On 23 August 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted former CIA employee Joshua Adam Schulte for receipt, possession, and transportation of child pornography dating back to 2009.
In 2010, Schulte sought and obtained employment with the CIA. All CIA applicants are required to pass a pre-employment polygraph as well as periodic polygraph screening after hire. The relevant questions asked typically include computer crimes including possession of child pornography. In a proceeding held on 24 August 2017, Schulte’s lawyer, Kenneth F. Smith, stated that Schulte had passed a CIA polygraph that addressed the issue of child pornography:
MR. SMITH: …Pursuant to his employment and his security clearances, he has undergone extensive and extreme vetting, including numerous polygraph examinations. He was subjected to polygraph examinations in the beginning, when he started, and continuing throughout his career. And, Judge, particularly I think it’s important to note in those polygraph examinations and as a part of that vetting, he was asked specifically about this conduct, and he passed all of those polygraphs with flying colors.
Judge, it’s important because…
THE COURT: He was asked about child pornography in the polygraphs?
MR. SMITH: That’s correct, Judge.
On 18 June 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a superseding indictment additionally charging Schulte with, among other things, “illegal gathering of national defense information…for the purpose of providing it to, and causing it to be provided to, an organization that purports to publicly disseminate classified, sensitive, and confidential information (“Organization-1″), which posted the Classfied Information on the Internet.”
“Organization-1” is widely understood to be WikiLeaks, and the national defense information in question is widely understood to be WikiLeaks’ “Vault 7” release of CIA hacking tools, publication of which began in March 2017.
The indictment alleges that Schulte gathered this information in 2016, the year he left CIA employment. It is unknown whether Schulte was polygraphed after the time that he allegedly gathered information allegedly provided to WikiLeaks.
In any event, if the child pornography charges against Schulte, which again date to 2009, a year before the CIA hired him, are true, and if the polygraph is capable of detecting deception, as the CIA and other federal agencies claim, then the polygraph should have eliminated Schulte from consideration for CIA employment. But it didn’t.