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Everyone who works for the government is a secret agent now. Their mission: spy on their coworkers just to make sure nobody leaks information — classified, unclassified or totally obvious — to the American public, but especially that Glenn Greenwald guy. (Yeesh, that guy. Amirite, General?) So, how does one educate these career civil servants and contracted employees in the Tippy-Top Secret Art of Intelligence Tradecraft? Basically: pamphlets, mandatory webinars, you know, the usual, maybe have them get together into groups later, do skits.

Last week, McClatchy's Washington Bureau — the newsgathering arm of fast food giant McClatchy's — made waves with an investigative report detailing President Obama's Insider Threat Program: a sweeping crackdown on all government leakers, everywhere, all the time, period, no excuses, Sasha, Malia, your mom, Joe Biden, Bo, grandma inclusive. Initiated in October 2011, Insider Threat broadly expanded the internal profiling of potentially leaky employees, as well as increasing the penalties for either leaking or failing to report things that James Franco's character in Spring Breakers would call "spicious." In the intervening two years, FDA scientists, Peace Corp volunteers, Department of Agriculture bureaucrats and Social Security administrators have all been told to spy on one another or git burnt.

Referenced in the McClatchy piece is a pamphlet put out by the Defense Security Service (DSS) titled “Insider Threats: Combating the ENEMY within your organization.” The pamphlet calmly encourages snitching on coworkers who put in “repeated or un-required work outside of normal duty hours” or coworkers who suddenly can afford things like a Bugatti Veyron. But that pamphlet was just the tippy-top of the DSS pamphlet iceberg!

As an agency within the Defense Department, the DSS has been growing from a small counterintelligence auditor for the pentagon to a primary liaison between the national security state and its constellation of domestic and multinational corporate contractors ever since — if you can believe it — the sad times of 9/11. According to their website, DSS now also provides “comprehensive security training to DoD and other government departments and agencies,” like the USDA. God forbid Taliban poppy farmers get our soil-tilling secrets!

We think you'll agree that we're exaggerating when we say these pamphlets are EXPLOSIVE. They are mostly sad and pathetic — and frankly a little scary for it, given the stakes involved (e.g. the careers and pensions of nice people) — but occasionally they are, unintentionally, quite funny. A sampling:

From The “Insider Threats” Pamphlet

“This overly broad definition of an 'insider threat' is the main reason I don't want you to use my name,” our source for these pamphlets told us. “I think, technically, I could be endangering the homeland just by stealing too many paper clips now.” The source — who declined to be labeled either vaguely by his government employer or by the pseudonym Daniel Smellsberg — also noted that the pamphlets might be available online somewhere. (They are.) “So, it really shouldn't be a big deal.”

“I can see why you would think it's funny, but please don't do that 'Daniel Smellsberg' thing in the article,” Smellsberg added.

Suffice to say that Smellsberg is one of the nearly five million Americans who have been granted access to classified documents in a little over a decade's time. With our nation's most closely held information now in the hands of that many people, it's inevitable that some of them will be criminally stupid or worse, making it therefore doubly important (we guess) to spell out even the most obvious bullshit. Like this, for example, from the same pamphlet:

From The “Foreign Travel Vulnerability” Pamphlet [.pdf]

Pay very close attention to the body on that flight attendant. Spies can use Mission Impossible-type masks to disguise their faces, so Our National Security could rest on your ability to recognize subtle differences between neatly turned calves or between dis ass and dat ass.

From The “Preparing for Foreign Visitors” Pamphlet [.pdf]

Fact: DARPA alone spends 2.8 billion dollarsign.jpg's each year. We can't afford to just flush dollarsign.jpg after dollarsign.jpg down the toilet due to poor security protocol. Those are taxpayer dollarsign.jpg's.

There's not a lot of context for this magical stock photo. Of the seven “techniques” that those sneaky foreign visitors might use to steal our precious American secrets, the one closest to describing this photo is called “Distraught Visitor.” You know, it's that technique “when the visitor's questions are not answered [and] he/she acts insulted or creates an uncomfortable scene in an attempt to psychologically coerce information from a target.” Gets 'em every time. (Yes, most of the techniques have visitor in their name. And: No, there's no explanation for why this guy is yelling into a phone.)

From The “Elicitation & Recruitment” Pamphlet [.pdf]

While all of these pamphlets would make a good sight gag on Archer, this one especially meets that criteria.

BUT HEY, SRSLY! Did you know these tidbits? “Despite their personal rationale for committing espionage, all [spies] had other means at their disposal for fulfilling their aspirations, needs, and desires. Most, if not all, spies eventually regret their actions and their decisions to commit espionage.” No? Then you especially should read this pamphlet. These are irrefutable facts because there never was a French Resistance in World War II and we've been really getting into that book The Secret.

Then there's the summary on the back:

You really have to admire the gall of this. “Did we mention we currently have access to all of your phone metadata, Skype calls, emails and Facebook messages? Our PRISM and Boundless Informant programs have been real timesavers — at prices that won't bust open the old piggy bank.”

The “Reporting the Threat” [.pdf] and “Counterintelligence Awareness” [.pdf.] Pamphlets

Nothing really funny about these apart from the graphic design, unless the xenophobic plot of Michael Crichton's Rising Sun is your idea of a gut-busting chucklefest.

An Excellent Summary Analysis For All You

In the past two years, a lot of espionage-grade paranoia that made sense for (say) a Fort Meade janitor or some dinky nerd coding drone-piloting software has now been quietly introduced into every part of the government. Could there be a downside to spicing things up in the federal bureaucracy with more thrills and a little bit of suspense?

“Well, the work environment is already one where people who used to talk to me — and, I suspect, other reporters — are no longer willing to talk, simply for fear that they’re going to encounter retaliation for talking to a journalist,” McClatchy reporter Jonathan Landay told Democracy Now! hosts Severe Lady and the Mumblecore. “And not disclosing classified information, but simply trying to give us context — at least in my experience, trying to give me context about stories that we report normally.”

“So, the environment, as a result of this, seems to be pretty toxic.”

Ha, ha. Whatever, Landay. What's toxic for the muckraking, “good government” Trotskyites in the LSM must be unequivocally great for the rest of us hard-working U.S.A. Taxpayers.

Bottom Line: Be Assertive. Be Alert. Be Aware. Report Anythang Spicious!

[Pentagon photo by Michael Baird, some rights reserved; typographical bullshit and pamphlet photographs by Matthew Phelan. Baird doesn't endorse these jokes. In fact, we've never met.]

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