Federal Employees Asked to Spy On Each Other To Catch Leakers

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Tue, Jul 9, 2013 - 10:13pm

From McClatchy:

Linchpin for Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven, isn’t likely to work, experts say

WASHINGTON — In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.

Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

The emphasis on individual lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors comes at a time when growing numbers of Americans must submit to extensive background checks, polygraph tests and security investigations to be hired or to keep government or federal contracting jobs. The U.S. government is one of the world’s largest employers, overseeing an ever-expanding ocean of information.

While the Insider Threat Program mandates that the nearly 5 million federal workers and contractors with clearances undergo training in recognizing suspicious behavior indicators, it allows individual departments and agencies to extend the requirement to their entire workforces, something the Army already has done.

The entire article can be read in full here (worth reading)

When we pay millions of Americans inside a gigantic bureaucratic machine to distrust and spy on one another, how different is this from the dystopia Orwell imagined?


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jgritter's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2011
Posts: 273
Boogey Man

How fasinating it is to watch the Federal Government continue to follow such a smooth, predictable and Orwellian trajectory.  I feel like a lttle kid watching " the big kids" having a water balloon fight in the yard next door.  Part of me hopes that the big red, white and blue balloon arcing across the summer sky hits the pretty girl in the white t-shirt full in the chest, revealing something interesting, but I think it far more likley that it's just going to land with a "plop" in the grass. 

It's been suggested that Edward Snowden is a plant, a spokesman for "The Man", sent out to make sure that we know that there is a Boogey Man in the closet.  After all, how is one supposed to intimidate a population with a super secret spying organization of no one knows about it?

When the Berlin Wall came down it was found that 90% of East Germans believed that the Stazi were keeping  files on them, the number turned out to be closer to 10%.  Just the threat of being dissappeared was more the enough to keep the vast majority of the population in line, while at the same time, the government was totally indifferant to most of them.

Interviews with informers after WWII revealed a similar pattern, apparently it wasn't all that easy to rat some one out the Gestopo.  Over worked and understaffed, the Gestopo wasn't all that interested in little fish.

So here I find myself, at the beginning of the Twenty-First century.  Ambling along with the herd, watching the storm clouds gather, listening to the distant rumble of intra-beltway machinations.  I am fully aware that if the storm breaks hard, that the herd may bolt and the my family and I are probibly not strong enough, or fast enough, to survive a stampead. We do, however, have some decent rain gear, sturdy shoes, and some extra sandwiches in our pockets. If we keep our heads up and catch a couple of lucky breaks, we may be able to weather the storm.  Maybe.


treemagnet's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 13 2011
Posts: 344
Sometimes I wonder

how may bulldozers I could 'outrun', and for how how long.  I know logically preps are the answer - but like I just posted regarding forced conscription, how do you outrun just that one - and they'll be more gov't 'bulldozers' roaming, looking, searching - whatever, as well.  Daunting for sure, I guess plan and prep.

nickbert's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 14 2009
Posts: 1208
Inform on your cube-mates, earn valuable prizes!

If it's anything like most other mandated training for various clearance jobs, it will be some computer-based or teleconference 2 hour course, or if you're 'lucky' you will have a live instructor going through powerpoint slides.  Ok, now you're all considered trained and fully qualified to be behavioral analysts!  Gee, what can go wrong?

The reality is that cleared workers already have an obligation to report security violations.  And by the nature of their activity, spies or people willing to sell secrets pretty much have to commit a security violation at some point to carry out whatever they're doing.  And for the most part cleared workers are pretty diligent when it comes to handling sensitive material and reporting any mishandling they observe.  The few that are too flippant about such things aren't going to see the light and change their ways because of this new policy and a 2 hour training slideshow.  Best case, this becomes largely ignored by most as merely the latest in the series of 'important new policies' handed down from on high, that do little more than linger in the background like a bad fart and create some new paper-pusher positions.  Worst case, it may encourage a culture of fear, resentment, and even a little paranoia.  Sadly, government work has no shortage of officious twits who might see this as a means to settle scores or as a way to be 'important' by reporting everything they themselves see as slightly suspicous (in the hopes of getting lucky and earning some brownie points).  And over a long enough time, I see this creating increasing resentment and driving people of conscience and character away from government/military/contractor work, leaving a vacuum to be filled by either unquestioning sheep or sociopaths who relish using authority as a weapon or tool for personal gain.  In other words, it'll turn into TSA on a grander scale.

Let the witch hunt begin!

- Nickbert

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