By John Vibes
69-year-old Douglas G. Williams of Norman, Oklahoma was sentenced to two years in prison this week for running a website that pointed out the flaws in lie detector tests. Williams is a former detective for the Oklahoma City Police Department and throughout the course of his career he administered thousands of polygraph tests for his own police department, as well as other agencies like the FBI and the Secret Service. Through his experience, Williams learned that a polygraph is not a valid way of truly figuring out whether or not someone is lying. In 1979, he invented “the sting technique,” which polygraph experts now refer to as “countermeasures.”
He wrote the first manual teaching people how to pass a polygraph test, which was initially published in 1979 and, according to him, was one of the very first e-books available on the Internet.
The U.S. Department Of Justice issued a press release this week stating that they planted federal agents to pose as customers and entrap Williams in schemes to help the agents cheat on polygraph tests.
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According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Williams owned and operated Polygraph.com, an Internet-based business through which he trained people how to conceal misconduct and other disqualifying information when submitting to polygraph examinations in connection with federal employment suitability assessments, background investigations, internal agency investigations and other proceedings. In particular, Williams admitted that he trained an individual posing as a federal law enforcement officer to lie and conceal involvement in criminal activity from an internal agency investigation. Williams also admitted to training a second individual, posing as an applicant seeking federal employment, to lie and conceal crimes in a pre-employment polygraph examination. Williams also admitted to instructing the individuals to deny receiving his polygraph training.
In an interview several years ago, he explained why he decided to speak out and inform people about lie detectors, saying,
In 1979, after seven years as a police polygraph examiner, I resigned my position as a Detective Sergeant with the Oklahoma City Police Department. The reasons I quit a perfectly good job at the peak of my career, were numerous. But I guess the main reason was that I was just burnt out and disillusioned. I knew that what I did for a living was a fraud, and I was sick of perpetrating the myth that the polygraph was a ‘lie detector.
I knew that I had to make a change; that I had to quit doing what I was doing because of what it was doing to me. I knew I was literally destroying myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Most of the polygraph operators I knew were alcoholics, drug addicts, or had very serious mental illness. I knew this was directly attributable to the work they did as polygraph examiners. Getting confessions by means of the polygraph was a dangerous business; getting people to confess by using this method of psychological torture took its toll on the torturer as much as the tortured.
Williams pleaded guilty on May 13, 2015 to two counts of mail fraud and three counts of witness tampering and was sentenced to two years in prison this week.
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