On 1 November 2016, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director of security Michael P. Londregan published a notice that beginning in 2017, all DIA contractors whose work requires access to sensitive compartmented information will be required to pass a polygraph “test.” Excerpt:
1 November 2016
(From the Director of Security)
Subject: Contractor Counterintelligence-Scope Polygraph Screening
On Jan. 1, 2017, DIA will begin implementing a phased change to its polygraph policy. All contractors or employees of contractors identified to perform work for DIA, and where the work requires access to sensitive compartmented information, must either successfully complete a counterintelligence-scope polygraph (CSP) examination (in accordance with Intelligence Community Policy Guidance 704.6 and Security Executive Agent Directive 2) or have on record a reciprocally acceptable polygraph examination from another federal agency prior to being granted unescorted access to DIA systems, facilities or information.
DIA will implement this policy change using the following schedule:
- 1 January 2017: National Capital Region (NCR) approximately 50-mile radius extending outward to Ft Meade, MD and Charlottesville, VA
- 1 April 2017: Continental United States (CONUS) including NCR contractors
- 1 July 2017: Outside CONUS including CONUS contractors and NCR
Regardless of geographical assignment, all polygraph testing will be scheduled through the special security officer (SSO), unit security officer (USO) or your contracting officer representative (COR), respectively, to the DIA Central Processing Center, Reston, Virginia.
Refusal without reasonable cause (as determined by the Director of Security for DIA) to undergo polygraph examination; failure to cooperate during a polygraph examination; or purposeful noncooperation during a polygraph examination — including confirmed use of polygraph countermeasures — could result in additional review or an adverse security determination.
Individuals affected by this policy may wish to review “The Lying Game: National Security and the Test for Espionage and Sabotoge” for a critique of the completely invalid polygraph screening technique used by the U.S. Department of Defense. In the past, it appeared that one could pass the DoD counterintelligence-scope polygraph simply by not making any significant admissions. It is unclear to what extent this remains true.
It’s worth noting that the DIA polygraph screening program has never caught a spy. In 2001, DIA’s senior analyst for Cuban affairs, Ana Belen Montes, was arrested for, and ultimately pled guilty to, having been a Cuban spy. She had been trained by Cuban intelligence how to fool the polygraph, and she did precisely that throughout her DIA employment.
DIA contractors should pay special attention to the notice that “purposeful noncooperation during a polygraph examination — including confirmed use of polygraph countermeasures — could result in additional review or an adverse security determination. If, for example, you breath slowly and deeply during your polygraph “test” in an attempt to remain calm, your polygrapher may accuse you of attempting to use polygraph countermeasures. If you then acknowledge that you were breathing slowly and deeply in an attempt to remain calm so you could pass, that simple admission may be taken as “confirmed use of countermeasures.”
DIA polygraph case files leaked to AntiPolygraph.org suggest that DIA is unable to detect sophisticated polygraph countermeasures, that is, the kinds of things that an actual spy like Ana Belen Montes might be expected to employ. Instead, the “confirmed countermeasure cases” consist entirely of people doing things that no one who understands polygraph procedure would actually do.
For more on the pseudoscience of polygraphy, including tips on how to protect yourself against the random error associated with it, see our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.