In A.D. 2010, Pfc. Bradley Manning was arrested and charged with leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Currently, former CIA and NSA employee Edward Snowden is being pursued by the US government for also having leaked information exposing the government’s massive surveillance programs directed against the people of the United States and of foreign countries.
The revelations and scandals surrounding these leaks have infuriated significant portions of the US and EU and set the US government reeling.
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey recently reacted by saying NSA leaker Snowden’s disclosures about U.S. surveillance programs have undermined U.S. relationships with other countries and affected what he calls “the importance of trust.”
General Dempsey implied that the loss of foreign nation’s trust in the US government was not caused by the actual spying on foreign nations, but rather on Snowden’s disclosure of the spying.
This makes as much sense as a banker who embezzled $100 million complaining that it wasn’t the actual theft of $100 million that caused his bank’s collapse—it was the disclosure that he’d stolen $100 million. If everyone has simply kept their mouths shut, the bank that lost $100 million would still be in business—and the government’s national and global spying operations could still be keeping the world safe for democracy and freedom.
General Dempsey’s comment seems absurd. Still, it’s true that spying on foreign countries—and on Americans—diminishes the world’s “trust” in the US government. That trust is vital to government authority, supporting the value of the fiat dollar and even to keeping our economy intact.
By spying on everyone, government implicitly admits that it’s become paranoid in that it doesn’t trust anyone. Government’s seemingly universal distrust raises an interesting question: If government doesn’t trust you and me, should you and I still trust the government?
Government most distrusts government employees
While government claims to spy on hundreds of millions of Americans to protect us from the handful of terrorists in our midst, government is primarily distrustful of current and former government employees.
For example, it’s been common knowledge for several years that the federal government has been deeply wary of US military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Why? Because military pay is generally so low that most young men don’t enter the military to get rich. They’re not money-motivated. They enlist as “patriots” willing to risk their lives to fight for America and for our “freedoms”.
But after several months or years of battle, many soldiers realize they’re fighting for our government (and whichever special interests it represents) rather than our nation. They come to see government’s claims of patriotism as not only exaggerated but evidence that government flat-out lies, lies regularly, and depends on lies to survive.
Soldiers—who initially believed those lies when they enlisted—have been wounded physically,psychologically or spiritually. Some were killed. For lies.
Many soldiers don’t mind the lies. They may flourish in the military. But others are grieved to the point of suicide or rage at the government they’ve served. They see the lies as exploitation, betrayal and even treason committed by government against American soldiers.
So, when veterans (who are highly trained and experienced in the technology of warfare and the use of firearms) return home to the USA, the government fears that some of them may be angry enough to pose a credible threat to the professional liars who’ve come control government. Government may describe a Marine sniper who can shoot an enemy at 1,000 yards as “hero” while he’s in Iraq. But, once that Marine sniper returns to the US, government may describe the same Marine as a “dangerous man” to be distrusted, carefully observed and perhaps disarmed.
• Similarly, just as government trains young men like Pfc. Manning to fight in foreign countries, government also trains computer technicians like Edward Snowden in the craft of cyber-warfare so they can spy on America’s overt enemies, apparent allies and even the American people. Like conventional soldiers, many of these government-trained hackers entered government service as “patriots” who believed that government was honest and working for all Americans’ best interests.
But there’s a problem with the hackers. They’re more intelligent than the average soldier. As a result, any hacker who’s smart enough to break into other people’s computers, is also smart enough to see that the US gov-co routinely lies, has no commitment to justice, and will ultimately exploit anyone—enemies, friends, American citizens and even government employees—for the best interests of government and certain special interests.
If these “true believers” become disillusioned by the discovery of government’s true nature, they may become angry at government’s betrayal of America.
Some such hackers will begin to spy on the US government and secretly sell US governmental secrets to foreign governments. These spies for money aren’t too dangerous to government since they keep their secrets and their incomes hidden from the public.
However, a few hackers, like Edward Snowden, are motivated by ideals and moral considerations rather than money. Such men will reveal and publicize government secrets for free to the American people and the world. Such “true believers” are dangerous to government because they’re not in it for the money—only for the political impact their revelations might cause. They don’t want to secretly sell government secrets to some foreign enemy. They want to openly reveal government secrets to the American people. Such mass revelations are anathema to corrupt government.
As a result of government’s lies and betrayal of the people of the USA, the government can’t trust disillusioned US soldiers, and it can’t trust disillusioned US hackers and can’t even trust most government employees.
Government Spies (primarily) on Government
The McClatchy Washington Bureau described government’s growing witch hunt against government employees in “Experts: Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven, unlikely to work”:
“In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques . . . . The [profiling] techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.”
It makes perfect sense that government fears government employees more than dissidents or even terrorists. Dissidents can complain about government all day, but their complaints are primarily speculative—they don’t usually have direct access to hard evidence of government corruption or treason. Terrorists can bomb a building from time to time and even kill a few thousand people—but government can and does exploit terrorists as a reason for government to grab more power. In any case, a few thousand deaths hardly threaten the existence of government.
However, government “insiders” are to be feared because they have access to real evidence of government malfeasance, corruption and treason. If government insiders “blow the whistle,” government can be in big trouble with the American people and/or the world.
Therefore, under the Insider Threat Program, government is using the same computers it’s used to spy on private Americans to spy even more intensely on its own employees.
You can bet that this heightened surveillance will result in false reports of “insider threat behavior”. You can bet that some government employees acting out of malice or jealousy will issue false reports alleging other government employees’ “insider threat behavior”. The Insider Threat Program will initiate a witch hunt in federal agencies around the country. Victims of the witch hunt will become angry. Some will decide to “get even” by actually leaking documents to the press and public. The number of leaks will increase as government makes its own employees more fearful and furious.
Some of the insider threat “indicators” to be watched for in fellow government employees include:
1. “stress, divorce and financial problems.” [Who has none of that, hmm?]
2. “reading classified documents they should not be reading” [You can’t always be sure whether you should or shouldn’t read a document until after you’ve read it.]
3. “a desire to help the ‘underdog’ [a defendant] or a particular cause” [Apparently, the government is not really “here to help us”; it’s here to help itself. Any government employees who think differently will be reported and weeded out.]
4. “divided loyalty: allegiance to another person or company or to a country besides the United States.” [How ‘bout loyalty to God or to the Christ? How ‘bout loyalty to the Constitution? How ‘bout loyalty to the American people or even to truth? Are those evidence of a “divided loyalty” likely to subject government employees to suspicion or investigation? The answers are Yes, Yes and Yes.]
There’re more “indicators,” but you can imagine the kind of paranoia the Insider Threat Program will precipitate among government employees. You can also imagine the kind of anguish that many government workers will feel over trying to decide to report, or not to report, any fellow worker who seems a little “suspicious”. Government employees will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The resulting tension and indecision will be painful.
Inevitably, the Insider Threat Program will set government employees against government employees. Morale will fall. Leaks will rise.
Many ordinary Americans argue that although government claims to have implemented its massive spying program to catch terrorists, the terrorists are just a pretext to allow government to spy on the real target: private Americans.
That argument is mistaken. The real target of government’s mass surveillance programs isn’t terrorists (who are more of an annoyance than mortal threat to the government), and probably not ordinary Americans (who largely know nothing and therefore pose little threat to government). The real target for government’s mass surveillance programs is almost certainly government employees.
Given that government employees pose the greatest threat to government secrecy, it simply makes sense to suppose that one of the primary “indicators” used to determine whether a particular American should be subject to intensified government spying is whether that American is a government employee.
Government knows how corrupt government is. It follows that government knows how disgruntled its employees can be. It follows that government knows that the greatest threat to government is its own employees and therefore, those employees should be the primary object of government spying.
No Secrecy in the Internet Age for People—but Not for Government, too.
The Insider Threat Program is self-defeating and stupid. But that’s not surprising since there’s really not much government can do to stop leaks in the age of computers and internet.
Government is flailing about, trying to devise computer and psychological “technologies” to identify “leakers” (truth-tellers) so as to prevent more leaks. That effort will fail since, first, there’s almost no secrecy in the Internet Age.
In just a single generation, Americans have become absolutely dependent upon computers to handle virtually all of our communications (email and voice). With the extraordinary power of computers and the internet, we can each reach hundreds, thousands, sometime millions of people each day.
But just as computers and internet technologies empower you and me to reach millions of people in an instant, those same technologies empower government to effortlessly spy on millions of Americans every instant. Computerized spying technology is so sophisticated and effortless, that cyber-spying is virtually irresistible. I doubt that any law can be ever passed and enforced that will effectively prohibit governmental agencies like the CIA, NSA or Homeland Security from spying on enemies, allies, citizens and, especially, government employees. Spying will be a fact of life for some time to come. Secrecy is a thing of the past.
If you have any information that you’d like to keep secret, you’re a fool if you allows that information to exist in digital form on a computer connected to the internet. If you place your secrets in any computer that’s attached to the internet, your secrets can be found and published to the world.
But, if you’re a fool to digitize your secrets, so’s the government.
Clearly, government has used extraordinarily efficient computer technology to secretly capture billions of email and voice communications. Very scary.
But then what?
Then, government stores all those digital communications on hard drives that can often fit in the palm or your hand or on even smaller thumb drives. Government has thereby put all of its “cyber-eggs” in one (or at least a very few) “baskets” (hard drives). Thanks to computer technology, government has concentrated enormous troves of secrets on a relatively few, tiny hard drives.
Given that all the secret information is in digital format, and given that the computers are super-fast, all of those digitized secrets stored in one place can be copied almost instantly to other computers, hard drives, thumb drives and internet blogs.
Thus, the same computer technology that allows government to secretly spy on billions of email and telephone calls, also requires that the resulting data be stored on relatively small hard drives. These hard drives are vulnerable to outside hackers and, especially, disgruntled insiders.
Twenty years ago, it would’ve been impossible for the world’s greatest master spy to find, copy and release several hundreds of thousands of classified documents. Today, a lowly Pfc. (like Bradley Manning) can do so quickly and without anyone even noticing until it’s too late. By concentrating enormous volumes of secret data on only a few hard drives, government has made theft of that data relatively easy.
In the world of espionage, the manly Commander James Bond and his Walther PPK have been replaced by the mincing Private First Class Bradley Manning and a thumb drive. (Mizz Moneypenny must be inconsolable.)
My point is that while government can use computer technology to spy on us, that same computer technology makes government’s secrets extremely vulnerable to exposure by those critical of government.
There is no secrecy in the internet age. Not for you, not for me, not even for government.
And I doubt that there’s a damn thing government can do about it other than huff and puff and threaten to spy on its own employees.
Loyalty vs. Technology
There’s no point to recruiting a private man like myself to reveal government secrets. I’m a strong critic of government, but I’m not a government employee. Therefore I have no access to government secrets or ability to expose them.
In the movies, James Bond may break into government facilities great violence to steal enemy secrets. But in real life, spies prefer to recruit government employees who can enter government buildings and computer data bases without all of James-Bond pyrotechnics. Those government employees (“insiders”) can easily betray their country’s, government’s or employer’s trust and secretly reveal information to which they have easy access.
Foreign spies are trained to recognize government employees who have: 1) personal problems (infidelity, homosexuality, pedophilia, gambling drug addiction, or not enough money); or, 2) personal inclinations (anger, jealousy, etc.)—that are sufficient to motivate them to betray their employer’s trust by giving or selling government secrets to the government’s enemy.
It’s always true that the people with the greatest opportunity to reveal government secrets are government’s own employees. Therefore, the best insurance for governmental secrecy is to maintain employee loyalty.
So long as government employees remain loyal to government, the chances of a significant leak of government secrets are minimal. The cases of both Pfc. Manning and Edward Snowden illustrate the principle that the principle threat to government secrecy is government “insiders”.
And therein lies government’s major problem: Government can no longer count on its employees’ loyalty.
Being prone to lies, false claims of patriotism, betrayal of the public’s best interests, service to special interests, and even treason, the government can no longer inspire and maintain employee loyalty. We have a President who many believe isn’t even eligible to hold that office. Those rumors do not inspire loyalty. Instead, corrupt government inspires contempt. Contempt is conducive to leaking government secrets.
A government with great integrity may inspire all of its employees to fight to the death to defend the government’s interests. A government that’s corrupt can inspire its employees to compete among themselves to receive the highest bribes for betraying government’s secrets.
The government has become too corrupt to inspire employee loyalty. Thus, we have leaks.
Government corruption causes leaks.
Government seeks to seal those leaks with technology and paranoia precisely because government can’t seal the leaks by inspiring employee loyalty. But because employee loyalty is so critical to protecting government secrets and government no longer inspires loyalty, government is screwed. Secrecy is a thing of the past.
Thus, the leaks will continue and even increase until government can again inspire their employees’ loyalty rather than fear.
Government must understand that government, itself, causes disloyalty—and then leaks—by being openly corrupt. But even if government understands that principle, what can a corrupt government do to stop the leaks other than abandon its current dedication to lies, betrayal of the public, and treason?
Reformation or Destruction?
Thanks to computer and internet technologies, any government that has true “national secrets” to conceal will fail to do so unless that government is legitimately honest and faithful to its People’s best interests. So long as any government remains corrupt and treacherous, it will necessarily lose its employee’s loyalty and thereby inspire more leaks of government secrets.
Thanks to computer and internet technologies, we’re approaching a time when the world’s only viable governments will those that are known by all to be genuinely honest, ethical and committed to serve their people rather serving government, itself, and wealthy special interests.
Thus, our government is facing a critical choice: If it wishes to protect its national secrets, government must go through a “reformation” whereby it abandons its corrupt and unconstitutional ways. On the other hand, so long as government prefers to remain corrupt, unconstitutional and treasonous, it will die the “death of a thousand leaks” orchestrated by disgruntled, disillusioned and angry government employees.