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US Intelligence Community Has Lost Credibility Due To Leaks (bloomberg.com) 339

Two anonymous readers and Mi share an article: U.K. police investigating the Manchester terror attack say they have stopped sharing information with the U.S. after a series of leaks that have so angered the British government that Prime Minister Therese May wants to discuss them with President Donald Trump during a North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting in Brussels. What can Trump tell her, though? The leaks drive him nuts, too. Since the beginning of this century, the U.S. intelligence services and their clients have acted as if they wanted the world to know they couldn't guarantee the confidentiality of any information that falls into their hands. At this point, the culture of leaks is not just a menace to intelligence-sharing allies. It's a threat to the intelligence community's credibility. [...] If this history has taught the U.S. intelligence community anything, it's that leaking classified information isn't particularly dangerous and those who do it largely enjoy impunity. Manning spent seven years in prison (though she'd been sentenced to 35), but Snowden, Assange, Petraeus, the unknown Chinese mole, the people who stole the hacking tools and the army of recent anonymous leakers, many of whom probably still work for U.S. intelligence agencies, have escaped any kind of meaningful punishment. President Donald Trump has just now announced that the administration would "get to the bottom" of leaks. In a statement, he said: "The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling. These leaks have been going on for a long time and my Administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security. I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is no relationship we cherish more than the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.
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US Intelligence Community Has Lost Credibility Due To Leaks

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  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @10:45AM (#54484209) Homepage
    You know, apart from exile or being confined to a single building for multiple years on end. I mean apart from that nothing too serious.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      You know, apart from exile or being confined to a single building for multiple years on end. I mean apart from that nothing too serious.

      There was a time when execution was a very real possibility for treason. I believe that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were the last people to be put to death (officially at least) in 1953. I would guess that Julian Assange gets much better food, treatment, visitation and access to communications compared to what he would in a federal prison. Snowden as well.

      Does anyone remember post 2000 when NSA stood for No Such Agency? It was actually before that. But it seems like they've almost become a bad joke since a

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Considering Julian Assange is not a US citizen, getting him from Treason in the US should be categorically blocked.
        Snowden maybe, but if the official channels are blocked and you're asked to do unconstitutional things... what do you do?

      • by John.Banister ( 1291556 ) * on Thursday May 25, 2017 @11:41AM (#54484689) Homepage
        The Rosenbergs got plans for how to build nukes to the Russians. There's no comparison to the people you mention. The comparison for Snowden, who passed information to the entire public via the press is Daniel Ellsberg who did that same thing. All charges against Ellsberg were dropped. There is no comparison between Assange and any American citizen as he is not an American citizen and owes no duty to our government. However, if you want to look at someone who has passed classified intelligence to the Russians, there's been a story in the news recently...
      • There was a time when execution was a very real possibility for treason.

        Of course, none of the people mentioned were actually convicted of treason, so how is this relevant? There was a time when you could be stoned for witchcraft, and none of them were stoned either....

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        I would guess that Julian Assange gets much better food, treatment, visitation and access to communications compared to what he would in a federal prison.

        Step right up folks, what we have here is AAA deterrence porn. It always follows the same model. You know, no matter how your life has suffered, the real punishment is the next degradation. If complete loss of freedom isn't hitting you where it hurts, just wait until we serve you wormy food. Suck on them apples, shit bag.

        Life is pretty soft. Assange p

    • You know, apart from exile

      Yeah not a punishment. Not in this world. Hell given where he has been exiled from it would actually be a bonus.

      or being confined to a single building for multiple years on end. I mean apart from that nothing too serious.

      That was a situation of the person's own making. I mean it's not like Snowden is hauled in a building somewhere, and he has far more to fear from the government than the guy who no one is quite sure if he can be even charged with anything is.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @10:55AM (#54484287) Journal
    Intelligence agencies have lost credibility by lying all the time. It's no wonder there are leakers like Snowden: no self-aware person would feel confident following the leadership in the NSA or CIA or FBI.

    Let's be honest though: there has never been a time in history when the CIA or FBI were particularly competent.
    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      there has never been a time in history when the CIA or FBI were particularly competent

      Sure they're competent. They stop and catch terrorists from burning this country to the ground every single day! It's barbarians at the gates out there! They won't prove that to you and there's no evidence of it beyond the use of the phrase "credible threat", but as long as we keep shoveling tax dollars (and our rights and freedoms) in their direction, they'll stay vigilant keeping us safe. Why, this very post is being cat

    • Let's be honest though: there has never been a time in history when the CIA or FBI were particularly competent.

      Competent compared to whom? Only their failures make headlines.

    • The organizations have ZERO ability to self correct and probably less ability to institutionalize ALL their employees (increased privatization greatly undermines this as well as lowering morale.)

      Their poor actual credibility is why their employees are forced to the extreme of leaking their evil deeds or even to the point of creating disgruntled employees who just dump out their secret tools because Snowden proved that even responsible leaking has changed nothing (other than more lies about the tiny reforms

    • Let's be honest though: there has never been a time in history when the CIA or FBI were particularly competent.

      So, repeal the Espionage Act of 1917 and be done with this colossal waste of money, both directly and in terms of blowback.

      The US survived without it for 128 years, it can survive without it again. But it probably can't be Team America without it.

  • also at the top (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @10:57AM (#54484301) Homepage

    With Trump blurting out "I'm not saying we got our intelligence from Israel, but: Israel" and "Oh and we got some nuke subs over there, look how tough I am", there are leaks at the top as well.

  • We are suck (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sperbels ( 1008585 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @11:13AM (#54484455)
    We spend a lot of time and money making ourselves believe we are morally superior. Then when believers make it into the ranks of organizations that are the strong arm of the US government, they suddenly see the evidence that we aren't morally superior at all. We are bullies, using our superior weapons to bully other nations into favoring western business. Some can't deal with this reality, and try to right the wrongs. Or at least, that's how I think this keeps happening. But it's the plight of leadership. The other dogs are constantly looking for advantage, and nipping at your heals. You have to smack them down or lose your position. That also means taking food from betas to maintain your strength. I'm not saying it's right, but it's the reality.
  • by DERoss ( 1919496 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @11:14AM (#54484465)

    U.S. citizens should be far more concerned about what was leaked than the fact that there were leaks. The leaks clearly show our government is out of control, spying on us citizens without cause.

    No, this spying did not start with either Trump or Obama. It might have started with one of the Bushes, or it might have started even earlier. Whenever it started, it should stop.

    However, Trump want this spying to continue. That is the real reason for his focus on ending the leaks.

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @11:34AM (#54484623) Homepage
      In some cases, sure. In this one, not so much. What was leaked here was the name of the suspect and images of the device used at a point in the investigation at which the UK was still in the process of rounding up associates of the suspect and risked tipping them off that they needed to run (assuming they had not already done so, of course). At least some of that information would have come out anyway (did we *really* need to see images of part of the device and a bloody backpack though?), but the premature release to stroke someone's ego/wallet/whatever may lead to some members of the suspected network evading capture and successfully carrying out further attacks. Maybe next time that'll be against US interests, or someone won't share information with the US that could have prevented an attack because they didn't want the risk of having it leak.

      There's a big difference between blowing the whistle on wholesale survelliance and abuse of legal limits vs. compromising a live investigation for the sake of a little kudos and a scoop, but it can also be an awfully fine line between the two and it's pretty clear those involved in the leaks and reporting them either have no idea - or simply don't care - which is which. This is absolutely the latter and it's a damning indictment of both the leaker(s) *and* the media that published it sense of responsibilty and intelligence - government is far from the only agency that is out of control.
  • Is the only ship that leaks from the top.

  • It's all BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jodido ( 1052890 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @11:22AM (#54484537)
    Leaks are an essential part of how the US government works. The White House uses them, Congress uses them, the military, the CIA, NSA, etc. It's an aspect of bureaucratic infighting. "Leaks" will never stop because no one who says they want them to actually wants them to. They want EVERYBODY ELSE to stop.
    • Re:It's all BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @11:44AM (#54484709) Journal

      To some extent that's true, but generally the US intelligence does its best to keep the secrets that it gains from its allies under wraps. The free exchange of intelligence between Britain and the US has been a cornerstone of the Atlantic Alliance since WWII, and Britain has every right to be furious that classified information it exchanged with partnering agencies in the US ended up on the front page of newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic.

      This wasn't strategic leaking of information. This wasn't some scheme to use classified information to gain some advantage. It was just the big mouths that currently run the Administration spouting off because they're a band of irresponsible children. Like Trump blabbing off about Israeli intelligence, this is going to have ramifications, both for information sharing between the US and its allies, and likely between the White House and the three letter agencies. It's becoming crystal clear that the current Administration cannot be trusted with classified information, and Congress and the three letter agencies are probably simply going to start withholding information, both to preserve active operations, and to preserve critical foreign alliances that the Trump Administration is putting at risk.

      • This wasn't strategic leaking of information. This wasn't some scheme to use classified information to gain some advantage. It was just the big mouths that currently run the Administration spouting off because they're a band of irresponsible children.

        Well, no. They don't even have to tell Trump this stuff. They can just lie to him. He's a dumbshit, they will never know. If they're telling Trump things it's because they want them leaked.

        • Re:It's all BS (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @01:58PM (#54485923) Journal

          I think up until recently most people in the intelligence agencies still assumed they were working for a rational human being capable of reflection, reason and self-control. Now that everyone both in the US intelligence services and overseas understands that they're dealing with an arrogant halfwit, they will simply route everything around him. And that's the irony of it all, that Trump's attempt to look like the Big Man, the ultimate Alpha Male, is actually going to render him impotent. Congress, the three letter agencies, foreign allies, everyone is basically going to do what they can to either get around him or undermine him. He is going to become one of the most useless and isolated Presidents in US history. It wouldn't surprise me that even without impeachment and removal, the US will end up with a Pence presidency in all but name; a sort of replay of the last couple of years of the Wilson Administration.

    • Leaks are an essential part of how the US government works

      No, not all of them. Plenty of leaks are legal. Specifically, those which are protected as whistle blowing and those which are authorized. Illegal leaks are, by definition, not part of the normal functioning of the government.

  • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @11:24AM (#54484553) Homepage

    So, if I have this right, when they were leaking information about the executive branch on a daily basis to the press, that was cool... but now that they're leaking information to the press about terrorism, that's bad.

    Howabout we call it all bad. That's not how bureaucrats should pay back the government they work for.

    Also, how is it that the federal government can monitor its citizenry ala The Patriot Act, but it can't even figure out who's leaking classified information to the press?

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @11:49AM (#54484747) Homepage Journal

    ... and yet leaking is almost never punished, much less prosecuted.

    If you want to see why, look at one of the few cases of leaking that *was* prosecuted: Scooter Libby's leaking of the fact Valerie Plame was an active CIA agent. Note that his sentence was commuted by the president he served.

    That's because despite leaking being characterized as disloyal, often it's the exact opposite. I'm not just talking about planted information, I'm talking about leaks that arise out of internal differences in strategy and policy. The insiders who do this aren't trying to sabotage the administration, they're trying to steer it using public pressure. And while embarrassment is often part of that pressure, leaks by insiders are usually carefully measured to limit damage. And given the infrequency with which they are punished I have to assume that insider are also careful about choosing their battles.

    What's coming out of the Trump Administration feels different, more disloyal, and gratuitously embarrassing. It smacks of people out to personally undermine their colleagues.

  • Surprise surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @12:04PM (#54484879)

    When you prioritize people who enjoy shoving their head up your ass over people who know how to do their jobs, then this is the result.

    If Trump actually manages to hang on for the full four years, I think the US will be completely unrecognizable by the end. And not in a good way.

  • by GrahamJ ( 241784 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @12:06PM (#54484893)

    "President Donald Trump has just now announced that the administration would 'get to the bottom' of leaks."

    Because we already know where it happens at the top.

  • are those that are friendly with Russia. Obviously, America has a traitor in office and the GOP continues to put their party over our nation and our security, as well as our allies.
  • As Sir Humphries most capably put it, "the Ship of State is the only ship that leaks from the top." Be it the White house or the appointed heads of the intelligent organizations. Leaks happen when they are beneficial politically to the leaker usually.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @12:35PM (#54485143)

    1. Story presents no new information
    2. Fails to provide any statistically significant context to the reader
    3. Cherry picks very different incidents then lumps them all into the same context.
    4. Invokes good old fashioned FUD (e.g. "What if we're spreading lies, and what if we're putting people in danger by publishing what these anonymous sources tell us?" )
    5. Is a bit ridiculous on it's face. US Intelligence community lost its credibility for years to come on Feb 5th of 2003 when Colin Powell squandered his in front of the world.

    Saying US intelligence has lost credibility due to "leaks" is like saying Trump lost credibility because he lost the popular vote. Both true statements and both completely irrelevant.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @12:41PM (#54485213)

    So the US intelligence community can't keep a secret, but they want backdoors in all IT gear and encryption algorithms.

    Yeah, that will end well...

  • by katorga ( 623930 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @12:48PM (#54485285)

    How about loosing their cyber weapon arsenal to hackers?

    How about having hired Snowden as a contractor?

    How about missing every single terror attack?

    How about missing the Russian infiltration of Crimea or move into Syria?

    How about rendition, secret torture camps, public exposure of torture?

    How about perpetually killing civilians with drone strikes based on their "intelligence"?

    How about missing the fact that Bin Ladin was living around the corner in an allied country for 10 YEARS?

    How about not finding WMD?

    And they are losing credibility due to leaks? Please.

    • They didn't miss the Russian infiltration of Crimea. It was widely reported. They just couldn't do anything about it. Russia violated a treaty it had with Ukraine. US wasn't about to go to war with Russia over it.
  • I am not even kidding. I know it sounds like trolling, but Obama's administration did set up this time bomb. They issued an executive order forcing all 17 agencies to share information. Since it's much more difficult to track who has access to the information, it's much more difficult to prevent leaks. And Obama only issued this order 3 months before leaving office. Trump can't rescind the order just yet because of all the spurious accusations of Russian connections. The idea that information was alwa
  • ...with the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear ambitions.

  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @03:10PM (#54486507) Homepage

    This is, of course, simply a turnabout of how the system worked in the 1950s and 60s, when the British services were so totally infiltrated by the Soviets that the US couldn't trust them with anything at all.

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