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It Instructed Operators to Probe Into Personal Lives : Military Scraps Lie Test Training Manual

January 04, 1986|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department, under pressure from congressional investigators, has scrapped a training manual that instructed polygraph operators to assess the sexual preferences and union, religious and racial associations of persons seeking security clearances.

Trainees at the department's Polygraph Institute at Ft. McClellan, Ala., were told in the manual to be "meticulous" in determining whether their subjects were members of ethnic organizations, such as Polish-American clubs or Japanese community clubs, and to explore the degree of any black's participation in the NAACP.

Sample questions contained in the 60-page guide included: "Have you ever received sexual stimulation in a crowded area?" and "Have you ever been a party to an abortion?"

Congress, reacting to a series of spy scandals, has authorized the Defense Department to conduct polygraph tests over the next two years on 11,000 officials with access to sensitive classified documents. But the Pentagon was specifically directed to limit the tests to counterintelligence purposes.

The manual, drafted in February, 1984, at Ft. McClellan, was designed to "provide the student with a comprehensive summary of personnel screening procedures for future use in field situations," according to the introduction.

Last month, however, the Army, which runs the training center, declared the manual "no longer valid" and ordered it destroyed. Pentagon counterintelligence director John F. Donnelly, in a memorandum of Nov. 27, called the manual's contents "inappropriate and in direct violation of the letter, spirit and intent" of the polygraph program.

GAO Criticism Cited

Donnelly said that he was responding to the report of a General Accounting Office investigation, which had criticized the training center for exceeding the counterespionage purpose of the polygraph program.

House Government Operations Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Tex.), a critic of the polygraph program, said Thursday that the Pentagon's training operation displayed an "utterly unprofessional attitude" and urged Congress to reject a proposal that the Pentagon be given permanent authority to conduct such screenings.

Use of polygraph tests has been a recurring issue in the Reagan Administration. Last month, Secretary of State George P. Shultz threatened to resign if he was required to take such a test, after the President had ordered them for thousands of officials.

Defense officials, in their request for congressional authority to conduct polygraph tests, have pledged to restrict their screening to counterintelligence topics, not life style or personal matters.

But the manual, "Lesson Plan for Conduct of Personnel Screening Polygraph Examinations," instructed examiners to delve into the most intimate affairs of their subjects, to ask questions such as: "Are you divorced?" "Has any member of your family been an alcoholic?" "Have you ever owed a bar bill?" "Have you ever consulted a psychiatrist?" "Do you have foreign pen pals?" "Do you belong to a professional organization?" "Have you ever belonged to a lodge?"

"Such questioning does not fit the definition of counterintelligence questions offered by the department in selling its polygraph-screening program to Congress and does not comply with the authority Congress granted for a limited counterintelligence test program," Brooks said.

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