Most people have never heard of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), nor of its creepy slogan “Vigilance From Above.” That’s no accident: founded in 1960 to run spy satellites, the office mostly stays out of the public limelight, and its existence wasn’t even publicly acknowledged until 1973.
They are making headlines today, however, with the revelation from McClatchy newspapers that they have been illegally collecting large amounts of information about US citizens through unethical polygraph practices.
The agency runs polygraph sessions for people seeking security clearances, and documents the paper collected note that they were pressing people for information about unrelated personal issues, often carrying out multiple sessions asking personal questions. They reportedly offered rewards to polygraphers for extracting bizarre confessions about Americans’ personal sexual proclivities or thoughts on recreational drug use.
The NRO refused to comment directly on the allegations, saying only that they “legally collect information when people spontaneously confess” during a polygraph test.