The feds are really going after people who tell how and why lie detector tests are flawed?! Does anybody know what the actual crime these people are being charged with?
I always tell my students that anybody who ever has to take a polygraph test buy and read Doug Williams's manual on why the test is flawed and how to pass it. I did. I passed. Best $20 you could possible spend (I cheaper than what I paid for it, I think).
Lie detectors are, and I can't say this too strongly, bullshit. That's why they're not admissible in court. That's why employers can't give them to you as a condition of employment (the government naturally exempted themselves). You don't take the test for the NYPD, but you do for the feds and Baltimore (at least in 1999).
The basic problem with the lie detector test is this -- brace yourself here: the lie detector test does not know if you are lying. How could it? And if you think about it, that's a pretty major flaw for a lie detector test. Results are based on a pseudo-science that may or may not be more reliable than phrenology.
Here's why it matters -- and pay attention -- you can easily tell the truth and fail a polygraph test (and vice versa). That's why you should never go into a lie detector test unprepared. If you're taking the test, you need to pass. You can't leave it to chance and the mindset of some idiot who makes a living administering a flawed test.
[There's one situation where a lie detector test is useful: if one person knows the specifics of a crime, those details could be used to indicate who was involved and who wasn't. But this isn't how the test is used as a condition for employment in law enforcement.]
This American Life did a nice segment on the polygraph back in 2005. Definitely worth listening to, if you care about such matters. It doesn't tell you how to pass the test (use Doug Williams for that), but This American Life does illustrate the absurdity of the the test and the pitfalls of failing!