Obama Anti-Whistleblower Program Requires Federal Employees to Report Suspicions of other Employees or Risk Punishment

Thursday, June 27, 2013
(film by Robert Greenwald)

Federal workers are now expected to report any suspicions they have about coworkers regarding government secrets and other concerns—or risk being punished for remaining silent.


Under the Insider Threat Program, the Obama administration wants employees at all kinds of agencies—from intelligence operations to the Peace Corps—to inform supervisors about “insider” threats posed by other employees.


“It was just a matter of time before the Department of Agriculture or the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) started implementing, ‘Hey, let’s get people to snitch on their friends.’ The only thing they haven’t done here is reward it,” Kel McClanahan, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security law, told McClatchy News. “I’m waiting for the time when you turn in a friend and you get a $50 reward.”


At the Department of Defense, workers were told to “hammer this fact home…leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” according to a June 2012 Pentagon document obtained by McClatchy.


The zero-tolerance policy demands that employees turn themselves and others in for failing to report observed security breaches. Any person who does otherwise must be reprimanded or have his security clearance revoked by his manager.


Concerned national security experts and some government officials believe that “the program could make it easier for the government to stifle the flow of unclassified and potentially vital information to the public, while creating toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations of loyal Americans,” Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay wrote for McClatchy.


Ilana Greenstein, a former CIA case officer who quit the agency after being falsely labeled a security risk, told McClatchy that “the real danger is that you get a bland common denominator working in the government. You don’t get people speaking up when there’s wrongdoing. You don’t 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 that’s really dangerous for national security.”


Although the program was launched before the Eric Snowden controversy involving the National Security Agency, the fallout from that saga may cause the Obama administration to speed up the implementation of Insider Threat.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Obama’s Crackdown Views Leaks as Aiding Enemies of U.S. (by Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy)

Questions and Answers from the Government on the 'Insider Threat Program (McClatchy)

Obama Threat to Whistleblower Protections Triggers Alarm in Congress (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Whistleblowers Versus Obama’s Secret Government (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Releases Memo Allowing Firing of Employees without Appeal (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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