“FBI to Give Polygraphs to 500”

Washington Post staff writers Dan Eggen and David A. Vise provide new details about the expanded polygraph screening of FBI employees ordered by Director Louis Freeh. Excerpt:

About 500 FBI employees with access to intelligence information will be given lie detector tests beginning next week, the first security reform to come from the arrest of alleged spy Robert P. Hanssen, officials said yesterday.

FBI Director Louis J. Freeh has also ordered reviews of all “sensitive investigations” to determine if other agents have accessed information outside their normal duties, and he plans to beef up the bureau’s “reinvestigation” of agents involved in intelligence cases, according to a memo sent to FBI employees last week.

Freeh has long resisted expanding the use of polygraph exams, but many counterintelligence experts contend Hanssen might have been caught earlier if he had been required to take one. Hanssen, accused of spying for Moscow since 1985, was never polygraphed during his 25-year career at the bureau.

The 500 employees who will face the first polygraph tests of their careers include about 150 top managers at FBI headquarters in Washington, special agents in charge of regional offices and any others with access to sensitive intelligence material, officials said.

The tests will be “counterintelligence-focused,” according to the memo. Employees will not be asked about about personal issues including finances, drug use and sexuality. Refusing to be tested could result in a job transfer, the loss of a security clearance or “disciplinary action” for insubordination, according to the memo.

The FBI motto is “Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity.” FBI employees should be concerned that their Director has ordered that their fidelity and integrity be assessed based on a procedure with no more diagnostic value than astrology or tea-leaf reading about the true nature of which they must be lied to and deceived.

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