Pentagon: Treat as threats co-workers unhappy with U.S. policy

Federal workers are taught to consider colleagues who speak critically of foreign policy as potential threats

By Natasha Lennard
Published August 7, 2013 6:21PM (EDT)
  (Wikimedia/Deptartment of Defense)
(Wikimedia/Deptartment of Defense)

Today in prefigurative policing: The Pentagon has a program that teaches federal workers to view colleagues as potential "insider threats" if they are vocally critical of U.S. foreign policy. The program encourages government workers to keep Orwellian tabs on their co-workers and should be seen in the context of the Obama administration's relentless crackdown on leakers and whistle-blowers who shed light on the darker sides of U.S. government policy.

As Matt Sledge noted for HuffPo:

A security training test created by a Defense Department agency warns federal workers that they should consider the hypothetical Indian-American woman ["Hema"] a "high threat" because she frequently visits family abroad, has money troubles and "speaks openly of unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy."

That slide, from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), is a startling demonstration of the Obama administration's obsession with leakers and other "insider threats." One goal of its broader "Insider Threat" program is to stop the next Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden from spilling classified or sensitive information.

... Several million people across the federal government have taken the training since it was released, [Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damien] Pickart said, and there has been only one complaint. He added that the next version of the security awareness training, to be released in October, is being updated so that its insider-threat test focuses more on behavior, "not personal characteristics or beliefs."

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bradley Manning Defense Department Edward Snowden Federal Workers Pentagon Whistle-blowers