In the communications world there’s an old saying, “If you don’t want what you write on the front page on the New York Times, don’t write it.”
With Sunday’s first release of some 251,200 documents the Wikileaks Website, this old saying has new meaning.
There are documents listed as secret, confidential and unclassified now posted on the site. Where they all came from remains unclear, but the content is an extraordinary breach of national security.
Already the US Attorney General has been on TV saying the Justice Department is reviewing what crimes against America have been committed in the release and publishing online of these documents.
Already on Facebook, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has taken President Obama to the woodshed because the release of the documents happened on his watch. Per Gov. Palin, “However, the latest round of publications of leaked classified U.S. documents through the shady organization called Wikileaks raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s incompetent handling of this whole fiasco.”
Is that really fair?
Well, I talked to a few people and the response to that question was this: “If Bush had been in office when this happened, they’d be bashing him, so it goes with the territory.”
I suppose that’s true.
Palin goes on to question how “it possible that a 22-year-old Private First Class could get unrestricted access to so much highly sensitive information? And how was it possible that he could copy and distribute these files without anyone noticing that security was compromised?”
While I don’t know that age or rank in the military have anything to do with the level of a clearance a person gets, I think it is fair to ask her second question: How did so much information get leaked?
NBC nightly news reported tonight that Wikileaks leader Julian Assange was pretty scarce today. I wonder why. He’s probably now a higher priority target of more black ops people than Jason Bourne. As for the military soldier in confinement for his role in allegedly leaking documents to Assange, it seems to be pretty clear what most I’ve talked about this issue with think should be done. The answer: Try him for treason and shoot him.
To her credit, Gov. Palin asks “What if any diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on NATO, EU, and other allies to disrupt Wikileaks’ technical infrastructure? Did we use all the cyber tools at our disposal to permanently dismantle Wikileaks? Were individuals working for Wikileaks on these document leaks investigated? Shouldn’t they at least have had their financial assets frozen just as we do to individuals who provide material support for terrorist organizations?”
Now those all seem like reasonable points to me. One has to wonder if the Sunday Cyber denial-of-service attack against Wikileaks wasn’t inspired by one government entity or another. Maybe it was too little, too late. Maybe it was just some kid hackers out for a bit of fun. We may never know.
What’s Most Troubling
What’s hard to comprehend at this point is that over the next few weeks more and more documents are to be released. This weekend’s batch was just the tip of the iceberg. What’s even more troubling is the compromised people around the globe who have provided our government operatives with information they’d prefer their respective governments, terrorists, thugs, etc. not have known they gave up. There’s most likely not any way on earth to scoop them all up and relocate, protect, or defend them from the immediate and likely deadly consequences they’re likely to face.
The Lessons To Learn
Back to my first point. Even in writing government documents it now appears that in our digital age, NOTHING is sacred nor safe. We used to hear all the time about how hackers were trying to get into government servers and databases. I hope no one reading this thinks that has stopped, as surely it hasn’t, again whether it be rogue nations, terrorist organizations, or teens like in the 1980s movie War Games.
And it appears that government operatives need to find new ways to send/convey personal observations of foreign dignitaries, etc.
Like I said above, if you don’t want to read about something you wrote on the front page of the New York Times, you shouldn’t write it, let alone send it. (Here’s an interesting piece from Politico on the NYT’s involvement in publishing of the documents.)
Of course, after having watched enough TV and movies, there’s also a part of me that wonders how much of what was leaked was meant to be leaked…. Scary enough, I’m not the only one who made that leap….