRIAL –IN SPIRIT NEW YORK…….ALTHOUGH HE WAS REGARDED AS ONE OF THE KEY MEN IN THE ALLEGED SPY RING UNCOVERED HERE LAST FEBRUARY, DR. IGNATZ GRIEBL (ABOVE) WILL NOT BE PRESENT IN THE FLESH AT THE TRIAL OF THE ESPIONAGE SUSPECTS THAT OPENED HERE AT FEDERAL COURT THIS MORNING. DR. GRIEBL, FORMER HEAD OF THE NAZI FRIENDS OF NEW GERMANY AND A FORMER RESERVE OFFICER IN THE U.S. ARMY MEDICAL CORPS, FLED TO GERMANY WHILE UNDER BAIL AFTER HE HAD “SPILLED” THE STORY OF THE CONSPIRACY TO FEDERAL AGENTS. U.S. INVESTIGATORS RECENTLY RETURNED FROM EUROPE AFTER AGAINS QUESTIONING DR. GRIEBL. TESTIMONY THUS ACQUIRED MAY BE PRESENTED AT THE CURRENT TRIAL. W.10-14-38-10.30

The experience of 1938 should have served as a warning to the FBI and other federal agencies that polygraphy is not to be relied upon. Nonetheless, a decade later the CIA and NSA implemented mandatory polygraph screening, with numerous other federal agencies eventually following suit.

Sadly, in 2020 the pseudoscience of polygraphy, which has not improved in any meaningful way since its spectacular failure in 1938, sits as the centerpiece of U.S. counterintelligence and personnel security policy.

San Jose P.D. Polygraph Operator Robert E. Foster Charged with Multiple Felonies

Robert E. Foster

The Santa Clara County, California District Attorney’s Office has charged Robert E. Foster, a polygraph operator with the San Jose Police Department, with “with using his private security company to commit insurance fraud, tax evasion, wage theft, and about $18 million in money laundering.” The case against Foster is summarized in a press release that is reproduced here in full:

San Jose Police Officer Charged with Worker Exploitation, Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

For release on July 31, 2020

CONTACT:

Mattia Corsiglia
Deputy District Attorney
Insurance Fraud Unit
(408) 792-2526

San Jose Police Officer Charged with Worker Exploitation, Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has charged a San Jose police officer with using his private security company to commit insurance fraud, tax evasion, wage theft, and about $18 million in money laundering.

Robert Foster, 47, the Morgan Hill owner of Atlas Private Security, self-surrendered and will be arraigned on November 30th, at the Hall of Justice in San Jose on felony charges. Foster’s wife and eight other company employees are being charged with four counts of felony conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, unemployment insurance fraud, money laundering, and wage theft, and 39 additional felonies, including extortion and a white-collar crime enhancement. They face prison time, if convicted.

The officer and his co-defendants allegedly reduced insurance premiums and taxes by reporting false and inaccurate payroll, underreporting headcount, paying employees off-the-books, and underreporting employee injuries. In one case, an employee was allegedly threatened with deportation if she continued to speak attorneys about her rights under worker’s compensation laws after suffering a workplace injury.

The arrest comes just days after District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced a series of social justice reforms that included creating a Workers Exploitation Task Force that will investigate cases such as this one.

“This Office will root out and prosecute anyone – whether they wear a badge or not – taking criminal advantage of workers,” District Attorney Rosen said. “Our new task force will protect and heal the victims of labor trafficking, wage theft and illegal exploitation and raise awareness about how these insidious crimes are attacks on our communities of color.”

The six-month investigation was spearheaded by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation in close collaboration with the California Department of Insurance, Employment Development Department, California Department of Justice Bureau of Medical Fraud and Elder Abuse and United States Department of Labor.

The probe showed that Foster allegedly hid approximately $8.09 million in payroll over three years, avoided approximately $578,716.56 in tax liability and $560,293.15 in insurance premiums. To carry on their fraud scheme, the Atlas officials allegedly laundered approximately $18.20 million. The co-conspirators used and traded on Foster’s position as an active-duty San Jose Police Officer and self-described expert in lie detection to further their business interests. Yet, Foster allegedly failed to disclose to SJPD that he owned and operated Atlas or that such ownership could result in ethical conflicts.

###

It is noteworthy that Foster touts his membership in the American Association of Police Polygraphists and the California Association of Polygraph Examiners in promoting his polygraph services.

The case against Foster and co-defendants is Criminal Case No. C2010222 in the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara.

Polygraph Critic Doug Williams Completes Supervised Release

Doug Williams

On 25 September 2015, federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange sentenced Doug Williams, who pled guilty after he was entrapped in a federal sting operation called “Operation Lie Busters,” to two years of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release “[u]pon release from imprisonment.”

Williams had taught two undercover federal agents how to pass or beat a polygraph “test.”

Williams was released from prison on 26 July 2017, and thus his three years of supervised release expired on Sunday, 26 July 2020. Williams’ terms of supervised release had prohibited him from participating “in any form of polygraph-related activity during the period of supervision.”

Williams plans to resume offering training on how to pass or beat the polygraph, and his website, Polygraph.com, now includes the following notice:

Now accepting clients. There will soon be a sign up form to set a time and date for the training.

TV Polygraph Operator Daniel Ribacoff Denies Falsely Branding Steve Wilkos Show Guest as a Liar, But Deletes Posts When Challenged

Daniel D. Ribacoff

Polygraph operator Daniel Ribacoff, who performs for the NBCUniversal Television Distribution syndicated daytime television talk program, The Steve Wilkos Show, has publicly denied having wrongly accused show guest Anca Pennington of lying. In an unaired segment recorded on 10 December 2019, Ribacoff accused Pennington of lying when she denied having burned her infant daughter with cigarettes. (Pennington, who resides in Omaha, Nebraska, did not bring her daughter with her to the show’s studio in Stamford, Connecticut.) Distraught, Pennington attempted suicide later that day.

Anca Pennington

Medical staff who treated Pennington after her attempted suicide, upon being shown a photograph of the lesions on her daughter’s leg, identified them as ringworm, a common and easily treated fungal infection. When lesions reappeared later in December, a medical examination confirmed a ringworm infection, and an antifungal preparation was prescribed.

Photograph of Anca Pennington’s infant daughter’s lesions provided to The Steve Wilkos Show

Ribacoff’s denial that he had wrongly accused Pennington came in the form of a Facebook reply to Steve Sledge, who in late May or early June asked on Ribacoff’s public Facebook page, “What happened with the case where the woman [sic] child had ringworm instead of a cigarette burn. That polygraph was wrong?”

Ribacoff replied, “the polygraph was correct. Ringworm was a secondary infection form [sic] the cigarette burns and was diagnosed weeks after the show.” In a second reply to Sledge, Ribacoff wrote, “doctors determined they were cigarette burns at the onset of the investigation.”

On Friday, 12 June 2020, Pennington, who posts on Facebook under the pseudonym Lore Radu, replied to Ribacoff, “stop lying you sick man! I took my child to the doctor my baby NEVER had cigarette burn you sick lying evil man!”

That same day, Ribacoff deleted Steve Sledge’s question and all replies to it from his Facebook page and blocked Pennington from viewing the page. Pennington provided AntiPolygraph.org with the following screenshots of the deleted posts:

AntiPolygraph.org has written to Daniel Ribacoff asking how he knows for sure that Pennington’s child had cigarette burns, how he knows for sure that ringworm was a secondary infection to that, and why he deleted these posts. At the time of posting, Ribacoff has not replied these questions. This post will be updated as warranted.

Update (15 June 2020): Anca Pennington posted a commentary to YouTube on Friday, 12 June 2020:

Book Review: False Confessions: The True Story of Doug Williams and His Crusade Against the Polygraph Industry

In 2012, former Oklahoma City Police Department polygraph operator-turned-critic Douglas Gene Williams published his autobiography under the title, From Cop to Crusader: My Fight Against the Dangerous Myth of “Lie Detection.” In 2014, he released a second edition, adding an account of the raid conducted by federal agents on his home and office as part of Operation Lie Busters, a federal investigation that targeted individuals providing instruction on how to pass or beat a polygraph “test.”

In 2015, Williams was sentenced to two years in prison for teaching undercover agents how to pass the polygraph. While incarcerated, he met Jack Straw, a fellow inmate and former Chicago police captain, with whom he has collaborated to retell his life story, now published under the title False Confessions: The True Story of Doug Williams and His Crusade Against the Polygraph (Unit 2 Creations: 2020).

Asked for comment about the choice of title (the book does not specifically go into any particular false confessions), Williams explained that he and Straw, in discussing problems with the polygraph in the criminal arena, both agreed that “it is the primary thing most responsible for all false confessions.”

In the introduction to From Cop to Crusader, Williams stated “This book is a recounting of actual events that have occurred during my crusade against the multi-billion dollar scam called ‘lie detection’ perpetrated by the polygraph industry. It is written to the best of my memory. But as someone once said, ‘Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to the truth, but not its twin.’ So, the characters, conversations, and entities depicted may be composites or fictitious.” This no doubt applies to False Confessions, as well, which reads very much like an oral history, with reconstructed conversations.

Straw’s retelling of Doug Williams’ story is without question better organized and told than the original. Divided into 34 chapters, it chronicles Williams’ time working as a U.S. Air Force enlisted man in the White House Communications Agency during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, his joining the Oklahoma City Police Department, and how he made the decision to apply for a polygraph position, which culminated in his attending the late Dick Arther’s National Training Center of Lie Detection in New York City.

Williams relates (in Chapter 4) one of the memorable incidents that led him to question what he was doing as a polygraph operator:

…A particularly haunting memory of a woman seated in my office, sobbing while I railed on her for a confession, returned to my mind almost daily. I had been pushing her for a confession.

“The polygraph says you’re lying!” I shouted…

“I didn’t do it,” she’d cried…

I screamed back, “The machine is not wrong. You are lying. The machine is never wrong!”

After hours of mental pummeling, she’d balled up into a near-fetal position, almost convulsing in anguish. Suddenly, this woman turned her face to look squarely at me and cried out, “I did not do it! What are you trying to do? My God, what is wrong with you?”

There it was. Very plain, and corrosive as acid. What WAS wrong with me? And, that question led to more questions, bigger questions. What was wrong with all of this lie-detection trickery and the massive cult of operators who held so much power? Where had it started? How had it grown? How had it lasted all this time? I knew I needed answers to these questions.

Williams goes on to describe his 1979 departure from the Oklahoma City Police Department, his objections to polygraphy, and his decision to go public with his concerns. In Chapter 7, Williams recalls a press event he held at an Oklahoma City hotel not long after his resignation. Among other notable things, Williams recalls:

I felt that it was important to give the crowd some foundation to my claims, so I explained my background and told them how I had come to learn about this abusive behavior. I explained that, aside from my job with the police department, I had also worked part-time for a private polygraph company, so I had firsthand knowledge of the abuses within the industry. I explained that the company I had worked for had actually encouraged us to fail as many people as possible in order to charge the employer more money for administering more polygraph exams. It was common practice among private polygraph examiners.

Williams also notes that not all companies that required polygraph screening at that time did so voluntarily:

…polygraph operators were a necessary evil for the owners and managers of businesses that required their employees to submit to this grueling ordeal. Many of the business owners resented having to give the test; however, they were required to do so by the insurance companies that covered their businesses against losses from theft by employees….

Williams goes on to recount the beginning of his crusade against polygraphy, starting with an appearance on a popular talk show on Oklahoma’s largest radio station, KTOK. He details his development of a “three-prong strategy” embracing education, legislation, and litigation. As part of the education prong, Williams wrote the original edition of his manual, “How to Sting the Polygraph,” which explains how to pass or beat a polygraph “test”:

To launch the Education Phase of my attack, I needed a textbook. So, I compiled information into a manual I called, How to Sting the Polygraph. It was a detailed, start-to-finish handbook on how to defend yourself from the polygraph and its operator. The techniques were simple, and a person could perform them with relative ease. But, I had one more thing to do in order to craft the manual into the ultimate textbook I wanted it to be. In order to round out my research so that the manual was completely authenticated, I decided to utilize all the techniques “undercover,” as you might say. I would take polygraph exams from different polygraphists, pass them, document them, and notify the operators that had given me the test of the said results.

In order to do this, I would have to relocate. Oklahoma City wouldn’t work. All the polygraph operators knew me, and they weren’t going to let me anywhere near their little rooms of deceit. So, after I left the P.D., I moved to Houston, Texas to launch my campaign….

Notably, the complete text of the latest edition of Williams’ “How to Sting the Polygraph” is included as an appendix to False Confessions.

While working in Houston as an apprentice machinist, Williams embarked on a letter-writing campaign, also giving radio interviews. He later returned to Oklahoma City where for a time he worked as a paralegal and attended (though did not ultimately complete) law school at Oklahoma City University.

As part of the litigation prong of his antipolygraph campaign, Williams convinced his employer, attorney and former Oklahoma City Police Officer Chris Eulberg, to represent a polygraph victim bringing a wrongful discharge suit against oil field services company Halliburton Services. While the case was ultimately not successful, depositions were held, and the case helped to bring attention to workplace polygraph abuse. Although Williams does not mention the name of the plaintiff, upon inquiry, he confirmed that it was Michael Crowley, whose plight was the subject of an 11 July 1983 article in The Oklahoman titled, “Test wipes out job.”

Another highlight is Williams’ account of his participation in the CBS 60 Minutes investigative report, “Truth and Consequences,” which aired on Sunday, 11 May 1986 (Chapters 21 and 22). In that report, three different polygraph operators chosen from the New York telephone directory accused three different individuals of theft, even though no theft had occurred.

Regarding the “legislative prong” of his campaign against the polygraph, Williams recounts (in Chapters 16 and 17) the story his 1985 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, which helped lay the foundation for passage of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988.

The last four chapters are of special interest. They concern a federal investigation called Operation Lie Busters that targeted Williams for entrapment. Williams recounts the raid on his home and office conducted on 21 February 2013, his indictment more than a year later, his difficult decision to plead guilty two days into trial, his incarceration from 30 October 2015 until 26 July 2017, and his plans for the future.

A minor criticism is that book could have benefited from additional copy editing (for example, in decades, such as “the 1980s” there should be no apostrophe, and “more wizened” does not mean “made more wise.”) In addition, it is erroneously implied in Chapter 5 that William Moulton Marston introduced his blood pressure-based lie detector test in 1930, nearly a decade after John A. Larson had assembled the first polygraph instrument in 1921. Marston in fact had documented his idea for a lie detector as early as 1915, and Larson was inspired by Marston’s work. But again, these are minor points.

False Confessions is a must-read for students of the history of polygraphy. Doug Williams is indisputably among the most influential persons in polygraphy’s nearly century-long history. His revelation of the polygraph trade’s secrets has earned the wrath of polygraph operators across the United States, and his manual “How to Sting the Polygraph” has long been part of the curriculum for the federal polygraph school’s countermeasures course.

In addition, the targeting of Williams for entrapment by overzealous federal agents—who began their investigation in the absence of any evidence that he had committed any crime—has civil liberties implications that go well beyond the polygraph world.

On a final note, polygraph operators (and those contemplating attending polygraph school) are well-advised to reflect on Williams’ saga and to think long and hard about the ethical implications of practicing this fraudulent pseudoscience.

False Confessions is available directly from the publisher. At the time of writing, discounted copies are also available via Outskirts Press, as is an Amazon Kindle version (presently free with Kindle Unlimited).

Update 19 June 2020: AntiPolygraph.org readers may obtain copies of False Confessions signed by Jack Straw and Doug Williams at a $3 discount by using code E29J9EE when ordering directly from Unit 2 Creations.

LAPD Polygraph Policy Documents Disclosed

AntiPolygraph.org has obtained and published two previously unavailable Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polygraph unit policy documents.

The LAPD Polygraph Unit Examiner Reference Guide dated November 2018 and marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive” includes rules for scoring polygraph charts as well as question sequences for the various polygraph techniques used by the LAPD polygraph unit, including the Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test format used for screening applicants.

The LAPD Technical Investigation Unit Polygraph Unit Guidelines dated May 2019 detail the organization of the LAPD polygraph unit, the duties and responsibilities of its personnel, and its internal policies and procedures.