Normal Topic Polygraph Supporter to Head Homeland Sec'y Intel (Read 2281 times)
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Polygraph Supporter to Head Homeland Sec'y Intel
Mar 15th, 2003 at 9:29am
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President Bush has named former CIA counterintelligence chief Paul J. Redmond to be the intelligence chief in the new Department of Homeland Security. Redmond's official title will be "Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Information Analysis."

In 2000, Redmond headed a panel that prepared a report to Congress on counterintelligence at the Department of Energy laboratories. The report, styled, "Report of the Redmond Panel:  Improving Counterintelligence Capabilities at the Department of  Energy and the Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore  National Laboratories," pooh-poohed criticism of polygraphy and simplistically concluded that laboratory personnel's "very negative attitude towards the polygraph" was primarily the result of DOE's "lack of success in explaining the importance and utility of the polygraph program."


Polygraph testing

   Polygraph testing for "covered" \6\ DOE and laboratory personnel was mandated by Congress, but DOE Headquarters reacted with poorly thought out and inconsistent directions to implement the requirement. As a result, laboratory personnel have a very negative attitude towards the polygraph. Moreover, since the polygraph is a highly visible part of the overall CI effort, the entire CI program has been negatively affected by this development. At the center of this problem is DOE's lack of success in explaining the importance and utility of the polygraph program. Further exacerbating this problem, DOE Headquarters personnel made little effort to consider the views of senior laboratory managers and have not involved them in the planning process for determining who will be polygraphed. In addition, DOE Headquarters efforts to meet with the laboratory employees to explain the polygraph program have been ineffective, if not counterproductive. To make matters even worse, DOE Headquarters, by vacillating and changing the policy over time, appeared inconsistent and unsure where the opposite is essential to instill confidence in the program parameters and professionalism.
   \6\ Section 3154 of the FY 2000 Defense Authorization Act defines "covered" persons as those involved in Special Access Programs, Personnel Security and Assurance Programs, Personnel Assurance Programs, and with access to Sensitive Compartmented Information.
   The attitude toward polygraphs at the laboratories runs the gamut from cautiously and rationally negative to emotionally and irrationally negative. Moreover, the attitudes of the lab directors themselves range from acknowledgement of the need (although uncertain as to how to implement it), to frank and open opposition. Scientists at Sandia prepared a scientific paper purporting to debunk the polygraph for a laboratory director's use in a Congressional hearing. Employees at Lawrence Livermore wear buttons reading "JUST SAY NO TO THE POLYGRAPH." Other laboratory employees expressed the sentiment "You trusted me to win the Cold War, now you don't?" The team heard such statements as, "The Country needs us more than we need them" and "The stock options of Silicon Valley beckon." Several expressed a belief that many scientists will quit and that DOE will not be able to maintain the stockpile stewardship program. Still more employees cited an Executive Order that exempted Presidential appointee and "Schedule C" employees from having to take the polygraph as outrageous and unfair.
   In addition to the emotional reactions, there are rational questions about the polygraph, such as, "What are they going to do with the inevitable number of people who do not pass?" The team shares this concern, and expects that there will be a significant number of so-called "false-positive" polygraph results that will have to be further examined. Another concern voiced to the team by numerous laboratory employees was that "No one has ever tried this before on this scale." The fact is that never before have so many "cleared" employees of a government organization had to have their clearances (and, thus, their livelihoods) threatened by the institution of the polygraph.
   Compounding the problem further is an attitude among many laboratory employees that they are indispensable and special, and thus, should be exempt from such demeaning and intrusive measures as the polygraph. Scientists do, in fact, represent a particular problem with regard to the administration of polygraphs. They are most comfortable when dealing with techniques that are scientifically precise and reliable. The polygraph, useful as it is as one of several tools in a CI regime, does not meet this standard. Accordingly, many scientists who have had no experience with it are skeptical of its utility.
   DOE's efforts at explaining the utility of the polygraph as part of a multi-faceted CI program have been ineffectual. Moreover, DOE Headquarters' response to resistance at the 
laboratories, as unreasonable as that resistance may be, has been dictatorial and preemptory. As one senior DOE official observed, on hearing the complaint by the laboratories that the polygraph will make it difficult to recruit and retain top scientists, "It is already difficult to recruit and retain scientists in this economy, so what's the difference?"
   In December 1999, the Secretary announced that DOE intends to reduce the number of employees subject to the polygraph to about eight hundred. This change, coupled with theelimination of the exclusion for senior political appointees, indicates that DOE Headquarters is trying to rectify the original overly broad and impractical scale of the polygraph program. Nonetheless, even this well-intentioned step has elicited skepticism. As one senior manager said, "What is to prevent some new Secretary from coming along and hitting us for not polygraphing all thirteen thousand laboratory employees?"
   The team judges that DOE Headquarters should do more to involve laboratory management in the process of selecting those individuals to be polygraphed. Senior laboratory managers know what secrets need protecting and, thus, could bring their knowledge to bear on this process. Including managers visibly will involve them with the program in the eyes of the workforce. This will both motivate and enable them to sell the program, and, one hopes, give the program more credibility. Their participation, moreover, would make them accountable.
   To this end, DOE must reinvigorate and revamp its effort to educate the workforce on how polygraphs, while not definitive in their results, are of significant utility in a broader comprehensive CI program. The polygraph is an essential element of the CI program and it will not work until it is accepted by those who are subject to it.

For further reading, see New York Times reporter James Risen's 13 March 2003 article, "A Top Intelligence Post Goes to C.I.A. Officer in Spy Case" and the White House's Personnel Announcement.

George W. Maschke
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Re: Polygraph Supporter to Head Homeland Sec'y Int
Reply #1 - Mar 16th, 2003 at 5:23pm
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Gotta love this quote from your reprint Wink

"They are most comfortable when dealing with techniques that are scientifically precise and reliable. The polygraph, useful as it is as one of several tools in a CI regime, does not meet this standard."

"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." &&U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis
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Polygraph Supporter to Head Homeland Sec'y Intel

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