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Normal Topic U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Considering Polygraph Dragnet at National Security Council (Read 396 times)
George W. Maschke
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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Considering Polygraph Dragnet at National Security Council
Sep 11th, 2017 at 8:22am
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Jonathan Swan reports for


Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told associates he wants to put the entire National Security Council staff through a lie detector test to root out leakers. It's unclear whether this will ever happen, but Sessions floated the idea to multiple people, as recently as last month.

Sessions' idea is to do a one-time, one-issue, polygraph test of everyone on the NSC staff. Interrogators would sit down with every single NSC staffer (there's more than 100 of them), and ask them, individually, what they know about the leaks of transcripts of the president's phone calls with foreign leaders. Sessions suspects those leaks came from within the NSC, and thinks that a polygraph test at the very least would scare them out of leaking again.

Sessions has told associates he likes the idea of targeting the foreign leader phone calls because there's a small enough universe of people who would have had access to these transcripts. Also, the idea that the President of the United States can't have private conversations with foreign leaders was a bridge too far, even for Democrats.

Ian Prior, a spokesman for Sessions, declined comment when presented with the details of this report.

Why this matters: That Sessions would seriously entertain such a startling action reveals how frustrated he's become about the rampant leaking of classified information. Leak probes like the one Sessions announced at a big press conference on August 4 have happened under previous administrations, and rarely with any significant success. In fact, they can even backfire look no further than the leak probe that ensnared James Cartwright, Obama's favorite general. Obama later pardoned Cartwright. So much for cracking down on leakers.

Bottom line: Sessions seems to understand that it's extremely tough to successfully prosecute leakers, especially when they are career intelligence professionals who are skilled at covering their digital tracks.

This is an exceptionally bad idea, and I hope that Attorney General Sessions has gotten advice on why a polygraph dragnet is a bad idea.

There are no documented cases of a polygraph dragnet ever solving a national security leak investigation.

Given polygraphy's lack of any scientific basis, it's likely that a polygraph dragnet will misdirect investigators by casting suspicion on the innocent, while any leakers on the NSC staff will likely learn how to beat the polygraph (it's easy).

I invite any NSC staffer who may read this post to download our book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, which provides a thorough debunking of polygraphy and explains how to protect yourself against the random errror associated with this invalid procedure:

George W. Maschke
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