I read with increasing horror the article on President Obama’s plans for plugging security leaks (TNT, 7-10). All federal employees are to spy on each other for possible suspicious behaviors and to practice profiling techniques as part of a new Insider Threat Program. Those who do not report their co-workers for suspicious behavior may themselves face criminal charges.
I am very familiar with the Stasi culture that flourished in communist East Germany. I’ve visited the museums and documentation centers several times. I’ve watched the award-winning film, “The Lives of Others,” many times. I know about Lutheran congregations in which half the people going to communion wondered whether the other half reported on them for one reason or another. I’ve followed the reports of how citizens after 1989 were able to discover the astonishing array of people reporting on them, including family members.
The president, whose team seems to fetishize control mechanisms and which seems to go crazy at the thought of anyone going off the reservation, is slowly advancing well beyond the ambitions of the East German secret police.
As a Democratic leftist and a Lutheran minister, I am outraged. Will Americans come forth to protest or will they gradually, as Vaclav Havel said about his fellow Czechs, slowly become part of the system?