Holding the Government Accountable

Random Lie Detector Tests at CIA? Or Witch Hunt?

Nothing makes agency heads go apoplectic more than the leak of a secret memo telling employees they should not leak. The Bush Administration has issued quite a few of these memos in recent years.

Today, ABC News reports on CIA Director Porter Goss' January memo in which "he warned that any CIA officer deemed suspect by the agency's Office of Security and its Counter Intelligence Center (which handles internal affairs) could be subjected to an unscheduled lie detector test." According to ABC, the memo also "informs its recipients that the CIA has asked the Justice Department to prosecute any leakers within its ranks."

Ironically, Porter Goss was a leading advocate for passage of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998. He got much less than he wanted from the bill after other more politically-aligned members of Congress gutted it of any meaningful language. As a result, whistleblowers who report wrong doing internally, or to the Congress are committing career suicide. Especially CIA whistleblowers who cannot go to congressional intelligence committees without the CIA director giving him or her "direction on how to contact the intelligence committees in accordance with appropriate security practices." Problem with this is that the CIA director might not want Congress to look into the allegations of wrongdoing by the CIA whistleblower.

So, as the front pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times indicate, employees obviously feel safer leaking to the news media than pursuing official channels where they will be targeted for retaliation and even being fired.