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.
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.