During a lengthy polygraph initial interview my examiner asked about the mental health episodes I’d put down on my SF-86. It was pretty routine questions that I expected from a security standpoint until she asked about my suicidal ideations. She asked me to explain what my ideations were in detail, something I’ve only ever been asked for from trained mental health practitioners. Is this normal, or even allowed?
If this were a counterintelligence-scope polygraph examination, then the questions about your mental health would have been inappropriate. However, in a full-scope or “lifestyle” polygraph examination, such questions are not off limits.
I just struggle to see the security purpose of making me describe my plan to kill myself to a non-medical person.
It’s relevant to Guideline I (Psychological Conditions) of the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines.
To be clear, I didn’t have an issue discussing the fact that I had ideations or the timing, frequency, treatment, or events surrounding the ideation. I have an issue with the fact that I was made to recall how I had planned to kill myself in a non medical environment. Every medical professionals I’ve shared that information with was very cautious and caring about asking for those details.
I also have a psychological evaluation already scheduled, isn’t that the correct venue for reviewing those details?
The polygraph operator’s job is to pump the subject for as much potentially disqualifying information as possible. And that’s what they do, using supposed anomalies on the polygraph charts as leverage to wring out admissions. I don’t disagree that it might be more appropriate for any such questions to be covered during the psychological evaluation, instead.
How’d the interview turn out overall?
We went over time and I’m waiting on my next polygraph. So I’d really like to know where the lines they can and can’t cross are so I can feel more empowered in my next poly.
According to Section III of the NSA/CSS Polygraph Regulation (at least as it stood in 1984):
Questions asked must have a special relevance to the
subject of the particular inquiry. The probing of a person’s thoughts or
beliefs, and questions about conduct which have no security implication, or are
not relevant to an investigation, are prohibited. Examples of subject areas
which will not be probed include religious beliefs and affiliations, beliefs
and opinions regarding racial matters, political beliefs and affiliations of a
non-subversive nature, and opinions regarding the constitutionality of
legislative policies. Except when used as an investigative aid in
counterintelligence and special personnel security investigations, relevant
questions asked during NSA/CSS polygraph examinations shall require the
approval of the Director, NSA/Chief, CSS or his designee. No material change to the
scope of polygraph examinations shall take place without approval of the
Director, NSA/Chief, CSS.