NRO Threatens Polygraph Examiners Who Raise Concerns

In a new article about malfeasance at the National Reconnaissance Office, McClatchy correspondent Marisa Taylor reports on the NRO’s reaction to her recent reporting based on interviews with whistleblowers from the intelligence agency’s polygraph unit. Excerpt:

After McClatchy published stories raising questions about the National Reconnaissance Office’s polygraph program in July based on whistleblower allegations, top agency officials told polygraphers in a meeting that the accusations McClatchy detailed were unfounded and based on incidents that were taken out of context, said one person familiar with the meeting. One official vowed to “take action” against polygraphers named and unnamed who’d cooperated with the reporter, said the source, who asked not to be named. The statement was taken as a threat that polygraphers who raise similar concerns about the agency’s practices – even to the inspector general – would be punished or criminally prosecuted as leakers. At the same meeting, polygraphers then were asked whether they had any problems with the way the program was being run. “You could hear crickets,” the source told McClatchy.

The inspector general recently agreed to investigate the National Reconnaissance Office’s polygraph program, but “people are going to be reluctant to talk with NRO’s inspector general now,” said the source, who was afraid to be identified for fear of being seen as cooperating with the media. Among some employees, the agency’s inspector general office is perceived as overly aligned with the CIA and out to protect the CIA’s interests rather than root out government misconduct. In an unusual relationship, the CIA shares responsibility with the Defense Department in overseeing the National Reconnaissance Office, which is staffed by CIA and Air Force employees.

In addition, McClatchy has published a letter dated August 13, 2012 from Senator Chuck Grassley to NRO Inspector General Lanie D’Allesandro asking that her investigation address allegations of polygraph violations, allegations of unreported criminal conduct, and retaliation for whistleblowing.

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