US Gov't Strategy To Prevent Leaks Is Leaked

from the not-quite-getting-it-yet dept

There’s something rather ironic that the US government’s document on how to get various US government agencies to prevent future leaks (a la Wikileaks) was quickly leaked to the press. But, it’s not really that surprising, is it?

Of course, the main thrust of the document isn’t to question whether or not so much secrecy is really necessary, but to send out a memo to various government agencies suggesting they use psychiatrists and sociologists to sniff out workers who might be disgruntled (full memo embedded below). Among a variety of (pretty unsurprising) suggestions for keeping confidential information confidential, the checklist of things that organizations are supposed to do includes:

  • Do you use psychiatrist and sociologist to measure:
    • Relative happiness as a means to gauge trustworthiness?
    • Despondence and grumpiness as a means to gauge waning trustworthiness?

I didn’t realize that you needed to use such professional help to figure out if you had a disgruntled worker on your hands. Isn’t it the role of managers themselves to have a sense as to whether or not their employees are disgruntled? Though, I’m somewhat amused by the idea that the US government thinks that a psychiatrist or sociologist can accurately pick out who’s likely to leak documents.

Not that it’s a bad thing to try to figure out if there are disgruntled workers or to make sure secure systems really are secure. I’m all for that. I just think it’s a bit naive to think any of this will actually prevent future leaks. You just need one person to get the info out, and there’s always someone and always a way to do so — as demonstrated by the fact that this document itself “leaked” so quickly. It seems a better situation would be to focus on making sure that any damage from such leaks is minimal.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “US Gov't Strategy To Prevent Leaks Is Leaked”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Sixter says:

If I was on a job and they started evaluating me with a psychiatrist or a sociologist I would soon be pretty disgruntled and relatively unhappy about my job. I had a job where they gave me a self evaluation form before my annual review. If I didn’t think I was doing a good job, do they really think I would tell them? What is my greatest strength/weakness? Come on. I started looking for another job soon after that.

Jay says:


Don’t the psychologists and sociologists have enough problems?

At stake in the fight between Frances and the APA is more than professional turf, more than careers and reputations, more than the $6.5 million in sales that the DSM averages each year. The book is the basis of psychiatrists? authority to pronounce upon our mental health, to command health care dollars from insurance companies for treatment and from government agencies for research. It is as important to psychiatrists as the Constitution is to the US government or the Bible is to Christians. Outside the profession, too, the DSM rules, serving as the authoritative text for psychologists, social workers, and other mental health workers; it is invoked by lawyers in arguing over the culpability of criminal defendants and by parents seeking school services for their children. If, as Frances warns, the new volume is an ?absolute disaster,? it could cause a seismic shift in the way mental health care is practiced in this country. It could cause the APA to lose its franchise on our psychic suffering, the naming rights to our pain.

Good article, but it seems the battle over the DSM-V may keep them busy in the next two years while mental disorders are “diagnosed”.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:


But more to the point, there is no difference. Parents govern their children and it would be insane to pursue a policy of total honesty with them. When your five year old sweet little girl knocks on the door and asks what you’re doing, do you tell her yanking one out to some lesbian rimming vids or do you tell her you’re changing clothes?

Should the State Department tell smaller nations that we really don’t give a happy damn about them but we’d like <insert diplomatic goal here> anyway? Should we tell Iran (because if we tell the public, they’ll read it in the same papers) that we already have plans drawn up to bomb nuclear facilities if necessary. How about the exact flight path of the planes?

Total honesty is tied with total secrecy as the worst possible approach to take to government. It’s only asked for by hypocritical fools or the party currently out of power (assuming you don’t consider those two to be the same to begin with).

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:


Trust the government? Are you mad? I’d never advise that. What I am saying is that where secrecy is required or greatly beneficial for effectiveness we should have secrecy and where it’s not we shouldn’t.

Every time government secrets come up though, some anti-establishment dipshit starts saying we should have completely open government without putting any actual thought into what that would mean. To them I offer this:

Any position taken far enough towards absoluteness is worthy of nothing save ridicule. Check your ideas against this rule before believing them to avoid being a fool.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:


Really? You must have experience of a different government than I do if you’ve had an experience different than voting for politicians that you know with every fiber of your being are going to screw you.

See, I live in a little thing called the real world. In it we trade control of our nation and certain aspects of our personal lives for security, economic oversight, and a host of other things. We know full well we’re going to get screwed by any power we allow the government but we do it anyway. For over 200 years. You included.

Representative governments have always been this way. They will always be this way. The very fact that there is a government at all is an act of trust placed in a system out of necessity. You will always be screwed by any power you allow them but if you don’t allow them any they don’t have any to use on your behalf.

Seriously… drop the idealism and grow the hell up already. You compromise your ideals every single day for a lot less benefit than a strong national government gets you. Get off your anti-establishment soapbox until you have a clue about what would happen with perfect transparency or even about your own actions.

TDR says:


Prove that total transparency can’t work. Specific, detailed examples that have actually happened. No one should be above accountability, especially the government. Considering that the federal government has become much more bloated and powerful than the founders ever intended, it’s not wrong to rethink whether it should still be allowed to exist in its current state.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile) says:


My, my. Such hostility and insults. Very unbecoming.

We have been debating one thing and one thing only: whether you trust the government to any degree. You said you do not to any degree, and I said that the fact that you voluntarily permit the government to have secrets by definition means that you trust the government to act in your best interest a sufficient amount to justify that trust.

Please point out where I have said even once that secrecy is 100% unnecessary, that I have 0 trust the government, that government is unnecessary, or anything else that expresses “anti-establishment”, not living in “the real world”, etc. Of course, you can’t. I merely pointed out the irony that you argued that the government must be trusted using as evidence examples of secrets that harm those they are kept a secret from, and you’ve been raging ever since, for reasons that are unclear. Whenever you made an argument, I responded to it, and nothing more. Perhaps you could show the same courtesy, or is courtesy only for people who need to “grow the hell up”?

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:


Pffft, weak attempt at trying to get me to prove a negative that has never and will never actually occur to be able to cite.

And I never said and don’t think that the current incarnation of the federal government is the way things should be. I think it should be much smaller, much more open, and unbeholden to corporate interests where they conflict with the interests of citizens.

I’m just enough of a realist and student of human nature to know that there will always be things in life, government not excluded, that need to be said but should not be said publicly. And it kind of pisses me off when ideologues say the world can be all hugs and puppies if we just want it hard enough.

They never take into account the facts on the ground. They just say this is the way I’d like the world to be, so that’s how it should work. That’s how children think, not adults.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile) says:


Pffft, weak attempt at trying to sidestep the matter.

I asked you to prove a positive. You claim that I am those things. I ask for the evidence that your claim is true. The requires a single example of something that already exists; at least, it already exists if your claim is based on actual evidence, and not merely pulled out of thin air with no factual basis at all.

Similarly, my argument against you is based on something which already exists and has been demonstrated, and not a negative.

How are you going to wriggle now, I wonder?

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:


You didn’t start this thread of debate, so I didn’t feel the need to let you set you topic. But since you’ve clarified your misunderstanding and asked, here you are.

Trust is too broad a word for this topic as we have at least two separate kinds being brought up. There’s the personally held faith that politicians will act in our best interest and there’s the act of placing them in a position of trust. The two need not coincide. In fact they should never coincide in anyone old enough to buy alcohol.

Now I’m fine with placing people who I do not trust to act on my best interests in positions of trust because there is one thing I do trust about them. They will always look out for their own best interests. Specifically their interests in being reelected. That’s usually enough to get them to at least act on my best interests when it’s not too much trouble, gains them something, or they can’t get out of it without risking their own interests. But it’s not something I count on or expect. Explained enough?

On the hostility and insults? Yeah, you probably didn’t earn the last paragraph of my last post, so I’ll take a mea culpa on it and claim it’s been an extremely long day. The rest I’m fine with standing by.

Anonymous Coward says:


Look, to keep only what needs to be kept secret there needs to be some kind of penalty for keeping secrets it needs to cost something so only what is needed is done, in this case is transparency, if they break that they should pay with their jobs and careers for it, because what they are upholding is something more important and that is freedom.

Just like when you get caught by your daughter yanking one out to some lesbian rimming, you don’t try to hide it you acknowledge what you did and say it is bad and that you were wrong for doing it and say I’m sorry for lying.

You don’t need to be totally honest but you need to take responsibility for the things you do or is forced to do.

Or you can keep stating that dumb thing about “needing secrets” and letting them have it.

Anonymous Coward says:


So what you are saying is that is better to them to screw us them us to screw them?

I think you are wrong, every time transparency is breached it should be punished, they should loose their jobs and careers that is the cost of the secrets and it is the mechanism that will guarantee that the system is not abused and you want to take it away so it is abused?

You don’t live in the real world, you live in a fantasy world pal.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:


AC, it’s well past time for me to be getting some sleep, so I’ll make this short and to the point.

If you can’t manage to think through both the positive and negative implications of the things you get up on your soapbox over, then you simply aren’t capable of independent thought at all. You can and probably should be replaced by a very small perl script.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...