Let’s All Be Spies!

by wjw on July 12, 2013

Sadly, it appears that Barack Obama is intent on spending the considerable political capital he won in the 2012 election on maintaing the total information state.

Oh well.  Personally I’d hoped for something better.

With so much attention being paid to Snowden’s revelations of NSA spying on, well, everybody— revelations that weren’t particularly revelatory to anyone who had been paying attention— virtually no attention has been paid to the administration’s Insider Threat Program, which proposes to turn all government employees into spies— spying on all other government employees.

The Obama administration is absolutely batshit insane about leaks to the press.  It must be a point of serious principle for Obama or one of his closest cronies, because they seem obsessive about it, and they’re using the Espionage Act of 1917, which is not exactly the most enlightened piece of legislation in the federal arsenal.  Leaking to the press is now equivalent to treason.

The administration’s obsession is the only thing that explains the Insider Threat Initiative, in which all government employees are now encouraged to examine their co-workers for signs of subversive behavior, and penalizes them if they fail to do so.

They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

“Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program . . . 

It’s reasonable, I suppose, that members of the military and the security services should be alert to dangers posed by untrustworthy colleagues.  But what vital classified information is held by the Department of Education, the Post Office, and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation that justifies setting their employees to spy on one another?

The program could make it easier for the government to stifle the flow of unclassified and potentially vital information to the public, while creating toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations of loyal Americans, according to these current and former officials and experts. Some non-intelligence agencies already are urging employees to watch their co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

So if you enter your newly-toxic work environment with anything other than a smile on your face and a spring in your step, you’re not merely suspect, you’re probably a traitor!

“It was just a matter of time before the Department of Agriculture or the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) started implementing, ‘Hey, let’s get people to snitch on their friends.’ The only thing they haven’t done here is reward it,” said Kel McClanahan, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security law. “I’m waiting for the time when you turn in a friend and you get a $50 reward.”

Naturally people will be turned in because of workplace tensions.  Supervisors will turn in subordinates they don’t like, and vice versa.  Innocent people will be turned in by well-meaning but mistaken co-workers, or by James Bond wannabes, or by co-workers who are simply crazy.  Let’s all be spies!  Won’t that be fun, boys and girls?

And one thing they don’t seem to realize is that if you turn in your co-workers for being depressed, or complaining about the job, or for getting a divorce— all divorced people are potential traitors!— some investigator is going to have to spend time and money investigating that allegation.  Time and money that, I dunno, might better be spent looking for actual spies and terrorists.

Though it’s not like we haven’t been down this road before.  As the video above will attest.

Matt July 12, 2013 at 4:49 am

Only if I get a 7-figure salary and a really good retirement plan.

Patricia Mathews July 13, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Is it still legal to own a copy of 1984?

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