I am an American citizen of Middle Eastern and Islamic heritage. Shortly after the horrible events of September 11, 2001, two gentlemen contacted me. One was from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the other from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). Their initial meeting was one in which they just asked a lot of trivial questions to get acquainted with me, and me with them. The following week, the FBI Special Agent contacted me again to seek my cooperation in their investigation into the tragic events that had transpired. Feeling compelled to assist my government in any way that I could, I agreed to become an unpaid confidential informant for the Bureau.
After a year of effort put into the collection and analysis of information, the Bureau suggested that I submit to a polygraph examination. In the beginning, I was completely eager to submit to this exam, thinking that it was nothing more than standard policy. I had, up until my research into the art of polygraphy, believed totally in the toy's ability to discern honesty and deception. I now admit to feeling perhaps betrayed or disrespected by having been asked to submit to the polygraph, but I believed the Bureau's representative when he said that it was a matter of national security and that it was his supervisors who were in fact requesting this exam. He further explained that this was also ground for the Bureau to delegate resources in the war on terrorism.
As the schedules were coordinated for the exam to be completed, I raised several issues with my Bureau contact. My primary concern was the capability of the box to accurately detect deception. I had recently participated in an investigative marathon with two other federal agencies that extracted a lot of time, energy, and emotion from me. I was extremely agitated and emotionally distraught after it concluded, and I was suffering great anxiety. I was told that the Bureau's polygrapher was an "expert" and that he was so skilled that he would be able to "calibrate" the box to adjust for my overwhelming anxiety from the recent investigation. I, in my trust of the Bureau, bought every bit of it as fact.
It just so happened -- quite by accident -- that one day, while searching the Washington Post online, I happened across an editorial entitled, "Are Polygraphs Lying?" Being in a position where I had just days before consented to a polygraph screening examination, the article caught my eye. In reading about the National Academy of Sciences report on the polygraph, I decided to look deeper into the subject. I have always been one to weigh the evidence in matters before reaching a conclusion. It was in the process of gathering that evidence that I found myself troubled about my prior consent to participate in the three-ring circus that I now know to be the practice of polygraphy.
I am not one with a lot of fancy book learning, and my name is void of little letters at the end of it. I am, however, capable of reading and comprehending what I read. I was overwhelmed by the massive amount of information available, the bulk of which was uniform in the conclusion that polygraphy is a fraudulent junk science. I realized that I had been duped. I was made the fool. Nothing seemed to incite more turmoil in me than to have realized that those in whom I had placed my trust had knowingly contrived this ruse to avoid being straightforward with me. I now knew that my veracity would not and could not be tested in this format. It would instead be an inferred opinion based upon information gleaned from investigators as opposed to a factual determination based on scientific evidence. I believe that fact was perhaps the most damning of the whole situation. It sealed the fate of the relationship as it were.
By some stroke of luck -- since I know not how else to explain it -- I happened across AntiPolygraph.org. It was here that I obtained The Lie Behind The Lie Detector and became most aware of the atrocious mind games played on citizens by respected and revered governmental agencies. It was a rude awakening, but one that I am profoundly appreciative of today. Had it not been for AntiPolygraph.org, I would not be empowered today to voice a stand against this most dangerous nonsense.
It was made painfully obvious to me that refusal to submit to a polygraph would go into my Washington DC HQ file, so refusal no longer became an option for me. There had to be, however, some option that allowed me to take back control of my life and my future career aspirations while avoiding becoming a party to the perpetuation of a most dangerous fallacy. That option came in the form of a letter that I delivered to the agency requesting the polygraph. The crafting was indeed time-consuming, but the payoff was well worth it. It left me with the position of control and retained my dignity.
I am including that letter written to those who requested me to submit to a polygraph in hopes that anyone out there who finds themselves in such a position may find a basis within my letter to find their own voice. It will be each of us, in our own voices, that can bring about the end to this most comical and illogical practice within our governmental agencies. As more people educate themselves, the miniscule grain of utility left for the polygraph will dissipate, and we, as a society, will have effectively rid ourselves of this outdated voodoo. And perhaps then, our federal law enforcement agencies will no longer be denied valuable and desperately-needed resources from within the community:
On Friday, October 18, 2002, in looking for the news story about CIA Director Tenet's statements to Congress regarding national security concerns that was carried by the Washington Post, I ran across a most provocative editorial from the previous day entitled, "Are Polygraphs Lying." As I read this editorial, I became very interested in the details of the report findings on the polygraph by the National Academy of Sciences. In an effort to reduce the verbiage of this message, I suggest a look at this report as well as the latest media frenzy created by the report regarding the pseudoscientific, fraudulent, junk science of polygraphy that my government sanctions. I previously sent you Dr. Drew Richardson's op-ed piece from the Washington Times.
While I cannot excuse the executive branch's obvious Ostrich Syndrome with its continued practice of allowing the use of this voodoo, I can in some scintilla part rationalize it when the issues of utility are presented. The remaining debate however, after the Energy Department's commissioned study by NAS, is minimal at best. As for the debate on validity issues, any real debate has effectively been ended with these latest findings. This is further attested to in that the pro-polygraphy community has either been uncannily silent or amusingly entertaining in their tap dances around this issue since the release of this informative report on 8 October. Plainly put, the reliability of the polygraph to determine the truth is about as good as you pulling a coin out of your pocket and giving it a toss to make the same determination.
While I whole-heartedly embraced the auspicious belief that submission to the Bureau's 'box' would put a definite end to all doubts surrounding my veracity concerning this most delicate and sensitive information that I set upon your plates, I now know that my faith was puerile and naïve. As a civil libertarian, I am placed in a precarious quandary. I believe that as an American citizen, I am charged with the moral responsibility to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States to the fullest extent of my capabilities. While I am willing to sacrifice some of my constitutional protections for meaningful benefits to national security, I find it comical to do so for nonsense based on a delusional faith in this comic book writer's fanciful invention. Nonetheless, I have agreed to submit to your "test" even though, in my humble opinion, to submit to a charlatan and undergo a psychological third-degree that is tantamount to mental rape does nothing more than to irresponsibly base a legitimate concern over national security upon a S.W.A.G. (Scientific Wild-Assed Guess).
Gentlemen, the Emperor has patently been pronounced naked. I have attempted to reply to your request in a reasonable and fair-minded manner, yet I am countered with excuses that frankly, if you will forgive my lack of tact, come across as being a bit hubristic. I am told that this "test" is NOT something that must be "done the Bureau's way or no way", yet when I request that Dr. Drew Richardson be allowed to review the test questions, test format, and to accompany me to and observe the exam, I am fed balderdash about his security clearance. I know beyond any doubts that with the 15-month-long time since his last clearance review, that he could easily and quite quickly be granted that clearance for the purposes of this exam that you claim is so vital to our national security. When I request an audio/video recording of all aspects of the exam be done and made available to me upon the completion of the "test", again, I am countered with an excuse of how this is not something that is done. With a threat to national security, one would think that any of these concessions would and could be made. The same objections are made at my request for a copy of the electronic file or paper charts to be made immediately available to me.
The attempt to skillfully rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, while quite an entertaining display, accomplishes nothing more than to address my valid concerns as if they are mere unadulterated gibberish. This was the same attitude taken to my previous requests that SA XXXXX not be party to any interviews with me. Again, my concerns were blatantly ignored and overlooked. No options are presented to me in an effort to allow me any calling of the tune, yet I am constantly told that I hold the cards. Which is it, gentlemen? Those who believe in its trickery are the only ones who are hoodwinked by illusions. Since it appears to me that you are unable and unwilling to be straightforward and practical with me, this is my final stance.
I now believe that I have given you three conditions:
(1) Dr Richardson's participation: advance review of procedures/questions, presence at exam, and review of results
(2) Audio/video recording of exam and my immediate receipt of same post exam, and
(3) Raw data (charts/electronic polygraph files) being made available to me immediately following the exam.
I will be quite reasonable, and will accept any two of the three you choose. Should you choose the latter two (promises of various post-test actions), I will want a signed statement in advance of the examination from the Bureau guaranteeing such.
The FBI did not agree to my terms, and no polygraph was conducted. But the relationship between those who requested me to be polygraphed and myself ended in a mutually friendly manner. I could not have witnessed a more professional and liberating separation. I have concluded that to lose valuable resources in the nation's war on terrorism because of some futile faith in the greatly fallible polygraph is utterly insane. Today I continue in the same line of work with agencies that appreciate and respect my precious value. I am more aware and more educated, and it has thus become an acceptable condition of my continued work with federal law enforcement agencies that the polygraph is no longer an option. As I had told the Bureau representative, had they been gentlemen about it and requested an interrogation without my attorney present, I would have willingly consented to such. I would have found it much more acceptable than to be asked to submit to a charlatan.
Regards to my fellow man,
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