In an article titled “Security access denial at issue,” Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz writes, among other things, about the case of an NSA employee who was accused of espionage and forced out following inconclusive polygraph results. Excerpt:
U.S. intelligence agencies are abusing rules on access to classified data to punish employees who upset security officials or who go against prevailing bureaucratic viewpoints, according to three officials who say they were unfairly forced out.
Another NSA official, a 17-year specialist involved in highly classified work, was punished and forced to retire after his clearances were suspended based on an “inconclusive” polygraph test indicating he might be a spy and saboteur.
The NSA wouldn’t comment on either case.
Without access to classified information, all three officials could not continue in their jobs.
“There is no doubt in my mind that security clearances are used as a weapon by various agencies to push away a perceived problem,” said Mark Zaid, a lawyer who has defended numerous federal employees on security-clearance issues.
In most cases, there is no legal recourse to claims made by security officials whose power over clearances is virtually unchecked, Mr. Zaid said. Appeals procedures vary among agencies and are very limited. In almost all cases, clearances are never restored.
The NSA employee, a mathematician who spoke on the condition he not be identified by name, said that after the polygraph, he was forced by the agency to work in the NSA motor pool.
“I was accused of sabotage and espionage and very specifically asked who my handler was,” the former NSA official said.
The NSA mathematician said his superiors asked security officials to let him work on unclassified NSA projects, but was told he must continue “pumping gas and washing buses.”
“It’s punishment, and it’s punishment for having done nothing wrong,” the former official said.