WHERE THERE ARE SECURITY LEAKS THERE IS NO SECURITY
June 14, 2012
Back in 1980, my family and I moved to Severna Park, Maryland. I was called to lead a small church as its Pastor, began my Ph. D. studies and was hired to do the morning shift at the local public radio station. It was considered the busiest period of my life.
I remember when someone would call my office or home and I would hear clicks and pops, sensing my phone was tapped. I remember people both in my church and at work tell me they were approached by "official looking" types asking questions about me.
As it turned out, my brother, then working for Burroughs' System Development Corporation, was procuring a very high security clearance with the Department of Defense. What he was doing, or going to do, no one knew. Now as I in any position to know to care. To this day, I don't know what on earth he was doing (although he did fess up to being in Cheyenne Mountain at NORAD on the day Ronald Reagan became President and having to stay there for some "upgrades").
Then, there were two men in my church who worked for National Security Agency. No one knew what they did, either. Most people knew better than to ask. The only thing we all deduced from their jobs was that when a high-yellow or red-alert was issued (and only a few government officials would know when that occurred), one the men would run home, gathered his luggage and family and head toward western Virginia. The other would not go home - at all.
The one who was to leave lived across the street from another of our church members, who would make a few phone calls when he saw his neighbor hastily gather up his clothes and family and head out without a word.
Ronald Reagan was President and the Soviet Union was making its usual threats. Plus, there were unstable times for the Soviets: Three of their Communist Party leaders died in this period: Leonid Brezhnev in November, 1982, Yuri Andropov in February, 1984 and Konstintin Chernenko in March, 1985.
These were perilous times, and the "secrets" or rather "security alerts" were kept far and away from the public.
Now, thirty years later, nearly anything you want to know about our inner secrets can be read via, the New York Times. These national security "leaks" are drawing a huge political pushback.
Each leak is a war-story skit crafted to buff President Barack Obama's tough-dude cred in the upcoming presidential election, has very likely harmed U.S. national security interests. These leaks may also make future military and intelligence counter-terror operations more difficult to organize and, for the American covert intelligence agents and special operations commandos who jeopardize their lives in these grim endeavors, much riskier to execute.
Little wonder the "Obama's guts, Obama's glory, vote Obama" media campaign, employing such narrative-dominating powers as Hollywood and The New York Times, is backfiring on Obama's election campaign. Spicing the narrative with concrete military and intelligence operational details has angered and energized a very small but aggressive group, Special Operations Speaks (SOS). Its members are retired U.S. special operations soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines, the mentors and comrades of the guys who really did get Osama bin Laden.
Let's take the current harm and future difficulties first.
While glorifying the president's role in the bin Laden raid, administration spinmeisters mentioned local help in Pakistan. The tidbit gave an angry Pakistani government enough data to identify Dr. Shakil Afridi. He now faces 33 years in prison for helping the U.S. end bin Laden's murderous career.
Loose lips sank ships in World War II, now they jail courageous friends in a war where the friendship of locals is priceless. White House leakers, however, value a temporary political advantage over the liberty, and perhaps the life, of a pro-American intelligence source. This discourages future Dr. Afridis. Terrorist commanders will deploy phony Afridis, complicating CIA surveillance.
Two months ago, the administration revealed that an agent working for British and Saudi intelligence had penetrated al-Qaida's Yemen-based affiliate, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The agent, ostensibly studying at an Arabic-language school, passed himself off as a potential suicide bomber. His British passport eased access to the U.S. ABC News reported that the agent was withdrawn because leaks risked alerting AQAP. Revealing the agent's existence, after the operation, does increase terrorist paranoia, which has a certain value, but the administration's breathless confirmation of operational details could hinder future U.S. and allied intelligence cooperation.
A June 1 New York Times article on U.S. cyberwar capabilities also demonstrates that politics trump operational security. The article depicts Obama, man of steel, deciding to continue the Stuxnet computer virus operation to sabotage Iranian uranium centrifuges.
The article publicly confirms that the Stuxnet computer virus, which damaged Iranian nuclear facilities, "had been developed by the United States and Israel." While the article notes the U.S. has not officially admitted using cyberweapons, the Obama-Stuxnet skit serves notice. The Times tapped non-White House sources, but "none would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day." Yes, classified information about ongoing operations. The article says Obama knows confirming U.S. attacks justifies attacks by U.S. adversaries. Dumb diplomacy, folks.
Which brings us to SOS. The pro-Mitt Romney banner distracts from its core message and mission. The message: A cadre of retired U.S. special operations personnel is fed up with leaks that compromise covert U.S. operations and imprison pro-American sympathizers. Their mission: stop the leaks by firing the leaker-in-chief. A former SEAL and commandant of the SEAL training center, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Larry Bailey, organized the group. He was once asked why he formed it. He replied: "I'm pissed." Bailey knows the leaks put U.S. security and the lives of American spies and SEALS at risk, so he's fighting a political fight, seeded with his own money. He'll take donations, you bet. Yes, he expects dirty personal attacks impugning his motives.
Bailey and his shoestring SOS are Obama's worst election year nightmare -- special ops guys who publicly question his leadership and judgment. Obama's most potent campaign tout is "I got bin Laden." With SOS in the mix, the potent tout suddenly sounds just a tad pathetic.
We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.