“Leaking Classified Information and Polygraphs”

In a letter to the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s “Readers Forum,” R. Roberts Stevens points out congressional hypocrisy with regard to polygraph “testing.” Stevens’ short letter is cited in full here:

Leaking classified information and polygraphs

I read a news report on CNN describing President Bush’s anger over recent leaks of classified information. The report said the president was “furious that sensitive intelligence material that was shared with Congress was being repeated to the news media.” In response to these congressional leaks, the president created a new policy of restricting such information to just the four major congressional leaders and key chairmen. His policy was met with approval by several ranking congressmen, such as Tom Daschle (senate majority leader, D-S.D.), who said, “It’s unfortunate, but there’s no choice. Some people just can’t resist talking.”

The same Congress that wants to implement a program of polygraph testing at our Laboratory shows no corresponding concern for the flow of classified information that comes out of their own ranks.

I believe that polygraph testing has some potential value, although it also has some potential dangers. However, having the polygraph policy mandated by a Congress that doesn’t have the backbone to “take their own medicine” is not a good way to convince people that the benefits outweigh the costs.

–R. Robert Stevens

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