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Cryptologic Pioneers the African American Experience

Raymond Weir

Raymond Weir

Raymond J. Weir, Jr. taught science and English in Washington, D.C after graduating from the District of Columbia Teachers College in 1937. Mr. Weir was recruited from the D.C. public schools to join AFSA by Major Fred Hazard, whom he'd worked with during WWII. Mr. Weir broke the color barrier in the agency's Security Division.

Major Hazard felt that, with the large influx of African-Americans into NSA at this time, the Security Division needed an African-American to conduct their polygraph examinations. After graduating from the Polygraph Institute in Chicago, Mr. Weir became the first black polygrapher in the United States, possibly in the world. However, he was not permitted to polygraph non-blacks until the 1960s. In the early 60s, there weren't enough blacks to keep Mr. Weir busy, but there were a lot of whites waiting to be polygraphed. He was then allowed to examine white men from the north and later, white men from the south. It wasn't until the late 1960s that he was permitted to test white women. When he retired in 1976, Mr. Weir was the chief of the Investigations Division and had received the Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1960 for "unusual and highly significant contributions to agency missions."

Mr. Weir's distinguished career continued after his retirement. He became the first black president of the American Polygraph Association. He also ran his own business, Weir Polygraph Service, and participated in several high-profile polygraph exams. The most well-known was the 1979 financial misconduct trial of Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia. Mr. Weir polygraphed Senator Talmadge's administrative assistant concerning the existence of a secret bank account. Mr. Weir's statement to the Senate Ethics Committee is believed to be the first polygraph testimony to be received as evidence by either body of Congress. (The Senator was later denounced by the Senate.)


Historical Document | Date Posted: Jan 15, 2009