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Author Topic: U.S. Intelligence Analyst Arrested in Wikileaks Video Probe  (Read 4472 times)
wraith808
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« on: June 08, 2010, 12:47:47 PM »

http://www.wired.com/thre...0/06/leak/?intcid=postnav

While unpopular, I know that my view is that classified information is just that- classified.  And if you release it for *whatever* reason outside of the correct procedures, you should be prosecuted.  That's the only way to ensure that intelligence remains actionable and assets that are in place for our security remain safe.  National security is not a pass to violate the rule of law, but there is a definite procedure to bring such things to prosecution- and one Specialist can't decide that information needs to be made public just because he thinks so.
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40hz
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2010, 02:42:24 PM »

Unfortunately, starting with Richard Nixon, there has been an ever increasing tendency to equate "issues of national security" with what can more accurately and honestly be described as "incidents embarassing to the current administration."

But even as a whistle-blower, his overall behavior was way over the top. Leaking that video might have been one thing. But releasing classified diplomatic communications is another.

Either way, this kid made several very stupid moves regardless of what his motivations or intentions might have been. And every serviceperson knows the UCMJ doesn't make too many allowances for intention.    

Hope he enjoys looking at moonlight through steel bars...

(Assuming they even have windows where he's heading.)  Sad


 

« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 02:54:25 PM by 40hz » Logged

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wraith808
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2010, 04:26:21 PM »

But I'm not talking about the nebulous "Issues of National Security."  It's more the classified tag.  Some things are declared issues of national security after the fact or that's just an excuse used not to comment on something.  But if something is labeled classified, that's pretty unequivocal IMO... and you signed an agreement when you took the job that says you will behave in a certain way toward that data, no matter what it is.
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40hz
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2010, 04:34:01 PM »

^No argument there.

I've read that little pamphlet they used to give you when you got your security 'clearance.'. It was called something like "Your Duty" It had the relevant parts of the U.S. Code along with the penalties for violating it spelled out pretty clearly. Scary book.

Like the song says:

"Moonlight and bars, my friends. Moonlight and bars."   tellme  
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 04:39:00 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2010, 09:04:54 PM »

Over the top is a nice way to understate things... 260,000 documents? YIKES! And he was bragging about it!
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2010, 02:18:57 AM »

IMHO the video probe does not probe anything. Can we say from it that somebody has committed a crime? I don't think so, but maybe someone considers differently and I would like to hear some arguments from them. So, then what was the purpose of leaking the video?

Whistle-blowers should be protected if by releasing classified documents they prove that somebody has done something wrong (from the law point of view). I know this is the law in some countries.
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40hz
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2010, 07:38:38 AM »

^ It is the law in the USA.

However, there's a big difference between what the law says and what the law allows. Most whistle-blowers lose their jobs. Getting blackballed in industry or government is also very common.

If you take a look at cases involving the federal government or major corporations, in almost every instance the whistle-blower suffered retaliation in direct defiance of laws prohibiting such actions. And in almost every instance, that retaliation went unpunished.

Despite what general public may say, it would appear the old adage remains true: Nobody likes a snitch. nono2




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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2010, 07:52:09 AM »

Unfortunately you are right, 40hz. And it happens all over, EU included (see wikipedia list on whistleblowers). They are the heroes of our days and they deserve our respect and gratitude.
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40hz
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2010, 08:06:04 AM »

Unfortunately you are right, 40hz.

I hate it when that happens.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 08:08:05 AM by 40hz » Logged

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wraith808
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2010, 10:33:47 AM »

Whistle-blowers should be protected if by releasing classified documents they prove that somebody has done something wrong (from the law point of view). I know this is the law in some countries.

I don't think so.  This puts too much of a nebulous status on the word classified.  There should be some process (which I think there is) for shedding light on classified documents.  Someone with the classification to see them that these things can be reported to.  And I think that does exist (especially in this age of senate oversight).

How do you allow someone in an analyst position to make the call that something is wrong enough to make classified documents public?  And what about the collateral damage if what they release isn't sanitized enough to protect the identities of those peripherally involved?

When something is marked classified, it should be black and white IMO... especially considering operational security for those who put their lives on the line based on the fact that this is so.
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40hz
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« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2010, 10:51:26 AM »

There should be some process (which I think there is) for shedding light on classified documents.  Someone with the classification to see them that these things can be reported to.  And I think that does exist (especially in this age of senate oversight).

It does exist. And I've been told by people I know (who work for members of Congress) that "oversight" is pretty a much a joke, along with FOI in general. Some oversight committees aren't even allowed to see some of the things they're supposed to be keeping an eye on due to concerns about "security."

For the most part openness only exists to the extent the current Executive Branch is willing to let it exist. And the courts have been very lenient in granting the Executive very broad and subjective authority to decide what should be considered classified. So don't expect much sympathy from them.

The other point that needs to b remembered is that most whistle-blowers (rather than this Army guy) reporteded their discoveries to the "appropriate authorities" first. The actual whistle-blowing only occurred after repeated attempts to bring the problem to their superiors and the authorities attention either resulted in no action - or far more often, blatant retaliation from the parties being accused.

Many a whistle-blower has stated they only "went public" in order to protect themselves when it became obvious that nothing was going to be done other than to get rid of them for speaking up.

As I previously said, there's a big difference between what the law says and what the law allows.

 Sad

« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 10:56:28 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2010, 11:06:44 AM »

A person that works with sensitive, classified information is not just some guy from the street. If an institution gives him this responsibility, it means it trusts him and his judgment and that he is prepared to analyze classified data from all points of view. It is not an ordinary job and it bears a lot of responsibility (or it should).

The problem with classified documents is that they can be easily used to hide certain sensitive facts from the general public. When this facts show that something illegal has been committed, do you think it is right to hide them? Even if there are authorities, we do not live in a perfect world and sometimes (or most of times, as you wish) they do not do they job as they should. So the last resort for a person that wants to do something right and to put the people responsible for that crimes to pay for them would be to make those documents and facts public.

The Watergate scandal in my opinion proves that whistleblowing is good when the law is breached. As a definition, whistleblowers raise concerns about a wrongdoing. In this case, I cannot see any wrongdoing on the tape, so the analyst is not a whistleblower.
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2010, 11:31:22 AM »

Striken Comment. PM me for original content.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 02:33:52 PM by Josh » Logged

Strength in Knowledge
40hz
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« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2010, 12:33:19 PM »

^Probably not.

It's generally understood you don't publically talk about having (or having had) security clearance. And most access to classfied information is also subject to non-disclosure agreements that remain in effect permanently. The stricter NDAs often forbid you to even admit you have any knowledge of what the NDA covers.

Edit: corrected and shortened a really convoluted sentence. Sorry..
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 01:18:49 PM by 40hz » Logged

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wraith808
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« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2010, 12:53:33 PM »

^ Well put.  It's sort of like the ninja joke.  If someone says he's a ninja, he's not. smiley  One reason those rules are in place also, is that if someone has CSC and people know that they have CSC, then the information that they have is now in jeopardy.  Given the right influence and enough time, anyone will crack.  Security through obscurity...
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40hz
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« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2010, 01:12:48 PM »

Security through obscurity...

And the natural human tendency not to want to walk around with a sign that reads: This Joker Knows Something They Don't Want You to Know - Grab Him!

 Grin
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 01:14:46 PM by 40hz » Logged

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wraith808
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« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2010, 01:50:48 PM »

A person that works with sensitive, classified information is not just some guy from the street. If an institution gives him this responsibility, it means it trusts him and his judgment and that he is prepared to analyze classified data from all points of view. It is not an ordinary job and it bears a lot of responsibility (or it should).

I'd have to respectfully disagree.  Just because you have access to some of the information, doesn't mean that you have access to all of the information.  And without a high level view of the information, you don't know enough to even know what you're looking at in a lot of cases.  Especially with sigint.  In the case of a lot of information that's not gathered by having assets on the ground, there's a really high noise-to-signal ratio.  So a lot of people paid to handle that information are just people paid to basically sift through a lot of detritus.  If they come across something, they shoot it to someone with a higher pay grade.  They are *not* equipped to do *anything* with the information.  If you leave that open to personal interpretation, your whole intelligence system is going to go to pot really quickly.  And these are not just random pieces out there... but people in harm's way.

Classified means just that.  And people who can't get that don't need to be in the business.  One good deed does nothing but make the situation murkier for all of the people in the field, IMO.
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« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2010, 01:51:20 PM »

It was more of a hypothetical, not a real call for people to disclose. I grow weary of listening to persons who have never dealt with this type of system before talk as thou they are the end-all-be-all when it comes to knowledge on a subject. Information is classified for a reason. Some persons might think this is to cover up something illegal happening but often times even those in the know do not know everything. The only thing I say is when claims such as this are made, please realize that while you might know one piece, there are probably 200 other pieces to a puzzle. On that note, I gracefully withdraw my comment above as it was not intended to have people violate their NDA.
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« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2010, 02:30:03 PM »

@Josh - hear ya!

Part of the problem with this discussion is that it's branched into four separate but interwoven topics. First, we have the incident of several unfortunate civilian deaths due to actions by US military personnel. Next is the case of a US serviceman who probably pulled one of the more boneheaded and irresponsible acts of the last 6 months. Third is the issue of what constitutes necessary and justifiable government regulations regarding secrecy and security. And last is the whole whistle-blower issue.

I think it's safe to say that most of us would agree:

  • Governments have a genuine need to keep certain things secret.
  • Most responsible people can understand and accept that necessity.
  • Laws have been passed that allow the government to protect information that should be kept secret.
  • Such laws should generally be respected and obeyed.
  • Governmental secrecy is invoked, on occasion, for less than noble or legal purposes.
  • Because of this potential for abuse, oversight and regulation of clandestine activities is essential in order to safeguard the rule of law.
  • In reality, the oversight and regulation of clandestine activities is only as real as those who are being regulated will allow it to be.
  • Courts usually defer to the Executive on matters of security.
  • Some people feel compelled to come forward when they become cognizant of abuse of powers or other illegal activity on the part of government agencies and personnel.
  • Whistle-blower laws have been enacted to encourage them to do so - and to protect them from retaliation when they do.
  • The protection clauses of such laws are generally ineffective in preventing or punishing retaliation against whistle-blowers.

Which brings us back to SPC Bradley Manning...

On the topic of him, I think it's safe to say:

  • He is most definitely not what anyone would consider a whistle-blower.
  • He acted in an extremely reckless manner.
  • He broke the law and violated his oath as a serviceman.
  • He will likely get his head handed to him following his court martial.

Did I miss anything? Grin
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« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2010, 03:39:01 PM »

To Josh and wraith808:
So what you say is that, for example, W. Mark Felt was wrong to leak information about the illegalities committed by the Nixon administration?

In my opinion, the rule of law should be above any other rules in a state because it is the only thing that (at least theoretical) makes us equal no matter of our origins or of our wealth or of our connections. So, when someone breaks the law, he must be prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished. When a person working with classified information discovers that crimes or irregularities have been committed, it should be his moral (and hopefully legal) duty to inform the appropriate authorities. If they do not do their job (as it sometimes happens), it is usually in the public interest to know about those crimes and irregularities because the public opinion will change the way the authorities will do their investigations. This is my view on this subject and I will need some strong arguments to change my opinion.

As I said above, I do not consider what this person has done to be whistleblowing. I agree with you, wraith808, in the intel field you might have only bits of data and would be hard for someone to understand the whole picture. And if this happens, then you cannot tell what really happened so you have no reason to whistleblow (if it were the case).

I do not consider that it is a general rule that classified information only covers illegal information. That would be absurd. Quite the opposite, it is important to have data classified, in order to protect national interests. But when it is used to cover illegal activities, I do not agree with it anymore and I am glad that people break the silence in order to inform us of the government's illegalities.

Indeed, I do not work with classified data, so I do not know all the details regarding this subject. I only read some stories about some whistleblowers, people that have put their careers and even lifes in jeopardy in order to stop bad things and bad people (or at least to inform us about their existence). And I am glad that they did it.
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wraith808
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« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2010, 09:24:40 PM »

To Josh and wraith808:
So what you say is that, for example, W. Mark Felt was wrong to leak information about the illegalities committed by the Nixon administration?

<snip />

Indeed, I do not work with classified data, so I do not know all the details regarding this subject. I only read some stories about some whistleblowers, people that have put their careers and even lifes in jeopardy in order to stop bad things and bad people (or at least to inform us about their existence). And I am glad that they did it.

Let's go a bit into why oversight isn't as good as it perhaps should be, and why those being scrutinized might have a problem with it.

The classified information in a lot of cases isn't just discrete bits of data.  In the end, there are assets on the ground- people- that put their lives in the way for different reasons.  No matter what these reasons are, “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”  People in oversight in some cases use information for political purposes of all sorts.  Because of people getting burned, the assets are skittish about people knowing about them, and the people that utilize the information are skittish because these leaks make it harder for them to get the assets in the first place.  This makes our defense weaker- we might not get information to effectively handle something because someone is concerned for their safety.

This lack of trust for the oversight, and for the operations that might be put into place makes the oversight process a lot less than it should be, which then weakens the ability for true problems to be brought to light.

Was W. Mark Felt wrong?  Yes.  Do the ends justify the means?  No.  Something good came of it, but that still doesn't make it right, or him any less wrong.  The problem with classified information and oversight needs to be solved, but having people reveal classified information doesn't make that problem go away, nor does it make going against the vow that you make right.  These kinds of revelations have the potential to make real people that are just doing their job and happen to be incidental to the information in question be put at unnecessary risk... and that's not right no matter what IMO.  The problem needs to be fixed from the top down, and not the bottom up, and the only way to do that is to (1) make enforcing the CIA Secrecy Agreement a priority no matter what, so that those protected by the classified information are just that... protected, and (2) make oversight a priority and those that violate oversight for any reason liable for that, and (3) make sure that the oversight committee is staffed by those that understand that they either *have* to be available when a Presidential Finding is issued in order to be notified, or give some sort of leeway in the reporting to take into account their unavailability.  

Exceptions to prima facie ethical principles must be shown to fulfill more important principles, not simply be assumed to be acceptable due to their being professionally "expedient." An affirmation of the legitimacy of the CIA as an institution does not entail moral approval of every end it might pursue nor every method it might employ.  And oversight helps to keep the CIA in line with the rule of law, while keeping their methods and information out of public scrutiny.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 09:26:29 PM by wraith808 » Logged

JavaJones
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« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2010, 12:07:01 AM »

Let's hear some examples of when a whistleblower's actions have directly resulted in the harm or death of any innocent person. On the counterpoint, let's hear about (the likely small portion that we know of) incidents where we find out later that the depth of secrecy we maintain has likewise resulted in harm or death of innocents. Which is greater? This is the only way to make a fair judgment, by your reasoning. Swearing an alliegance is a red herring. If you swear alliegance to an authority that is corrupt, is it still your moral duty to respect that alliegance? What duties to those who are sworn to maintain, and if they break those, what are the consequences?

- Oshyan
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« Reply #22 on: June 10, 2010, 01:28:07 AM »

wraith808, it seems to me that you see the problem only from the U.S. military and intelligence officials that fight in the war. But there are also (and they are a lot more than the ones from military/intel) public servants, or government or big corporations employees that have been whistleblowers.

Let me ask you something. If you were working for the government or for a big corporation and you would have access to classified information that would reveal that crimes have been committed. Lets say that you would announce all the appropriate authorities about this and nothing would happen. Maybe the crimes are still being committed. What would you do?

JavaJones, the only examples I can give you are this ones:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w...ki/List_of_whistleblowers
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« Reply #23 on: June 10, 2010, 03:06:04 PM »

Right, and the only thing you see on that list is either the whistleblowers themselves dying:
Ramin Pourandarjani, an Iranian physician, reported on the state use of torture on political prisoners. He died of poisoning shortly thereafter.
Satyendra Dubey, who accused employer NHAI of corruption in highway construction projects in India, in letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Assassinated on November 27, 2003. Enormous media coverage following his death may lead to Whistleblower Act in India.
S. Manjunath, a formerly manager at Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), and crusader against adulteration of petrol. He was shot dead on November 19, 2005, allegedly by a petrol pump owner from Uttar Pradesh.
Philip Schneider, a former U.S. geologist who helped constructing various classified military underground bases, who gave public lectures around 1995. He was found dead in his apartment in January 1996.

OR

The whistleblowers doing what they did *because* people were dying (and they wanted to prevent it):
Stewart Menzies, a British intelligence officer, who while serving in France  during World War I, reported that General Douglas Haig, the Commander-in-Chief, was fudging intelligence estimates, leading to the needless death of thousands of British soldiers

- Oshyan
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« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2010, 07:41:21 AM »

Write-up in wired:
http://www.wired.com/thre...level/2010/06/conscience/

Quote
But his own words to Lamo describe his transformation from dutiful soldier into a leaker. From his chats, it’s clear that Manning was a deeply unhappy and conflicted man, and his personal problems may have combined with a growing cynicism over U.S. foreign policy. But Manning isolated a key turning point in his regard for the military; he said it was when he was ordered to look the other way in the face of an injustice.
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