If you think you had a bad day at work recently, how much worse would that day have seemed if your boss ordered you to take a lie detector test? Among many questions, the Obama Administration wants to know "What metrics do you use to measure "trustworthiness" without alienating employees?" Agencies that handle classified information have until Jan. 28 to report how they manage and protect national security information in hopes of preventing disgruntled employees from giving WikiLeaks more classified dirty laundry to publish.
The Obama Administration intends to tighten the security and plug holes for IT system leaks. In an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo [PDF], The White House was quite specific on what agencies must do to "address any perceived vulnerabilities, weaknesses, or gaps on automated systems in the post-WikiLeaks environment." 11 pages of questions and requirements were attached to the OMB memo.
Under the header of "Deter, Detect, Defend Against Employee Unauthorized Disclosures", the memo states, "Are there efforts to fuse together disparate data sources such as personnel security and evaluation, polygraph, where applicable, IT auditing or user activities, and foreign contact/foreign travel information to provide analysts early warning indicators of insider threats?"
More from the memo includes: "Do you use psychiatrist and sociologist to measure: Relative happiness as a means to gauge trustworthiness? Despondence and grumpiness as a means to gauge waning trustworthiness?"
Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists senior research analyst, says these assessment requirements are more like a paranoid CIA mentality than security.
The OMB memo asks, "Are all employees required to report their contacts with the media?"
"This is paranoia, not security," Aftergood told NBC News. Requiring employees to report any contact with members of the news media, as if all such people are suspicious, is an "absurd" CIA security protocol. For other agencies to adopt the same practices to root out potential spies is "triply absurd."
The memo also asks, "Do you capture evidence of pre-employment and/or post-employment activities or participation in on-line media data mining sites like WikiLeaks or Open Leaks?"
Aftergood, who also campaigns against government secrecy, wonders how the administration expects agencies to monitor what websites former employees visit from their home PCs. "It may be that this is what the administration needs to do to deflect congressional anger [over WikiLeaks], but some of it doesn't make any sense."
It makes sense in a sick sort of way if WikiLeaks and the Espionage Act make felons of us all.
Image by Abode of Chaos - thierry ehrmann