I n a recent report, the McClatchy news service exposed a program that mandates that federal employees spy on one another. This follows recent revelations by former National Security Agency (NSA) employee Eric Snowden that the NSA has been gathering the phone conversations and emails of tens of millions of Americans.
According to the McClatchy article, authored by Jonathan Landay: "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."
The article goes on to say that President Barack Obama's unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, extends to most federal departments and agencies nationwide. The article states that: "It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of "insider threat" give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct ... The [Insider Threat] 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."
Blogger Digby writes that the policy "could discourage creative thinking and fuel conformist "group think" of the kind that was blamed for the CIA's erroneous assessment that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction, a judgment that underpinned the 2003 U.S. invasion."
President Obama, the former constitutional law professor, is now presiding over egregious actions that violate people's Constitutional rights and privacy and destroy trusting and cooperative relationships between our federal civil servants. This is yet another example on how the pretext of the "War on Terrorism" has been used against Americans.
These programs are beginning to sound like the secret police in East Germany and the former Soviet Union. This should set off a warning light in our heads. Once our freedom is gone, and we've gone a long way down the road since 9/11, it's extremely hard to get it back.
Contact your Congressional Representative and Senators (get contact info at votesmart.org) and let them know how you feel about these latest revelations of government abuse. Ask them to reign in the Obama administration and restore our civil liberties and privacy.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" column appears in the Colorado Daily every Friday.