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Are They For Real?

Speaking of being gob-smacked, check out today’s WaPo editorial on the CIA leak case. If you can’t bear it, let me summarize:

  • Leaking is bad unless they decide that it is good
  • The CIA trying to mitigate the effect of leaks by keeping a lid on secret programs is bad
  • D/CIA Goss hunting down and punishing leakers is bad
  • Leaking is bad unless it is a leak to a journalist, who gets to decide what is and isn’t damaging
  • D/CIA Goss cleaning house (of partisan leakers, and old-think geezers) is bad

At no point in this piece of work is there any acknowledgement that the reason leaking is a punishable offense is because it has the potential to cause grave damage to the security of the country. That word “grave” is used specifically and for a reason: leaks inevitably lead to someone’s death. Not only is the Post keen on using and abusing those that feed it (don’t hear about the Post sponsoring a replace-Mary McCarthy’s-pension fund), they’re indignant that they are not immune from the principle of causality.

At the end of this rant is a complaint that Goss opted not to hold anyone accountable for the failures of the IC pre-9/11. If there is one thing I am in sync with the Post’s editorial board about it is that. Maybe Kimmel and Short got a raw deal, but they knew the rules of the game. Same goes for every Captain who was in his cabin when some Ensign ran his ship aground, or every Sergeant whose troop trips over his dingle-dangle. It is why people might grumble about hard-asses but they give them respect: they bust your b@lls not because it earns them glory but because it reduces the chance that they (and their people) will pay the price.

This last point however, is a distraction: cleaning house and giving leakers the boot is indeed part of the process of improving US intelligence. The less we have to worry about fighting each other, the more we can concentrate on fighting our enemies.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.