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News Briefs

Energy Department Cuts Back On Lie-Detector Tests


The Energy Department said on Thursday in a surprise announcement that it was sharply cutting the number of lie-detector tests it will give to people who have access to nuclear secrets, particularly at the nation’s weapons laboratories.

Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle E. McSlarrow told a Senate hearing that the new policy was likely to reduce the number of people given polygraph tests from some 20,000 now to 4,500, mainly in sensitive arms and intelligence posts.

“No one,” he said, “has suggested that we abandon their use, or that we hire people and entrust them with national defense information with no prior checks or reviews whatsoever.”

But McSlarrow acknowledged that the department, which runs the nation’s nuclear weapons laboratories, had faced many criticisms of the polygraph technique in the last year and had come to agree with some of them. Thus, he said, officials proposed “substantial changes” in the tests’ routine use for trying to ferret out spies.

In 2001, Congress instructed the Department of Energy to adopt widespread polygraph screening in reaction to the case of Wen Ho Lee, the scientist at the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico who was suspected of being a spy but was freed from jail in September 2000 after admitting to a security violation.

That order raised an outcry from experts who ridiculed lie detector tests as pseudoscientific and a potential threat to national security.

U.S. Open Finally Resumes Play After Continuing Rain Delays


The U.S. Open match that began Monday in the high-profile court in Louis Armstrong Stadium did not end until Thursday at 5:28 p.m. in the much more modest confines of Court 10. After four days, three court changes, one injured chair umpire, too much rain and too little sleep, Francesca Schiavone of Italy dropped to her knees with delight and relief after Ai Sugiyama of Japan knocked her last shot wide in what had been expected to be routine fourth-round encounter.

Not that Schiavone would have much time to savor her 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-2 victory. Because of the rain that washed out all but four matches on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and because Open organizers remain determined to play the women’s final as scheduled Saturday night, Schiavone was asked to take only a few hours’ rest before playing her quarterfinal against Jennifer Capriati.

“I will be ready,” Schiavone said.

It would be advisable to be ready for anything at this Open, including the upset of second-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland. He lost in the Round of 16 on Thursday to 13th-seeded David Nalbandian of Argentina, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-3.