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Letter: 'Big brother' watching military
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Letter: 'Big brother' watching military

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The Department of Defense, fresh from its Afghanistan evacuation, has dusted off the wrecking ball with a new initiative -- continuous vetting of department employees’ social media to identify extremists within the force structure.

This initiative builds on previous post-9/11 programs designed to "proactively" identify internal threats to national security posed by personnel charged with safe-guarding national security.

Unlike the safeguards put into practice after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden unauthorized releases of classified information, this initiative is designed to identify internal threats by accessing all DoD employees’ social media activity. Stated otherwise, this policy gives DoD authorization to read every employees’ privileged electronic conversations without a pretext that person has committed a crime or is involved in illegal -- or extremist -- activity.

Not stated, though embedded in the analysis of defense employees’ social media, are the identities of those interacting with the employee. In rough numbers, that means that more that 3.4 million Americas will be subject to constant social media surveillance and, by default, the surveillance will capture information on those non-DoD persons with whom they interact.

So what exactly constitutes extremist dialogue? The initiative leaves that to the watchful eye of the person conducting the surveillance. We’ll just call him "Big Brother."

Jerris Cummings, Lincoln

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