The federal government’s spy-satellite agency failed to alert authorities after some of its employees and contractors admitted during polygraph tests to crimes including child molestation and lying on security-clearance questionnaires, according to a watchdog.

The intelligence community’s inspector general released two reports on Tuesday saying the National Reconnaissance Office did not refer some of the cases because of confusion about reporting expectations and requirements.

(Photo: Flickr/SpiralStares.)

According to one of the reports, an Air Force lieutenant colonel admitted during a 2010 lie-detector test to touching a child in a sexual way and downloading child pornography on his work computer. The NRO only reported that case to the Air Force division that oversees security clearances instead of the Justice Department or the Air Force’s special-investigations office, the inspector general said.

The NRO is not legally required to report certain state crimes such as child molestation, but neither the law nor intelligence-community policy prevents the agency from doing so, particularly in cases of “imminent danger,” according to the report.

Thirty individuals who took NRO lie-detector tests from 2009 through 2012 admitted to child abuse or using child pornography, according to the report. The NRO failed to report three of those cases, but it suspended accesses to classified information for those individuals, preventing them from working within the intelligence community, the inspector general said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who requested the review after a McClatchy news investigation raised concerns about the matter in 2012, said the NRO showed a “complete lack of common sense in failing to require reporting of serious state crimes of this sort.”

The inspector general noted that the NRO began to change its reporting policies and practices after the 2012 McClatchy report, saying the agency “strengthened internal and external coordination and facilitated identification, referral and reporting of potential crimes.” The NRO also concurred with 13 recommendations to help eliminate the potential for future confusion about how to handle admissions of crime.

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