McClatchy Newspapers investigative reporter Marisa Taylor has published a new series of well-researched articles on federal polygraph screening programs:
- Feds expand polygraph screening, often seeking intimate facts
- As polygraph screening flourishes, critics say oversight abandoned
- Federal polygraph programs are secret even to researchers
- U.S. polygraphers questioned accuracy of tests on detainees overseas
Apart from numerous interviews, Taylor’s reporting is also based in part on federal records sought and obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by University of Virginia researcher Katelyn Sack. These documents may be downloaded from National Security Counselors (scroll down to the section, “Polygraphy and Polygraph Examiners”).
Taylor’s reporting also features a letter from Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), who has a Ph.D. in physics, to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, asking for a briefing “on the research and development efforts underway in the [intelligence community] to move us beyond the use of such an unreliable instrument as the polygraph.” Making reference to Marisa Taylor’s earlier reporting on abuse by polygraph operators at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Holt also wrote to Inspector General of the United States Intelligence Community J. Charles McCullough III asking “1) whether there is any truth in these reports of polygraph abuse at NRO, 2) whether any other IC elements are using such tactics, 3) whether any polygraphers have engaged in actions in violation of any applicable laws and regulations, 4) whether the use of such tactics was ordered by any IC manager, 5) and whether polygraphers were receiving rewards, accelerated promotions or other incentives to force non-counterintelligence related information from polygraph subjects.”
The abuses documented in Taylor’s reporting highlight the need to terminate America’s misplaced reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy. Make-believe science yields make-believe security.