In a puff piece on Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) titled “Shelby’s doubts drove inquiry”, St. Petersburg Times staff writer Mary Jacoby notes that it was Senator Shelby who was behind the sacking of L. Britt Snider as head of the joint congressional inquiry into the intelligence failings surrounding the events of 11 September 2001. Snider was fired for having hired a staffer who had “failed” a CIA polygraph “test” — a “test” that the National Academy of Sciences has recently declared to be without validity. Excerpt:
Eventually, Shelby, Graham, Goss and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Intelligence Committee ranking member, agreed on a one-year, $2.6-million joint inquiry.
The next problem was getting someone to run it. Shelby thought he had the perfect choice: former Department of Defense Inspector Eleanor Hill.
Hill was not only a Democrat who had come highly recommended by her former boss, ex-Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., but she was a Florida native and former Tampa federal prosecutor.
Shelby said he thought this background would make Hill especially appealing to the Floridians [Graham and Goss].
But when Shelby put forth her name, he found out that Graham and Goss had hired someone.
As former special counsel to Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet, L. Britt Snider had been a close associate of the very man the joint panel was investigating.
“I questioned whether Snider would be independent enough to conduct an open, unbiased and hard-hitting inquiry,” Shelby said. “But I went along in a spirit of bipartisanship.”
An anonymous caller, though, soon tipped a Shelby aide off to the fact that Snider had hired a staffer for the inquiry who had failed a CIA polygraph examination.
Bam! Shelby had the ammunition to oust Snider. The Floridians quickly hired Hill, who proceeded to release a series of devastating staff reports that helped churn public opinion in favor of intelligence reform.
Earlier this year, when FBI agents investigating a suspected leak of classified information asked Shelby and other senators if they would be willing to submit to a polygraph test, Shelby sputtered, “I don’t know who among us would take a lie-detector test. First of all, they’re not even admissible in court, and second of all, the leadership [of both parties] have told us not to do that.”