Shorter Obama: “All leakers are traitors”

I’m post-processing an excellent trip to the Netroots Nation conference this past week, so writing will be slow for a bit, but I wanted to share this about Edward Snowden and the larger Obama war on leaks. The headline says it all —

Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S.

Shorter Obama: “All leakers are traitors.” Read the story for the proof of my translation.

But there’s so much more here as well. Government employees are being required to watch their co-workers for signs of stress, unhappiness, job-dissatisfaction, or even post-divorce depression — and snitch. Those who don’t snitch are subject to discipline themselves. Amazing the power the man — in this case, the man is Obama — arrogates to himself. If he were just a neighbor, I’d call this a power trip.

This is a McClatchy story and it’s making the rounds. I encourage all of you (if the subject interests you) to read it all. There’s no fluff, and I can’t quote more than a chunk or two.

Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay report (my emphasis and paragraphing):

Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

A representative from the U.S. State Department congratulates and offers a partial payment to an informant, whose information led to the neutralization of a terrorist in the Philippines.

A representative from the U.S. State Department congratulates and offers a partial payment to an informant, whose information led to the neutralization of a terrorist in the Philippines (source).

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

“Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy. The Obama administration is expected to hasten the program’s implementation as the government grapples with the fallout from the leaks of top secret documents by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed the agency’s secret telephone data collection program.

See what I mean? This is nothing less than a “snitch program” of monstrous proportions. The article correctly identifies the real “Insider Threat” as the treat to reputation, not the threat to security.

Eavesdropping, by Shutterstock

Eavesdropping, by Shutterstock

So that’s your first take-away. Then there’s this, from Obama’s mouth:

“Leaks related to national security can put people at risk,” Obama said on May 16 in defending criminal investigations into leaks. “… So I make no apologies, and I don’t think the American people would expect me as commander in chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed.”

Given that this is the Agriculture Department he’s talking about, not just the Barack Obama Drone-Kill List (and storm door company), I’m struck by that whole wrapping himself in “commander-in-chief” thing. Is there something about this stuff he personally enjoys?

I keep showing this clip for a reason. I think he’s totally sincere, and it totally creeps me out. I mean that.

Anyway, please do read the McClatchy piece all the way through. Look for phrases like “toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations.” The government is upping its game, by an order of magnitude.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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