I applaud the fact that a U.S. grand jury is reportedly investigating whether U.S. Investigations Services, the U.S. government contractor that conducted the last security background check on National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, improperly rushed cases through without proper review. At the same time, however, I’m convinced the same grand jury should look beyond that scandal and into the findings contained in my recently-released second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO.
Based on an exhaustive four-year investigation of credibility assessment technologies used by federal government agencies since Sept. 11, 2001, I reached the conclusion that more attention needs to be paid to a much broader and systemic national security problem than those involving Snowden.
One issue ties to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.’s announcement in June 2012 that he would implement tough new measures aimed at stemming the spate of unauthorized disclosures of national security information that had dogged the 17-agency Intelligence Community during his watch. In short, those measured consisted of adding more questions during polygraph exams of existing and and prospective employees.
By reading my June 18 piece, Polygraph Exams Should Have Caught Edward Snowden, one can readily understand how Clapper’s tough new measures (i.e., additional questions on polygraph exams) have failed miserably.
A second issue relates how senior DoD officials have, on no fewer than three occasions since 2004, declared the polygraph the only approved credibility assessment technology for use by DoD personnel. Those declarations become critical when one considers conflicting statements made by military officials in recent months about polygraph technology’s performance.
Only two weeks after the release of THE CLAPPER MEMO, U.S. military officials made their first public mention since April 2008 of the polygraph’s portable cousin, a device known as the Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System. In a May 14 Facebook status update, PCASS was described by International Security Assistance Force officials as a “key component” against “insider threats.”
Sometime during the ten weeks that followed, however, the glowing Facebook status update disappeared from the ISAF Facebook page without explanation.
I suspect ISAF officials were told by their Pentagon colleagues to take it down in advance of DoD’s an upcoming release of the Secretary of Defense’s Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan. Those Pentagon officials knew that, beneath more than 1,000 words in that report to be released July 30, startling news would appear about a sharp spike in “Insider” attacks in Afghanistan:
There was a 120 percent increase in insider attacks from 2011 to 2012, rising from 22 to 48 incidents. Additionally, 29 percent (14) of the insider attacks in 2012 were executed by more than one person. Prior to 2012, only two attacks had been executed by more than one individual.
The issues highlighted above represent but a fraction of what I uncover in THE CLAPPER MEMO about a dangerous and deadly 40-year turf war between competing credibility assessment technologies.
Based on the number of high-profile endorsements the 268-page book has received to date, I’m convinced the book has struck an ominous chord worthy of more attention, and I look forward to your feedback about it.