It was just a matter of time before the Department of Agriculture or the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) started implementing, Hey, lets get people to snitch on their friends. The only thing they havent done here is reward it, said Kel McClanahan, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security law. Im waiting for the time when you turn in a friend and you get a $50 reward.
The Defense Department anti-leak strategy obtained by McClatchy spells out a zero-tolerance policy. Security managers, it says, must reprimand or revoke the security clearances a career-killing penalty of workers who commit a single severe infraction or multiple lesser breaches as an unavoidable negative personnel action.
Employees must turn themselves and others in for failing to report breaches. Penalize clearly identifiable failures to report security infractions and violations, including any lack of self-reporting, the strategic plan says.
The Obama administration already was pursuing an unprecedented number of leak prosecutions, and some in Congress long one of the most prolific spillers of secrets favor tightening restrictions on reporters access to federal agencies, making many U.S. officials reluctant to even disclose unclassified matters to the public.
The policy, which partly relies on behavior profiles, also could discourage creative thinking and fuel conformist group think of the kind that was blamed for the CIAs erroneous assessment that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction, a judgment that underpinned the 2003 U.S. invasion.
The real danger is that you get a bland common denominator working in the government, warned Ilana Greenstein, a former CIA case officer who says she quit the agency after being falsely accused of being a security risk. You dont get people speaking up when theres wrongdoing. You dont get people who look at things in a different way and who are willing to stand up for things. What you get are people who toe the party line, and thats really dangerous for national security.
Obama launched the Insider Threat Program in October 2011 after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and sent them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. It also followed the 2009 killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, an attack that federal authorities failed to prevent even though they were monitoring his emails to an al Qaida-linked Islamic cleric.
An internal review launched after Mannings leaks found wide disparities in the abilities of U.S. intelligence agencies to detect security risks and determined that all needed improved defenses.
Obamas executive order formalizes broad practices that the intelligence agencies have followed for years to detect security threats and extends them to agencies that arent involved in national security policy but can access classified networks. Across the government, new policies are being developed.
There are, however, signs of problems with the program. Even though it severely restricts the use of removable storage devices on classified networks, Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed the agencys telephone data collection operations, used a thumb drive to acquire the documents he leaked to two newspapers.