Polygraph Skeptic Guilty of a Crime?

Is he aiding and abetting in deception or is he a polygraph skeptic?


Longtime readers may remember that about a year ago I reported on a couple of men under criminal investigation for teaching people how to pass a lie detector test. I found this strange because, for example, I can go on Youtube.com and find all sorts of videos about how to get out of handcuffs. Are those videos illegal?

No, they are not.

So how exactly can the First Amendment be canceled for teaching people to pass lie detector tests?

But then I realized I had misunderstood part of the story. While the FBI was insisting that their target was teaching people to get away with lying, the main object of their investigation claimed to be doing something quite different. He claimed that he was teaching people to get away with telling the truth. According to Doug Williams, polygraphs simply don’t work. They simply pick up on your nervousness whether or not you are lying. So if you want to be sure you can pass a polygraph, telling the truth is not enough (and not relevant because the machine can’t tell if you are lying). You need special training to be sure you won’t get a bad reading.

Doug Williams is in the news again. Drudge even picked up the story. From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog: “Critic of Polygraph Tests Accused of Teaching People to Lie to Government.”

I don’t mean to be picky but, while I understand that the government can prosecute lying to Federal agents, I don’t understand how it can be illegal to make it a crime to teach people to lie to their government. Furthermore, nothing I have seen from Doug Williams says that he wants to teach people to lie.

For at least the second time since 2012, the federal government has brought criminal charges, accusing someone of training people on how to beat a polygraph test.

On Friday, prosecutors announced an indictment against Douglas G. Williams, a 69-year-old man from Norman, Okla., who’s accused of coaching people “how to lie and conceal crimes” during federally administered lie-detector tests.

Mr. Williams, who operates a company called Polygraph.com, says the mail fraud and obstruction of justice charges leveled against him are an “attack on his First Amendment rights.” The indictment follows the federal prosecution of an Indiana man who received eight months in prison in 2013 after pleading guilty to similar charges.

“This indictment was brought to punish and silence me because I have the audacity to protest the use of the polygraph,” Mr. Williams said in a statement Monday.

Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Williams “trained an individual posing as a federal law enforcement officer to lie and conceal involvement in criminal activity from an internal agency investigation.” He’s also accused of training another person “posing as an applicant seeking federal employment” to trick a pre-employment polygraph examination.” The Justice Department says the two individuals paid Mr. Williams for the services and were instructed by him to deny having receiving his training.

I find it odd how different Williams’ behavior is when reported by undercover operatives compared to how he represents himself and his own mission. I also wonder which is worse: endeavoring to pass a polygraph because you think it is unreliable but it is required to get a job or making people pass through an ordeal that is random in its results?