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.
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.”
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.
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.
Polygraph critic Doug Williams, who was targeted for prosecution in Operation Lie Busters for teaching people how to pass or beat a polygraph “test,” was released this morning from the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado and is now on his way back home to Oklahoma. We wish him Godspeed and look forward to his renewed participation in the public debate over polygraph policy!
Episode 618 of the popular radio program This American Life features the story of Doug Williams, the former police polygraphist who turned against polygraphy and in 1979 began providing the public with information and training on how to pass or beat a polygraph “test.” Over three decades later, Williams was targeted for prosecution in a federal investigation dubbed “Operation Lie Busters” and is now nearing the end of a two-year prison sentence. You can listen online or download the episode as an MP3 file here.
On 21 November 2016, imprisoned polygraph critic Doug Williamsfiled a court motion seeking amendment of federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange‘s sentencing order, which stipulates that upon release, Williams will be subject to three years’ “supervised release” during which time he “shall not participate in any form of polygraph-related activity.” Williams asks the court to modify the conditions of his release to allow him to engage in polygraph-related activity to the extent that it is not “intended or part of a scheme to defraud the United States or tamper with witnesses.”
On 10 February 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief opposing Williams’ motion, effectively conceding that polygraph countermeasures work and arguing that “the restriction on polygraph-related activities for the full term of supervised release is the minimum restriction necessary to protect the public.”
On 21 February 2017, Doug Williams filed a reply to the government’s opposition, challenging the Justice Department’s legal arguments and arguing forcefully why his freedom of speech should not be curtailed. His broader arguments are worth citing here (cited as filed, without corrections):
7. Williams is a highly trained and experience polygraph operator. He has been working in his profession for over 44 years. The District Court has discretion to impose an occupational restriction as a special condition of supervised release, but its discretion must be exercised in accordance with 18 U.S.C. S3538 (d) Subsection (a) states that a sentencing court may impose an occupational restriction only if it determines that ” … Imposition of such a restriction is reasonably necessary to protect the public because there is reason to believe that absent such restriction, the defendant will continue to engage in unlawful conduct similar to that for which the defendant was convicted.”
8. In this case there is no reason to believe that Williams will “continue to engage in unlawful conduct.” Williams can practice his profession as a polygraph operator and continue to publish information about the ineffectiveness of the polygraph examination without engaging in a scheme to defraud the United States Government, or without tampering with a witness. Williams has a 1st Amendment right to provide information about how a person taking a polygraph test can avoid being falsely accused of deception simply because they have a nervous reaction to a relevant question. Williams has no intention of providing information or training to any person for the purpose of defrauding the government, or the tampering with a witness. In his business and occupation, Williams seeks to provide comprehensive information about the use of the polygraph examination as well as methods used by the subject being tested to prove their truthfulness on a polygraph examination.
9. Any occupational restriction must be “reasonably necessary to protect the public” which requires a finding by the Court that, in the absence of the restriction “the defendant will continue to engage in unlawful conduct similar to that for which the defendant was convicted.” U.S.S.G. 5F1.5 (a)(2). In providing information about the use of the polygraph examination as well as methods to produce a “truthful” polygraph chart tracing, Williams is actually protecting the public and individual citizens from being defrauded by government agencies or employees who improperly use the polygraph testing process, and falsely brand a truthful person as a liar simply because they are nervous.
10. The government’s response states: “Given the defendant’s (Mr. Williams) extreme disregard for public safety and national security, there are no less restrictive alternatives that would adequately prevent him from helping individuals lie in order to obtain or keep sensitive government positions. Williams would submit that he is more concerned with our national security as evidenced by the fact that he has devoted almost forty years of his life proving the polygraph is nothing but a scam and he has been warning the government that it is foolish and dangerous to rely in the polygraph as a “lie detector”. In truth and in fact, it is the polygraph operators and those government officials who rely on the polygraph who are the ones who have demonstrated little regard for public safety and national security by relying on such an unreliable procedure as polygraph testing. Furttier, there IS no evidence that Williams has ever been involved in “helping individuals lie in order to obtain or keep sensitive government positions”. In fact, the government seized Mr. Williams’ computer and downloaded the records of over 4900 people who had either purchased his manual and DVD or took part in my one on one polygraph test preparation training. The government agents, and an AUSA interviewed every one of these people who were of interest to them. They started the interview by saying, “We’re not after you, we are after Doug Williams.”. They interrogated them very intensely asking them if Williams ever told them to lie or if they ever told Williams they were going to lie. Not one of these people ever said Williams told them to lie or that they ever told Williams they were going to lie. It is of interest to note that polygraph operators from this same agency, the Customs and Border Patrol, admit that over two-thirds of the applicants for positions with that agency are denied employment because of a “failed” polygraph test so it is obvious that many thousands of people have been falsely accused of deception by government polygraph operators. This failure rate is another example of the polygraph program’s extreme disregard for public safety and national security by thwarting the Customs and Border Patrol’s efforts to adequately staff their agency.
11. The government’s response states: “Both UCs made it clear to defendant (Mr. Williams) that they could not keep or obtain federal employment unless he helped them lie about their crimes during their respective polygraph examinations. Knowing the UCs intent to lie to federal investigators in order to get or keep federal law enforcement positions, defendant (Mr. Williams) willingly trained them how to provide false responses to polygraphers questions and still pass.” That is not true, neither of the UCs told Mr. Williams they were going to lie on the polygraph test, nor did Mr. Williams ever tell them to lie. The first undercover agent simply said the investigators already knew he had “turned his head” while a friend brought in some drugs and the second undercover agent said he was going to tell the polygraph operator about his “crimes” and his only concern was that it would get back to the sheriff and he would lose his job as a deputy. Also, the government has no evidence that Mr. Williams “trained them to provide false responses to polygraphers questions and still pass”. The fact is that no polygraph test was ever administered to either of these undercover agents, nor did they ever intend to take a polygraph test. And there is no evidence that Mr. Williams helped them “lie about their crimes during their respective polygraph examinations” when no such test was ever taken. The UCs were the ones doing all the lying and they needed no help from Mr. Williams. Indeed, this was all pretend and they were even lying about lying since everything they said was scripted.
12. The polygraph is A simple device that has not changed significantly since in was invented in 1920. It records the subject’s blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration and what’s known as the galvanic skin response which is basically just a measurement of the increase or decrease of sweat activity on the subject’s fingers. Polygraph operators ask a series of questions during the test and measure the subject’s reaction or lack of reaction to the questions. There are two types of questions asked on the polygraph test – relevant and control. The relevant questions are those that pertain to the point at issue. For example, if the polygraph test is about drug smuggling, the questions would be as follows: Did you smuggle drugs into the country? Did you work with someone to smuggle drugs into the country? Right now could you take me to any of the drugs that were smuggled into the country? The polygraph operator will intersperse control questions during the test. The control questions would be as follows: Have you ever lied to anyone in authority to keep from getting in trouble? Did you ever deliberately hurt anyone? Have you ever stolen anything? The theory underlying the polygraph as a “lie detector” is as follows: If a subject has a reaction on a relevant questions that is greater than their reaction to a control questions, the subject is deemed to be deceptive. If the reverse is true, and the subject has a reaction to the control questions that is greater than their reaction to the relevant questions, the subject is deemed to be truthful. This reaction that would brand a person as a liar is simply a nervous reaction such as is seen in the fight or flight response. When a person is confronted with a threatening stimulus their body releases a shot of adrenalin which causes their blood pressure to increase, their breathing to become erratic, and the sweat activity on their hand to increase. In order for the polygraph to be accurate as a “lie detector’, this reaction that polygraph operators refer to as a “lying reaction” or a “reaction indicative of deception” must always indicate deception. The problem is that there is no such thing as a “lying reaction”. In fact, the reaction that brands a person as a liar can and often is caused by any number of innocent stimuli – such as embarrassment, rage at having been asked an accusatory question, simple nervousness, fear of being falsely accused of lying – even the tone of the examiner during questioning can elicit a reaction that would cause a person to fail the test. So, the polygraph records a person’s nervous reaction to relevant questions but the problem is that nervousness does not always indicate deception – in fact it only indicates deception about 50% of the time. Thus the polygraph is no more accurate than “the toss of a coin”. Mr. Williams simply teaches people what the polygraph records, teaches them the difference between the relevant and control questions and runs them through a relaxation exercise similar to that used in the Lamas technique of natural child birth. This training only takes about twenty minutes and then the subject is hooked up to the polygraph and is allowed to demonstrate their ability to relax when answering the relevant questions and think of something frightening when answering the control questions thereby producing a perfect “truthful” chart. When you consider the extraordinary failure rate of almost 70% at the Customs and Border Patrol – as well as other government agencies – it is logical to assume that many thousands of people are falsely branded as liars by government polygraph operators. It would be unconscionable to deprive those persons seeking this training from receiving it by prohibiting Mr. Williams from continuing to educate them about how to avoid being falsely accused of deception simply because they are nervous.
13. The government’s response states: “Because defendant’s criminal conduct was inextricably linked with his polygraph business and because defendant has repeatedly and deliberately sought to avoid knowledge of his clients intention to lie during polygraph examinations (in order to insulate himself from criminal activity), the Court’s restriction on defendants participation in polygraph related activity is necessary to protect the public.” There is no statute that prohibits Mr. Williams from teaching a person to pass, or for that matter to “beat” a polygraph test. Williams was charged with witness tampering and Mr. Williams’ knowledge or lack of knowledge about his clients intention to lie during polygraph examinations is irrelevant simply because having the knowledge that a person he is training plans to lie does not constitute a crime. The crime Mr. Williams was charged with is witness tampering not teaching a person how to pass a polygraph test. Further, as will be discussed later, except in these two cases, there is no evidence that anyone has ever told him they intended to lie during polygraph examinations, and Mr. Williams has certainly never told anyone to lie on their polygraph examinations – and in fact Mr. Williams never told any of these undercover agents to lie – nor did they ever tell Mr. Williams they planned to lie on their polygraph examinations. As regards the charges of witness tampering, it appears from the record that the only “tampering” being done was done by the government’s undercover agents. And it should be noted that these agents were not “witnesses” to anything. In fact everything they said was a lie. Also, everything Mr. Williams told the government’s undercover agents about how to pass a polygraph test was in his testimony to the congress in 1985 in support of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act. So Mr. Williams is in prison for telling the undercover agents exactly what he told the congress over thirty years ago.
14. Williams has been demonstrating how simple it is to “beat the box” on national television and in hundreds of seminars over the past thirty eight years. It is true that anyone can use Mr. Williams’ techniques to pass their polygraph test regardless of whether they are nervous or not, lying or not, no matter what. Mr. Williams has been saying that for almost forty years. He says that is hopes that those who use the polygraph or rely on the results reported to them by polygraph operators will realize that it is not accurate or reliable as a “lie detector” and will quit using it. Besides, liars can pass the polygraph test easily regardless of whether they have been trained or not. History is replete with examples of people who have lied and passed polygraph tests with no problem, Aldridge Ames, the CIA agent who was a notorious traitor, passed many polygraph examinations – and he was actively passing classified information to the Soviets when he took – and passed – many polygraph tests. As a matter of fact, there has never been even one traitor, or spy ever caught by the polygraph. Even the most recent episode with Edward Snowden demonstrates how foolish and dangerous it is to rely on the results of a polygraph test. Snowden passed two polygraph tests in order to get access to the information he leaked from the NSA. Snowden not only passed the pre-employment polygraph test, but he also passed the all encompassing, highly vaunted “lifestyle” polygraph test. Snowden passed both polygraph tests, even though he knew at the time he took the tests what he planned to do when he got his security clearance. If that doesn’t prove the polygraph is worthless, what does? So, the polygraph brands truthful people as liars and allows liars to pass the test with no problem. In fact, liars have demonstrated the ability to pass the polygraph test without any training whatsoever while truthful people are branded as liars at an alarming rate. Therefore, Williams’ training is essential to help truthful people avoid being falsely accused of deception. Accordingly Williams requests that the Court remove the special condition of his supervised release prohibiting his participation in any form of polygraph related activity.
The U.S. Department of Justice effectively conceded that polygraph countermeasures are effective in arguing against incarcerated polygraph critic Doug Williams‘ motion that he be allowed to engage in polygraph-related activities during his upcoming three-year period of supervised release. DOJ’s opposition brief (PDF), filed on 10 February 2017, notes, at p. 2:
In addition to training manuals and DVDs, defendant sold in-person, confidential, “one-on-one” polygraph countermeasures training sessions. During these sessions, defendant taught clients how to pass polygraph tests even if they were lying. (emphasis added)
The brief, which largely recaps details of the government-orchestrated “crimes” for which Williams was convicted, concludes by arguing that “the restriction on polygraph-related activities for the full term of supervised release is the minimum restriction necessary to protect the public.” This flies in the face of the polygraph community’s claims that sophisticated polygraph countermeasures can be routinely detected and are ineffective.
On 21 February 2013, federal agents raided former police polygraphist Doug Williams‘ home and office, seizing his customer records as part of an investigation targeting polygraph countermeasure instructors. The U.S. government used these records to create a interagency watch list of individuals who had purchased Williams’ manual, How to Sting the Polygraph, an accompanying DVD, or had received in-person training on how to pass a polygraph “test.”
Court records obtained by AntiPolygraph.org reveal that one of the individuals on the list, Ray Dwight Sluss of Johnson City, Tennessee, a convicted sex offender on probation, passed four post-conviction polygraph examinations. In a memorandum (PDF) dated 22 November 2013, United States Attorney William C. Killian writes:
In 2013, federal agents received information that Sluss had purchased polygraph counter-measures techniques and training from an individual in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma who marketed these products to convicted felons like Sluss who were subject to polygraph examinations. FBI in Oklahoma referred the defendant to FBI in Johnson City, where an agent confirmed that Sluss had been convicted of child pornography crimes, was on state court probation, and had completed periodic polygraph examinations. As a convicted sex offender, Sluss was also subject to limitations on his residence, employment, and activities. FBI verified that Sluss had successfully passed four polygraph examinations since his release from prison.
There is no indication that any polygraph operator ever detected Sluss using polygraph countermeasures. Sluss had completed his polygraph requirement and on 10 September 2010 was placed on “unsupervised” probation.
According to another court filing, on 28 August 2013, FBI Special Agent Peter O’Hare, Jr. “visited Mr. Sluss at his home to question him about a report that Mr. Sluss had purchased materials relating to polygraph examination countermeasures. Mr. Sluss denied making such a purchase.”
O’Hare returned to Sluss’s residence two days later accompanied by the latter’s probation officer, and a search of the home led to the discovery of computer media with child pornography, for possession of which Sluss was sentenced to 17.5 years in federal prison.
The Sluss case highlights the vulnerability of polygraphy to simple countermeasures (see Chapter 4) that polygraph operators cannot detect and the foolishness of official reliance on this pseudoscientific procedure for public safety purposes.
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!
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
Federal Correctional Institution
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.