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Allyne Caan / March 9, 2017

The Real Problem With WikiLeaks

To these anti-American clowns, no leak is a bad leak.

This week’s WikiLeaks bombshell has the Central Intelligence Agency scrambling, conspiracy theorists conspiring, and Edward Snowden undoubtedly smiling with glee.

It should also have every American concerned — very concerned.

In Tuesday’s release of 8,761 documents and files stolen from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, WikiLeaks claims to have uncovered how the CIA hacks into devices including smartphones, smart TVs, and computer operating systems. What’s more, the leak also appears to show the CIA can carry out hacking activities while making it appear the breach came from another country.

Commenting on the leak, infamous NSA leaker Snowden tweeted that it’s “genuinely a big deal.” If the leaked information proves authentic, he’s right, unfortunately.

As the Wall Street Journal explains, if authenticated, the leak “would be one of the biggest breaches in the spy agency’s history. … [While] Mr. Snowden’s leaks revealed names of programs, companies that assist the NSA in surveillance and in some cases the targets of American spying … the recent leak purports to contain highly technical details about how surveillance is carried out. … In one sense, Mr. Snowden provided a briefing book on U.S. surveillance, but the CIA leaks could provide the blueprints.”

Americans should be alarmed for several reasons.

First, to leakers like Snowden and WikiLeaks Founder-in-Hiding Julian Assange, there is no such thing as an inappropriate leak. WikiLeaks has no desire to discern between what should be released and what shouldn’t. The Snowdens and Assanges out there may think they’re going to change the world by indiscriminately dumping sensitive data, but they are not friends of America, and they’re endangering lives. It’s one thing to hold our government accountable; it’s quite another to reveal to our nation’s enemies our national security tactics and methods.

Indeed, as the Journal reports, “The exposure, if genuine, is likely to disrupt or halt many ongoing intelligence operations … and could implicate the CIA in past operations, including some that might be under investigation in foreign countries where the agency was spying.”

As long as WikiLeaks is able recklessly to release national security secrets, Americans should be both concerned and outraged.

Second, this latest leak once again casts extreme doubt on our government’s ability to handle information in a way that protects Americans’ rights. As Reason’s Scott Shackford writes, beyond the nuts and bolts of what was leaked the fact that anything was leaked is the problem: “That our intelligence agencies cannot expect to keep their practices secret from the public at large (and other nations) should influence policy decisions on how much information they collect and how they prioritize infiltrating devices over revealing security risks.”

According to Reuters, U.S. officials are looking at contractors as the possible source of the breach, with one official saying the number of contractors with access to highly secret information has “exploded” as a result of budget limitations.

Yet, if the CIA, NSA and other security agencies have classified tools for spying on America’s enemies, these agencies have a deep responsibility to ensure these tools are not leaked and made available to those very enemies.

In this regard, we actually agree wholeheartedly with Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, who noted, “[Y]ou have to be loyal to America to work for an intelligence agency, otherwise don’t do it.”

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the leak once again raises the question of whether the government should be able to carry out mass surveillance in the first place. Granted, in the latest leak, reports have not indicated the CIA used any of these tools against Americans, but one of the reasons we objected to the NSA’s mass surveillance was we didn’t trust the Obama administration to handle the information in a way that protected Americans’ rights.

A change in administration shouldn’t change our wariness of government’s ability to collect and retain massive amounts of information on Americans — which, incidentally, they can do this very minute. Indeed, if we are to remain vigilant about our rights, we should not fully trust any administration, regardless of party label, to spy on Americans.

As John Adams so presciently noted, “The only Maxim of a free Government, ought to be to trust no Man living, with Power to endanger the public Liberty.”

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