Jennifer McKee of the Albuquerque Tribunewrites in part:
More than 2,000 Los Alamos National Laboratory employees may have to take lie-detector tests as part of an anti-spying program included in the Defense Authorization Bill signed into law this week.
The program, which expands polygraph tests to as many 20,000 employees throughout the Department of Energy, has sparked criticism from many, including President Clinton, who called the program “unrealistic” and “impractical.”
…I am deeply disappointed that the Congress has taken upon itself to set greatly increased polygraph requirements that are unrealistic in scope, impractical in execution, and that would be strongly counterproductive in their impact on our national security.
Walter Pincus and Vernon Loeb of the Washington Postreport that the FBI does not believe that the 1995 Chinese defector whose information led to the spy hunt at the national laboratories was a double agent, as the CIA concluded. It appears that the CIA believed the defector to be a double agent primarily (if not solely) because he “failed” a polygraph “test.” See George Maschke’s commentary on the the AntiPolygraph.org message board.
Rejecting pleas from Energy Department officials, Congress has approved a provision that will require polygraphs for 5,000 additional employees of the department’s nuclear weapons complex, raising to near 20,000 the overall number that will be tested.
The new language, part of the fiscal 2001 defense authorization bill that Congress passed Thursday night, requires the department to polygraph all employees with access to “sensitive compartmented information” (SCI)–highly classified intelligence data, produced under supervision of the CIA, that include data from electronic intercepts.
In an article entitled “Government Facing Charges of Racism,”San Jose Mercury News correspondent Lenny Savino reports on five cases of alleged ethnic profiling by FBI, CIA, and DoD counterintelligence officials. Polygraphy figures prominently in four out of five of the cases discussed. For more on the case of David Tenenbaum, which features prominently in the story, see:
In its mad pursuit of a misconceived ideal of “security,” Congress has quietly imposed broad new polygraph testing requirements on Energy Department employees and contractors.
Subtle changes adopted in the conference on the defense authorization bill will require polygraph tests on an additional 5000 persons in the nuclear weapons labs, Senator Pete Domenici noted in a press release yesterday. That is an increase from the current level of around 800 persons subject to polygraph testing.
“I am dismayed that the conferees took it upon themselves to adopt additional provisions on polygraphs,” Sen. Domenici said. “I find it astounding, especially in light of the findings in the Baker-Hamilton Report, that the conferees included these provisions.”
“The Baker-Hamilton Report clearly indicated that we should avoid further ‘Made in Washington’ rules that frustrate scientific pursuits and only serve to demoralize laboratory personnel. I believe these provisions will only make a bad situation worse,” Sen. Domenici said. “Security will be a moot point if our national laboratories fail to achieve scientific advances worth protecting.”
By expanding the definition of who is a “covered person,” the new polygraph provision will impose testing requirements on an additional 5000 people, based on an informal estimate that NNSA chief Gen. John Gordon provided to Senator Domenici last week, a Domenici aide said.
The new provision, section 3135 of the defense authorization act, is posted here:
Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecyreports in today’s edition of the electronic newsletter Secrecy News that House-Senate conferees have approved legislation that severely limits the Secretary of Energy’s authority to grant polygraph waivers. The following is an excerpt (emphasis added):
DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL BOOSTS SECRECY
The House-Senate conference completed its compromise version of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 on Friday. The bill, which is an astonishing mess from many points of view, includes several provisions that will tend to diminish publish access to government information and drive security policy farther away from a defensible middle ground.
The new bill (H.R. 5408) creates two new statutory exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act. One will exempt certain unclassified foreign government information from disclosure (sec. 1073). Another will expand the exemption for certain unclassified maps and imagery (sec. 1074).
The bill places a severe new limitation on Pentagon spending for all declassification activities (sec. 1075). In place of last year’s limit of $51 million, the new maximum for the coming year will be $30 million. Needless to say, no limitation is imposed on classification-related spending, which reached a total of $5 billion in FY 1999, according to the latest report of the Information Security Oversight Office.
In a step that is positively subversive in its implications, the conferees adopted a provision that allows the Secretary of Energy to grant a waiver from polygraph testing for employees in certain circumstances, but that “would prohibit the Secretary from using the need to maintain the scientific viability of a DOE laboratory as a criteria [sic]” for such exemptions (sec. 3135). In other words, the scientific viability of the DOE labs is now — by law — a lower priority than the DOE polygraph program.
In a rare bit of good news, the conferees did not adopt a controversial provision that would have exempted the “operational files” of the Defense Intelligence Agency from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
The new bill was adopted in conference on October 6 and is expected to be approved in House and Senate floor votes this week. Excerpts from the bill concerning secrecy and security policy are posted here:
Edward T. Pound of USA Today writes that the Department of Defense Inspector General has concluded that Department of Defense Polygraph Institute director Michael H. Capps misappropriated $4,100 worth of government-earned frequent-flier miles and misled investigators when questioned about the matter.
Mr. Pound’s article leaves unanswered the question, “Did the disgraced director of the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute take a lie detector ‘test’?” Mr. Pound doesn’t mention it, but one of Mr. Capps’ other noteworthy achievements as DoDPI director is the prompt disbandment of the Institute’s scientific advisory board upon his appointment in 1995.
Kimball Perry of the Cincinnati Postreports that Presiding Judge Robert S. Kraft of the General Division of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas will ask judges to support expanded use of tax-payer funded polygraph “tests.” Judge Kraft has previously urged that polygraph “tests” be used in all felonies.
Judge Kraft needs to know about the lie behind the lie detector. He should also be made aware of the case of Floyd “Buzz” Fay of Perrysburg, Ohio, who was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison based on polygraph “evidence.” (See pp. 264-67 of the 2nd ed. of David T. Lykken’s A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector.)
You can write a letter to Judge Kraft at the following address:
Judge Robert S. Kraft Hamilton County Court House 1000 Main Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Alternatively, you can call through the court administrator, Mike Watson at (513) 946-5900 or send a fax at (513) 946-5800.
Vincent Morris and Deborah Owen of the New York Postreport that “George W. Bush staffers offered to take lie-detector tests yesterday as they pressed the FBI to solve the mystery of whether a mole gave a debate prep video to rival Al Gore’s camp.”