National Security Desk / June 26, 2017

On National Security, Is America Its Own Worst Enemy?

Leakers are becoming an increasingly problematic “feature” of the U.S. intelligence community.

Iran and North Korea are just a few of the many nations whose regimes pose national security risks to the U.S. But national security isn’t just an external problem. As we’re seeing more and more, people like Edward Snowden and “Chelsea” Manning prove that hostility can be just as much of an internal threat as it is a foreign one.

According to recent remarks from CIA Director Mike Pompeo on the issue of intelligence leaks, “In some ways, I do think it’s accelerated. I think there is a phenomenon, the worship of Edward Snowden, and those who steal American secrets for the purpose of self-aggrandizement or money or for whatever their motivation may be.” He added, “You now have not only nation states trying to steal our stuff, but non-state, hostile intelligence services, well-funded folks like WikiLeaks out there trying to steal American secrets for the sole purpose of undermining the United States and democracy.” Amazingly, some perpetrators — like Manning — add insult to injury by virtually getting away with it.

Pompeo’s public concern comes at the same time a Washington Free Beacon report warns, “The majority of federal agencies have not addressed significant weaknesses in cyber security, as security incidents increased by more than 1,000 percent in less than a decade, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).” In 2016 alone, there were a staggering 67,168 security infractions. “In 2006, there were only 5,503 security incidents,” according to the Beacon, which adds, “The number of incidents that involved personally identifiable information (PII) has also increased, more than doubling from 10,481 in 2009 to 27,624 in 2014.”

According to the GAO, “Federal agencies’ information and systems remain at a high risk of unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, and disruption.” What’s needed is a pervasive clampdown. Not only are disgruntled individuals like Reality Winner exploiting their roles to satisfy a vendetta, but federal agencies aren’t doing enough to safeguard critical information by implementing more rigorous vetting and purging patriot imposters. There’s an adage that says a society’s destruction will come from within. The U.S. is getting dangerously close to becoming its own worst enemy.

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