Illustration by José Juis Merino
Appeared in: Volume 9, Number 4
Published on: March 3, 2014
American Traitors
Mark M. Lowenthal is president of the Intelligence & Security Academy. From 2002–05 he was the Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production.
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  • free_agent

    You write, “A new act focused on leaking properly classified information would seem preferable, although politically difficult.”

    That would be a rather drastic step, however. The US has always had the rule that the government can’t make information secret by fiat, that secrecy must come from actual value. (This is to be contrasted with the British Official Secrets Act.) Allowing the government (the bureaucracy, really) to make information secret by fiat would be a significant curtailment of liberty.

    • Andrew Allison

      I couldn’t agree more. First, let’s discuss how much classified is properly classified (10%? Less?). Furthermore the excesses of the US intelligence apparatus and utter failure of Congressional “oversight” which have been exposed thanks to Snowden make it paramount that whistleblowers be not merely tolerated, but encouraged and protected. Better a few false positives than further encouragement of “because we can”.

  • John Tyler

    The most significant event of the late 20th century was the collapse of the USSR; the US intelligence community was clueless about this historic event even a few weeks before it occurred .

    More recently we have the invasion of Crimea, a real surprise to all.

    When faced with real time information- oft times vast, vast quantities of it – determining the meaning of it all can simply be impossible.
    As an analogy, the US Federal Reserve collects masses of information – ALL freely obtained and in stupendous volumes- and literally just a few months before the Crash of 2008 ( an economic Pearl Harbor) , the FED announced that the extant minor slowdown in housing would not affect the “robust economy. ”
    Yea right.

    Like many math problems, the answer is obvious only AFTER you know the answer.
    Unless you have a reliable spy inside the organization of an adversary, you WILL miss the “obvious” events that will ensue. I do not think there is any way around this.

    Oh, by the way, let’s not forget the missing WMDs in Iraq.

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