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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pentagon training states that a person unhappy with U.S. foreign policy may be a ‘high threat’

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image credit:
Department of Defense
via Huffington Post
Madison Ruppert

According to Pentagon training materials, individuals working for federal agencies should consider their co-workers a potential “high threat” if they speak “openly of unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy,” regularly visit family overseas and experience money troubles.

The government’s so-called “Insider Threat Program” has been criticized for equating leakers, spies and terroristsand is aimed squarely at preventing future Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning-style leaks.

In a test created by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), a hypothetical Indian-American woman named “Hema” is considered a “high threat” simply for criticizing of U.S. policy, getting a car repossessed while at work and visiting her family twice a year, all of which are considered threat “indicators.”

This perspective is far from isolated in government training materials. Last year, Army documents were uncovered which state that complaining about bias and believing in government conspiracies are indicators that could mean possible “radicalization into violent extremism.”

“The item ‘speaks openly of unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy’ simply does not belong on the list,” Steven Aftergood, a secrecy expert with the Federation of American Scientists, said in a statement to the Huffington Post.

Aftergood said that the DISA training slide was “ignorant and clumsy,” something which they will apparently be moving away from in the future.

“It is not a threat indicator,” Aftergood wrote. “It could apply to most members of Congress, if not to most Americans. By presenting the matter this way, the slide suggests that overt dissent is a security concern. That is an error.”

This is a perfect example of the Obama administration’s initiative, something which has come under intense scrutiny thanks to in-depth reporting by McClatchy.

McClatchy has troublingly noted that the government’s top scientific advisors have said of the Insider Threat Program that “trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations.”

The unclassified DISA test, called the “CyberAwareness Challenge” was produced in October 2012, a month before the Insider Threat Policy was finalized by the Obama administration, according to the Huffington Post.

The portion involving Hema comes from the “insider threats” section. Insider threats are defined in a guide as “threats from people who have access to the organization’s information systems and may cause loss of physical inventory, data, and other security risks.”

“DISA was sensitive to any civil liberty concerns that might arise from any portion of the curriculum, which is why it coordinated with 26 federal agencies to ensure the maximum amount of input was received before going live,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said in a statement to the Huffington Post.

According to Pickart, the indicators used in the test were culled from past examples of security breaches.

“When considering personnel for a position of trust that requires a security clearance, there are many potential indicators that must be considered when evaluating for insider threat concerns,” he said.

“The department takes these variables into consideration based on past examples of personnel who engaged in spying or treasonous acts,” Pickart added.

According to Pickart, several million people across a wide variety of federal agencies have taken the training since it was released with only one complaint.

The next version of the challenge, which is slated to be released this October, will be updated to focus more heavily on behavior, “not personal characteristics or beliefs.”

Currently, the training clearly does put a large focus on those characteristics or beliefs.

The strangest thing about the entire CyberAwareness Challenge is that individuals who would likely have no interaction with security threats whatsoever are being forced to take the test.

For instance, the Huffington Post discovered that the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires private business partners who access a tenant rental assistance database to complete the program.

The version aimed at Department of Defense employees also makes direct reference to WikiLeaks, presenting one training slide where a user is asked to consider what to do when contacted by a “WikiSpills” reporter.

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This article first appeared at End the Lie.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM - 9 PM PT/10 PM - 12 AM ET. Show page link here:http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at

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