Disliking U.S. Foreign Policy Now Makes You a "High Threat"


No longer support the mission in Afghanistan? Think NAFTA unfairly hurts Latin American countries? Generally disgruntled with U.S. foreign policy? If so, you now meet one indicator for being an "insider threat" to the Obama administration. A new DOD test has revealed an increasingly paranoid attitude in government training has implications for the average American in addition to journalists when it comes to insider threat policy.

The test, administered by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), is given to various government personnel ranging from interns to high-ranking security officials. Particular criticism has been coming from a test challenge featuring an American-Indian woman.

The woman, named "Hema", is given four possible indicators. The point of the challenge was to evaluate which criterion were risks, and then to assess the risk. They included visitations to family in India twice a year, adequate work quality, outspoken unhappiness with the U.S., and a repossession of a car (economic woes). The test revealed that three of these were indicators, and that Hema should be considered a "high threat."

Before jumping into initial implications, let's look at the context of the test. DISA is very involved with trying to deal with insider threats. Judging by the news, these threats have names like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, who have opened up to journalists. That alone is a worrisome precedent; insider threats are Americans meeting with journalists. Now, it's expanding to American citizens in general.

The "Hema" test is just an example of an increasingly paranoid attitude coming from the Obama administration concerning insider threats. It's premature and unwise to assume that American Gestapo will be cracking down the door tomorrow because you posted an Obama meme, but with the recent PRISM scandal and the institutionalization of paranoia profiling within this test, one can certainly worry about the overall attitude and political climate.

There's a reason for this test to be particularly worrisome. Whether you agree with it or not, there has been profiling since 9/11 for foreigners and ethnicities associated with terrorism. This is still present on the test. However, disliking U.S. foreign policy and having economic woes are commonplace among many if not most Americans.

If Americans that aren't necessarily politically active are being affected by training like this, imagine journalists. Take a journalist like Jeremy Scahill, whose research in "dirty wars" has painted a less-than-favorable view of foreign policy. He leaves the country more than twice a year and criticizes foreign policy. Let's hope his car isn't repossessed anytime soon.

There has already been backtracking by the government by this test. However, considering that anyone can take the test online, it's not something that was supposed to be kept secret for training purposes.

As said before, don't expect American Gestapo to raid your pad tomorrow, but be very concerned by the vague indicators on government tests. It's hard to trust a bad attitude.