From what I’ve seen, lie-detectors are little more than a 20th century version of methods known to witch-doctors since time immemorial. If the subject believes the witch-doctor has the power to detect lies, they will give themselves away with cues that can be picked up by an alert human or mechanical observer. So when Mike Scrafton volunteered to take a polygraph test to show that he was telling the truth and the PM was lying, I didn’t put too much weight on the results. (As a way of keeping the story alive, and dramatizing it for a big TV audience, it was great, though). I wasn’t too surprised when Howard dismissed it as a gimmick.
But following a letter in yesterday’s Fin, I’ve discovered that the Howard government actually takes lie detectors very seriously, and has been trying them out in ASIO .This is being done, at least in part,at the behest of the US
On June 25 , the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, signed a new, legally binding, pact with the US to protect classified information. Although no details were spelled out in the pact, the US wants Australian officials who have access to highly classified US intelligence material to be subjected to the same polygraph tests that routinely apply to American officials.
Whatever the merits of integrated defence in general, in this case I think we’d be better off hiring some witch-doctors.