TS Clearance and Lifestyle Polygraph test

Seems like it might mean:
TS Clearance: Criminal history/activity and political affiliations.
Lifestyle Polygraph: sexual preferences and drug use.

Anybody been through this?

What do they ask?

I am not facing such a test but I am looking for a job and it seems that lots of employers require this type of review.


I haven’t had either poly (counter-intel or lifestyle). While the first is a breeze, I’ve heard the lifestyle is tough. I’ve talked with some people that have been through it, and my comment was “Big deal. I’ve got nothing to hide.” Their response was “You haven’t been through it yet.” Apparently they ask some tough questions. I know a guy who got his career cut short because of a problem with his poly.

One guy (an old, salty vet) had some good advice, though, in the event you wind up having to get one. These things can be pretty interpretive sometimes, so a good administrator is important. When he goes in for a poly, he gives the administrator a few questions (e.g., Is your favorite color blue?) to ask him once he’s hooked up. The idea is to get the admin to tell you if you’re lying or telling the truth. If they won’t ask the question, he demands another admin guy. The last thing you want is some idiot giving you the test.

Top Secret clearance, btw, is indeed a check of your criminal background, as well as a general background check of your life. Your places of residence, employers, friends, family, spouse(s), kids, credit/debts are all looked into for a certain number of years prior. They’ll actually interview a few folks and chat about you, and if there’re any red flags (like your SO is Chinese or your credit is bad), they’ll start doing some major digging. The process can take up to a year for someone who’s clean–they have a huge backlog.

Plus, it costs thousands of dollars. Fortunately, if you need one, your employer’ll pay for it. I don’t think you’ll be able to get one without an endorsing agency.

If the answer is “none of your goddamn business”, the question is on the lifestyle poly. That’s what a vet told me. I will have none of it. I lead a clean life, but I’ll be damned if anybody will ever strap me to a machine and ask me that shit. Fuck them. Besides, I think that you’re more liable to be a flake if you haven’t ever “explored the dark side”, so to speak.

One assumes you are apply for a job in the government, or selected specialty fields?

Otherwise …

Source: http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/ency/article.cfm/objectID/8671B547-F9BD-4405-964D7DD2F5573019/catID/A353C662-F63B-4FB9-8CCC3B667D1711AE

Also see: http://www.dol.gov/asp/programs/handbook/eppa.htm

it all sounds like 4th Amendment violations to me - even drug tests

it all sounds like 4th Amendment violations to me - even drug tests

Well, I totally disagree with you there. There’s nothing unreasonable about thorough security checks when it comes to TS and beyond information. We’ve learned the hard way what weaknesses are exploited by foreign espionage agencies. I’m sure these questions are designed to expose any such weaknesses.

And please don’t tell me you think drug tests shouldn’t be allowed for people who hold these clearances?

Blown & Injected, you’re quite mistaken if you believe that a voluntary polygraph test, or a drug test, as part of a job interview is a Fourth Amendment violation.

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. In no event is a voluntary questioning session a search or a seizure. The polygraph test, if it were a constitutional violation, might violate the Fifth Amendment’s protections against involuntary self-incrimination… but they don’t. You have no particular right to a security clearance, so your participation in the polygraph is voluntary, and the Fifth Amendment is not implicated.

As to drug tests, the same logic applies. While an involuntary drug test might well implicate the Fourth Amendment, the voluntary test you undergo in exchange for being considered for a job does not trigger the protections of the Fourth Amendment.

So while they may “sound like” Fourth Amendment violations to you, they are not.

  • Rick

When I had mine, the questions were things like “are you the type of person that would lie?” So I answered “yes”. Freaked the guy out at first. He wanted more details, so I told him that people lie all the time…that as a computer repair person, if I went to a senior officers desk to fix something, that I couldn’t just tell him it wasn’t working because he was an idiot, I had to make something up that was plausible, i.e. lie. He then said that those weren’t the types of things they were looking for. In my opinion, unless you’re doing something either wrong, or that you’ve lied about on your application, they’re not going to care. Lying? Taking pens home from work, or the occasional stack of paper? Not a big deal. Don’t sweat it. Or if you are nervouse, play that up to yourself, it will throw the readings off enough to give you an edge.

>>Blown & Injected, you’re quite mistaken if you believe that a voluntary polygraph test, or a drug test, as part of a job interview is a Fourth Amendment violation.

Who said anything about VOLUNTARY? I said it seems that lots of employers require this type of review. Also seems, from the links posted here, that the requirement is illegal.

>>The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. In no event is a voluntary questioning session a search or a seizure. The polygraph test, if it were a constitutional violation, might violate the Fifth Amendment’s

Copy that on the 5th. I however believe that the requirement of using some sensitive electrical equipment to probe me, and the taking of bodily fluids is an unreasonable search and seizure.

>>And please don’t tell me you think drug tests shouldn’t be allowed for people who hold these clearances?

I believe that such a test may be asked for if somebody is screwing up. An idiot free work place is certainly better than a drug free work place

It is easy to to keep giving up more and more rights. Each generation grows up thinking that this is the way it should be because it has always been that way, and that we are only giving up a LITTLE bit (more) for what may seem like a reasonable reason in light of some recent event - chip chip chipin’ away.

I believe it was damn foolish for the security badges to be changed at some secret facility because the people with the lower level security badges which looked different felt inferior. I know that correlation does not equal causation, but it seems like the secrets started flying out of that facility after that change.

I understand the need to be cautious of those we trust with sensitive stuff, but it makes me feel cheap to know I would submit if a serious offer were made for employment.

BTW are drug tests part of the TS checks?

I have been curious about this. A recently had a brush with the concept of lie detectors.

I was asked by my employer if perhaps I’d consider taking the test. Purely a voluntary thing—it is a complicated situation, and I won’t go into it here. My employers didn’t ask me because they thought I did anything wrong, (they were assuming I’d pass) and it was kind of like an idea they were throwing around, and they thought I might go for it.

At first I said, sure—what do I have to hide? But then I talked to some other people who had gone through a lie detector test, including the union guy. They all were quite discouraging about it. The union guy flipped and said his policy across the board was to tell all union members to refuse to take a lie detector. I also talked to a policeman friend of mine, and he said, “Lie detectors are like voodoo—they affect the people who believe in them.” There is some truth in that, I think. My policeman friend said that he didn’t recommend me taking the test. I’m so emotional, I might get a “false negative” (looking like I’m lying when I’m telling the truth) and why would I want to put myself through that? For something that was basically a whim on the part of my employers? Yikes!

I refused to do the test. I know that my employers figure that the union guy scared me out of doing it, and they are right. I don’t like the idea of a bunch of nosy questions being asked of me. Even though I have a pretty squeaky-clean life, it’s my life, and I don’t like the idea of them invading my privacy like that.

Another thing the union guy told me—they get you strapped down and they can ask you all sorts of probing questions. Wear you down, asking the same thing, over and over again, until you get all stressed out. That’s what he said happened previously, (which is why he now advises everyone to refuse to take the test). Supposedly you are entitled to review the questions they ask you beforehand, but what if they throw in a few extra questions at the last minute? What are you going to do? Walk away? It will just look so bad. The whole thing gives me the heebie-jeebies, the more I think of it.

My policeman friend is right. Lie detectors are kind of like voodoo.


Me too. I do not have anything to hide either. The “bad things” I’ve been involved with are things that most college students and some Presidents have done :slight_smile: no big deal.

It would be kinda fun to play with one the the machines, but not to have opinions drawn from the test by somebody that does not know me.

Besides, what would happen if one thinks to much about the questions? Do they want the best answer or the most obvious answer, like the would you lie? mentioned in one of the replies above.


I’m going through mine right now for EOD school. AFAIK, they ask the same sort of questions they do for a SECRET. I’ve only filled out the questionaire, but if you wanna know details you’ll just have to e-mail me. . .

I didn’t think civilian employers could ask such questions. Strange. . .

EOD! I’m still all sorts of excited!!

Remember that a polygraph isn’t a “lie detector;” it’s actually a “stress detector.” So, if you get flustered if someone asks you about stealing things, not because you’re a thief, but just because the question itself upsets you, you’re going to be labeled “deceptive.” Ironically, a true pathological liar, someone who can lie about things without feeling the least bit guilty about doing so, can pass a polygraph test with flying colors.

If asked to take a polygraph, say no, and point out that there’s a damn good reason that polygraph results are not allowed as evidence in court - they’re utterly unreliable.

They can be tough to pass, even if you are squeaky-clean. A friend of mine, who had done some co-op electrical engineering work for Martin Marietta and then went on to the DOD proper, was cleared and eventually worked for one agency (we later learned it was the one located at Fort Meade) but didn’t make it through the CIA’s polygraph. The questions he failed were regarding whether he had ever (1) done illegal drugs (2) committed a “crime against another person.”

He was a serious nerd, and had never done drugs (I spent all of high school and college with him, and we had a small group of friends), though he was very candid with them about his sometimes considerable alcohol consumption and even about inhaling nitrous oxide at parties. But he had never done pot, cocaine, heroin, speed, acid, etc. etc. Quite harmless.

Likewise, he had never even gotten into a fight in his whole life, much less committed a “crime against another person,” which they explained to him meant violent crime like murder, assault, rape, etc.

They even let him try those questions again, but he never did “pass” them.

All I can say is, if he DID in fact do those things, and I don’t know about it, then he would be the best damned secret agent ever and they should’v hired him.

This is exactly why I am so glad I refused to take the test. And this is exactly why my policeman friend advised me against submitting to it.

I get so upset and flustered, I feel guilty for things I never did, and would never do. I could just see myself being considered “deceptive” if they asked me if I killed JFK. And I do wonder—what is the point of having these tests, if the very emotional possibly might not pass, but the pathalogical liar probably will pass?

Another thing—a lot of people don’t think these tests are very reliable. We here on this thread don’t think these tests are reliable. Hell, Gary Condit (apparently) passed one of these tests, and I personally don’t think it 100% absolves him (but that’s a topic for another thread…). So, if you take the test and pass it, other people can still say, “Well, what does that prove, anyway? Look at Gary Condit.” And if you don’t pass the test, people will say, “Oh my! She didn’t pass the test! That means she’s guilty!”

So what exactly is the damn point, anyway? To make it a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of thing?

The more I think of it, the more I think that polygraphs can be pretty useless a lot of the time.

Does there remain a General Question here?