FBI May Consider Random Polygraph Screening in Wake of Hanssen Espionage Case

In an article entitled “Invisible on the Inside,” Walter Pincus and Vernon Loeb of the Washington Post report that the FBI may consider expanding its polygraph program to include random “testing” of personnel in the wake of the Robert P. Hanssen espionage case, and reveal that a plan has been on the shelf for three years:

Nonetheless, Freeh acknowledged at his press conference that Webster’s review is all but certain to find flaws in FBI procedures for ferreting out spies. One area likely to be scrutinized, according to present and former officials, is the bureau’s unwillingness to give polygraph or “lie detector” tests to employees on a periodic basis.

While polygraphing of recruits began in 1993, the FBI — unlike the CIA and National Security Agency — has no agency-wide program for ongoing testing of its officers.

One former top FBI counterintelligence official said the bureau has shied away from polygraphing agents because, he said, “We consider it an inexact science.” Now, he added, “They will have to look at it again.”

Edward J. Curran, who as a former top FBI counterintelligence expert went to the CIA to tighten security after the Ames case, was sharply critical yesterday of the bureau’s policy. “There has been a program for regular polygraphing of FBI agents waiting to be approved for three years,” he said.

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