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ATF Polygraph Procedures (Read 2613 times)
Paste User Name in Quick Reply Box Redrum
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ATF Polygraph Procedures
Nov 9th, 2001 at 5:03pm
Mark & Quote Quote 
I recently took a polygraph with ATF.  When told that I had had a deceptive response (and thus failed) I tried to get more info on the process.  I was told that their polygraphers do not use the terms "pass", "fail" or "inconclusive".  They could (or would) not, however, tell me what they do use.  The little info I could get out of them was that those terms are used for criminal polygraphs only.  For employment pre-screening it is a matter of significant responses only... 

Does anyone know what this means?

I also have a question about consent forms.  After I found out the results of my polygraph I received a call from the agency's legal department offering me a second polygraph.  I had NOT asked for this, but readily agreed as I had  not lied on the first one.  When I went in for the second one I was given a form to sign.  While I had signed forms in the first polygraph, this one was not included.  This one specifically stated that "any significant unresolved responses" would prohibit me from further consideration."  I even had to initial beside this paragraph in addition to signing the bottom of the form.  Being natuarlly suspicious, I can't help but thikn they brought me in again because they had not done it properly the first time.  Any thoughts?

Incidentally, the second polygrapher was MUCH better and much more professional, and I walked away feeling great.  Four weeks later I received a letter that made absolutely NO mention of the second polygraph, just simply stating that it would "not be in the Bureau's best interest to employ me as a Criminal Investigator".  It doesn't seem right that they could bring me in for a second one, then completely ignore it when they didn't get the results they were looking for.
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Paste User Name in Quick Reply Box G Scalabr
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Re: ATF Polygraph Procedures
Reply #1 - Nov 10th, 2001 at 4:57am
Mark & Quote Quote 
Redrum,

I am sorry to hear of your experience.  Despite what those at ATF have told you, you can be sure that ATF polygraphers are categorizing applicant charts as pass, fail, and inconclusive.  They may, however, use different names for these terms.  Two popular terms in the polygraph community are DI--Deception Indicated (lying, in other words) and NDI--No Deception Indicated (read:  truthful).  Whatever terms they use, however, are meaningless.  The fact is that the polygraph is being used as a "lie detector" and that you were accused of lying.

It's tough to speculate as to why you were offered a re-test.  Most agencies do not have an official policy with regard to re-tests.  Some give certain individuals as many retests as they need until they "pass."  Others simply refuse to answer letters sent to them by those who have failed and request a re-test.  Whether or not a re-test is offered depends on both the agency and the individual.  Even within an agency, actual procedures vary widely (depending on who you are, what skills you have, who you know, etc).

The ATF polygraph requirement is new, so we have no solid information on how this agency does things.  If anything, the fact that they had legal contact you to offer the 2nd polygraph and slipped a new sheet of paper into the forms you had to sign appear to me that the reason they extended you the 2nd "test" is that they wanted to try to cover themselves should you decide to sue.

Quote:
It doesn't seem right that they could bring me in for a second one, then completely ignore it when they didn't get the results they were looking for.

Redrum, none of what is going on with any of these agencies with regard to polygraph "testing" is right.  You may have passed with the highest possible scores, only to be silently (and arbitrarily) accused of employing "countermeasures" (attempting to beat the test.  If you did indeed "pass," it is very likely that someone said "Hey, this guy failed the first polygraph and then had the highest possible passing scores on the second one, so he must have done something to beat the test" (the other alternative would be to admit that polygraphy is an unreliable fraud).  

I strongly suggest filing a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request with the ATF.  Instructions on how to do this are in chapter five of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector .  If you are at all interested in attempting to find out what happened to you (which I can infer that you are from the fact that you posted here), do this now.  If you decide to do it even a year or so later, you may find that your records have been conveniently destroyed.

You also should write your senators and representative, let them know you were falsely accused, and encourage them to support legislation removing governmental exemptions to the 1988 Employee Polygraph Protection Act.

Lastly, you may wish to write an anonymous story of how you were treated in full detail.  It would go far in letting other potential ATF applicants know what they may face.  Please contact me at scalabrini@antipolygraph.org for more information.

Best
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Paste User Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: ATF Polygraph Procedures
Reply #2 - Nov 10th, 2001 at 6:50am
Mark & Quote Quote 
Quote:
I recently took a polygraph with ATF.  When told that I had had a deceptive response (and thus failed) I tried to get more info on the process.  I was told that their polygraphers do not use the terms "pass", "fail" or "inconclusive".  They could (or would) not, however, tell me what they do use.  The little info I could get out of them was that those terms are used for criminal polygraphs only.  For employment pre-screening it is a matter of significant responses only...  

Does anyone know what this means?



Redrum,

This doubletalk about polygraph "test" results typifies the institutionalized intellectual dishonesty of the polygraph "profession." According to the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute, which is responsible for the training of all federal polygraphers and for all federally-funded polygraph research, the scores for screening "tests" are:
  • No Opinion
  • No Significant Responses
  • Significant Responses

In polygraph interrogations about specific crimes, however, the following terms are used:
  • No Opinion
  • No Deception Indicated
  • Deception Indicated

For all intents and purposes, "No Significant Responses" is precisely the same as "No Deception Indicated." Both mean "pass." Similarly, "Significant Responses" is the same as "Deception Indicated." Both mean "fail."

But by using the buzzword "significant responses," the U.S. Government conveniently avoids actually accusing those who "fail" polygraph screening "tests" of having lied (even while treating them precisely as if they did). Isn't that special?  Roll Eyes

Gino is right, you should promptly request all ATF records about you under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, before ATF destroys them.
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George W. Maschke
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Re: ATF Polygraph Procedures
Reply #3 - Nov 13th, 2001 at 8:29am
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George,

I stand corrected.  I was unaware of the differential vocabulary in criminal and specific tests.

While we are at it, we might as well add the DOE screening program's fourth possible outcome, "not finished."  Unfortunatley, DOE polygraph chief David Renzelman and his charges have yet to explain exactly how this conclusion is reached....
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