Defense Employees Told to Report Suspicious Activities

05.24.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

A new counterintelligence directive (pdf) requires all Department of Defense personnel to report a wide range of suspicious activities and behavior to counterintelligence officials.  The directive effectively deputizes millions of military and civilian employees of the Department as counterintelligence agents or informants.  If they do not report any of the specified activities, they themselves could be subject to punitive action.

“Potential FIE [Foreign Intelligence Entity] threats to the DoD, its personnel, information, materiel, facilities, and activities, or to U.S. national security shall be reported by DoD personnel,” the new directive states.

“DoD personnel who fail to report information as required… may be subject to judicial or administrative action, or both, pursuant to applicable law and regulation,” it says.  See DoD Directive 5240.06, “Counterintelligence Awareness and Reporting,” May 17, 2011.

The directive lists numerous actions that are subject to mandatory reporting including “attempts to obtain classified or sensitive information by an individual not authorized to receive such information” and “requests for DoD information that make an individual suspicious, to include suspicious or questionable requests over the internet or SNS [social networking services].”

The directive employs the relatively new term “Foreign Intelligence Entity,” which includes non-governmental organizations based abroad that use intelligence techniques to gather US government information or to influence US policy.  The new phrase did not appear in the official Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms as recently as a year ago (pdf), though it is included in the latest edition of the Dictionary (pdf).

A Foreign Intelligence Entity is defined in the directive as “any known or suspected foreign organization, person, or group (public, private, or governmental) that conducts intelligence activities to acquire U.S. information, block or impair U.S. intelligence collection, influence U.S. policy, or disrupt U.S. systems and programs.  The term includes foreign intelligence and security services and international terrorists.”