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NACVSA Points out Perils of Polygraph: Killer Passes Polygraph, Innocent Man Fails, Killer Goes On To Kill Again
Date:5/5/2010

nd the main suspect cleared, the case went cold for 32 years.

These two cases are an example of what the critics of the polygraph call a misplaced reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraph. They cite the many cases in which criminals passed the polygraph and were later found to be guilty of the crimes. Such cases include the “Green River Killer.” In that case, Gary Leon Ridgeway, was a suspect in the killing of four women and was given a polygraph, which he passed. Ridgeway was dropped as a suspect and went on to kill another 44 women until he was caught and convicted. The failure of the polygraph cost 44 women their lives.

Another example of the inaccuracy of the polygraph is the “Angel of Death”, Charles Cullen. Cullen worked as a nurse and murdered as many as 40 people by giving them lethal injections. After his first victim died, he was considered a suspect and asked to take a polygraph test. He passed the polygraph, was dropped as a suspect, and went on to kill at least another 39 people until he was caught and convicted. In this case, the failure of the polygraph cost 39 people their lives.    

Following many high-level failures of the polygraph at the CIA, many former heads of that agency have recommended that it be limited or discontinued because it is not accurate. The most prominent failure of the polygraph at the CIA was that of Aldrich 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. Eleven CIA operatives that were identified by Ames were executed by the KGB. This failure of the polygraph cost 11 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 priso
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