National Reconnaissance Office Polygraph Unit Targeted Personal Information

NRO LogoOn 10 July 2012, the McClatchy news service published a series of three investigative articles by reporter Marisa Taylor about polygraph screening practices at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which runs America’s space-based reconnaissance activities. The articles document how NRO polygraph examiners, who are supposed to conduct only counterintelligence-scope polygraph screening examinations (that is, polygraph interrogations that are limited to espionage-related questions) were incentivized (and in at least one instance, explicitly directed) to elicit personal information far beyond the authorized scope.

In effect, NRO made its counterintelligence-scope polygraph program into a full-scope (or so-called “lifestyle”) polygraph program, even though it is not authorized by law or regulation to do so.

Taylor’s well-researched articles may be read on-line here:

In addition, McClatchey has made available on-line a memorandum from then NRO polygrapher Mark S. Phillips to the Department of Defense Inspector General documenting unauthorized practices within the NRO polygraph program. Phillips exhibited honesty and integrity that is all-too-rare among senior personnel in the intelligence community today.