Steven Aftergood: Leaks That Are Good for National Security

Corruption, Government, Law Enforcement
Steven Aftergood
Steven Aftergood

Leak of White Paper Boosts Intelligence Oversight

The unauthorized disclosure last week of a Justice Department White Paper on the legality of targeted killing of senior al Qaida operatives who are Americans had the collateral effect of strengthening congressional oversight of intelligence.

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DoJ White Paper Released as a Matter of “Discretion”

“The Department has determined that the document responsive to your request is appropriate for release as a matter of agency discretion,” wrote Melanie Ann Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice.

This is a surprising statement, because as recently as two or three weeks earlier, the Department had said exactly the opposite.

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Phi Beta Iota:  While Brother Steven makes a lovely argument about the inter-related benefits of some leaks, decent investigative journalism, and Congressional oversight, we fear that he has lit a candle in a pitching sea of corruption.  The Executive has told the Court in writing that it has the right to lie to the Court as it sees fit.  Congressional oversight has never been effective with respect to secret intelligence, with the Government Accountability Organization (GAO) still blocked from doing what it does rather well.  Speaking plainly, as long as the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence is led by an idiot who refers to “so-called Americans,” in striving to justify extrajudicial assassinations and confirm as director of the CIA the one person most responsible for the gross US disregard of the rule of law both at home and abroad, there will be no Congressional oversight, and no rule of law within secret intelligence renditions, torture, secret prisons, and not so secret video-game assassinations.  The moral disengagement of the United States of America is most ably represented by one man: John Brannan.  The FACT that he did not include in his prepared remarks — as he was advised to — an immediate cessation of CIA engagement in any and all drone attack operations (there is still an excellent place for stealth drone imagery and signals reconnaissance) — tells us all we need to know about the future of the CIA: it does not have a future — certainly not one that includes moral engagement, creative collection, or competent analytics.

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