OLC Says LBJ Memo Critical of Polygraph is Non-Binding

01.21.09 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The outgoing head of the Bush Administration Office of Legal Counsel took the time to issue an opinion (pdf) last week stating that a forty-year-old memorandum issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson limiting use of polygraph tests is not binding on executive branch agencies today.

The Johnson memorandum had stated that in order “to prevent unwarranted intrusions into the privacy of individuals[,]… use of the polygraph is prohibited” in the Executive Branch, with three “limited exceptions.”

But in a 12-page OLC opinion dated January 14, 2009, Steven G. Bradbury concluded that the Johnson memo was never formally issued, that it was contradicted by subsequent actions and that in any event it is not binding on executive branch agencies today.

The OLC memo was previously noted by polygraph critic George Maschke of Antipolygraph.org, who also posted a copy of the LBJ memo on polygraph testing.

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