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WASHINGTON — Federal agents have launched a criminal investigation of instructors who claim they can teach job applicants how to pass lie detector tests as part of the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on security violators and leakers.
By attempting to prosecute the instructors, federal officials are adopting a controversial legal stance that sharing such information should be treated as a crime and isn’t protected under the First Amendment in some circumstances.
“Nothing like this has been done before,” John Schwartz, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official, said of the legal approach in a June speech to a professional polygraphers’ conference in Charlotte, N.C., that a McClatchy reporter attended. “Most certainly our nation’s security will be enhanced.”
“There are a lot of bad people out there. . . . This will help us remove some of those pests from society,” he added.
“When you identify insider threats and you eliminate insider threats, then that agency is more efficient and more effective,” Schwartz said.
The Obama administration’s Insider Threat Program is intended to deter what the government condemns as betrayals by “trusted insiders” such as Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed the agency’s secret communications data-collection programs. The administration launched the Insider Threat Program in 2011
George Maschke, a former Army Reserve intelligence officer who’s a translator and runs a website that’s critical of polygraph testing, said he also suspected he’d been targeted although he’d done nothing illegal.
"The criminalization of the imparting of information sets a pernicious precedent,” he said. “It is fundamentally wrong, and bad public policy, for the government to resort to entrapment to silence speech that it does not approve of."