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Full Details of My Attempted Entrapment For Teaching Polygraph Countermeasures 465

George Maschke writes "In May of this year, I was the target of an attempted entrapment, evidently in connection with material support for terrorism. Marisa Taylor of McClatchy reported briefly on this in August. I've now published a full public accounting, including the raw source of the e-mails received and the IP addresses involved. Comments from Slashdot readers more technically savvy than I are welcome."
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Full Details of My Attempted Entrapment For Teaching Polygraph Countermeasures

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  • by For a Free Internet ( 1594621 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @04:29PM (#45319659)

    For a Soviet America! Build a revolutionary workers party with the program of Lenin and Trotsky!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The emerging dialectic has left Leninist, Trotskyist, Stalinist, and Maoist revolution on the ash heap of history. Only Democratic Capitalism has delivered on the promises of the communist party which has seen its own promises go unfulfilled and proven to be empty for a century! Throw off your chains of thought, brother, and join us in the present! Down with Lenin! Down with Trotsky! Down with Stalin! Down with Mao! Long live free enterprise! Long live opportunity! And yes, long live the true union

    • Huh.... Uh, no.
  • Want to stay safe? Don't learn ANYTHING that the government doesn't explicitly approve.

    If you're living in the 40s, that means avoid learning about integration.
    In the 90s? avoid learning about marriage equality.
    Living in 2013? Don't learn about avoiding government interrogation.
    Living in 2015? Don't even THINK about avoiding surveillance.
    • is already a Slashdotted site...
    • What happens between 2013 and 2015 to make government interrogation not an issue? ::pulls seat closer, grabs popcorn::
    • If you're living in the 40s, that means avoid learning about integration.

      Derivatives are fine, though.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @04:42PM (#45319729)

    Well, maybe later.

  • by mrclisdue ( 1321513 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @04:43PM (#45319733)

    I'm in a similar situation as the submitter, but I mostly just tell people how to lie to their wives (partners, etc)

    I often get emails from Princes, Damsels-in-distress, penis pill pushers, and a plethora of other fake and scammy looking stuff.

    I'm pretty sure it's my wife, because she can't spell worth a shit.

    Is the submitter *spoken-for* ? It could just be the partner, messin' with him. I believe I can be of help.


  • "Two things are infinite: the Universe and human stupidity. (And I'm not sure about the Universe)".

    From now on, these "lectures" will be taught world wide, except by USA. Or do you think the remaining ones will just sit and wait for the feds knock their door?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 03, 2013 @04:55PM (#45319813)

    I have no special expertise, but this seems a little ham fisted to be agents of the state, don't you think? Seems more likely they'd go with tried and true techniques of human intelligence. I'd beware of any attractive women suddenly taking an interest, or people who appear to have money who want to support the cause, etc. And if you don't already, get a good lawyer and vet everything through him/her. Also, if the authorities do come knocking, make sure you know how to handle the situation so you don't incriminate yourself or make the situation worse (talk to your lawyer, but it amounts to keep your cool and your mouth shut).

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Not really. 'The State' is made up of many agents, some much smarter than others. It could easily be someone bucking for a promotion trying to work out of his league to prove his value.

      Just like with drug stings. I have read about well done stings and I have had obvious cops trying to look like teenagers ask me in a parking lot "Would you like to purchase some marijuana?".

    • No, agents of the state are often incompetent. They also have the means to use force without reprimand, which enables the incompetent to get further.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday November 03, 2013 @04:57PM (#45319831) Journal

    1) there is no such thing as a "lie detector". Polygraphs are voodoo.

    2) NEVER talk to the police. [youtube.com]



    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Despite the fact that most of the world knows this, there's still one country that thinks such things can be admissible in court.

      • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @06:39PM (#45320473)

        "Despite the fact that most of the world knows this, there's still one country that thinks such things can be admissible in court."

        You don't mean the U.S., do you? Because to the best of my knowledge no jurisdiction in the U.S. allows polygraphs to be used as evidence against a defendant, without their consent. And they'd be stupid to consent.

        However, a positive polygraph result can be used in your favor, *IF* the judge will allow it.

    • It looks like the website has either been Slashdotted or killed by the Feds. I have actually visited the site several times and find it informative. I have been polygraphed one time, and passed it. It was to get a license to become a minimum wage + $.15 an hour security guard at a bank. The site says that the more you believe in the concept of lie detectors the greater the reaction displayed on the machine. It is a great tool for enhancing interrogations because of the fear factor.

      • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @05:22PM (#45319975) Homepage

        So it's actually the WORST device in the world to use then.

        Because the people who you don't want to get into the job, the ones who know that it's a load of baloney and any idiot can "pass" the test, will. And the people who are innocent but have that "guilty fear" that comes with natural innocence will "fail".

        I'm sorry, but in my country, I'd laugh at you if you asked me to take one. And I'd probably be able to get you into the papers tomorrow in the funny section too, just to show you up. It's just that hilarious a concept. But then, to my knowledge, outside of very, very, very restricted professions we don't have work-prescribed drug testing or any of the other shit either (I don't do drugs, never have, but just the CONCEPT of someone demanding I take a drug test to work somewhere? Fuck off. And I work in education). When did your boss get to control your life?

        And for a job in a BANK? FFS. The US must be much more stupid than I suspected.

        • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @06:45PM (#45320519)

          "I'm sorry, but in my country, I'd laugh at you if you asked me to take one."

          You seem to have a strange idea of the United States. The job he was referring to is a private employment position for a bank, which is a privately-owned business. They can hire (or not) any security guard they want.

          Personally, I would laugh at them too. Same with pre-employment drug screening. I simply won't do that. (And the practice has fallen out of favor, anyway.) But remember: it is private parties who did these things; it had nothing to do with government.

          "When did your boss get to control your life?"

          For a long time, a lot of people in the U.S. let employers get away with this kind of thing. I don't know why. I don't put up with it, nor do any of my friends. It isn't like that so much, anymore. I think the employers finally figured out that they were chasing away all the smart people.

          "The US must be much more stupid than I suspected."

          If you're judging an entire country by one person's anecdote, you must be much more stupid than I expected.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          Your website is based in the UK so I'll assume you are too. Lie detectors are used here, including in the criminal justice system and by security services looking to vet people. For example sometimes sex offenders are asked to take a test as part of their parole application.

          Unfortunately we are just as dumb as America on this one.

          • by ledow ( 319597 )

            In the UK: "Inadmissible in court"

            And for good reason. That someone wants to take you through some dramatic rigmarole means nothing. You can't "use" them in the UK, for anything. Using the data from them is like saying you don't hire people who are Sagittarians, and would be treated the same way (i.e. unfair hiring practices, constructive dismissal, etc.)

    • I'm pretty sure the article-writer agrees with you. His site is Antipolygraph. I have no clue if he talked to the police.

      When's the last time slashdot actually slashdotted a site? It must have been years ago.

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      2) NEVER talk to the police.

      In what backwards dirtball nation does that rule apply?

      In most of the developed world, cops actually help people. It's their job.

  • tacit admission (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @05:07PM (#45319877) Journal

    either Polygraphs are bullshit or these charges should be dropped...

    by setting up the sting and charging the guys for what they did, they government is admitting that it is possible to fool the polygraph

    if it is possible to fool the polygraph it leaves no doubt that the polygraph is not scientific or useful

    by proving these men guilty, the prosecution simultaneously proves that the lie detector is a farce and negates the logical need for the entire charade in the first place

    a good lawyer could get a not guilty verdict IMHO

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      polygraphs don't work, it's pseudoscience. A real justice system wouldn't allow such nonsense anywhere near it.
    • Re:tacit admission (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @06:37PM (#45320463) Journal
      FWIW it is possible to tell the complete total truth, and still be convicted and sentenced to prison for a long term (or worse). Although your logic makes sense intuitively, it doesn't make sense legally.

      Just ask Edward Snowden.
    • Re:tacit admission (Score:5, Informative)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @06:49PM (#45320551)

      It's a psychological spiel. What a polygraph does is to note down reactions, both voluntary and involuntary. When you get asked questions, your body reacts. The idea is now that lying requires more "work" from you than telling the truth, since you have to fabricate it.

      In reality, though, the way you react is dependent on so many facets that whether you lie or tell the truth plays a minor role, if any. It's like saying that you can tell what TV program someone is watching by looking at how much power he uses. While technically, in theory, possible, there are so many other appliances running in his house (or not) that their combination pretty much drowns out that information in way too much noise.

      What is left of the polygraph is that people might THINK it works, and hence react differently. The goal is to give you the impression that it not only can, but WILL tell, without a doubt, that you're lying if you lie. So you get told that it can easily spot when and how you lie (it cannot), that it will be used in court against you (it cannot), that they used it multiple times to convict people (they have not) and so on.

      The psychology around it is the actual "value" of it during an interrogation. Just like in medieval times showing the instruments of torture were usually enough to extract confessions, so does telling people about the polygraph. The main difference probably being that the instruments of torture can actually deliver what is promised, something the polygraph cannot.

  • The US of A (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @05:07PM (#45319879) Homepage Journal
    are turning into a police state, or at least into the velvet-gloved version of it: a surveillance state. So are certain western European states. What are we going to do about it ?
  • Dousing rods (Score:5, Informative)

    by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @05:16PM (#45319939)

    Some fraudster in the UK went down recently for selling dousing rods as bomb detectors to the Iraqis. There were quite a few people credulous twits in the media who went after skeptics who were against this transparent ripoff, but it took a good ten years for enough momentum to build, to get this investigated, and for the criminal who ran this, to get charged with anything.

    As far as I can tell, polygraphy is just as full of woo as phrenology, and it was invented roughly around the same time. I do wonder how long it'll take for the stupidity to be debunked sufficiently hard, for the public outcry to overcome the True Believers and have this snake oil abolished?

    • selling dousing rods as bomb detectors

      So they're supposed to detect bombs by spraying water?

    • Re:Dousing rods (Score:4, Informative)

      by M1FCJ ( 586251 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @05:36PM (#45320067) Homepage

      The problem with the dousing rod bomb detectors were not because they were shite, they were accepted by the UK Gov as legitimate, making it a political problem as well as a technical & ethical problem. The bastard selling them was an ex-Met police officer, had connections and even though anyone with two brain cells and a technical background could clearly say they were fake, they managed to catch the bombs roughly 50% of the time. Of course, if you flip a coin you'll get it 50% of the time but for people who don't understand probability, this sounds like a very high catch rate. The alarming reports have been around for years and years but it took a BBC documentary for people to wake up and pay attention.

      Any politician who had authorized the purchase of the fake systems were just too corrupt to accept they made a huge cockup. I wonder how much money was paid in bribes, worldwide.

      • Re:Dousing rods (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @06:31PM (#45320415) Homepage Journal

        Dowsing rods do sorta work. They work by giving the user 'permission' to acknowledge their gut feeling that comes from minute observations they aren't consciously aware of.

        However, this was a scam since a few cents worth of bailing wire can do that and this clown was charging 'thousands' and adding worthless fake circuitry.

  • by davecb ( 6526 ) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Sunday November 03, 2013 @06:32PM (#45320425) Homepage Journal

    An Attempted Entrapment
    Posted by George Maschke on 3 November 2013, 1:34 pm

    In May 2013, I was the target of an attempted entrapment.1 Whether it was a federal agent attempting to entrap me on a contrived material support for terrorism charge or simply an individual’s attempt to embarrass me and discredit AntiPolygraph.org remains unclear. In this post, I will provide a full public accounting of the attempt, including the raw source of communications received and the IP addresses involved.

    As background, it should be borne in mind that a federal criminal investigation into providers of information on polygraph countermeasures, dubbed “Operation Lie Busters,” has been underway since at least November 2011, when an undercover U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, posing as a job applicant, contacted Chad Dixon of Marion, Indiana for help on passing the polygraph. In December, 2012, Dixon pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and obstruction of an agency proceeding, for which he has been sentenced to 8 months in federal prison.

    Doug Williams of Norman, Oklahoma, a former police polygrapher who has been teaching people how to pass polygraph examinations for some three decades and operates the website Polygraph.com, was also the target of a sting operation and in February 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection executed search warrants on his home and office, seizing business records. He has been threatened with prosecution but to date has not been charged with any crime.

    With this in mind, I received a most curious unsolicited communication on Saturday, 18 May 2013 from <mohammadali201333@yahoo.com>. The message was sent to my AntiPolygraph.org e-mail address <lt;maschke@antipolygraph.org> and was titled “help help help please” (155 kb EML file.) The message body was blank, but there was a PDF attachment with a short message written in Persian, the language of Iran:

    I know Persian, a fact of which the writer was evidently cognizant. Here is a translation:

    Greetings and respect to you, Mr. George Maschke,

    I am Mohammad Aghazadeh and have been living in Iraq for five years. I am a member of an Islamic group that seeks to restore freedom to Iraq. Because the federal police are suspicious of me, they want to do a lie detector test on me. I ask that you send me a copy of your book about the lie behind the lie so that I can use it, or that you help me in any other way. I am very grateful to you.

    The book to which the message refers is The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 mb PDF), AntiPolygraph.org’s free e-book that, among other things, explains how to pass (or beat) a polygraph “test.” Factors that made me highly suspicious about this message include:

    Why would someone who supposedly fears the police send an unencrypted e-mail acknowledging that he’s a member of an Islamic group that is trying to change the government of Iraq?

    Why would such a person also provide his full name and how long he’s been in the country?

    To my knowledge, there aren’t any Iranian-backed Islamic groups seeking to “restore freedom to Iraq.” In fact, Iran and Iraq have good diplomatic relations.

    Why did this person ask me to send a book that is freely available on-line? Note that this message didn’t ask for a “Persian edition” of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.

    I suspected the message was a likely attempt to set me up for prosecution on charges of material support for terrorism (or something similar).2 It seemed highly unlikely that the message could be genuine. Nonetheless, about half an hour after receiving the message, I provided “Mohammad Aghazadeh” the same advice I would give to anyone accused of a crime who has been asked to take a polygraph test:

    Dear Mr. Mohammad Aghazadeh,

    Our advice to everyone under such circumstances is not to submit to the so-called

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @06:56PM (#45320587)

    There's no hint that the government is behind this. It looks like a squabble between to polygraph examiners.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle