Thoughts on Wikileaks

Byline: | Category: Military | Posted at: Monday, 29 November 2010

1.  I work with classified information every single day.  Most of what I see that is classified SECRET is overclassified.  Very little of it is even surprising.  The loss of a small percentage of it would cause grave danger to individuals or the nation as a whole.  At the TOP SECRET level there are more real secrets.  At the TOP SECRET/SCI level there are a lot.  The Wikileaks leaks are SECRET items.  As far as leaks go: it could be a lot worse.

2.  The same physical vulnerabilities that exist at the SECRET level exist at the TS/SCI level.  Most such data is electronically archived and accessed.  It can be copied relatively easily and passed to or worse.  The only difference is that at the higher classification levels, there are fewer people with access. 

3.  This is really the same problem that has long confronted recording artists, the motion picture industry, and other creators of intellectual content:  electronic data is easily copied, easily shared, and not easily restricted to paying customers or rightful recipients.  The RCIA and MPA have had more than a decade to formulate new business models to the threat of file sharing . . . with varying degrees of success.  The federal government is late to recognizing this as a problem, but has the advantage of being able to quickly learn from those who came first.

4.  My third biggest concern is not Russian or Chinese infiltrators, but American saboteurs.

5.  My second biggest concern is not that American secrets could be stolen surreptitiously, and whose loss is unbeknownst to us, but that they could be taken and posted in plain view.

6.  But my biggest concern of all is that the government overreacts by restricting sharing and access to only a limited few.  As I said, I work with classified information every day.  One of the lessons learned from 9-11 was that information that was known by some was not shared with others who could do something with it.  We’ve made great strides.  Still, almost a decade later, just today, I ran again into that very problem.  With access to information that another agency has, I might be able to help Soldiers on the ground in an active theater.  Were it prior to the Wikileaks fiasco, I would have no doubt that I would be able to eventually get access to that data and be able to do a better job helping to save lives.  My biggest fear now is that the boundaries between agencies will be built anew. 

7.  If we can’t share intelligence, we might as well not gather it.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on Wikileaks”

  1. Leaky thoughts from the Rhomboid : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee Says:

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  2. Nathan Moore Says:

    My question, which you can probably answer, is how in the hell did a PFC gain access like this?

    Ed: Easy. SIPRNet, from which I suspect these leaks derive, is accessible by literally hundreds of thousands of people–if not millions. Much of the information is input to various databases by soldiers at the lowest level immediately after a patrol. Then right before the next patrol, those same soldiers can research up-to-date information about the areas they’re getting ready to visit.

    This capability is a huge boon to our soldiers. Restriciting access would induce a time lag in the data and constrict the flow. PFC Manning, if it was him, did damage the US through the release of secrets. But even more damaging would be the decision to restrict that capability.

    Thankfully, the Top Secret network, where higher classified information resides, is far more restrictive.