Operation Lie Busters: A Travesty of Justice

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

The following is a guest post from Doug Williams, who writes from the federal prison camp at Florence, Colorado. Williams, who for decades had taught people how to pass or beat polygraph “tests” without incident (and whose website, Polygraph.com, remains online), was targeted for entrapment in a federal criminal investigation dubbed Operation Lie Busters. On 21 February 2013, federal agents searched Williams’ home and office, seizing business records. Williams was later indicted on two counts of mail fraud and three counts of witness tampering, and pled guilty during a trial held in May 2015. On 30 October 2015, Williams began serving a two-year prison sentence. The only crimes of which Williams was convicted are those that federal agents conceived and stage managed.

It is now very obvious that my book From Cop to Crusader: The Story of My Fight Against the Dangerous Myth of Lie Detection has been distributed to just about every polygraph operator on the face of the earth. And while it is true that I have still not achieved my goal of destroying the dangerous myth of lie detection, I have most certainly succeeded in infuriating those who administer these so-called lie detector tests.  Polygraph operators know they are perpetrating a massive fraud, and they know that they cannot detect deception by simply measuring changes in a person’s breathing, pulse rate, and sweat activity on the hand – in fact the whole idea that a polygraph is a “lie detector” has been debunked and all the scientific evidence proves it is no more accurate than the toss of a coin – but still the myth persists.  And the polygraph industry has grown into a four billion dollar a year enterprise so they will do whatever it takes to keep this very lucrative con game going. Polygraph operators know they can’t win a debate with me about the validity of the polygraph as a lie detector – many have tried and all have failed. And they know they can’t present any valid reason for their continued use of the polygraph as a lie detector. They know that I have proved the polygraph industry is just an evil scam, so in an attempt to keep the myth of lie detection intact, they realized they had to destroy me – or I would certainly destroy them.

So, one man came forward with a desperate plan designed to finally try to stop me for good. This man’s name is John R. Schwartz, and his plan was called Operation Lie Busters. Schwartz was the head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency’s Internal Affairs Credibility Assessment Division (the polygraph section).  He spent literally years working with his subordinate polygraph operator, Fred Ball, devising the scheme (Operation Lie Busters) to set me up on manufactured charges and throw me in prison. Schwartz’s and Ball’s insidious plan was a desperate attempt to stop me from “protesting against the polygraph” and stop me from giving personal training (practice polygraph tests) which is, in essence, just allowing people to understand how the polygraph works and teaching them how to overcome their nervousness and learn how to prove their truthfulness by producing a perfect “truthful” chart – they knew they had to stop me because I was going to destroy the myth of “lie detection” and put them out of business.

According to newspaper reports about Operation Lie Busters, Schwartz is quoted as saying those who “protest the loudest and the longest against polygraph testing are the ones we need to focus our attention on.” And in this same speech Schwartz acknowledged that teaching the techniques (techniques found in my manual How to Sting the Polygraph) known in polygraph circles as “countermeasures” isn’t always illegal and might be protected under the First Amendment in some situations. “I’m teaching countermeasures right now. The polygraph schools are supposed to be teaching about countermeasures,” he said. “So teaching about countermeasures in and of itself is not only not illegal, it’s protected. You have a right to free speech in this country. But (Doug Williams) may be prosecuted if he knows that the people he is teaching plan to lie about crimes during federal polygraphs.”

This marks the very first time that a polygraph operator has admitted that is is possible for me to train a person to pass the polygraph test regardless of whether or not they were telling the truth or lying. This is a very important admission because if it is true that I can indeed do that, that is prima facie evidence that the polygraph is absolutely worthless as a lie detector. Schwartz admitted that I can do this by the statement that he made in that same speech. He said, “It makes more sense to me to try to investigate the party (Doug Williams) that’s doing the training because when you do that, you eliminate dozens or hundreds or thousands of people…from getting that training.” So not only does Schwartz admit that I can indeed train a person to always pass the polygraph test but he shows his fear that this has been happening in thousands of cases.

So, there is no doubt that I am the one who has protested the loudest and the longest against polygraph testing. But when did protesting the fraud and abuse of an out of control government agency become a felony crime? Why did the Department of Justice decide to go along with Schwartz and indict, prosecute, and imprison me for daring to speak out against the abuse cause by the use of the insidious Orwellian instrument of torture commonly referred to as the “lie detector?” Their motives are very clearly stated and there is no doubt that that is what the prosecution was all about – they went after me simply because I was protesting (and exposing) the waste, fraud and abuse that is rampant in the polygraph industry.

Yes, John R Schwartz freely admitted to – and even bragged about – using the criminal justice system to  go after me, to silence me, and destroy me because I was exposing him and his cohorts as frauds and con men, and pointing out the fact that they have ruined the lives of many people by falsely accusing them of deception.  But the real question those in authority who rely on the polygraph should be asking is: Why is the polygraph industry so afraid of me?  Why did they mount a massive attack on me for speaking out against them? I’ll tell you why – because I am telling the truth about their evil scam and they know they cannot withstand even a cursory examination of their procedures. Why? Because I am right and they are wrong!  That reminds me of an old saying, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”

It is frightening when you consider the fact that at the urging of one vindictive government polygraph operator, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, the CBP, the FBI, and many other government agencies would form a task force and raid my office – that they would hold me against my will for hours, terrorize my wife and me, search my office and my home, and seize all of my computers, my polygraph instruments and every scrap of information that was of any interest to them.  All this because I was protesting their fraudulent and abusive use of the polygraph as a “lie detector.” Schwartz and his fellow polygraph con men knew they could not prove their polygraph was accurate and reliable – and they knew that I would continue to expose their fraud.  So they conceived of Operation Lie Busters as a way to not only get their revenge and punish me but to try to stop me from doing what I had been doing for almost forty years.

Basically, Operation Lie Busters consisted of sending two undercover agents in to pose as people wanting to learn how to pass their polygraph tests. They knew exactly how to entrap me in their scheme – they used the two things that are the hallmark of their profession – trickery and deceit. They set me up and unfortunately for me, I fell into their trap. They knew I had spent decades helping people pass the polygraph test – because I knew that just telling the truth only worked about half the time. So the agents started off by saying they were telling the truth and were just frightened about taking the test. The undercover agents were just following a carefully devised script, and they knew exactly how to approach me so that I would fall into their trap.

They got me to agree to train them under false pretenses – telling me that they were just afraid they would be falsely accused of doing something wrong or that what they told the polygraph examiner would get them in trouble with the job they had – then when they got to me, they changed their story and started making outrageous statements about crimes they had committed.

I’ll admit I was confused and did not handle the situation correctly, but I swear I had no criminal intent. I reasoned that if a person could not refuse to take the polygraph test without suffering consequences as a result of that refusal, they should at least be able to protect their rights under the Fifth Amendment and not be forced to give evidence against themselves – even if that “evidence” was a reaction on the polygraph chart. But it is important to note that this was a completely fabricated, manufactured crime – they had to manufacture a crime because they had no evidence of a real crime.  The undercover agents were lying about lying – they never even took a polygraph test, and even the pre-sentence report by the probation officer said very clearly that “there are no victims of this crime” – it was all just pretend.  I have often said that since this was just a pretend crime, I should just pretend to go to prison.

More evidence that there was never any real crime committed is in the fact that federal agents seized the records of almost 5,000 people who had either received my personal training or my manual and DVD. They interviewed most, if not all, of them. The agents told them: “We’re not after you, we are after Doug Williams.” They asked them over and over again if I ever told them to lie or if they ever told me they were going to lie, and if so, would they testify against me in court. Not one of those 5,000 people ever said that I told them to lie or that they told me they were going to lie.

So, after over three years of investigating me, the government still had no evidence that I had ever committed any real crime or even said or done anything that they could twist into a crime – so they had to manufacture a crime with which to charge me.  It should also be noted that my attorney asked the U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma why he was not prosecuting my case, and why the Justice Department was sending attorneys from the Public Integrity section out of Washington DC instead. He simply said, “We looked at the case and we didn’t want anything to do with it.”

Also, the charges listed on the search warrant were different than the charges they indicted me on.  They obviously had a real problem finding some statute or some phrase in some statute that they could twist into something with which to charge me.  The statutes they used were certainly not used in the manner in which they were intended by the lawmakers.  More details about Operation Lie Busters can be found in my book From Cop to Crusader in the chapter entitled “Big Brother Is Here, and He Is Really Pissed Off.”

God knows my motives – I have spent forty years trying to help people get past the most traumatic experience most of them will ever endure. All I ever did was try to help people avoid being falsely accused of deception. Polygraph operators routinely call people liars simply because they had a nervous reaction on the wrong question – and I was only trying to avoid what the polygraph operators euphemistically refer to as “false positives.”  I had demonstrated the terrible problem with false positives on CBS 60 Minutes thirty years ago. In that investigative expose of the abusive nature of polygraph testing, three out of three different polygraph operators called three different people liars on a crime that never even happened. Go to the media of www.polygraph.com to see that program – and other media clips which prove my statement that the polygraph, when used as a “lie detector,” is nothing but a sick joke.

As a matter of fact the problem with “false positives” is worse than it has ever been.  The government’s own records indicate that two thirds of all applicants for federal positions requiring pre-employment polygraph exams are accused of deception and denied employment. That is entirely unacceptable – especially when you consider that those figures represent tens of thousands of people who have had their lives ruined and their careers destroyed by the thugs running this evil polygraph scam!

I hate the polygraph industry because they are perpetrating an evil fraud that has destroyed the lives of literally millions of people during the one hundred year history of the scam of “lie detection.”  It is the longest running con game in the history of this country and it must be exposed and stopped!  And, of course, the polygraph industry hates me because for forty years I have been actively exposing the waste, fraud and abuse that is rampant in this evil industry.

Now, let’s explore the motives of the government polygraph operators who were behind Operation Lie Busters. Their motivation is no secret. Customs and Border Protection polygraph chief John R Schwartz clearly stated what their motives were. He said that “those who protest the loudest and the longest against polygraph testing are the ones what we need to focus our attention on.” And he was desperately trying to stop people from getting the training that I had been providing. Training that they had always claimed was ineffective. Prior to this, everyone in the polygraph industry had staunchly maintained that it was impossible for me to train a person to pass the polygraph test – and further that they could easily detect any attempt to do so by using my technique.

So, now I’m in prison for doing something that all the polygraph operators have heretofore said was impossible to do – and that is to teach a person to “beat” the polygraph. So, the basis of the charges against me is that I taught people to “beat” the polygraph – but let me reiterate, if I can indeed teach a person to “beat” the test, that is prima facie evidence that the polygraph is absolutely worthless as a lie detector.

So, you can attribute to me whatever motive you like – but the fact remains that this is the first time the polygraph industry has admitted that a person can be taught to “beat” the polygraph.  And by making that admission, they also admit that they have been lying all these years about their ability to detect when a person is using these so-called “countermeasures” – and more importantly that they have been lying about the accuracy and validity of the polygraph as a “lie detector.”

So let me ask you, who is more patriotic? The government polygraph operators who insist that we should trust our national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system to the polygraph – or me, who warns that it is foolish and dangerous to put our trust and confidence in an instrument that has been proven to be unreliable? Who is telling the truth? The polygraph operators who falsely claim to be able to detect deception with the polygraph and claim it is accurate 98% of the time – or me, who has proved the polygraph only detects nervousness and that nervousness has no systematic correlation to deception – and further who has proved that it can be beaten rather easily? Think about it!

In the private sector, it is a violation of federal law to even ask a person to submit to a polygraph test. But in the government, the polygraph is considered to be an “official process” – and I am serving time in a federal prison for teaching people how to “beat” it. Think about that! Does that make any kind of sense? Polygraph testing is outlawed in the private sector because it is no more accurate than the toss of a coin. The courts do not allow it to be used as evidence for the same reason. Yet when the government uses it to screen applicants and employees and to determine the truth in criminal and internal investigations, the polygraph test somehow magically transforms from a test, the administering of which is a federal crime in the private sector, into an “official process” that is deemed to be 98% accurate and reliable. What a crock of shit!

I appeal to those in positions of power in the government to take note of what my prosecution actually means. By prosecuting me for teaching people how to “beat” the polygraph, polygraph operators have admitted that the polygraph is absolutely worthless as a lie detector. So, please tell me – why in hell do you still rely on it? Wake up! You are the victims of the polygraph operator’s fraud. Stop the madness! Stop relying on this fraudulent polygraph procedure!

It is foolish and dangerous to continue to trust our national security and the integrity of the criminal justice system to what amounts to an outrageous – and criminal – scam. In fact it is criminally negligent of you who are in positions of power to continue to use and rely on the results of the polygraph “examination.” There is no excuse for you to be deliberately ignorant about the waste fraud and abuse which is rampant in the polygraph industry.

I also appeal to our elected officials.  Stop this insane waste of government resources on something that is a proven fraud.  Educate yourselves!  Go to www.polygraph.com – read the articles I have posted there, read my manual, my book, watch my DVD and watch the media clips – educate yourselves!

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.

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

bloomberg-polygraph-video-still
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.

U.S. v. Doug Williams Recap

AntiPolygraph.org has followed the case of U.S. v. Doug Williams with interest, from the raid on his office and home on 21 February 2013, to the indictment handed down on 13 November 2014, to the trial held 12-13 May 2015 (see our on-location reporting on day one and day two of the proceedings). On the second day of the trial, Williams changed his plea from not guilty to guilty with respect to all counts. There was no plea agreement with prosecutors. Later on the evening of 13 May, the content of Williams’ website, Polygraph.com, was removed from the Internet, and a WHOIS search suggests that the site is no longer registered in his name. Williams’ Twitter account, @PolygraphCom, was deleted the same evening. To date, Williams has not spoken publicly about why he changed his plea.

Just prior to the trial, the Guardian published a noteworthy article by Jessica Glenza about the case. After Williams’ guilty plea, the Department of Justice issued a press release that formed the basis for much of the national reporting on the case.

Ars Technica published a story by David Kravets that engendered a good many thoughtful comments, and Slashdot also posted the news, along with numerous comments. See also the relevant discussion thread on the AntiPolygraph.org message board, which covers the period from the indictment through the trial.

U.S. v. Doug Williams Day 2: Doug Williams Pleads Guilty

Summary: On the afternoon of Wednesday, 13 May 2015, Doug Williams changed his plea from not guilty to guilty with respect to all charges. The jury was dismissed and proceedings were suspended pending a sentencing date to be determined. Williams remains free on bond.

Proceedings began at 09:15. The jury entered the court room and Special Agent Robbins re-took the witness stand. Robbins testified that on 17 October 2012, Doug Williams e-mailed Special Agent J.D. Castillo (who was working under cover), stating that he (Williams) worked under the assumption that he was telling the truth. Williams said that the fact of Castillo’s being trained by Williams  should be held in confidence. Robbins read out the text of an e-mail from Castillo to Williams in which Castillo said he needed to lie. In consequence of that, Doug Williams via e-mail cancelled the plan to train Castillo.

On 17 October 2012, Castillo called Williams. The entire phone conversation, about 20 minutes long, was played in court. Williams indicated numerous times that he suspected that Castillo was an undercover agent. He suggested that Castillo could read his manual and take a private polygraph exam. Castillo continually pressed Williams, saying that he needed his help, and flattering him, saying that he had confidence in him and trusted him. Williams repeatedly said he was unwilling to train him, using terms including “I’m out” and “Save your money for the lawyer.” Each time Williams refused, Castillo played on Williams’ sympathy. Finally, Williams asked Castillo to let him sleep on it.

Robbins testified that after this phone call, he had no intention to call back.

The government then presented an e-mail message from Williams to Castillo sent later the same day using the address theparanoidchicken@hotmail.com, telling Castillo that he could recontact him under a different identity. Eventually, Williams again communicated directly with Castillo, without requiring him to create a new identity, and they spoke by phone. Williams told Castillo that he should send a money order, to avoid a paper trail, for $4,500. Williams would purchase a plane ticket himself. Williams told Castillo, “I know you’re a believer” (the implication being that he was a fellow Christian).

SA Robbins testified that a mail cover was in place for Williams’ post office box at this time. That is, the U.S. Postal Service would send Robbins images of the front and back of each piece of mail Williams received. A copy of the envelope used to send the $4,500 payment via the U.S. Postal Service was shown to the jury, as was the cashier’s check (and not a money order) it had contained, which was endorsed by Williams on the reverse.

An e-mail message dated 20 October 2012 from Williams to Castillo confirmed receipt of the money and flight details. Williams asked Castillo to make hotel arrangements.

SA Robbins testified that a Secret Service agent placed a microphone in the Virginia hotel room where Williams was to train Castillo. Robbins monitored events from an adjacent hotel room.

The prosecution then played an edited audio recording of the training session (Government Exhibit 120) that was about 55 minutes long. Castillo told Williams that he was under investigation because a person named Marcos whom he had allowed to bring cocaine into the country had been arrested and had named him as an accomplice. Castillo told Williams that the Department of Homeland Security wanted to polygraph him about the allegation. Among other things, Castillo mentioned to Williams that he (Castillo) had the option of declining to take the polygraph.

Williams emphasized that the polygraph is an interrogation and that one shouldn’t spill the beans on oneself, and shouldn’t mention the training.

Williams told Castillo that there were only two kinds of questions on the polygraph, “control” and “relevant.” Castillo had earlier been instructed to memorize a list of 33 control questions listed in Williams’ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph. Williams told Castillo that all other questions were relevant. (This is actually a simplification, other kinds of questions include not just relevant ones, but also irrelevant, sacrifice relevant, and symptomatic questions. For an explanation of these question types and their functions, see Chapter 3 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.)

Castillo suggested to Williams that the relevant questions would be things like “Have you ever made a profit from illegal proceeds?” and “Are you allowing narcotics into the country at this time?” Williams suggested “Did you know Marcos was bringing in narcotics?” as a relevant question.

Williams then presented his hypnosis training, in which he instructed Castillo to imagine himself relaxing on a beach, listening to the waves roll in, wave after wave. This mental imagery was to be applied during the asking of relevant questions (that is, all non-control questions). During the asking of control questions, Castillo was to think scary thoughts, such as being arrested, perp-walked, and thrown into a prison cell.

Williams then ran three practice polygraph question series on Castillo. The audio of one of these was played for the jury. At the conclusion, Castillo’s polygraph chart was scored “No Deception Indicated.”

The prosecution then showed two Twitter posts made by Williams under the ID @PolygraphCom that made reference to his training session with Castillo.

After the training session with Castillo in Virginia, SA Robbins decided to do a second in-person meeting that was held with a different undercover agent on 21 February 2013. In this case, a money order for $750 was sent to Williams through the U.S. Postal Service. After  the second in-person training session, federal agents executed search warrants on Williams’ office and home. Charles Porth seized two cell phones and a laptop computer from Williams’ office and a second computer from his home, and conducted a forensic analysis on each device.

In addition, subpoenas were issued to SolidSpace, the company that hosted Polygraph.com, for data associated with the site, including e-mail sent to Williams’ e-mail address, doug@polygraph.com, and to Microsoft for data associated with the e-mail address theparanoidchicken@hotmail.com.

SolidSpace provided e-mails associated with Williams’ account. One of these, Government Exhibit 301, was shown to  the jury. It was from Hayleigh[redacted]@gmail.com. She said she wanted a fresh start, had to take a polygraph, and needed to lie. Williams replied to her that he could help and suggested that she purchase his manual and DVD. SA Robbins testified that this e-mail exchange was not initiated by an undercover agent.

SA Robbins testified that after the 21 February 2013 raid, Williams made changes to his website, including removal of the claim that he could teach a person to pass the polygraph “lying or not” and the addition of a “terms of service” statement clarifying that he would not train anyone who told him that they intended to lie, and that any in-person training customer who made such a statement would forfeit the fee and not receive training.

At 12:11, a stipulation by the prosecution and defense was read out loud in court. The parties stipulated that:

  1. At all times www.polygraph.com was solely owned and operated by Williams.
  2. The e-mail address doug@polygraph.com was only used by Williams.
  3. The e-mail address theparanoidchicken@hotmail.com was only used by Williams.
  4. The phone number listed on Williams’ website belonged to and was used by Williams.

At 12:14 Proceedings adjourned until 13:30 for a lunch break.

At 13:40, the DOJ trial attorneys and Williams’ defense lawyers met to confer in the corridor outside the courtroom.

At 14:05, the attorneys moved to Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange’s chambers, returning to the courtroom at 14:33. The jury had not returned from the lunch break. At 14:40, the attorneys again went to the judge’s chambers, and at 14:41, the jury re-entered the courtroom. At 15:10 heavy rain began pounding on the dome lights of the courtroom. At 15:13, the attorneys re-entered the courtroom, the prosecutors smiling. Attorneys for both parties reviewed paperwork.

At 15:18, the judge entered the courtroom. Doug Williams announced his intention to change his plea from not guilty to guilty with respect to each of the five charges against him. There was no plea agreement. The maximum punishment for each count, read aloud by DOJ trial attorney Heidi Boutros Gesch, was 20 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and a special assessment fee of $100. Williams stated that he understood that he was waiving the right to a jury or bench trial, and that he could receive the same punishment as if found guilty at trial. Williams stated that he was satisfied with the services of his counsel, Mr. Buzin. Judge Miles-LaGrange twice erroneously referred to Williams as “Mr. Smith.”

At 16:35, the judge stated that to accept Williams’ guilty plea, the court needed a factual basis and asked Williams to describe his crimes. Williams read out language that closely (perhaps precisely) tracked the language of the indictment. The court found factual basis for the guilty plea and referred the case to the Probation Office. Williams will be notified of the sentencing date by his counsel, Mr. Buzin. Detention was not required, and Williams remains free on bond, with the added condition that he not possess a firearm. Williams stated that he had already disposed of his firearms.

Judge Miles-LaGrange asked the prosecutors to withdraw their exhibits because of space constraints in the court, but added that they probably won’t, owing to appeal (perhaps referring to the possibility of the appeal of any sentence).

At 17:00, Judge Miles-LaGrange announced that the court was in recess.

U.S. v. Doug Williams Day 1

Proceedings in United States of America v. Douglas Gene Williams began this morning in Room 301 of the Federal District Court building in Oklahoma City. Williams is charged with two counts of mail fraud and three counts of witness tampering in connection with his training two undercover agents how to pass polygraph tests.

Trial attorneys for the United States Government Brian K. Kidd and Heidi Boutros Gesch met with Williams’ attorneys, Stephen H. Buzin and Chase A. O’Brien in pre-trial conference from about 9:20 to 10:40 AM.

Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange entered the courtroom at 10:55 and shortly thereafter swore in the prospective jurors. Voir dire, or the questioning of potential jurors, began at 11:07. No prospective jurors knew the prosecutors, the defendant, or any of the witnesses who are to testify. Potential jurors were asked whether they had served on juries before, and if so, if they ever served as a foreman, and if they had ever been ever been called as witnesses. In response to additional questions, a couple several prospective jurors acknowledged having been polygraphed before, but none expressed any concerns about the use of polygraph examinations or undercover or sting operations.

At 11:53, the court adjourned for lunch until 1:15, when voir dire resumed. Potential jurors were asked about their occupations, their families, their hobbies, and whether they had any bumper stickers. Then, after a sidebar, some 18 prospective jurors were excused, and at 2:18 the jury, composed of 7 men and 5 women, was sworn in. There are also two alternate jurors, a man and a woman.

At 14:35, trial attorney Brian Kidd delivered the prosecution’s opening statement. His remarks were briefly interrupted as witness sequestration was invoked, meaning that anyone who might testify later in the trial could not be present in the courtroom. Kidd’s opening statement summarized the charges in the indictment and among other things, made clear the identities of undercover agents 1 and 2. UC1 is Javier Domingo “J.D.” Castillo and UC2 is Brian Luley, both of whom are on the prosecution’s witness list.

At 14:50, Stephen Buzin delivered the defense’s opening statement, mentioning Doug Williams’ work to protect peoples’ rights. There will be testimony on how Williams became an opponent of polygraphy, and mentioned that he had worked in the White House. Buzin also referenced Williams’ involvement in the passage of the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act. Buzin said the government didn’t like Williams’ business and decided to make him a scapegoat, noting that he has been doing what he does for 35 years. Williams will take the witness stand. Buzin said the government wasn’t happy with Williams because he had shown that the polygraph was a fraud, and that taking a practice polygraph test is not illegal and that Williams did not defraud the government. Buzin contended that the evidence does not support the allegations. Buzin stated that they made him a target; they wanted Doug Williams. “They wanted to make Mr. Williams at any cost, a scapegoat.”

After opening statements, a decision was announced that all uncontested government exhibits would be entered into evidence. These were government exhibits 1-300 and 302-304.

At 15:02 the prosecution called CBP Special Agent Jeffrey Michael Bartlett as its first witness. He testified about an “exploratory call” he made to Doug Williams on 25 September 2012 “to determine if he would teach people to pass [the polygraph] who he knew were lying.” Bartlett made just this one phone call and had no other involvement in Operation Lie Busters, the criminal investigation that targeted Williams. The audio of the phone conversation was played in the courtroom. On cross-examination, Bartlett acknowledged that he had no knowledge that Williams had committed any criminal offense before calling, stating that the “exploratory call” was based on information on Williams’ website, Polygraph.com. Asked by Williams’ attorney Buzin, “Is it normal procedure to make exploratory calls to people who have committed no criminal offense?” Bartlett answered “No.” Bartlett never heard of Operation Lie Busters and did not himself have to take a polygraph to be hired.

At 15:32, the prosecution called CBP Special Agent Doug Robbins as a witness. Robbins testified that in June 2012 he was assigned to determine whether Doug Williams was teaching people “how to lie on polygraphs” after he knew they were going to lie, stating that a complaint had been made to the Joint Intake Center based on an examinee who failed a polygraph.

The text of Polygraph.com as it appeared on 5 March 2013 was displayed on a projector screen, and prosecutor Heidi Gesch asked Robbins to read portions of it.

In a seeming concession that polygraph countermeasures work, Robbins stated that Williams’ training poses a problem for CBP’s polygraph requirement. Robbins made the decision for an “exploratory” or “predicate” phone call to be made.

Government exhibit 100, a recording of a phone call placed by SA J.D. Castillo to Doug Williams on 15 October 2012 was played in its entirety. Castillo called to arrange polygraph training, and Williams had the impression that he was facing a polygraph screening test. Audio of a second call Castillo placed to Williams later the same day was also played, in which Castillo clarified that the polygraph examination was not for employee screening, but associated with an accusation of wrongdoing. Castillo was emphatic that he could not travel to Oklahoma for this training, and that Williams must come to Alexandria, Virginia to provide the training. Although not addressed in court, it seems clear that this was an attempt to establish grounds for possible prosecution of Williams in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Chad Dixon, who was also targeted in Operation Lie Busters, was prosecuted.

At 4:48 PM, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange adjourned proceedings until 9:00 the following morning.

In Polygraph Trial, Prosecution Seeks to Exclude Those With Polygraph Experience or Concerns From Jury

raymond-hulser
U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section Acting Chief Raymond N. Hulser

In a court document (PDF) filed on Monday, 4 May 2015, Raymond Hulser, Acting Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section asked, among other things, that potential jurors in U.S. v. Doug Williams be asked whether they or a family member has ever taken a polygraph examination, and if so, whether they did anything to prepare for it. In addition, Hulser requests that potential jurors be asked whether they have concerns about the use of polygraph examinations, and if so, that they explain such concerns. Of course, anyone who understands polygraphy’s complete lack of scientific underpinnings will have concerns about the use of polygraph examinations. It appears DOJ wishes to ensure that anyone who has been polygraphed, who has researched polygraphy, or who knows of its shortcomings isn’t seated on the jury.

Doug Williams, who has been teaching people how to pass (or beat) polygraph “tests” since 1979, was targeted for entrapment in Operation Lie Busters, an undercover investigation conceived and executed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection polygraph examiners. In June 2013, during a presentation on Operation Lie Busters, CBP polygraph chief John R. Schwartz told an audience of fellow polygraph operators 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.” It seems clear that Williams was targeted because Schwartz and others were upset with Williams’ exercise of his First Amendment rights.

Jury selection begins on Wednesday, 6 Tuesday, 12 May 2015.

Oklahoma Skeptics in the Pub Meetup on the Pseudoscience of Polygraphy, 11May

oklahoma-sitpOn Monday, 11 May 2015, AntiPolygraph.org co-founder George Maschke will be speaking at the Oklahoma Skeptics in the Pub meetup about the pseudoscience of polygraphy, the U.S. government’s misplaced reliance on it, and the upcoming trial of Doug Williams, whom the U.S. government targeted for entrapment in a sting operation dubbed Operation Lie Busters. Williams, a former police polygraph examiner, has been teaching people how to pass or beat polygraph “tests” since 1979. The trial begins the following day, 12 May 2015, at the U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City.