Q&A With FBI Director Mueller

As a result of polygraph testing, more than a thousand applications for employment at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been rejected or otherwise terminated in the last year alone, the FBI told Congress last month.  Polygraph testing has been the single largest reason for discontinuing an application, well ahead of administrative or medical issues, use or sale of illegal drugs, or other suitability or security issues. In Fiscal Year 2009, 339 special agent applicants were turned away on polygraph-related grounds, and 825 professional support applications were similarly discontinued.

These data were presented in responses to questions for the record (pdf) from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing (pdf) last March, and were transmitted to Congress on behalf of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on September 15, 2009.

Most of the congressional questions, on everything from Freedom of Information Act compliance to detainee interrogation, are focused and pointed.  Some of the answers are informative and occasionally even startling.

Each day between March 2008 and March 2009, Director Mueller told the Committee, “there were an average of more than 1,600 nominations for inclusion on the [Terrorist] watchlist,” as well as 4,800 proposed modifications of existing records, and 600 proposed removals.  “Each nomination for addition [to the watchlist] does not necessarily represent a new individual,” Mueller cautioned, “but may instead involve an alias or name variant for a previously watchlisted person.”

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