Read The Wrong Book; Get Tracked By Government

(Note postscript at bottom of post)

McClatchy has a story today that makes no sense to me. For example here is the first sentence in the second paragraph:

Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests.

It is illegal to teach people how to pass a lie detector test?

I understand that many people might want to lie for criminal reasons, but so what? In many states radar detectors are legal.

Is it illegal now to allow us to know or learn anything that might possibly be used to evade authority? Is this video on escaping high security handcuffs illegal?

How about this one on breaking zip tie handcuffs?

Perhaps we are all now being tracked by the NSA for watching these.

Lie detectors are not permitted in court precisely because they are not viewed as reliable. So, if people already know they are unreliable, they should be using other means to find the truth or maintain security. If a lie detector test is the only tool you have you need to re-assess your methods.

It gets even weirder. The story alleges that “authorities” say that “the polygraph-beating techniques are unproven.” So, was this a fraud case?

No, the “authorities” seemed really upset about these “unproven” lessons in polygraph evasion.

Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests. The officials then distributed a list of 4,904 people – along with many of their Social Security numbers, addresses and professions – to nearly 30 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

So if you buy the wrong book or DVD your name, address, social security number, and other information can be taken without your knowledge and shared with the entire Federal alphabet soup.

The reason given for distributing this list was that one of these people might want to apply for a job as a federal employee (an odd response to “unproven” methods). The story reports of no such attempts.

Among the people whose personal details were collected were nurses, firefighters, police officers and private attorneys, McClatchy learned. Also included: a psychologist, a cancer researcher and employees of Rite Aid, Paramount Pictures, the American Red Cross and Georgetown University.

So, basically, if you get curious about how to pass a lie detector test, your name and personal data is given to the NSA and the CIA.

Be honest with yourself right now. Aren’t you just a bit curious about how polygraphs are supposed to work and how someone might foil them? I got interested in this a few years ago while watching Season One of the TV show, Alias. I don’t remember ever googling about it (which I now realize would be like sending the NSA a direct email about my curiosity). But if I had ordered a book on the subject does that mean it would be right for my personal data to be shared among Federal agencies?

According to one of the “culprits,” you need to be trained because otherwise you will be accused of lying even when you tell the truth. Polygraphs give false negatives.

Doug Williams has not been prosecuted and says that he has committed no crime. I wonder if that matters any more.

So far, one instructor has been prosecuted. Chad Dixon of Indiana began serving eight months in prison this month after pleading guilty earlier this year to obstruction charges, mainly as a result of an undercover sting. Dixon was recorded telling undercover agents that they shouldn’t tell federal officials about learning the techniques.

“Obstruction of justice”? Seriously?

America is getting unrecognizable to me.

PostScript: I think the real import of this story was only beginning to dawn on me as I finished this post. Please see my further thoughts here.