Plug the Leaks
DCIA Goss in the NY Times on leaks and leakers:
At the Central Intelligence Agency, we are more than holding our own in the global war on terrorism, but we are at risk of losing a key battle: the battle to protect our classified information. […]
As a member of Congress in 1998, I sponsored the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act to ensure that current or former employees could petition Congress, after raising concerns within their respective agency, consistent with the need to protect classified information.
Exercising one’s rights under this act is an appropriate and responsible way to bring questionable practices to the attention of those in Congress charged with oversight of intelligence agencies. And it works. Government employees have used statutory procedures — including internal channels at their agencies — on countless occasions to correct abuses without risk of retribution and while protecting information critical to our national defense.
On the other hand, those who choose to bypass the law and go straight to the press are not noble, honorable or patriotic. Nor are they whistleblowers. Instead they are committing a criminal act that potentially places American lives at risk. It is unconscionable to compromise national security information and then seek protection as a whistleblower to forestall punishment.
Admirable words, but any number of cases can be brought up that would tend to indicate that true whistleblowers aren’t treated all that well, regardless of how their allegations pan out. The abysmal treatment of those who are apparently trying to do right in effect discourage others from raising legitimate concerns. If this is a misconception, one way to counter it would be to sanitize and release some of the “countless occasions” that abuses were corrected by intelligence officers who were not retaliated against. If the system works, flaunt its success.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t condone leaking. That it happens so often by those at the highest levels of the IC is a strong indicator to me that a) we have a serious vetting problem and b) we have a fair amount of folks who think that a blue badge is a get-out-of-jail-free card. Intelligence officers may serve political masters, but to me the ideal IO is the apolitical IO. When you start thinking you’re a party operative and not an operative for the people, you’ve crossed a line. If you are so concerned about the path the country is going down, consider this; no one voted for you.