3 June 2013
I was intrigued when I read the personal statement of Agent Smith. I too fell victim to the FBI pre-employment polygraph.
I was not applying to become an Agent. My pre-employment was for a professional staffing position. I was a contractor with the FBI IT Dept. in XXXX. The opportunity came along when one of the GS IT employees left for another position. The supervisor at that time really saw my potential as an IT Specialist for the Bureau. I spent little over 3 years as a contractor and proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that I not only held my own, but excelled beyond the already hired Bureau IT employees. It did not take long for me to become the go-to person on the more difficult IT problems.
I was offered the position based on all the pre-employment steps completed. Well, the polygraph came along, and everything went well until the FBI suitability questions. I made the machine twitch when asked if I had abused or used illegal drugs or used prescription drugs that were not prescribed to me in the last 3 years.
When I was asked about the question, I reported to the agent performing the test that I did use 1 or 2 of my daughter's Vicodin pills for a headache and to help me sleep, but it was more than 3 years ago. I went back and went over the timeline several times with my wife to the point of driving her crazy, and we both came to the conclusion that it was more than 3 years ago when this happened. I was allowed to take the test 3 different times and all had the same result.
The first agent asked me if I took the Vicodin, crushed it up, and snorted it in some way. My answer was absolutely not. But the test question was never asked in that fashion in all 3 test attempts.
Some of the IT employees working there never had to take a polygraph because they started with the Bureau during the no poly days. To this day, they have not had a polygraph, and it is sad because I worked with them and saw many of them cheat, lie, and do other things not meeting suitability standards of an FBI employee. I not only had TS clearance, I had access to the SCI compartments and the SCI network with admin privileges.
I also issued what they call PKI certificates for access to certain intelligence sites internal to the SCI network.
I saw and pointed out security issues and reported them and took the necessary steps to follow procedure and reported it to the Supervisor of Security. Some of the things I caught were done by accident by the very IT Bureau employees themselves.
I, too, told the truth as Agent Smith did, but was deemed to be deceptive or flat out a liar. Even with all the access I had, and never having had an incident that raised any question of my integrity, I was labeled a "liar." Now who knows if I will ever get another position that requires a clearance, all because of a machine that can't be used in a court of law because it is not foolproof.
Here is something else that really shows the insufficiency of the polygraph.
One of the forms for pre-employment, SF-86, asks several questions on your past.
One of the questions was, "in the last seven (7) years have you received a written warning, been officially reprimanded, suspended, or disciplined for misconduct in the workplace, such as a violation of security policy?"
In the last 7 years I had not. I had gone through 2 polygraph tests, including the question asking if you had purposely left anything off your pre-employment screening form (SF-86).
My answer was "no," and nothing appeared on the test results. In between the second and third polygraph tests, I sat down and spoke with one of the local office polygraph Agents, and he told me that even if you did not remember something that happened years previously, it would be indicated on the test.
Nothing was indicated or showed on either of the first 2 tests.
Well, prior to taking the third test, I explained to the Agent, who was very courteous and very nice towards me, that I had recalled an incident that happened well over 20 years prior: I received 3 days off with no pay. No need to get detailed. I mentioned this because I wanted to be completely truthful with everything even though the SF-86 asks only "in the last 7 years."
When the first round of questioning was completed, the Agent told me that question was flagged as showing deception.
So here is where it gets real weird.
If the polygraph is believed to be a tool that is infallible in its indication of whether one is lying, and based on what the local Agent told me regarding how the machine would catch or indicate deception even if you did not remember or recall a prior incident, why did it not indicate deception for that question on the first 2 tests?
Makes absolutely no sense at all and shows that the polygraph is a failure.
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