Many labels will be attached to Edward Snowden’s public identity as the the source behind what one newspaper reporter described as the biggest intelligence leak in the National Security Agency’s history. As far as I’m concerned, the 29-year-old deserves a special place in history, positioned alongside notorious spies — including John Anthony Walker Jr., Jonathan Jay Pollard and Ana Belen Montes — who were able to defeat both the polygraph and the best efforts of their government.
Don’t take this the wrong way, because I’m as patriotic as the next guy and am not willing to paint Snowden as a hero just yet. That said, I still have a sour taste in my mouth about the domestic surveillance and data collection activities that have taken place under the supervision of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.
You might recall, it was almost one year ago that Clapper, the nation’s top intelligence official, announced he would implement tough new measures aimed at stemming the spate of unauthorized disclosures of national security information that had dogged the Intelligence Community during his watch. Those measures, which focused largely on the types of questions asked federal employees during polygraph exams, generated many headlines:
In a timely article I wrote on the subject, I faulted Clapper for putting all of our national security “eggs” inside a “basket” full of holes. One year later, Snowden is one of those eggs, and he appears to be all over Clapper’s face.
Because his level of access would have required it, according to a source of mine (name withheld) who boasts almost three decades of counterintelligence work, Snowden must have taken — and passed – several polygraph exams as a condition of his multiple stints of employment with three-letter intelligence agencies and at least one government contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton. That in mind, I point out a key sentence that appeared in one of The Guardian newspaper’s early articles about Snowden:
He said it was during his CIA stint in Geneva that he thought for the first time about exposing government secrets. But, at the time, he chose not to for two reasons.
If, indeed, Snowden had had thoughts about exposing government secrets while employed by the CIA, the results of the polygraph exam(s) he took prior to and during his employment by that agency should have yielded clues to that could have led examiners to the truth about Snowden’s mindset. File this under, “Should have. Could have. Would have.”
The Counterintelligence Scope polygraph exam employed by the CIA, according to my source, isn’t nearly as thorough as the Full Scope polygraph exam used by the NSA. Further, the Full Scope exam is more intrusive and notoriously more difficult to defeat.
Some individuals, my source concluded, have been “put on ice,” forced to wait as many as 12 months before being cleared by NSA polygraph examiners. Apparently, Snowden wasn’t one of them.
Regardless of whether Snowden used any of the widely-available countermeasures to fool the examiner or fool the machine, his ability to beat the polygraph resulted in a dearth of national security secrets being exposed. That’s never good for the country.
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In my recently-released book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, I reveal never-before-published information about the polygraph and, most importantly, about details of a “turf war” between polygraph loyalists and all challengers to their century-old technology that has been raging silently for more than 40 years.
In addition, I examine how both technologies have performed in combat zones and other hotspots around the world, and I interview people who’ve used both technologies to interrogate detainees at Guantanamo Bay, members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle (a.k.a., “The Deck of Cards”) and enemy combatants on battlefields around the world.
Most importantly, I connect the dots between three memos — including one issued by Clapper in 2007 while he was serving as Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence — and hundreds of American casualties resulting from “Green-on-Blue” or “Insider” attacks waged by so-called Afghan “allies” wearing the uniforms of their country.
Of course, there’s much more to THE CLAPPER MEMO — so much so, in fact, that the book has already garnered some big-name endorsements. To learn more, though, you’ll have to order a copy, available in paperback and ebook versions, at Amazon.