Polygraphing Players Is Not Cricket

Steve Waugh
Polygraph advocate Steve Waugh

Guardian reporter David Hopps reports in a story published by the Sydney Morning Herald that former Australia cricket team captain Steve Waugh is advocating the use of lie detectors in an attempt to root out corruption in the scandal-plagued sport. Excerpt:

ANDREW Strauss and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be encouraged to help stamp out corruption in cricket by taking lie-detector tests as the MCC uses the occasion of the 2000th Test match to step up its campaign to clean up the game.

The controversial proposal is the brainchild of former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who wants leading captains such as Strauss and Dhoni to act as ambassadors and role models by voluntarily putting their reputations on the line.

But the proposal is not supported by the Australian Cricketers’ Association, because lie-detector tests are not admissible in court.

”I applaud Steve Waugh for looking at creative and proactive ways to deal with corruption, but we wouldn’t support the use of polygraphs at this point in time,” ACA chief executive Paul Marsh said. ”Results can be affected if you’re nervous or under stress or whatever, so there may be reasons, other than not telling the truth, that you fail it and we couldn’t open players up to that.”

Waugh is at Lord’s as chairman of an MCC world cricket committee working party that was charged last year with investigating ways corruption might be eradicated. He made his chief proposal only metres away from where Strauss and Dhoni supervised practice ahead of a Test series that will decide whether England or India finish the summer as the No 1 team in the world.

The Australia Cricketers’ Association is right to reject lie detector “testing,” as it has no scientific basis. While polygraphy is inherently biased against truth-tellers, the “test” can trivially be defeated using simple countermeasures that anyone can learn and polygraph operators cannot detect.

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Victoria, Australia: “No Lie Tests for Sex Offenders”

Tanya Giles reports for the Herald Sun:

A RADICAL proposal to force paroled sex offenders to take regular lie detector tests to help stop them reoffending has been rejected.

Police Minister Tim Holding said the Government was sceptical of the reliability of polygraphs as a scientific tool to gather evidence, and would not proceed with tests. “No court in Australia allows polygraph to be submitted as admissible evidence,” he said.

He said the Government had already begun the Sex Offenders Register and introduced the Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Bill into Parliament so police could keep a close eye on freed sex offenders.

The British Government recently introduced legislation making it compulsory for pedophiles to take polygraph tests so authorities could monitor their behaviour after release.

A third of sex offenders polygraph-tested in Britain in 2003 admitted unsupervised contact with children since being freed.

The program is already used in 36 states in the US as well as in Canada.

But Mr Holding said Victoria set its own laws and did not follow the decisions of other countries.

Last year, FBI-trained forensic polygraph expert Steven Van Aperen briefed the Department of Justice on how the program could be used to help prevent pedophiles re-offending.

Mr Van Aperen, who frequently works on high-profile homicide cases, said polygraphs had been shown to act as an artificial conscience. He said other benefits included:

IDENTIFYING previously unknown victims who could be counselled and help police.

REDUCING the prison population and its costs.

CATCHING repeat offenders.

PROVIDING more effective parole supervision.

A departmental briefing paper on the proposal, seen by the Herald Sun, recommended that the Government not proceed with tests.

Justice policy advisers said polygraphs, which are based on the theory that lying raises anxiety, causes sweating and increases heart and breathing rates, was a highly contentious “scientific” technique.

They raised concerns that using polygraphs as a condition of parole could undermine the new Sex Offenders Register.

The advisers said it could also interfere with the Adult Parole Board’s discretion when releasing prisoners.

Australia: “Howard Determined Not to Follow Scrafton”

The Sydney Morning Herald has published the following Australian Associated Press story:

Prime Minister John Howard turned down a lie detector test to determine if he was telling the truth over the children overboard affair.

But the man who claims he told Mr Howard there were doubts about allegations of refugees throwing children overboard from a boat shortly before the 2001 election, has passed his own polygraph to prove he is telling the truth.

Mike Scrafton took the test at the Australian Polygraph Services’ (APS) Melbourne office to prove he was not lying about what he told Mr Howard three days before the 2001 election.

“In layman’s terms, he passed the test,” APS director Steve Van Aperen, who has been trained by the FBI and is a consultant to the Victorian Homicide Squad, told the Nine network.

“There was no strong responses indicative of concern or fear of being caught in the light.

“It’s my opinion, according to these charts, that he’s in fact being truthful.”

Mr Scrafton said the test made him feel totally vindicated and he had never doubted that he would pass the polygraph, which was organised by Nine.

Asked if he believed Mr Howard should take a similar test, Mr Scrafton told Nine: “That’s the prime minister’s call, not mine.”

But Mr Howard dismissed as a gimmick the suggestion he follow Mr Scrafton and take a polygraph test.

“I’m not going to get into gimmicks like that,” he told ABC radio.

“If people don’t believe what I say on the basis of looking at me and listening to my words then going through a mechanical process like that is not going to alter their opinions.”

Mr Scrafton, who worked for former defence minister Peter Reith, revealed this week he told Mr Howard neither photographs nor video footage supported claims that children were thrown overboard from the refugee boat, known as SIEV4, just days before the 2001 election.

But Mr Howard then repeated the claim that children had been thrown overboard the day after he talked to Mr Scrafton.

Mr Howard denies he talked to Mr Scrafton about the photographs, prompting the former public servant to say he was willing to take a lie detector test.

Mr Howard’s refusal to take the lie detector test came as Labor and the minor parties signalled a major pre-election headache for the prime minister by backing plans for a Senate inquiry into the whole affair.

Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett, who took a lie detector test earlier this year, said by rejecting the offer Mr Howard was admitting to the Australian people he had lied.

“The fact that John Howard has deigned to respond to the challenge indicates that he is rattled and running scared,” Senator Bartlett told AAP.

“Enough questions have been raised in the last few days to make even his staunch supporters question his credibility.”

Opposition Leader Mark Latham said Mr Howard owed the voters of Australia an apology.

“The prime minister … owes the Australian people a huge apology for the acts of deceit, the acts of deliberate dishonesty, in the days leading up to the last federal election,” he told reporters.

“The prime minister has shown that he’s not fit to hold the high office.” Mr Scrafton stood by his claims, saying his decision to speak out had not been easy.

“Like everybody there are things in my past that people might bring up to use against me and discredit the messenger,” he told the John Laws radio program.

“There are risks in this for me rather than benefits.”

West Australia Court of Criminal Appeal Rejects Polygraph “Evidence”

The Australian Associated Press reports in an article titled “Mallard to stay behind bars” that the West Australia Court of Criminal Appeal, upholding Andrew Mark Mallard’s conviction for the murder of Perth jeweler Pamela Lawrence, has ruled polygraph “evidence” to be inadmissible. The WA Court of Criminal Appeal is the highest Australian court that has ruled on the admissibility of polygraph results. The court’s ruling may be downloaded as a 340 kb PDF file here.

Australia: More on Polygraph in Mallard Case

The Post of Perth, West Australia, reports in an article titled, “QC asks judges to visit scene of ’94 murder.” Excerpt:

On Tuesday night, some TV news bulletins showed interviews with a Mallard family member, and several, including the 7.30 Report, showed videotape of Mallard doing an electronic lie detector test.

A longer segment on the ABC’s 7.30 Report showed more of the lie detector, or polygraph, test.

Mr Fiannaca said the reliability and scientific validity of polygraph testing would be challenged later in the appeal.

Expert evidence brought by the crown would show it was “totally unreliable”, he said.

The 7.30 Report had shown extra video of the testing that had not been made available to the crown.

Mr Fiannaca said this amounted to non-disclosure of evidence by Mallard’s team.

The footage was a very important part of the evidence needed to establish the reliability of the test.

The crown was also concerned that lay witnesses yet to be called for the appeal would be influenced by the report.

The video footage had not been admitted into evidence and was not in the public domain.

He said the DPP was considering whether to take contempt of court proceedings against the TV channel concerned.

Justice Len Roberts-Smith said there was potential for the report to have an impact on witnesses.

He said: “I can think of witnesses who are uncertain about certain things.”

Justice Christine Wheeler said the 7.30 Report segment went beyond a fair and accurate report of the court proceedings.

It was emotive and one-sided, she said.

Justice Parker said the reports had the appearance of something of an orchestrated campaign.

He said it could have a long-term effect on the way the public viewed the courts.

He said: “The extremely one-sided reporting creates in the public mind an expectation that is disappointed when the court makes a decision based on all the evidence before it.

“The perception is created that the court is out of touch with the reality of the case.”

He said the question of whether any polygraph evidence would be received was open to submissions.

He said if there were any recurrence of the type of reporting seen on some TV bulletins on Tuesday night, the court would consider at least a suppression order, or the need for an adjournment.

Mr McCusker said the polygraph footage had been provided to media about a year ago by supporters of Mallard out of “desperation”.

He said it had been provided on the understanding it would not be aired until shown in court.

Mr McCusker said: “Channel 2 took the view that once it [the polygraph] was mentioned in court, that was the trigger.”

Australia: TV Report Angers Judges

David Darragh reports for the West Australian on the appeal of convicted murderer Andrew Mallard, who has sought the admission of polygraph results.

THE Court of Criminal Appeal has criticised heavily what it described as emotive and one-sided television news reports of convicted murderer Andrew Mallard’s appeal that could influence witnesses at the hearing.

Mallard’s appeal against his conviction for wilfully murdering Mosman Park jeweller Pamela Lawrence in May 1994 was almost postponed yesterday after Director of Public Prosecutions lawyer Bruno Fiannaca objected strongly to television news coverage of the opening day.

All three judges presiding over the case expressed their concerns about the potential impact of such reports on witnesses.

Mr Fiannaca told the court the DPP was disappointed with the emotive and inaccurate nature of some reports.

They had the potential to influence the evidence of several witnesses.

He said some reports seemed calculated to influence the case. Serious thought was being given to contempt of court charges.

He was concerned about a story on Tuesday night’s 7.30 Report which showed video footage of Mallard having a lie detector test.

Mr Fiannaca said the tenor of the story seemed to suggest the legitimacy of polygraph testing.

But the DPP had affidavits from eminent scientists which supported arguments that polygraph tests were unreliable, Mr Fiannaca said.

Mallard’s lawyer, Malcolm McCusker QC, said polygraph examiner William Glare was not expected to testify after recently having a severe stroke.

Australia: “ASIO Polygraphs ‘Unreliable'”

Political correspondent Brendan Nicolson reports for The Age. Excerpt:

Lie detector tests being carried out on officers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation were not scientifically proven, and could be beaten by real spies and incriminate innocent officers, the Federal Opposition has warned.

Labor’s justice spokesman Daryl Melham told The Sunday Age that the polygraph, or lie detector, was very controversial technology that could cause serious injustice.

The polygraph is an instrument which measures the automatic responses of the nervous systems of people being questioned. It works on the basis that when people tell a lie, uncontrollable changes are apparent in their blood pressure, pulse rate and respiration. Tension is also reflected as minor shocks measurable on the skin.

Following the arrest in 1999 of a former Defence Intelligence Organisation officer Jean-Philippe Wispelaere after he tried to sell highly classified material to a foreign government, the Federal Government ordered a review of security procedures in departments which handled highly classified material.

The review was carried out by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Bill Blick, who made more than 50 recommendations designed to tighten procedures.

These included a suggestion that staff of intelligence agencies should be subject to psychological testing, financial checks and random bag searches.

In September 2000 Attorney-General Daryl Williams announced that ASIO had agreed to undertake an internal and voluntary trial of polygraph tests “to evaluate the potential of the tests as a personal security tool”.

Mr Williams said he could not provide further details because of the matter’s sensitive nature.

In August this year Mr Melham asked Mr Williams a series of questions on the trial’s progress including the number of officers subjected to lie detector tests, how many passed or failed and if any were charged or demoted as a result.

Mr Williams responded late last month that he still could not give details but he said the trial was still in progress.

Mr Melham said the ASIO trial was not an acceptable basis on which to consider such a controversial and questionable security measure.

Australian courts refused to admit lie detector information as evidence and use of the device was illegal in New South Wales.

Mr Melham said the government had not ruled out more extensive use of polygraphs to security check all Commonwealth staff with access to national security information. He said any trial should be carried out in the open with independent scientific scrutiny.

Australia: “Lie Test Plan to Stop Rape”

Tanya Giles reports in this article published by the Melbourne, Australia Herald Sun. Excerpt:

SEX offenders would be forced to take regular lie detector tests after their release from prison under a plan to stop them re-offending.

Police also would be given the power to use any information obtained from the hi-tech tests to launch new investigations and help victims.

The proposal, prepared by an FBI-trained forensic polygraph expert, is based on a program used in 36 US states and is being considered in Britain.

The [Victoria, Australia] State Government said it would consider any proposal by law enforcement agencies.

The Opposition promised to introduce the tests if elected.

Victims-of-crime support groups also backed the plan.

The expert behind the plan believes random lie detector tests would help stop pedophiles and rapists.

Steven Van Aperen, who regularly helps police on high-profile homicide cases, said polygraph testing had been shown to control the behaviour of sex offenders back in the community.

“The reality is, parole or probation officers cannot supervise sex offenders 24 hours a day,” he said.

“The advantage of polygraph surveillance is that it can regulate and control the behaviour of sex offenders. It acts as an artificial conscience.”

Under the US programs, sex offenders volunteer to sit lie detector tests every three to 12 months. The tests, which they pay for, are a condition of their parole.

If the parolee fails a test, they face further investigation, increased parole supervision and other sanctions.

Because polygraph “tests” are easily beaten through the use of simple countermeasures that polygraphers cannot detect, reliance on any such screening program has the potential to shield and enable recidivists who understand “the lie behind the lie detector.”

U.S. Pressures Australia to Embrace Polygraph Screening

Brian Toohey writes for the Sydney Morning Herald in an article titled, “Security proves a complicated affair.” Excerpt:

The war on terrorism also means that US intelligence officials want tough action taken against any Australian minister who has an affair which they regard as a security risk.

Although ministers will want to be exempt, the US is applying strong pressure to force Australian officials to undergo polygraph tests about their sex lives and other personal matters.

Because US officials believe politicians can be compromised by illicit affairs, they will no longer accept the relaxed approach previously taken by Australian security officials to ministers’ sexual indiscretions.

Even before September 11, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation agreed to undertake a trial of US polygraph tests designed to see if its staff lie when asked about their sex lives, finances and political sympathies.

On June 25, the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, signed a new, legally binding, pact with the US to protect classified information. Although no details were spelled out in the pact, the US wants Australian officials who have access to highly classified US intelligence material to be subjected to the same polygraph tests that routinely apply to American officials.

The rationale is that ministers leave themselves open to blackmail.

The Australian public is unlikely to accept that security officials should be able to march into Parliament House and hook ministers up to a polygraph machine to check whether they curl up with more than a copy of Hansard at night in their lonely Canberra digs.