The United States federal government is heavily invested in an internal surveillance program that is unsustainable, ineffective, morally remiss, naturally harmful and eventually counterproductive.
In the months following the US government s initial charges against me over the release of government records in 2010, the current administration formed the National Insider Threat Task Force under the authority of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several other US federal government agencies.
The objective of this taskforce is breathtakingly broad. It targets at deterring risks to nationwide security by anyone who misuses or betrays, wittingly or unsuspectingly, his or her authorized access to any United States Government resource. The approaches it outlines amount to thousands of government personnel being efficiently under overall monitoring.
As articulated by James Detert and Ethan Burris in a current Harvard Business Review short article, such training and security programs significantly diminish productive and innovative capabilities within organizations. When your employer is the United States federal government, that fear of monitoring, public embarrassment, warrants, arrest, trial, expensive legal costs and imprisonment is orders of magnitude higher.
Flaws in the program intensify these issues. There is a dependence on confidential feedback which can create endless witch-hunts, basic invitations to report or submit grievances through so-called open door policies, and vagueness about exactly what feedback is anticipated. According to Deter and Burris, the program creates an ideal storm of conditions against innovation, imagination and whistleblowing.
The implementation of the Insider Threat program has actually shown predictably uncomfortable outcomes. An ODNI webinar, entitled Simple Steps and Guidance to Secure Classified Networks, describes extreme surveillance protocols and intrusive secret investigations by the United States federal government and military into their own authorities. In its early phases, it has actually ended up being clear that this program conflates any attempt to seek redress, transparency or the promo of legitimate public interests with serious dangers to nationwide security.
The program will have concrete results on the lives of lots of authorities. For example, over the period of several years, a former senior government authority, Thomas Drake, repeatedly tried through lots of main and internal channels consisting of inspectors basic and the United States congressional intelligence committees to trigger scrutiny of some doubtful NSA programs. After getting nowhere, he finally interacted his unclassified issues to a press reporter. Drake was then examined for nearly half a year, and accused of offenses under the broadly interpreted Espionage Act of 1917. In 2011 he pled guilty to a federal misdemeanor after accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal defense charges.
However, the Insider Threat program wasn’t finished with Drake, nor others like him. Late in 2014, the ODNI released internal training material that defined Drake, and other government officials, as threats similar to the Fort Hood and Navy Yard mass shooters. When this revelation was made public, a letter from 22 civil liberties and press flexibility companies decried the federal government s wanton misuse of the term threat and their failure to understand the distinction in between a whistleblower and a real risk.
As evidenced by a slideshow gotten in February 2016 through a Foia demand, internal training material based upon my own psychological profile and history using male pronouns and my old name, in spite of it being legitimately altered in April 2014 has been widely published and presented. The program alleges that I am irritated based upon my viewed sexual orientation and gender identity, questioning my self-image as a man while acknowledging that he [sic] wished to be a freely accepted female. It explains me as a supporter for homosexuals openly serving in the military, and my concern and advocacy of queer and trans rights as being expressed obsessively.
The broad sweep of the program means officials have been provided a blank check for surveillance. Agencies carrying out the Insider Threat program might examine anybody who has intentions of greed, financial difficulties, is disgruntled, has an ideology a divided loyalty, an ego or self-image, or any family/personal concerns the words utilized to explain my intentions. Such subjective labelling could easily be used to essentially each individual presently holding a security clearance.
This absence of focus has actually currently led to the program ending up being industrialized. In an April 2015 report to the US House armed services committee, the US Department of Defense exposed the existence of continuing examination of 100,000 personnel on and off the job.
The Insider Threat program works versus innovation, imagination and the avoidance of institutional corruption. Perhaps this is the genuine intent of the intelligence neighborhood and the Insider Threat Task Force to instill worry and project dominance throughout the intelligence community, the military, and amongst civil servant and contractors at big.
Perhaps a better approach for the federal government would be to create a Transparency and Accountability Task Force, comprising various federal government agencies and departments, the inspector’s general, the National Archives and Office of Government Information Services, and a committee or other body that can work straight with present and former civil servant, service members, veterans and reporters.
Such a taskforce might concentrate on advocating for and protecting staff members who have concerns. It would assist to send a message to employees, military service members, contractors and department and company heads that even if the authority’s channels fail, those who raise issues will still be protected, listened to and given the possibility to speak out in a meaningful forum. It would encourage dissent. It would allow dirty laundry, drama and corruption to be aired out rather than allowed to fester.
We could all people, the government and its workers benefit from that.