Monday, July 19, 2010

Wahington Post Series on Top Secret Sites is Shameful

Hi Folks,

Normally I don't get political on this blog, and actually, I don't really think this post is political. But I do think the topic is important.

Today, the Washington Post unveiled their series on the Top Secret work done by the Federal Government.

Here's my problem: There will be a lot of innocent people placed at risk simply because of who they work for. Imagine this scenario: Joe Smith, an employee (fictitious) of a Top Secret government contractor takes a trip to a quasi-friendly (or even unfriendly) country to perform work for another client. Joe winds up in a situation for some reason that involves police authorities in said country. They ask him where he works. He answers truthfully. They run that information through their systems and bingo, get a hit. (They know all the companies now because of this article) Depending on the person running the query, Joe might be flagged as an agent. He certainly has knowledge of Top Secret information. Right?

Well...maybe, maybe not. However, try convincing an authority in a foreign country of that.

In fact, people don't even have to travel abroad. Now, our enemies know exactly where the offices of these companies are. They now have all types of targets for espionage and for recruiting spies.

Some will say the articles have a noble purpose to expose government waste. Is that something we don't already know?

Some may also say, like in a Tom Clancy novel, if the Washington Post can find this information, our enemies already know it. Yes, but they've made it really easy to find - all in one place, hyperlinked, with maps and all.

It will be interesting to see if any of the same people who were outraged over the "outing" of Valerie Plame will be outraged over this. I doubt it.

I think the Washington Post has abused the liberty of freedom of the press by publishing this series, but the damage has already been done.


Joe said...

Did you read the Editor's Notes about the project?

Apparently government officials don't share your outrage.

Randy Rice said...

Hi Joe,

I appreciate your comment. Yes, I read the editor's comments. My issue is not with the topic itself because certainly there is excess in spending in the IC. Statements like "we allowed government officials to see the Web site several months ago" are ambiguous. Which agencies? Which officials?

I can tell you that this raised concerns weeks ago from DoD and the State Dept as they were notifying contractors about the articles.

Here is a response from the Director of National Intelligence:

which in carefully worded terms, disagrees with the reporting. So, at least some government officials aren't happy. Also, here's an article from Taiwan:

Anyway, it's the assimilating of the information and the ease-of-access that I have a problem with. The point could have been made without listing the contractors with maps to their facilities. Some of these contractors are small, home-based businesses. I think that is where the line was crossed. Just my opinion, but time will tell what the impact will be.

Thanks again for your comment, Joe.


Joe said...

Thanks, Randy. Sounds like we'll have to keep an eye on this one.

Joe said...

I'm glad to see that while the references you provided show disagreement with the Post series ("The reporting does not reflect the Intelligence Community we know"), they don't seem to indicate any concerns about crossing any ease-of-access lines.

As you pointed out, if the Post can find it, the bad guys already know it.