Seven F.B.I. Employees Fail Polygraph Tests For Security
WASHINGTON - About seven F.B.I. employees with access to highly classified information have been unable to pass polygraph examinations administered as part of the bureau's stepped-up security program after the arrest last year of a senior agent as a Russian spy, F.B.I. officials said today.
At a meeting with reporters at Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters, Robert S. Mueller III, the director, said that about 700 bureau employees had been given polygraph exams in the aftermath of the arrest of Robert P. Hanssen, who has pleaded guilty to spying for Moscow.
Mr. Mueller said, "We are heartened that less than 1 percent of the 700 raised issues that require further investigation."
Mr. Mueller and other bureau officials discussed expanded use of polygraphs and other measures adopted as a result of embarrassing security lapses found after the Hanssen case. Mr. Mueller spoke today before the release of a report by a commission that is expected to conclude that the lack of controls on employees made it much easier for Mr. Hanssen to pilfer secret bureau documents without being caught.
The yearlong review of security procedures was conducted by a commission led by William H. Webster, former director of central intelligence and the F.B.I. Mr. Webster will testify next week about his findings to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Every employee should recognize that in the wake of Hanssen, we have to emphasize security more than we have," Mr. Mueller said. "Anybody who looks at our organization realizes that security was not a priority. We've moved to address that."
In other steps to tighten security, the bureau has created a security division, limited the number of people who have access to classified material and tightened controls on employees who use classified computer systems.
In addition, Kenneth H. Senser, a C.I.A. officer who is in charge of the security overhaul at the F.B.I., said the bureau will expand its use of public records, like property sale documents, to check agents' financial disclosure reports. He said that the bureau is considering whether to use psychological profiles to uncover behavior that might lead to spying.
"Our goal is to deter those people, if they're thinking rationally," Mr. Senser said. "In some cases they don't. If we can't deter them, to try to minimize that time between when they make the decision to go bad and when they actually get detected, and along that way, minimize the damage that's done."
As for employees who were unable to pass polygraphs, Mr. Mueller said that the results did not automatically mean they were suspected of espionage. He said that a follow-up investigation could exonerate all of the employees. Other officials said polygraph tests may be extended to several thousand more employees.
Mr. Hanssen, an F.B.I. counterintelligence expert for 25 years, is awaiting sentencing next month.