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George W. Maschke
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Probable CIA/FBI False Positive Led to Suicide
Mar 7th, 2006 at 7:08pm
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In The Fifty Year Wound: The True Price of America's Cold War Victory, (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2002) Georgetown University professor Derek Leebaert relates, among other things, the story of James Schneider, a Navy veteran driven to suicide by what in all probability were false positive CIA and FBI polygraph results. The following excerpt is from pages 571-72:

The Cold War ended at different times and on different fronts, one all too close to home. James Schneider graduated in 1991 from Georgetown University. He joined the Navy and served as an officer on a guided-missile carrier for three years before being honorably discharged with an unblemished record in June 1995. As his next career step, he had applied to both the CIA and the Foreign Service, making the extremely difficult cut for the latter and surmounting the State Department's intense background investigation. However, he was one of the 90 percent who had failed the CIA's routine polygraph test.

Schneider was sworn in that November by State, and by mid-1996 was awaiting assignment to Athens as a counselor [sic, correct: consular] officer. But the consequences of his CIA application were lurking. The Agency had originally turned his polygraph results over to its counterintelligence office, which includes several FBI agents--a spokesman later commenting that "the threshold for reporting cases is not all that high."[endnote omitted] In summer 1996, nearly a year after the CIA test, State Department officials learned of the failed polygraph from the Bureau. Schneider was immediately denied access to most anything concerning his work. Notification had not been made earlier to State because FBI officials had concluded that Schneider's questionable results were "eminently resolvable." The Bureau suddenly saw fit to administer its own polygraph--the CIA probably realized that Schneider had become a Foreign Service Officer--and he supposedly failed that one too. The issue, the FBI later said, may have been that he had "merely spoke[n] too loosely about classified material with non-Navy personnel" while in uniform.[endnote omitted] Or it may have been nothing. There was no elaboration from Langley: it just helped draw the most destructive, disqualifying insinuations, eventually including unspecified ties to Moscow.

These persistent, career-threatening calumnies were sufficient to drive the twenty-seven-year-old Schneider to suicide. It is unlikely that he was the first to be marched by those means down that bleak road--or that he will be the last.

Reagan signed the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988, which prohibited industry from using the device to screen applicants. Shamefully, federal employees were exempted....

George W. Maschke
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Re: Probable CIA/FBI False Positive Led to Suicide
Reply #1 - Mar 9th, 2006 at 7:05am
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How disturbing. The sad truth is that it will take many more such headline-grabbing tragedies before the media (and, perforce, the public) pick up the polygraph issue in earnest.

Until then, the issue (and this website, its visitors and vindicators) will remain on the periphery: marginalized by the ignorant and vilified by the profiteers of psuedo-science.
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Re: Probable CIA/FBI False Positive Led to Suicide
Reply #2 - Feb 26th, 2010 at 6:24am
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Neither here nor there, but Jim Schneider served on a guided missile *cruiser*, not a carrier.
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