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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 Justice Department’s sweeping collection of Associated Press phone records as part of a national security leak investigation has had a chilling effect on sources, the news agency’s top executive said on Wednesday. “Some of our long-trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking to us — even on stories that aren’t about national security,” AP Chief Executive and President Gary Pruitt said at the National Press Club. “In some cases, government employees that we once checked in with regularly will no longer speak to us by phone and some are reluctant to meet in person,” he said.
“The real danger is that you get a bland common denominator working in the government,” warned Ilana Greenstein, a former CIA case officer who says she quit the agency after being falsely accused of being a security risk. “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.”
he Department of Education, meanwhile, informs employees that co-workers going through “certain life experiences . . . might turn a trusted user into an insider threat.” Those experiences, the department says in a computer training manual, include “stress, divorce, financial problems” or “frustrations with co-workers or the organization.
A Defense Security Service online pamphlet lists a wide range of “reportable” suspicious behaviors, including working outside of normal duty hours.
Greenstein said she become the target of scrutiny from security officials after she began raising allegations of mismanagement in the CIA’s operations in Baghdad. But she never leaked her complaints, which included an allegation that her security chief deleted details about safety risks from cables. Instead, she relied on the agency’s internal process to make the allegations. The CIA, however, tried to get the Justice Department to open a criminal case after Greenstein mentioned during a polygraph test that she was writing a book, which is permitted inside the agency as long as it goes through pre-publication review. The CIA then demanded to see her personal computers. When she got them back months later, all that she’d written had been deleted, Greenstein said. “They clearly perceived me as an insider threat,” said Greenstein, who has since rewritten the book and has received CIA permission to publish portions of it. “By saying ‘I have a problem with this place and I want to make it better,’ I was instantly turned into a security threat,” she said. The CIA declined to comment.