ich Ames. While working in a very sensitive position at the CIA, Ames betrayed the U.S. and sold the names of CIA operatives working in the Soviet Union to the KGB. Over the years, even as he betrayed the U.S., Ames took and passed many periodic polygraph examinations given by Department of Defense-trained polygraphers. During that time, eleven CIA operatives that were identified by Ames were executed by the KGB. This failure of the polygraph cost eleven CIA operatives their lives.
The critics also cite the many cases in which innocent people fail the polygraph and end up spending many years in prison for crimes that they did not commit. The guilty person is then free to commit additional crimes. One such case was that of Jimmy Williams. Prior to taking a polygraph examination, his attorney was so convinced of his innocence that he stipulated that the results of a polygraph test could be admitted into evidence. Upon learning that Williams had failed the polygraph, the jury convicted him of rape. Williams spent 10 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit. The now 22-year-old accuser has admitted that the rape never happened.
Among the critics are some very prominent professionals: “Polygraph screening is completely without any theoretical foundation and has absolutely no validity…the diagnostic value of this type of testing is no more than that of astrology or tea-leaf reading.” Dr. Drew Richardson, Former Supervisory Special Agent, FBI Laboratory
“Polygraph testing has been the gold standard, but it’s obviously fool’s gold.” Prof. Stephen Fienberg, Chairman, Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph, National Academy of Sciences
“…the use of this highly flawed instrument (polygraph) should be radically curtailed.” James Woolsey, Former Director of the CIA
“ The CIA’s reliance on the polygraph is truly insan
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