In spring 2006 I received a phone call from a Special Agent X of the local FBI field office and was informed that I had passed the Phase Two interview that I had taken the month before. I was overjoyed to say the least. I couldn’t believe it. I was finally realizing my dream of becoming an FBI special agent. I had worked so hard and had already gone through so many hoops. Now my hard work and dedication were finally paying off. I was then told by Special Agent X that I would need to come in to the field office for my pre-employment polygraph. He scheduled me for two days later and we hung up. I was on cloud nine for the next two days. I had never taken a polygraph before, but I knew that I had nothing to hide. I couldn’t wait to take it and move on to the background check and the physical fitness test. I had been preparing my body for the PT exam for the past four months by running countless miles, and performing pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups each day. I was more than ready to ace the PT exam.
On the appointed day, I showed up at the field office where I was greeted by Special Agent X. He was cordial enough and motioned for me to follow him to his office, where he conducted a pre-employment security interview. During the interview he asked me about my childhood, education, travels, work experience, and interests. I was a little nervous during the interview, but I felt good when he told me that I appeared to be a very well rounded candidate. The only thing that I felt that was out of place during the security interview was that he seemed to have developed a penchant for speaking in a phony British accent as the interview progressed.
After the security interview had concluded he led me to a small windowless room where the polygraph was to be conducted. The polygraph machine appeared to be a large desk with an array of needles, knobs, and other gadgets surrounding the standard roll of paper in the center of the machine where my responses would be recorded. Special Agent X motioned for me to sit in a large black chair in front of the polygraph machine. I remember thinking that the chair had extremely wide arm rests. Special Agent X asked me to roll up my left sleeve, and he attached what appeared to be a blood pressure band around my biceps. He then attached two telephone-looking cords around my chest, and he also attached some sensors to my fingers. He told me to sit up straight and look forward and not at him. He then sat down behind the machine and proceeded to tell me that he could detect if I was using countermeasures and would stop the polygraph if he deemed me to be implementing them. I explained to him that I knew next to nothing about the polygraph process, except that it supposedly ascertained truth from falsehood by measuring physiological responses such as heart beat, blood pressure, pulse, etc. He told me that I was correct and that his machine was almost infallible in its ability to cull out liars from truthful applicants.
He then told me to relax and control my breathing while he administered the test. He asked a series of questions such as, “Have you ever plotted the overthrow of the United States Government?” or “Have you ever stolen from an employer?” One particularly asinine question was “Did you ever lie to hurt your friend Carl?” I thought that the screening was going well when he suddenly told me that I wasn’t doing well. I asked him what he meant, and he told me that I was having trouble on the question of whether or not I had ever used and sold illegal drugs. I told him that I had never used illegal drugs, much less sold them. He told me that he would re-ask the question. He did so and said that I was still showing signs of deception about my drug usage history. He also admonished me for breathing irregularly. He told me that he would administer the test again and re-ask the questions in a different order. He did so, and at the conclusion of the polygraph he sternly looked at me and told me I was still lying about my drug usage history. I proceeded to tell him that I didn’t care what he said or his machine said. I explained to him that I have never even taken a drag off a joint in my life. He then told me that nearly all Americans have used drugs at some point in their life, and if I would just confess, then he could possibly do “something” to help me. I told him that I understood the prevalence of drugs in American society, but that I had never indulged in that vice. I told him that I don’t even drink and that a background check and a drug test would clear me of such a preposterous allegation. I also told him that if I did confess to such a charge, then I would indeed be lying and that I wasn’t going to lie by confessing to something I had never done.
He laughed at me and said that he’d be a rich man if he had a dime from everyone that he had polygraphed that had told him that. He then proceeded to say that if I would confess in writing that he would see if the “people in headquarters” in Washington D.C. would “help” me with my predicament. I told him that I didn’t have a predicament and he was the one that was making a mistake. He then shoved a piece of paper and pen across the table at me and told me to confess. I wrote down on the paper that I had never used or sold drugs and shoved the implements back to him. He read it, sneered, and said that he was sorry that I was being so bull-headed and that he had tried to help me, but that I could be expecting a rejection letter rescinding my conditional offer of employment in about a month.
At this point I honestly thought the guy was just playing me to see if I would acquiesce to his bullshit accusation. I had heard that sometimes the CIA and FBI play such games to test the mettle of the applicant. Due to his phony British accent and the absurdity of the charges, this had to be a ploy. I know what I have and haven’t done, and drugs have never been an issue in my life. I was wrong.
Approximately three weeks later I received a letter stating that my conditional offer of employment was being rescinded due to “unacceptable parameters” on the polygraph. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it. People in my family thought I was lying to them when I told them that I had been rejected due to illegal drug usage history. Anyone that knows me knows I’m a straight arrow. One of my uncles told me that he had taken a polygraph for a job once and that he had denied any illegal drug usage, and he passed when he was smoking pot on a regular basis! Obviously, polygraphs don’t work!
I let a week go by, and then I wrote an appeal to my special agent Applicant Coordinator protesting the results of my polygraph. A month passed, and I received a letter stating that I would be allowed a re-test. When the day came, I arrived early and was met by my new polygrapher, Special Agent Y. She was a short, quiet, pale-skinned, blonde lady with about as much personality as an ice box. She took me to the same room where I had my first polygraph, and we went through the same drill again. The whole time she acted bored, but I felt that I was doing much better the second time around as I felt calmer after having been through the drill once already. I figured that it was just my nerves that had caused me to fail the first time. Once again I was wrong. She told me that I was lying about drugs and maybe lying about something on my application. Again, I respectfully protested, but it was to no avail. She seemed so smug with her assessment of me that she made me sick.
Here’s what I now know from my polygraph experiences. Number one, the machine does not work. I have never used drugs, much less sold them. Number two, the only people who were lying were the polygraphers. I’d bet money that the first polygrapher made a subconscious decision to eliminate me before he even administered the stupid test. Number three, the second polygraph was only allowed so the second polygrapher could validate the first polygrapher’s results and the FBI, in their self-righteous arrogance, could say that they had given me ample opportunity to pass. She had no intention of passing me at all. Number four, if you do take the polygraph, for sure, use countermeasures and when they ask you if you have read about countermeasures, deny it! I’m not advocating this for any drug dealing, dishonest misfits out there, but if you’re an innocent person, you have a good chance of being falsely accused. I only wish I had found AntiPolygraph.org before I took the first polygraph. To hell with the FBI.
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