If you don’t think America is going the path of Nazi Germany, you might rethink that position after reading this. Obama has ordered “federal employees to report suspicious acts of their colleagues based on behavior profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.” These techniques are the key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, which was mandated by Obama in an executive order in October 2011 after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning released documents from a classified computer network to WikiLeaks.
According to the report by McClatchy:
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. 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.
“In past espionage cases, we find people saw things that may have helped identify a spy, but never reported it,” said Gene Barlow, a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, which oversees government efforts to detect threats like spies and computer hackers and is helping implement the Insider Threat Program. “That is why the awareness effort of the program is to teach people not only what types of activity to report, but how to report it and why it is so important to report it.”
But even the government’s top scientific advisers have questioned these techniques. Those experts say that trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations.
There is no consensus in the relevant scientific community nor on the committee regarding whether any behavioral surveillance or physiological monitoring techniques are ready for use at all,” concluded a 2008 National Research Council report on detecting terrorists.
The United States government is one of the world’s largest employers. The Insider Threat Program mandates that 5 million federal employees and contractors, with clearances, receive training to recognize suspicious behavior indicators. Individual departments and agencies are allowed to extend this training to their entire workforce, something the Army has already done. One of the documents obtained by McClatchy indicates training should “address current and potential threats in the work and personal environments and focus on the importance of detecting potential insider threats by cleared employees and reporting suspected activity to insider threat personnel and other designated officials.”
McClatchy reported the White House, the Justice Department, the Peace Corps, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Education refused to answer questions concerning the program but did issue virtually identical email responses directing inquiries to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment or didn’t respond.
The McClatchy report continues with a response from National Security Council:
The initiative goes beyond classified information leaks. It includes as insider threats “damage to the United States through espionage, terrorism, unauthorized disclosure of national security information or through the loss or degradation of departmental resources or capabilities,” according to a document setting “Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs.”
McClatchy obtained a copy of the document, which was produced by an Insider Threat Task Force that was set up under Obama’s order and is headed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder. McClatchy also obtained the group’s final policy guidance. The White House, the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined requests for both documents, neither of which is classified.
Although agencies and departments are still setting up their programs, some employees already are being urged to watch co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.
When asked about the ineffectiveness of behavior profiling, Barlow said the policy “does not mandate” that employees report behavior indicators.
“It simply educates employees about basic activities or behavior that might suggest a person is up to improper activity,” he said.
“These do not require special talents. If you see someone reading classified documents they should not be reading, especially if this happens multiple times and the person appears nervous that you saw him, that is activity that is suspicious and should be reported,” Barlow said. “The insider threat team then looks at the surrounding facts and draws the conclusions about the activity.”
Departments and agencies, however, are given leeway to go beyond the White House’s basic requirements, prompting the Defense Department in its strategy to mandate that workers with clearances “must recognize the potential harm caused by unauthorized disclosures and be aware of the penalties they could face.” It equates unauthorized disclosures of classified information to “aiding the enemies of the United States.”
Randy Trzeciak, acting manager of the Computer Emergency Response Team Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute said, “We’ve come up with patterns that we believe organizations might be able to consider when determining when someone might be progressing down the path to harm the organization.”
This program remains unproven, relies on profiling and could result in employees being more resistant to reporting violation and spark spurious allegations.
Obama is certainly doing his job well in dividing the population into factions to be in opposition of one another.
Over the last several decades, tens of millions of dollars have been spent by the Pentagon, US Intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security on research projects but have been unsuccessful in identifying a list of behaviors to identify a tiny fraction of workers who may violate national security laws.
The Army’s stance boils down to “When in doubt, report,” according to Larry Gillis, a senior Army counterintelligence and security official. The official Army response to McClatchy indicated the Army implemented a tough program a year before Maj. Nidal Hassan allegedly killed 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas.
Continuing, McClatchy reports:
“Anyone is an amateur looking at behavior here,” said Thomas Fingar, a former State Department intelligence chief who chaired the National Intelligence Council, which prepares top-secret intelligence analyses for the president, from 2005 to 2008.
Co-workers, Fingar said, should “be attentive” to colleagues’ personal problems in order to refer them to counseling, not to report them as potential security violators. “It’s simply because they are colleagues, fellow human beings,” he said.
Eric Feldman, a former inspector general of the National Reconnaissance Office, the super-secret agency that oversees U.S. spy satellites, expressed concern that relying on workers to report colleagues’ suspicious behaviors to security officials could create “a repressive kind of culture.”
“The answer to it is not to have a Stasi-like response,” said Feldman, referring to the feared secret police of communist East Germany. “You’ve removed that firewall between employees seeking help and the threat that any employee who seeks help could be immediately retaliated against by this insider threat office.”
The limited implementation of this Insider Threat Program did not stop Maj. Nidal Hasan, the US born Muslim who turned his gun on his Army comrades. Edward Snowden was able to obtain classified documents that implicated the Obama Administration in a massive spying operation against American citizens. From appearances, the Obama administration is looking to close the door on anyone who could potentially disclose “damaging” information about the actions of his administration more than trying to uncover individuals who would engage in espionage. This program might be beneficial if it could be used inside the White House to provide transparency to an administration that has closed the curtains and turned off the lights to the public and Congress. So, who is going to be watching Obama, Biden and all those other workers in the White House? Oh, wait, they are probably exempt along with all the heads of those executive branch departments.Don't forget to Like Freedom Outpost on Facebook and Twitter, and follow our friends at RepublicanLegion.com.
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