Wikileaks recently published over 90,000 classified documents relating to the Afghanistan war and, in a second brazen act, published top secret CIA documents for the whole world to view.
The founder of Wikileaks is apparently concerned that he may be arrested but apparently not so concerned as to stop. A person of interest in the U. S. military has already been detained in the release of the Afghanistan documents.
But why should you care…..?
As a retired Marine Colonel I can assure you that the damage of this leak to the American people and the free world will be profound.
The seeds of the next September 11th have just been sown.
The damage results from the releasing of classified methods as well as the names of persons involved in such operations. The impact on human intelligence gathering is potentially fatal. The message has just been broadcast to all who might cooperate with the United States or our allies that they are at risk of exposure for having helped us and our cause.
The net result of these types of security leaks is to reinforce to people like Valerie Plame that their lives or those of their loved ones may be in danger by being patriotic or merely by offering to help to keep nations from going to war.
In the movie "Thirteen Days" about the Kennedy Administration and the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was a news reporter who helped establish "back channel" communications with the Soviet Union to defuse the crisis. Imagine asking for such help today knowing that some careless individual may release your name and endanger the lives of your family or your own.
Valuable sources of information will now think twice before assisting our homeland defense. Critical elements of information may be lost until it is too late.
The entire system of human intelligence gathering is based upon trust. That trust has once again been shattered by the irresponsible actions of a few.
The Washington Post recently published articles about "Top Secret America". The series was insightful in what it said and in what it did not say. The sheer numbers of those with Top Secret clearances provides the background about how over 90,000 classified Afghanistan documents could be released by one person allegedly. Continuously ensuring the character of so many people is a mind numbing task.
During the Carter Administration, the political process was convinced that only signal intelligence was needed (ie National Security Agency) and that human intelligence (ie CIA) was a thing of the past.
During the 1990’s, when it appeared that the Cold War was over, Congress declared a peace dividend by shelving many of the Special Forces capabilities and cutting back significantly on our military.
During the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9-11-01, our Nation finally saw the unintended consequences of minimizing human intelligence and declaring dividends too early. Our nation was woefully unprepared for the intelligence systems we needed to defend ourselves.
Terrorists truly understood our vulnerabilities and exploited them and we did not.
With the release of the Afghanistan related documents and the documents from the CIA, as well as with other national security leaks, the risks to the nation of the release comes from the impact on exposing our intelligence methods as well as names of those who helped.
Retribution from those warring with us will be horrific.
Action is needed immediately if we are to keep our nation safe.
First we must treat our methods of gathering intelligence as one of the most crucial national secrets.
Second, we must, as a nation, commit not to release names of those who help us or face losing valuable intelligence leads.
Third, we must determine, with the full force of the FBI and law enforcement, those who released the Afghanistan and CIA documents and stop the leaks immediately.
Finally, we must prosecute anyone releasing or publishing classified military documents to the fullest extent of the law as defined by our U. S. Constitution as relates to the crime that it is – treason.
If you say you support the soldier, sailor, airmen and Marine, you must demand no less protection for them.
God help America for what was just released. The seeds of the next September 11th have just been sown.
Frank Ryan, CPA specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics for the state CPA societies. Frank is a retired Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan. He is on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at [email protected]