Tag Archives: Aldrich Ames

Military, Government Security Clearance Holders Vulnerable to Blackmail After Hackers Share Ashley Madison Data

How many more Aldrich Ames and Edward Snowden types are lurking among the millions of people who hold U.S. Government security clearances, vulnerable to blackmail as a result of their involvement in the AshleyMadison.com data breach?

Click on image above to read Wired.com article about Ashley Madison data breach.

Click on image above to read Wired.com article about Ashley Madison data breach.

If you haven’t heard of AshleyMadison (dot) com, let me offer some background information borrowed from Wired.com’s article published Tuesday:

“Ashley Madison is the most famous name in infidelity and married dating,” the site asserts on its homepage. “Have an Affair today on Ashley Madison. Thousands of cheating wives and cheating husbands signup everyday looking for an affair…. With Our affair guarantee package we guarantee you will find the perfect affair partner.”

Also in the article is news that the data breach included some 15,000 .mil or .gov addresses.

Now that you understand what’s at stake, I’ll continue.

While serving as an Air Force public affairs officer and possessing such a clearance during the last few years of the Cold War, I was regularly reminded of the types of behavior and activities that could prevent a person from obtaining or maintaining his security clearance. Atop the list of things were activities that might make you vulnerable to blackmail by a foreign agent — things such as sexually-promiscuous behavior, financial mismanagement and drug and alcohol abuse, just to name a few. And while those things may sound like everyday activities for members of Congress, those of us in uniform had higher standards. Back then.

Now, fast forward to more-recent days and the four years I spent investigating the federal government’s use of so-called “credibility assessment” technologies, including the polygraph. During those years, I learned a lot about the system via which U.S. government personnel — especially in Defense and Intelligence positions — are vetted in advance of being granted security clearances. Truth be told, I learned more about the subjects of security clearances and background checks during my investigation than I did while in uniform. I also learned CIA employee-turned spy Ames, NSA contractor-turned Russian house guest Snowden and countless others who engaged in unauthorized dissemination of classified information — and, in many cases, blatant espionage — had had to pass periodic polygraph exams as a condition of their employment with U.S. military and intelligence agencies. And pass the polygraph exams, they did!

Even after I exposed a plethora of serious concerns associated with such practices via the May 2013 release of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, leaders of the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, led by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. — continue to rely upon the century-old polygraph in the security clearance vetting process and cause me to ask, “WHY?”

The Clapper Memo offers the closest thing to an answer to that question.

Click here to learn more about the book and read some of the high-profile endorsements it has received.  Click here to order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

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Fictional Superheroes: Wonder Woman, Polygraph Machine

An article about Jill Lepore’s recently-released book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, caught my attention today for two reasons: first, I was a teenage boy when the “Wonder Woman” television series launched; and, second, I developed more than a passing interest in a technology, still in use today, that was developed by the same man who created the fictional superhero.

Click image above to order book.

Click image above to order book.

Again, why did it catch my attention? Because it mentions the fact that the creator of the Wonder Woman character is none other than William Moulton Marston, the same man credited with developing the now-century-old polygraph machine.

One paragraph in the article, in particular, caught my eye:

Coincidentally I was reading a book called Born Liars: Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit when this hefty tome rocked up, and was just embarking on the section about Marston himself. Describing him as ‘irrepressibly optimistic’, it goes on to claim that the lie detector, or ‘polygraph machine’ as it was more pompously known, was so useless that in 1986 when Aldrich Ames, a CIA operative spying for the USSR, informed his paymasters that the government intended to give him a routine polygraph test, they simply advised him to get a good night’s sleep and relax. He did so and passed — and passed again, in 1991, when the CIA were carrying out a search for an internal mole (i.e. Ames himself).

Writer Julie Burchill’s explanation above of how the polygraph was a colossal failure, especially when it comes to catching people like notorious CIA spy Aldrich Ames, jives with what I shared in both a previous article and in my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, which is based upon four years of exhaustive investigative work. Her mention of Marston’s name in the next paragraph, along with the phrase, “snake-oil salesman,” surely made me laugh.

Despite facts like the one involving Aldrich, the Department of Defense continues to rely on the polygraph as its only credibility assessment technology authorized for use by its employees. Why? Because, as I explained in a piece three days ago, people like Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. worked hard — and went against the advice and counsel of military and intelligence experts on the ground — to ban the use of a more-reliable and more-effective credibility assessment technology.

To learn more about this non-polygraph technology, order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

To learn what others think about the book, read some of the high-profile endorsements it has received.

If you like this article and my other efforts, please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Intel Boss ‘Truly Insane,’ According to Former CIA Director

In a McClatchy News article today, Marisa Taylor reports that Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. issued a new polygraph policy Sept. 14 which requires federal government agencies conducting polygraph exams to ask applicants and employees if they have leaked classified information to the media. Doing so places him among the “truly insane,” according to one former CIA director.

Former CIA Director John Deutch quoted in New York Times 12/10/1995.

Former CIA Director John Deutch quoted in New York Times 12/10/1995.

On page 6 of a New York Times article published Dec. 10, 1995, reporter Tim Weiner quoted former CIA Director John Deutch talking about the CIA, saying, “Their reliance on the polygraph is truly insane,” and I couldn’t agree more.

What Clapper, the nation’s top intelligence official, ignores by issuing a new polygraph policy and, more importantly, by remaining joined at the hip with backers of century-old polygraph technology, is a long list of polygraph failures.

In Chapter 15 of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, I not only challenge readers to conduct their own research of convicted spies such as John Anthony Walker Jr., Jonathan Jay Pollard, Ana Belen Montes, and other U.S. government employees, but I let them know what they’ll find — that is, that the vast majority of those convicted of spying for foreign governments had been subject to regular polygraph examinations as a condition of their federal government employment. Some spied for years and years before being caught! Edward Snowden is merely the most recent example of an intelligence professional with a high-level security clearance to make reliance on the polygraph appear foolish.

Further into the same chapter, I share details about other well-known top government officials and their feelings about the polygraph.

I cite an article published Dec. 20, 1985, in the Los Angeles Times. In it, Norman Kempster reported that George Schulz, then serving as President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, was not a fan of the polygraph and, in fact, had threatened to resign rather than submit to a polygraph examination.

I also point to an article, published in the March 8, 1994, edition of The New York Times. In it, Ronald Kessler shared details about how former CIA Director R. James Woolsey seemed to harbor the same sentiment about the polygraph:

The day after the arrest of the accused spy Aldrich H. Ames was announced, the Director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, met with several hundred C.I.A. employees in the agency’s auditorium at Langley, Virginia. After recounting what employees already knew from the news media, Mr. Woolsey — whose address was seen on closed-circuit television by every C.I.A. employee — spent five minutes explaining why he himself had refused to take a polygraph test, as other recent directors had done. Besides the fact that political appointees are not required to take such tests, Mr. Woolsey said he remained “skeptical” about the polygraph’s effectiveness.

Why does Clapper stick with this highly-suspect technology? To answer that question, I conducted a four-year investigation into the federal government’s use of so-called credibility assessment technologies, including the polygraph. My findings appear inside The Clapper Memo, a book that has received rave reviews from several top-flight people whose names you might recognize.

To learn more about the findings of my investigation, read other posts about the book.

To understand everything I’ve uncovered, order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.