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Secrecy News -- 10/10/02

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood@fas.org>
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 12:59:36 -0400
Fwd Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 19:18:24 -0400
Subject: Secrecy News -- 10/10/02


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 99
October 10, 2002


**	NATIONAL ACADEMY ON POLYGRAPH TESTING
**	CIA ON IRAQ THREAT
**	PENTAGON BIOWEAPON TESTS ON AMERICANS
**	APPEALS COURT RULES ON SECRET HEARINGS
**	INTELLIGENCE RESPONSE TO PAST TERRORIST ATTACKS
**	FISA MISTAKES DESCRIBED


NATIONAL ACADEMY ON POLYGRAPH TESTING

The polygraph is a flawed instrument that is "intrinsically
susceptible to producing erroneous results," according to a new
report of a National Academy of Sciences panel.

The report, prepared for the Department of Energy, is likely to
lead to the rescinding of polygraph requirements that were
adopted in 1999 to address security defects at the DOE national
laboratories.

The authors distinguish between the use of the polygraph for
generic security screening -- which they find unwarranted -- and
its use in investigations of specific incidents -- for which
they find experimental support in some circumstances.

Methodologically, polygraph screening is not a scientific
procedure that adheres to fixed standards.  Thus, "we have seen
no indication of a clear and stable agreement on criteria for
judging answers to security screening polygraph questions in any
agency using them," the National Academy report stated.

Admittedly, polygraph screening "may be useful" for "deterring
security violations, increasing the frequency of admissions of
such violations, deterring employment applications from
potentially poor security risks, and increasing public
confidence in national security organizations."

However, the utility of the polygraph for these purposes
"derives from beliefs about the procedure's validity, which are
distinct from actual validity or accuracy."

By contributing to the exposure of such unfounded beliefs, the
new report ironically tends to subvert this type of polygraph
utility.

The full text of the new report, "The Polygraph and Lie
Detection," is available in a rather inconvenient format here:

http://www.nap.edu/books/0309084369/html/

The executive summary may also be found on the Antipolygraph.org
site here:

http://www.antipolygraph.org/nas/exec.pdf

Last year, Congress required the Energy Department to prescribe
new polygraph regulations that "take into account" the findings
of the NAS study within six months of its release.  See:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2001/poly.html

Accordingly, Senators Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici called on
Energy Secretary Abraham to heed the study's conclusions.

"Given the findings of the Academy's study and the continuing
dissatisfaction with DOE's existing polygraph program, we urge
you to place high priority on the development of a new,
significantly scaled-back program that focuses on the use of the
polygraph as an interrogation tool and not for employee
screening," the Senators wrote on October 8.

Polygraph screening of current and prospective employees is most
widespread within U.S. intelligence agencies, where it is
generally a precondition for employment involving access to
intelligence information.  As such, it serves as a ritual of
initiation and can generate a sense of camaraderie.

The polygraph examination also functions to acculturate
employees into the values of the intelligence bureaucracy.

So, for example, the Central Intelligence Agency has lately
asked examinees questions such as "Do you have any friends in
the media?" The preferred answer, it is clear, is No.


CIA ON IRAQ THREAT

A U.S. attack on Iraq could prompt Saddam to use chemical or
biological weapons, an action that otherwise has a low
probability, according to a new declassified CIA finding.

"Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of
conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW against
the United States. Should Saddam conclude that a US-led attack
could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less
constrained in adopting terrorist actions," according to the
CIA.

The new declassifications came in an October 7 letter from DCI
George Tenet to Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Bob
Graham.  See:

http://www.fas.org/irp/news/2002/10/dci100702.html

In a peculiar statement issued the next day, DCI Tenet insisted
that "There is no inconsistency between our view of Saddam's
growing threat and the view as expressed by the President in his
speech."  See:

http://www.fas.org/irp/news/2002/10/dci100802.html


PENTAGON BIOWEAPON TESTS ON AMERICANS

The Pentagon conducted numerous previously undisclosed tests of
highly toxic biological and chemical agents around the country
on unwitting military personnel during the 1960s, according to
newly declassified data released this week.

Even by the standards of the time, the tests represent an
astonishing lapse in scientific and moral judgment.  The
surprisingly muted reaction to the disclosures so far may be an
indication of scandal fatigue or may simply reflect low
expectations of government integrity.

The Pentagon experiments were the subject of a hearing before a
House Veterans' Affairs subcommittee on October 9.  See:

http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/schedule107/oct02/10-9-02/witness.html

The hearing was followed by a Pentagon briefing, transcribed
here:

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct2002/t10092002_t1009ha.html

Supplementary material is available here:

http://deploymentlink.osd.mil/current_issues/shad/shad_intro.shtml


APPEALS COURT RULES ON SECRET HEARINGS

A federal appeals court held that the Bush Administration may
continue to impose blanket secrecy on immigration hearings
involving persons deemed by the Attorney General to have
knowledge of, or connections with, the September 11 terrorist
attacks.

The new decision overturned a lower court ruling which held that
secrecy should be considered on a case by case basis and that
blanket secrecy was impermissible.

The appeals court noted without embarrassment that it found op-
ed columnist Michael Kelly's critique of the lower court ruling
to be "powerful."

The appeals court ruling may be found here:

http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/recentop/week/022524.pdf

The Washington Post critically assessed the decision in an
October 9 editorial "Keeping Quiet" which is available here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63343-2002Oct8.html


INTELLIGENCE RESPONSE TO PAST TERRORIST ATTACKS

National security secrecy that is intended to protect the nation
can instead become a threat to the nation when it is employed
mindlessly by U.S. intelligence agencies.

That is one of the findings that emerged from the congressional
Joint Inquiry's continuing dissection of the events leading up
to September 11.

"Poor information systems and the high level of classification
prevented FBI field officers from using NSA and CIA data" needed
for counterterrorism, the Joint Inquiry staff found.

See staff director Eleanor Hill's October 8 statement on "The
Intelligence Community's Response to Past Terrorist Attacks
Against the United States from February 1993 to September 2001"
here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_hr/100802hill.html


FISA MISTAKES DESCRIBED

In numerous cases in recent years, FBI agents exceeded their
legal authority and conducted surveillance activities that were
unauthorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
(FISA), according to a newly released FBI memo.

The reported mistakes included the unauthorized videotaping of a
meeting, unauthorized searches, and other excesses.

"To minimize the possibility for [future] errors we instituted
new procedures that would help ensure both accuracy and
oversight," wrote FBI Deputy General Counsel M.E. Bowman to
Congressman William D. Delahunt, who requested the information.

Rep. Delahunt's June 14 inquiry is posted here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/del061402.pdf

Mr. Bowman's August 7 reply, with attached documentation, is
posted here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/ec.pdf

_______________________________________________
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

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_______________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web:    www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email:  saftergood@fas.org
voice:  (202) 454-4691



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