I’ve never done this before (that I can remember) but I’m offering a follow-up post to my Read The Wrong Book; Get Tracked By Government entry. As I think about what I read, I’m realizing that I (and the McClatchy story) missed the real point here.
The McClatchy piece, written by Marissa Taylor, was understandably centered on the fact that the personal information of thousands of Americans was shared without any real cause among Federal agencies. With the NSA being in the new, thanks to Snowden, this was an important story.
But I think there is a bigger story that needs to be recognized. The entire “investigation” was not about keeping specially trained people from getting away with crimes because they could fake their way past a lie detector test. The real issue is that polygraphs are national security theater for us, the stupid people.
They don’t work.
And if they don’t work, they only exist to intimidate people into telling the truth and to give people a false sense of security so that they trust in government and law enforcement.
The message, remember, of one of the two people being investigated (see the video at the bottom of the post), is not that he could train you how to get away with lying. Rather, his message is that, if you are facing a polygraph test, then you need to learn how to make sure you can get away with telling the truth.
Despite the fact that the courts don’t consider polygraphs reliable, it seems there is an entire government culture that depends on them. Consider the claims of antipolygraph.org:
- The consensus view among scientists is that polygraph testing has no scientific basis?
- The FBI considered the creator of the lie detector test to be a phony and a crackpot?
- The man who started the CIA’s polygraph program thought that plants can read human thoughts?
- The foremost polygraph advocate in academia was discredited by a federal judge?
- A prominent past-president of the American Polygraph Association is a phony Ph.D., and this premier polygraph organization doesn’t consider it an ethics problem?
- The longest polygraph school produces newly minted polygraphers in just 14 weeks — less than half the time it takes to graduate from a typical barber college?
- The National Center for Credibility Assessment (the erstwhile DoD Polygraph Institute) suppressed a study suggesting that innocent blacks are more likely to fail the polygraph than innocent whites?
- The researcher who developed the U.S. Government’s polygraph Test for Espionage and Sabotage “thought the whole security screening program should be shut down?”
- The National Academy of Sciences concluded that “[polygraph testing’s] accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies?”
- Spies Ignatz Theodor Griebl, Karel Frantisek Koecher, Jiri Pasovsky, Larry Wu-tai Chin, Aldrich Hazen Ames, Nicolás Sirgado, Ana Belen Montes, and Leandro Aragoncillo all passed the polygraph?
- One of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history passed the polygraph and killed again?
- Al-Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents know full well that the lie detector is bogus?
- You don’t have to be a psychopath, go to spy school, or somehow believe your own lies to fool the polygraph? (We’ll reveal how it’s done.)
I haven’t verified all this. But it is consistent with the refusal of the Judicial system to allow polygraph results into evidence. This is just another government scam.
By the way, antipolygraph.org warns visitors that they may be monitored by the NSA for going to their site.
So the federal government is setting people up for insane “obstruction of justice” charges in order to keep the Wizard in power and prevent anyone from pulling back the curtain.
So just like the TSA demanding that we take off our shoes, and many other things, polygraphs are simply national security theater.
It would be interesting to see a study of how often polygraph results are used to confirm what investigators already believe rather than persuade investigators that they were wrong in their suspicions.
Or so it seems to me. The facts mentioned in the McClatchy story make a great deal of sense on this interpretation. If someone out there has experience with polygraphs and can correct me, I’d love to hear from you.