Washington — The Pentagon is considering a significant increase in its use of lie detectors to stop information leaks, Monitor correspondent Brad Knickerbocker reports.
''The idea is not to nail people who ask embarrassing questions,'' said Pentagon spokesman Henry Catto, ''but to plug leaks of classified information.'' While refusing to be specific, Mr. Catto said Thursday there has been ''a hemorrhage'' of information ''to our opponents abroad,'' most of this coming through the news media.
Under a draft directive now being considered by the Office of Personnel Management, lie detectors would be used more frequently to screen employees for sensitive Pentagon jobs and investigate leaked information. Government officials have warned recently that the Soviet Union has made great use of American technology to improve its military capability.
Critics charge that individual civil liberties are threatened by increased use of polygraph tests, and that this could cause a ''chilling effect'' on whistle-blowers intending to expose Pentagon mismanagement or cost overruns.
Mr. Catto denied this, pointing to the administration's new program of hot lines designed to encourage whistle-blowers.
''You may call it intimidation or a chilling factor,'' the spokesman said. ''But I would say it's simply making people aware that there's a national security problem and that acts may have consequences.''