Julian Assange, investigative editor of the whistleblower leak publishing website WikiLeakS.org, rightly bemoans the decline in paid investigative journalists - he says that there are as few as 40 such journalists working for newspapers in the USA these days. He is wrong, however, to dismiss bloggers as never doing any original investigative research.
Here in the UK, there are a couple of recent examples which disprove that generalisation.
Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads has been delving into the murky world of The Sun newspaper, and the extremely dubious claims and threats of self proclaimed anti-terrorism spy Glen Jenvey, who tries to infiltrate alleged Islamic extremist online forums, as an informer and agent provocateur, thereby probably ruining any real police or intelligence agency investigations into them. Glen Jenvey appears to be way out of his depth on the internet, when pitted against a relentless professional expert like Tim.
Unity at Ministry of Truth and at Liberal Conspiracy has been investigating the so called "telephone voice stress lie detection" system which has been sold to insurance companies and local councils, and to the Department for Work and Pensions, headed by the arrogant NuLabour politician James Purnell. Like all such biometric systems, it seems to suffer from vast numbers of False Positives and pseudo-scientific marketing hype. It will not surprise many people, that it is Crapita that seem to be taking lots of public money for this ineffective "magic technological fix" to social problems, so beloved by this Labour government.
The consequences of the DWP using dodgy "telephone voice stress lie detection" systems, even if its lie detection rates are little better than random, is inconvenient and annoying, but it is not that serious for the innocent individuals involved, or for society as a whole.
However, the Ministry of Justice now appears to be embarking on a potentially disastrous pilot trial of Polygraph testing of convicted Sex Offenders, presumably so that they can be kicked out of (expensive) prison, as early as possible and back "into the community".
Statutory Instruments 2009 No. 619
Made 10th March 2009
Laid before Parliament 12th March 2009
Coming into force 8th April 2009
The Secretary of State, in exercise of the power conferred by section 29(6) of the Offender Management Act 2007(1), makes the following Rules:
Polygraph evidence is not acceptable in UK or European Courts of law, because of its lack of an objective scientific basis, but somehow, the Ministry of Justice is conducting a live social engineering trial in the East and West Midlands, involving convicted sex offenders, after they have passed a Polygraph Test.
The potential danger to the public of Polygraph Test False Positives and False Negatives, when used to help to decide whether to release a convicted Sex Offender from prison, should be obvious.
The Offender Management Act 2007 Part 3 which allows the use of Polygraph tests for Probation (not just applicable to Sex Offenders, by the way), actually specifically forbids the use of any statement, or any physiological test results obtained during a Polygraph test, from being used as criminal evidence in a Court of law against the person being tested.
According to the accompanying Explanatory Notes:
The purpose of these Rules is to govern the conduct of polygraph tests during a pilot of polygraph testing of certain sex offenders who have been released from prison on licence. The pilot will run for three years from 8th April 2009 in nine police areas in the East and West Midlands.
This idea seems to have been imported from the more lunatic parts of the US criminal justice bureaucracy, since the only acceptable Qualifications for "polygraph operators" are from the American Polygraph Association.
The fact that Polygraph "Lie Detector" Tests are not a reliable indicator of future criminal behavior, seems to have escaped Jack Straw and his Ministry of Justice minions.
- Which, presumably American, company has successfully lobbied for Polygraph testing to creep into the United Kingdom ?
- Which company has been awarded the Polygraph Testing contact ?
- How much will this "3 year pilot" cost ?
- Which are the unlucky "nine police areas in the East and West Midlands." ?
- Why are such "Lie Detectors" not first used on Politicians and Spin Doctors, before being inflicted on the rest of the population ?