Senators Rockefeller and Durbin May Take Polygraph Tests
by Jim Kouri, CPP
The United States government and its intelligence community are adopting a series of initiatives to discourage government employees from leaking classified information to journalists, The Washington Post reported in its Sunday edition.
The efforts include several FBI probes, a polygraph investigation inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws, the Post said.
During the Bush Administration, a nexus of politicians, government workers and members of the news media have worked overtime in leaking classified information. From the secret terrorist prisons to the National Security Agency's super-secret surveillance program, intelligence officials and the Bush Administration have had to watch their counterterrorism efforts neutralized for political reasons.
Special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently interviewed dozens of employees at the CIA, the NSA and other intelligence agencies as part of an intense and wide-reaching investigation. Many employees who possess security clearances at the CIA, FBI, the Justice Department and other agencies received letters from the Justice Department forbidding them from discussing even unclassified intelligence programs.
But people such as former deputy-undersecretary of Defense Jed Babbin don't think the Justice Department investigators and prosecutors have the guts to indict a US senator. Babbin said it would cause a battle royal on the Hill, if not a constitutional crisis.
He did say however, that any senator or Congressional staffer that holds a security clearance can be asked at any time to take a polygraph. The individual can of course refuse to take the test, but failure to do so is reason to remove that person's security clearance. Babbin further said that Senators Rockefeller, Durbin, and Wyden, and some on their staffs will soon be requested to take polygraphs.
Even FBI field offices are involved in the leaks investigation. For example, special agents from Los Angeles have already contacted Sacramento Bee reporters about their coverage of a terrorism case that was based on classified court documents. In that case, some suspect that court personnel might have leaked the documents to reporters with whom they may have congenial relations.
At CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, their internal security office has been conducting numerous interviews and performing many polygraph examinations of government employees in an effort to discover whether any of them have had unauthorized contacts with reporters, the Post said.
Some media watchers, lawyers and editors told the Post the incidents perhaps represent the most extensive anti-leak campaign in a generation and that they have worsened the already tense relations between mainstream news organizations and the White House.
But it's not only the Bush Administration that is frustrated with all the leaks and news stories. Recently Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA) said straight out that the New York Times, which ran a frontpage story on the top secret NSA spy program, should be prosecuted for their actions.
Some news stories have pointed fingers at Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as a possible leaker. Others cited sources that pointed to senate staffers. Still others believe that liberal politicians in both parties are secretly leaking information to the news media for political reasons.
The debate over how much classified information the White House should share with lawmakers flared up when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) defended himself against charges he leaked sensitive information.
Durbin actually took to the Senate floor to deny accusations that he disclosed classified information on Iraq after CIA Director George Tenet briefed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2003, which led many observers to say, "He doth protesteth too much."
But don't expect too much to come from these leak investigations. When the leakers are Democrats, they are called whistleblowers; when they're Republicans they're called leakers. Also, no senator has been disciplined for leaking since 1987, when Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was forced to give up his seat on the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee. It was discovered he leaked classified information to reporters. Now he's on the Senate Judiciary Committee which is currently investigating top secret information regarding the NSA surveillance activities.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.