DoD Plans to Expand Reliance on Polygraphy

In his electronic newsletter, Secrecy News, Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy reports on Department of Defense plans to expand reliance on polygraphy. DoD’s FY 1999 polygraph report states:

In an effort to eliminate or reduce the number of unauthorized disclosures of classified information to the media, we plan to implement a new policy. As a condition for access to Top Secret, SCI or higher information, DoD military, civilian personnel and contractor employees will sign a form certifying that they are willing to undergo a specific issue polygraph examination if classified information they had access to has been leaked. We believe this will serve as a deterrent to individuals who may be considering leaking classified information.

In 1982, a polygraph dragnet for the source of a leak in the 30-member Defense Resources Board failed to find the leaker, but did lead to John Tillson, director of manpower management at the Pentagon being falsely accused. He was exonerated only when reporter George Wilson of the Washington Post assured Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger that Tillson was not the leaker. Polygraph hunts for leakers also led to Marine colonel Robert McFarlane (1982) and Assistant Undersecretary of Defense Michael Pillsbury (1986) being falsely accused. (See D.T. Lykken’s A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector, pp. 216-18) If you have further information about DoD’s planned expansion of polygraphy, please contact

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