Wednesday, July 10, 2013

2.5 Million Gladys Kravitzes'

With very little fanfare or public comment, President Obama issued an executive order in October of 2011 called the Insider Threat Program. You’ve never heard of it, have you? See, that’s the great thing about executive orders, no Congressional hearings, and no annoying media to generate negative feedback. It was in response to the leaking of classified material to WikiLeaks by Army Pfc. Bradley Manning. The idea behind the Insider Threat Program, or ITP for short, is to turn all federal employees into snitches, a two and a half million strong horde of spies, all trying to be Gladys Kravitz.
You remember her, right? Well, if you’re under 50, probably not. She was the nosy neighbor on Bewitched who was constantly peering through the window, seeing some supernatural thing going on over at the Stephens house, but by the time her beleaguered husband would come to look, things were back to normal. Eventually, he stopped paying attention.

Well, here’s what the ITP is asking each federal worker to do:



I love that last one…snitch, or else! So, now when I go to the Post Office, my 30 minute wait in line will be more like 45 minutes, since all the employees will be busy keeping a sharp eye out for stressed out divorcees in their ranks.

I suppose this is designed to prevent leaks of classified material by identifying potential threatening employees who might be so inclined. Whether or not any of this would have worked on Pvc. Manning, or Edward Snowden is hard to tell. Seems to me a better way to prevent these sort of leaks is to limit access to classified material to Army personnel with the rank of Private first class!


But, in the age of NSA spying on ordinary American’s phone calls, why shouldn’t Government workers be ordered to spy on one another? It seems to have become our national pastime.


All of this reminds me of one of the most disturbing yet powerfully moving movies I’ve ever seen. It’s called, The Lives of Others, and is about a Stasi officer who is ordered by the East German government to spy on a playwright. As he hides in a room on the roof of the apartment building where the playwright lives and listens to every word that is spoken inside the apartment, he hears poetry for the first time. What happens to this Stasi officer is both beautiful and chillingly tragic.


It’s a German film which could never have been made in Hollywood, since the villain in this picture is totalitarian Communism and it’s destruction of the human spirit. When I watched it in 2006, I never dreamed that one day, agents of our own government would be up to many of the same tricks.

Do yourself a favor and find The Lives of Others on Netflix.