Drip, Drip, Drip
Given my background I may be slightly biased, but I’ve never been a big fan of leakers of classified information. The whole point of keeping stuff classified is that it isn’t supposed to be out on the front page of the NY Times. That we tend to over-classify things is another issue. The bottom line is that Joe Blow with a clearance isn’t allowed to unilaterally determine what is and isn’t worth protecting (and yes, there is a system for doing just that).
While I’m not a terribly political person, it is clear to me that the very one-sided nature of recent intelligence leaks are as much about whistle-blowing as Amazing Grace is to authentic Scottish bagpipe music. The “outing” of someone who was clearly not “in” is a traitorous leak worthy of a Special Prosecutor, though the disclosure of actually classified and compartmented programs is the work of patriotic whistle-blowers. You can’t have it both ways . . . well, you’re not supposed to have it at all, but we’re already sliding down the slope.
“Save for leakers how else would we know?” You ask. If wholesale, big-brother-like “spying” on ordinary citizens was in fact taking place, where are the mass arrests? Where are the gulags? Where are the legions of citizens spirited away for imagined crimes against the state? The fact of the matter is that no such actions have taken place because that is not what recently revealed CT programs are all about. They are narrow and focused for very practical reasons: That we CAN collect almost everything you speak and type is a far cry from actually DOING anything with that data.
Even during the bad old days of CHAOS the CIA kept records on all of .008% of the US population and the Bureau’s COINTELPRO kept records on .005% of the citizenry. Assuming the data in the Times story is correct even today we’ve snuck a peek at only .00005% of the population (on the high end). While both of the aforementioned programs were illegal, take note of the commonalities (targeting of a very narrow segment of the population deemed a threat to security) and differences (openness to oversight) between then and now. Not only are we not back in the bad old days, the bad old days weren’t all that bad if you ask me.
If the people leaking this information were truly concerned about the loss of rights or liberties, they wouldn’t be anonymous insiders, they’d be named whistle-blowers. If you’re your employer is truly evil then quit, spill your guts, and go out a hero. That they remain in the shadows and seem to only cough up information that endangers lives says more than any leaked document ever could.