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Behind the Curtain

Do you recall the memorable scene in the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the emerald green curtain revealing the “real” wizard in all of his humanness, smallness, agedness, and relative powerlessness? “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” the wizard shouted through the microphone has he madly pulled levers and turned knobs making the fictitious wizard grumble pronouncements. Of course Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion were not dissuaded from perceiving the truth by these pronouncements once, by the aid of the mischievous Toto, they had laid eyes on the feeble man controlling the ferocious machine. With the recent release by NBC of the 11-page memo crafted by US intelligence officials one may rightly wonder if one is hearing an echo of the wizard’s specious demand.

This newly disclosed intelligence memo encourages US agencies “to find ways to ‘detect behavioural changes’ among those employees who might have access to secret documents” in order to identify those disgruntled employees who may desire to leak sensitive information to the public.* The memo was distributed to all senior officials at agencies “using classified materials” this week by Jacob J. Lew, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, according to the BBC. The memo recommends the use of psychologists and sociologists to gauge the “relative happiness” and “despondence and grumpiness” of employees in order to preempt further embarrassment caused by leaked documents. 

“Internal threat programme” is the term used to describe this employee monitoring project. The memo also mentions the use of lie detectors to discover “internal threats” and urges that employees who have “unusually high occurrences of foreign travel, contacts or foreign preference” by identified.

The striking irony of this memo is that it calls for a programme that attempts to identify and curtail the acts of Toto like figures who reveal the actions of “the man behind the curtain” to the public instead of instituting a programme that aims to eliminate governmental activities that give rise to public frustration, dissent, anger, and disgust. Instead of targeting Toto, would it not be better to challenge the dissembling of the wizard behind the curtain?

*”US Urges Action to Prevent Insider Leaks” by the BBC


To read “US Urges Action to Prevent Insider Leaks” by the BBC click here.

To read the full 11-page memo click here.

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