from the do-you-consent-to-the-use-of-sodium-pentothal? dept
The Trump Administration is so frustrated by constant leaks, it’s willing to try anything to stop them. Apparently, this may one day involve questionable tech with an extremely-spotty track record. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has an idea — a bad one — to address the ongoing White House leakstravaganza.
Sessions’ idea is to do a one-time, one-issue, polygraph test of everyone on the NSC staff. Interrogators would sit down with every single NSC staffer (there’s more than 100 of them), and ask them, individually, what they know about the leaks of transcripts of the president’s phone calls with foreign leaders. Sessions suspects those leaks came from within the NSC, and thinks that a polygraph test — at the very least — would scare them out of leaking again.
Sessions’ spitball may never come to fruition but it does indicate the White House is still no closer to uncovering the source(s) of these leaks. This also indicates the AG is willing to alienate NSC staffers with mandatory tests predicated on nothing more than Sessions’ belief the leaks came from within the NSC.
On top of that, there’s the dubious deterrent effect of deploying machinery whose results should be taken with a shaker of salt. The machines can be beat. Research and “How To” literature bear this out, although the federal government does what it can to prevent the spread of the latter. False positives are a problem as well. Ringing up staffers for leaking just because a machine said yes isn’t going to stop the leaks or put investigators any closer to catching the real culprit(s).
But this is the way things go when the federal government is in charge. It relies heavily on polygraph tests when vetting applicants for agencies like the Customs and Border Protection. And it continues to deploy these tests even when applicants have admitted to activities or relationships that would disqualify them from federal employment.
Chances are Sessions’ polygraph idea will likely remain just an idea. It could be the multiple discussions Sessions is engaging in are all part of his leak deterrence plan — to have the threat of mandatory lie detector tests hovering in midair for the rest of tenure. Even so, it’s a desperation move that shows the White House can’t contain the leaks, much less hope to stop them. Suggestions like the one made by Sessions are just going to turn more staffers against the administration, which means more leaks, rather than less, over the course of this administration’s lifetime.