Sunday, June 23, 2013

James Jesus Angleton, check your voicemail

If Obama’s anti-leak “insider threat” program, in which government employees are urged to spy on their colleagues to find the next Edward Snowden, were confined to US intelligence agencies, well, I’d just pop some popcorn, put my feet up, and watch the awesome entertainment spectacle, Spy Agencies Succumb to Fear and Paranoia – Again!

But insider threats are evidently to be found throughout the entire government. I can only hope the next leak is the online tutorial “Treason 101” used by... wait for it... the Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

These programs are evidently aimed at turning panopticonical (that’s a word, right?) suspicions on government employees who are experiencing stress in their lives (good luck, Carrie Mathison), divorce, financial problems, etc. An anonymous Pentagon dude warns of the slippery slope: “If this is done correctly, an organization can get to a person who is having personal issues or problems that if not addressed by a variety of social means may lead that individual to violence, theft or espionage before it even gets to that point.” I don’t even want to think about what “variety of social means” the Pentagon might use (drone strikes: it’s always drone strikes).

Time will tell whether these programs will alert the government to employees with real insider threats: a conscience, a fear of overweening governmental power, an understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We’ve certainly done a good job of screening them out at the presidential level.

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