Opinion Politics

Quiet Congressional Polygraph Inquiry Highlights Double Standards

Architect of the Capitol, Hustvedt, Wikimedia Commons
Written by Vera Wilde

An ongoing and unpublicized Congressional inquiry proceeds in the case of an FBI employee on unpaid leave because of a “lie detector” (polygraph) test result. This hushed proceeding highlights the question of who is allowed to tell the truth and who is allowed to lie to whom in America.

The CIA has lied to Congress about its polygraph program — directly, and probably indirectly as well. I keep bothering the Executive and Congress about this — but no one seems to care. (Except whoever ran illegal, retaliatory surveillance and psyops on me after I wrote about it on my old blog. Those guys were cute.)

This lack of functioning check-and-balance between federal agencies under the Executive, and Congress highlights troubling double standards when it comes to truth-telling. The powerful are allowed to do it when they please. The rest of us must do it on demand — and only on demand. “Speak when you’re spoken to” is not a refrain of a legitimate democratic government.


Powerful: Lie detectors lie about being able to detect deception — when there’s no “lie response” to detect. They also lie about polygraph countermeasure detection abilities. Those claims aren’t supported by science. And if they were true, you would expect the government to be really, really quiet about being able to detect deception and countermeasures alike. That way, they could catch more people both lying and trying to use countermeasures. So, polygraphers lie while commanding others to tell the truth.

Powerless: As Human Rights Watch calls for whistleblower reform, U.S. national security professionals and veteran whistleblowers criticize the June 2015 USA FREEDOM Act for codifying the October 2001 PATRIOT Act’s infringements on Constitutional rights. Those whistleblowers themselves remain unprotected. National security whistleblowers are exempt from federal whistleblower protections. And existing federal protections themselves have additional loopholes…

Equal Opportunity

Powerful: The CIA illegally lied to Congress about violating equal opportunity law.

Powerless: Meanwhile, I was directed to resign for writing about that. As a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar and Harvard Kennedy Fellow working on the Justice Database, it was my job to work for equality. But my old boss said the State Department partners with his organization, the Center for Policing Equity. In the context of the other illegal retaliation I experienced after writing about CIA lying to Congress, it would be interesting to know if the State Department itself asked for my resignation.

National Security

Powerful: The powerful can expand security programs that themselves jeopardize security.

Powerless: The powerless can go to jail for talking about that in the wrong way.

The American people deserve a government that holds its own officials at least to the same standards to which it holds us as citizens. We deserve law enforcement officers who tell us the truth, government agencies that are honest to Congress, and an Executive who leads when those powerful officers and agencies lie.


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About the author

Vera Wilde

Reformed Harvard Kennedy Fellow, wondering artist, wandering artist. www.wildethinks.com

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Quiet Congressional Polygraph Inquiry Highlights Double Standards

by Vera Wilde
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