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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Butler (Read 41981 times)
Fair Chance
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #15 - Oct 22nd, 2003 at 7:46pm
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Dear Saidme,

I specifically requested that my third FBI pre-employment polygraph exam be videotaped or recorded after my second fiasco.  The examiner stated that he could not record it because it was not a criminal case and it was FBI written policy not to record non-criminal cases.  I was willing to be recorded.  I believed this would have protected me and the examiner from any "forgetfulness" regarding the time spent in a closed room with no witnesses.  A playback of my second examination would have helped speed up a decision that took over two months to make (offering of third exam). 

Videotaping or recording is a win-win situation for innocent people and ethical examiners. 

Regards.
  
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #16 - Oct 22nd, 2003 at 8:26pm
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Fair Chance

As I stated before, I agree with audio/video taping.  My statement regarding audio/video of examinee's (and their reluctance) is based on criminal specific issue polygraph testing, not pre-employment testing.  Those deemed deceptive know the potential impact an audio/video taped confession would have in court.  As I've stated before on this website, I don't necessarily agree with pre-employment polygraph testing, and I'm obviously not employed with the FBI.
  
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #17 - Oct 22nd, 2003 at 10:18pm
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Saidme

It's refreshing to know that you agree with audio/vidio taping.

For the protection of both LEO's and suspects, I think the recording should be done, if at all possible, in every arrest and interrogation heat room and polygraph. Where ever there is interaction between officer and suspect.

As to the presence of a lawyer, they are not going to let their client answer any damaging questions anyway. As the questioning detective, I would plainly tell the lawyer "whether you like it or not, I am going to tape our sessions. I must do this to protect both your client and me from false accusations". If the lawyer refused, I'd tell him to prepare for court. As a juror, if the detective presented these facts in court, I would be hard pressed to go against his testimony. I think most jurors would think likewise.

Of coarse sadistic LEO's, and there are some who gets their jollies by badgering and whacking, would never go for this kind of interrogation. As a juror, I would be as hardpressed to believe his testimony.
  
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George W. Maschke
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #18 - Oct 23rd, 2003 at 8:45am
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Saidme wrote on Oct 22nd, 2003 at 3:07pm:
Dr Butler's repudiation means nothing.  Quite common for suspects to recant as soon as they leave the interrogation room.  After all, the pressure's off.  It's just as plausible his confession is true as not.  


I would agree that Dr. Butler's repudiation of his written statement is not dispositive, but it is also wrong to say that it "means nothing."
  

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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #19 - Oct 26th, 2003 at 8:48pm
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George said,
Quote:
I was not readily able to locate any documentation that  "[f]alse confessions are generally a product of police abuse (beatings), drugs, or mental capacity (or lack thereof) of the defendant," as you maintain.
In any event, there are other factors that may lead to false confessions, such as the subject's belief in false promises made by interrogators and sleep deprivation, both of which seem to have been factors in the Butler case.


This quote, from Barry Scheck's Innocence Project homepage sums it up, although it isn't "hard data":
Quote:
In a disturbing number of DNA exoneration cases, defendants have made incriminating statements or delivered outright confessions. Many factors arise from interrogation that may lead to a false confession, including: duress, coercion, intoxication, diminished capacity, ignorance of the law, and mental impairment. Fear of violence (threatened or performed) and threats of extreme sentences have also led innocent people to confess to crimes they did not perpetrate.


And while the "causes" are not given, the list located here is clearly indicative that false confessions are not "rare" as some people imply, and some of the reasons used to prove the falsity of the confessions is amazing:
http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/Master_List_False_Confessions.html
  

"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." &&U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis
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George W. Maschke
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #20 - Nov 8th, 2003 at 10:47am
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It seems that SA Dale Green had concluded that Dr. Butler was deceptive even before he administered his polygraph "test." In an article titled, "FBI Agent Says He Was Suspicious of Butler From Start," KCBD TV in Lubbock, TX reports:

Quote:
An FBI agent says he saw signs of deception before he interviewed a Texas Tech researcher who's accused in a bioterrorism hoax. The testimony came Friday in the Lubbock federal trial of Dr. Thomas Butler.

Butler is facing 69 felony charges related to a January scare sparked by his report of missing plague vials. The FBI says Butler later admitted he accidentally destroyed the vials.

Agent Dale Green arrived in Lubbock the night of January 14th, amid the investigation, but before officers knew the incident was a hoax. Green testified he looked over Butler's lab notebook and noticed changes in the style of entries that the professor had written. Green says the style became more narrative, as if Butler was trying to convince the reader, rather than convey information. Green called it, quote: "A clear flag of deception for me."


Under these circumstances, Dr. Butler's failing the "test" may well have been foreordained.
  

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George W. Maschke
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #21 - Dec 2nd, 2003 at 7:51pm
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On Monday, 1 December, a federal jury acquitted Dr. Butler of all charges connected with his "confession" to FBI polygrapher Dale Green. The jury did, however, find him guilty on unrelated charges connected with his finances. See "Prof cleared of most serious charges in plague scare."
  

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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #22 - Dec 3rd, 2003 at 1:33am
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Although I feel somewhat happy about Dr. butler being aquitted for his situation with the FBI. I didn't see anything in the article related to the polygraph sessions and how it affected the trial.  I think it would help our cause a bit more if there were mention.

Bubba
  
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George W. Maschke
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The Passion of Thomas Butler
Reply #23 - Mar 27th, 2004 at 10:22am
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Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientsts' Secrecy in Government Project has commented on the prosecution of Dr. Butler in his Secrecy News email publication dated 25 March 2004:

Quote:

THE PASSION OF THOMAS BUTLER

Dr. Thomas C. Butler is as great a benefactor to humanity as anyone is ever likely to meet.

He dedicated his career to the study of infectious disease and is an internationally renowned expert on plague. His early medical research is credited with saving the lives of *millions* of children around the world each year by advancing oral hydration as a treatment for diarrhea.

But over the past several months, Dr. Butler has been humiliated, fined, and compelled to surrender his medical license, as the result of various procedural violations committed in the course of his research, such as improperly shipping bacteria samples abroad via Federal Express.

On March 10, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

He could well have been condemned to an even longer sentence, observed the Honorable Judge Sam R. Cummings of the Northern District of Texas.

But the court decided to be merciful, in light of the fact that "the defendant's research and discoveries have led to the salvage of millions of lives throughout the world."

"There is not a case on record that could better exemplify a great service to society as a whole that is substantially extraordinary," Judge Cummings said.

Alternatively, one could say that there is not a case on record that could better exemplify the shortsighted application of the law in a manner that is madly inappropriate to the circumstances of the case.

After the first million lives that he saves, a defendant is entitled to some leeway when it comes to the commission of non-malicious crimes, one might have supposed. It is hard to witness the professional destruction of Dr. Butler and to call it justice.

See the transcript of the March 10 sentencing hearing here:

http://www.fas.org/butler/sentence.html

See also "Butler gets 2 years in prison" by John Dudley Miller, The Scientist, March 11 (free registration required):

http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20040311/02

  

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George W. Maschke
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #24 - Mar 17th, 2005 at 10:53pm
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Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientsts' Secrecy in Government Project has again commented on the case of Dr. Thomas C. Butler in his Secrecy News email publication dated 17 March 2005:

Quote:
RECALLING THE THOMAS BUTLER AFFAIR

Thomas C. Butler is the distinguished expert on infectious diseases who was aggressively prosecuted by the government and convicted for improperly shipping plague samples and for contract violations. Credited with helping to save literally millions of lives through his medical research, Butler is now serving a two year jail term.

The Butler case should be studied in government sponsored public workshops in order to "illustrate how rules and norms have been changed," Gansler and Lucyshyn suggest in their new University of Maryland study (p. 42).

But many scientists and other observers reject the idea that the Butler case constitutes a new norm.  Rather, they say, it is a miscarriage of justice that should be repudiated.

In an open letter, Butler's supporters argue that "Incarcerating Dr. Butler has and will continue to adversely impact the national security."

"Knowing that even a technical violation or disputing a university's claim to funds can result in criminal charges, [scientists] will decline to work on research critical to national security, such as plague or anthrax."

"One author of this letter has already destroyed all plague samples held in his lab for exactly this reason."

The letter calls for new efforts to free Butler on appeal. See a copy here:

     http://www.fas.org/butler/letter0305.pdf



The reference to Gansler and Lucyshyn is to a newly released study mentioned earlier in today's Secrecy News: "The Unintended Audience: Balancing Openness and Secrecy" by Jacques S. Gansler and William Lucyshyn, Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, University of Maryland, dated September 2004:

http://www.cpppe.umd.edu/Bookstore/Documents/UnintendedAudience_3.05.pdf
  

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George W. Maschke
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #25 - Mar 26th, 2006 at 11:16am
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The Cleveland Plain Dealer today began publication of a 7-part investigative report by John Mangels on the Thomas C. Butler case titled, "Plagued by Fear." Part 1 is available here:

http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/114331771533990.x...

  

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George W. Maschke
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #26 - Mar 27th, 2006 at 5:57pm
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All parts of John Mangels's investigative series on Dr. Butler's plight will eventually appear here:

http://www.cleveland.com/plague/

It appears that tomorrow's (Tuesday, 28 March) installment will cover FBI polygrapher Dale Green's interrogation of Dr. Butler.
  

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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #27 - Mar 27th, 2006 at 9:54pm
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The more I read of things like this, the more glad I am that I failed the FBI Polygraph test. I dont want to be a prt of the govt beating up on good people for no reason.
  
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Bu
Reply #28 - Mar 27th, 2006 at 10:45pm
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Orolan:

From my  experience and from what  I have read over the years leads me to beleive that the primary reason for false confessions is the one mentioned last by Scheck, mental impairment.  Lawyers and cops go together like oil and water so I would take what he says with a grian of salt about coerced confessions etc. He is not exactly enamored with the law enforcement community.
  
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George W. Maschke
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Re: The Polygraph and the Case of Dr. Thomas C. Butler
Reply #29 - Oct 19th, 2017 at 9:02am
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It appears that John Mangels' investigative series "Plagued by Fear" on the case of Dr. Thomas C. Butler is no longer available on the website of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but a copy remains available via Archive.org:

https://web.archive.org/web/20150311094102/www.cleveland.com/plague/
  

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