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Ex-NSA Official Indicted For Leaks To Newspaper

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the each-whistle-is-coded-to-the-blower dept.

Government 115

Hugh Pickens writes "The Baltimore Sun reports that in a rare legal action against a government employee accused of leaking secrets, a grand jury has indicted Thomas A. Drake, a former senior National Security Agency official, on charges of providing classified information to a newspaper reporter in hundreds of e-mail messages in 2006 and 2007. Federal law prohibits government employees from disclosing classified information which could be 'expected to cause damage to national security.' The indictment (PDF) does not name either the reporter or the newspaper that received the information, but the description applies to articles written by Siobhan Gorman, then a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, that examined in detail the failings of several major NSA programs, costing billions of dollars, that were plagued with technical flaws and cost overruns. Gorman's stories did not focus on the substance of the electronic intelligence information the agency gathers and analyzes but exposed management and programmatic troubles within the agency." Adds reader metrometro: "Of note: the government says the alleged NSA mole uses Hushmail, which is all the endorsement I need for a security system." Perhaps Mr. Drake was unaware of Hushmail's past cooperation with the US government?

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115 comments

Burn him at the stake! (3, Insightful)

MeNotU (1362683) | about 4 years ago | (#31870180)

"exposed management and programmatic troubles within the agency."! Can't have management look bad!

Whistleblower (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#31870438)

Yeah, that's right.

We have a whistle-blower law to protect the American taxpayer, but if it's deemed classified, all bets are off.

Great, just great! So, if I want to be a crooked government official, I just need to be able to classify it as "Secret" and "National Security" and I'm off to the Bahamas!

Re:Whistleblower (3, Informative)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 4 years ago | (#31871274)

Yeah, that's right.

We have a whistle-blower law to protect the American taxpayer, but if it's deemed classified, all bets are off.

Great, just great! So, if I want to be a crooked government official, I just need to be able to classify it as "Secret" and "National Security" and I'm off to the Bahamas!

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. One need look no further than United States v. Reynolds to see that classification will be abused.

Re:Whistleblower (1)

Elshifto (804933) | about 4 years ago | (#31871284)

Whistle blower protections only apply when you report the misdeeds to the congressional oversight committee in charge of the organization in question, not when you leak classified information to the press. Not that I disagree with the leaking, just that the law is clear on who gets protected.

Re:Whistleblower (2, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 4 years ago | (#31874402)

Except for the fact that not just any government official can classify something. This is a typical slashdot rant, and one that most people on slashdot don't understand.

Executive Order 12356:

Sec. 1.2 Classification Authority.

(a) Top Secret. The authority to classify information originally as
Top Secret may be exercised only by:

(1) the President; (2) agency heads and officials designated by the
President in the Federal Register; and (3) officials delegated this
authority pursuant to Section 1.2(d). (b) Secret. The authority to
classify information originally as Secret may be exercised only by: (1)
agency heads and officials designated by the President in the Federal
Register; (2) officials with original Top Secret classification
authority;

Re:Burn him at the stake! (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 4 years ago | (#31870878)

Meh, "job security" clearances are just that... jobs for Americans that legally can't be outsourced. It keeps the middle-class Americans with degrees employed and content so they aren't off organizing revolutions for the lower classes or something. From what I've seen, the shroud of secrecy is more to hide all the advanced technology that we don't have rather than to protect details of the few things that actually work. Let the enemy assume we have bugs and eyes and ears everywhere like it's portrayed in the movies :-P

So yeah, the bumbling incompetence of project management these days is one of those things we want to hide. As long as the money flows to the military-industrial complex to keep our middle-management and nerds and engineers preoccupied so they don't actually go on and try to effect any real disruptive changes, technological or otherwise...

This kind of corporate welfare is kind of like supporting the poor to keep them from having to resort to thievery and becoming a nuisance. Except sort of in reverse.

Look forward, not backward (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#31870260)

Check out Glenn Greenwald's [salon.com] post on this exact issue. He raises an extremely important point:

- Illegally wiretapping US citizens, and/or ordering illegal wiretapping of US citizens: No problem, we have to look forwards, not backwards.
- Exposing illegal and inefficient workings of the NSA: throw the book at 'em.

Something is very very rotten.

Re:Look forward, not backward (1, Insightful)

NotOverHere (1526201) | about 4 years ago | (#31870486)

He broke the letter of the law by passing classified information, and therefore should be sent to trial. In the spirit of the law all the nitty-gritty details of his mitigating situation needs to come out on open record.

An the process continued for any other persons demonstrated as having performing illegal acts. "It's not illegal when the president does it" is not a legal justification for Constitution violations, no matter if you like or dislike the last two president actively caught doing so.

the letter of the law (-1, Troll)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | about 4 years ago | (#31871100)

Your point was apparently too subtle for the knuckle-draggers with mod points around here. You seem to be suggesting that the crimes of the Bush administration (presumably such clear violations of the letter and spirit of the law as torture and warrantless wiretapping) be prosecuted, too, rather than merely stopped (as though torture were merely a policy decision left entirely up to the executive branch) and covered up by the Obama administration, and that Obama is guilty of continuing at least some of the illegal programs (such as warrantless wiretapping). Seems like a reasonable Slashdot-like libertarian proposition, and you probably expected up-mods. You probably should have been slightly more specific.

I don't want any upmods on this for pointing this out, just go fix what you did to the hapless parent post.

Re:Look forward, not backward (1)

poena.dare (306891) | about 4 years ago | (#31870778)

Yar! That LFNB (it sucks we need that acronym) article he wrote was sad and true. I wasn't expecting the world to transform into ponies and rainbows when I voted for Obama, but I sure as hell didn't expect this.

Re:Look forward, not backward (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871846)

Check out Glenn Greenwald's [salon.com] post on this exact issue. He raises an extremely important point:

- Illegally wiretapping US citizens, and/or ordering illegal wiretapping of US citizens: No problem, we have to look forwards, not backwards.
- Exposing illegal and inefficient workings of the NSA: throw the book at 'em.

Something is very very rotten.

Presumes facts not in evidence.

Or, in the words of a well-known blowhard, "No controlling legal authority" has ruled on that.

The selective outrage here is pretty good, too. Or have we all forgotten how the non-illegal Valerie Plame leak was used to pillory teh EEVIILLL BOOSH!, even though the leak was done by a State Department staffer CRITICAL of Bush? (Richard Armitage - amazing how the calls for blood stopped when THAT name came out....)

He is probably an Italian (0, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 4 years ago | (#31870296)

The Italians are infiltrating our American way of life and stealing our mind waves with the bad things that they do with their secret insinuatinssnsn of islamo-communist conspiracy that they do! they must be stopped and all newspaperses should be burned if htey are not American and Patriotic newspapers like my best friend Jpoey who I think is a bvad Itsalian infiltratore from Japan because he is not really the person who he says he is and I am not gay.

The real problem (4, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about 4 years ago | (#31870300)

The real problem here is that officials use the security system to hide their fuck ups. By making all kinds of crap classified that shouldn't be they clog the system and reduce the efficiency. It's impossible to run a security system when you flood it with tons of info that is only classified because it's embarrassing to the morons in management.

Windows (-1, Troll)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | about 4 years ago | (#31870456)

There is a lot of mention of technical failures and cost overruns. That's something associated with Windows usage and Microsoft resellers. Those aren't the sole cause of the cost overruns, but they pretty much guarantee that the project won't run well and will come in late with a higher price tag than planned for.

NSA is not alone. Arlington National Cemetery [google.com] also looks like it was hit by Microsoft resellers under the Bush junta.

Re:Windows (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | about 4 years ago | (#31871644)

You should have been up-modded for your sig alone! OMG I can't stop laughing, at Jean-Louis Gasse. Nonetheless, although I have seen first hand that Windows is responsible for an enormous amount of inefficiency in large Federal bureaucracies, I suspect that the nature of the problems in the NSA is different. The problems and costs introduce by use of Windows on desktops and servers isn't something that anyone in the NSA would blow the whistle on. Since it's not any different any other place in government, it's really difficult to quantify (no basis of comparison to the hypothetical well run Linux or Mac Federal agency. Instead, these problems probably have a lot to do with developing systems which are on par with Google's distributed processing thingy -- big, really really big, complex, insanely complex if you haven't done it before, new thinking required, then more new re-thinking and re-re-thinking until you narrow in on a solution that actually works -- on par with inventing an operating system and a database and the computers they run on, in a foreign language. I expect technical failures and cost overruns in such situations, and Mr. Drake might have been naive to think running over budget by years and many billions wasn't expected by the administration(s) and Congressional oversight committees (if they want the capability, they'll pay for it.)

Re:The real problem (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 years ago | (#31870488)

By making all kinds of crap classified that shouldn't be they clog the system and reduce the efficiency. It's impossible to run a security system when you flood it with tons of info that is only classified because it's embarrassing to the morons in management.

Au contraire! My friend.

Imagine being a spy trying to find some interesting piece of information. You spend a couple of days seducing the secretary, a week finding a geek to crack the codes, another week to go to Italy to replace the suit you just ruined while chasing, on motorboat, the guy who had the passkeys, etc...

Two months later, the information you just got is random useless crap about a lowly manager fucking up his job in various ways and you just lost your best opportunity of novelizing your adventures.

Re:The real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31872526)

Two months later, the information you just got is random useless crap about a lowly manager fucking up his job in various ways and you just lost your best opportunity of novelizing your adventures.

sounds a lot like Burn Without Notice

Re:The real problem (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#31870810)

What fuck ups, someone made/spent "billions of dollars". The NSA was pointed at the US telco networks and set to suck.
The voice prints, known numbers and dictionary settings did the rest.
Cross referenced with commercial databases and commercial indexing software, more connections where made. It worked and your safe.
NSA members can enter the private sector if they like, moonlight like the CIA? or enjoy budgets and toys within the NSA thanks to the funds.
A "fuck up" to the NSA would be something simple:
Adamo Bove was the head of security at Telecom Italia and exposed the CIA renditions, SISMI ( ~ the Italian CIA) and his own bosses.
Costas Tsalikidis was a 38-year-old software engineer for Vodaphone in Greece.
He uncovered a highly sophisticated bug embedded in the mobile network.
Spyware eavesdropped on the Greek prime Minister and other top officials’ cell phone calls; it even monitored the car phone of Greece’s secret service chief.
Real budgets and your rights as an American ended decades ago.
Billions of dollars and technical flaws are to the NSA what COINTELPRO was to the FBI, history.
The FBI baits protest movements, as the NSA is part of every packet on the US telco networks from its digital inception.
At best all this offers the public is some insight into the public/private sector.
If he worked for the NSA, why did he get caught via email?

Not inefficient (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871402)

I agree that over-classification is a problem from a transparency point of view. However, I disagree that it decreases efficiency - in fact efficiency and convenience is one of the big reasons that documents are unnecessarily classified to begin with. When you work on a classified system (like a computer) any documents you generate are automatically treated as classified at the highest level that the system is approved to process. Decreasing or declassifying a document requires you to go through a formal process.

If you are working a a project that is mostly unclassified with a view classified elements, then people spend most of their time working on the unclassified systems, and moving over to classified is a hassle that is only done when needed. As the amount of classified increases, it becomes more of a hassle as you have to split your work between two systems, generate tons of one-time-use CD-Rs for transferring unclassified data to the classified system (which must be immediately marked as classified and appropriately destroyed or tracked). After a point where most of the documents you generate are classified, it is just easier to do everything on the classified system, treat everything as classified, and just go through the review process when you legitimately need the document to be unclassified. In addition to decreasing the amount of data transfer that needs to take place, you also relieve yourself of the worry of accidentally including classified information in an unclassified document (or more likely, indirectly relieving classified information by the association of various unclassified information).

Finally, there often are legitimate reasons why things like schedules and budgets need to be classified. For example, if they include production quantities that are classified. I have worked on projects where the vast majority of our work was unclassified, but we still had both classified and unclassified versions of the budget. I can imagine project where it would be easier to only have a classified version.

All that said, not knowing the details of this case, I can't say whether the information release was legitimately harmful to National Security, or just a gross violation of procedure for good reasons.

Posted anonymously not because any of this is sensitive, but to avoid attracting unwanted attention to myself, by advertising to the work that I work on classified projects.

Re:The real problem (2, Interesting)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | about 4 years ago | (#31871454)

Agreed. When I heard this story on NPR last night the first thing I thought was that this person might be a protected whistleblower, as it appears that the "state secrets" that were leaked don't relate to national security as much as bureaucratic incompetence and governmental inefficiency. The NPR story doesn't seem to mention the idea that this person might be considered a whistle-blower (admittedly I didn't catch all of the story.) The infamous "most Americans" oh heck, maybe even most Americans (not just the Slashdot libertarian geeks and the teabaggers hanging on Glenn Beck's every utterance) might well wind up thinking something rather different than the government expects them to. If Americans decide he was a whistleblower on billions of dollars of waste fraud and mismanagement, Thomas Drake might wind up as a folk hero and a commentator on the Sunday morning talk circuit. Presumably he'll seek some legal shelter under the Federal Whistleblower [wikipedia.org] Protection Act. However, since he blew the whistle on the NSA and not the park service, that shelter might be pretty thin.

On the brighter side, it will be highly amusing to watch Fox News try to figure out how to present this story, what with it's spooky quantum both a particle and a wave nature (he's a dangerous spy... and a hard working taxpayer folk hero!") We'll get to revive the Shimmer dessert topping and floor wax [hulu.com] meme for this one.

Re:The real problem (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 years ago | (#31874430)

The NPR story doesn't seem to mention the idea that this person might be considered a whistle-blower (admittedly I didn't catch all of the story.)

Whistleblower or not, he's being charged with obstruction of justice.
Instead of making an affirmative defense, he destroyed evidence and now he's fucked.

Can You Say "Paper Trail"? (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#31870306)

charges of providing classified information to a newspaper reporter in hundreds of e-mail messages in 2006 and 2007

How is it that a guy dumb enough to use e-mail for this was a senior NSA official?

Re:Can You Say "Paper Trail"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31870432)

charges of providing classified information to a newspaper reporter in hundreds of e-mail messages in 2006 and 2007

How is it that a guy dumb enough to use e-mail for this was a senior NSA official?

It's not as bad as it sounds. He used an anonymous email service, not his AOL account or NSA work email. Probably one of the safer ways to get stuff to a reporter.

Re:Can You Say "Paper Trail"? (3, Insightful)

muckracer (1204794) | about 4 years ago | (#31870492)

> > > charges of providing classified information to a newspaper reporter in hundreds of e-mail messages in 2006 and 2007

> > How is it that a guy dumb enough to use e-mail for this was a senior NSA official?

I think you meant it the other way around (the diff is not just cosmetic):

How is it that a senior NSA official was dumb enough to use e-mail for this?

Re:Can You Say "Paper Trail"? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | about 4 years ago | (#31870504)

He could have, at the very least, used a handful of reputable cypherpunk anonymous remailers, preferably ones run by people either outside of the country, or unlikely to cooperate with the government.

Re:Can You Say "Paper Trail"? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31870604)

I heard on NPR yesterday they both used Hushmail to email the classified documents.

Re:Can You Say "Paper Trail"? (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | about 4 years ago | (#31871760)

The mods run amok, today. Although Hushmail was mentioned elsewhere in this discussion, the reply to enlighten the previous post shouldn't be modded down to oblivion. Quite the opposite.

Re:Can You Say "Paper Trail"? (4, Interesting)

physicsphairy (720718) | about 4 years ago | (#31870884)

I fail to see what would be wrong with sending encrypted emails backed by chained proxies, Tor, etc. It's not like the information is even secret--the whole point was to have it disclosed in a newspaper. Given that he might come under occasional (or constant) investigation by the authorities simply because of the nature of his job, avoiding a physical presence as well as any unusual behavior is a must. What would you recommend as an alternative?

I think the real problem was simply that he sent "hundreds of messages" to the same guy. As soon as the NSA points their attention at that guy, they have access to everything, no matter the medium of communication. Before that they already probably have their list of culprits narrowed down significantly based on the info that was being disclosed. Once they know where to get the unencrypted messages they can analyze them for writing characteristics (such as word frequencies) which correspond to one of their employees, assuming their aren't much more blatant clues slipped in. It may even be at some point he simply had no choice but to reveal details about his identity/job to convince the reporter he was a legitimate leak--I mean, if you perfectly anonymize yourself how do you convince anyone you aren't just a hoaxer? Even if the reporter can successfully destroy any evidence of the content of such communications, that doesn't mean he won't squeal when some scary guys from the government pick him up off the street and tell him horror stories about what might happen to him if it doesn't. (the fact they wouldn't mention who the reporter was could be evidence of his cutting a deal)

Re:Can You Say "Paper Trail"? (0, Troll)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#31871038)

Was he cultivating a member of the press with real info only to leak in something NSA/CIA creative years later?
Or he thought the NSA does not like to listen for any mention of its projects in US emails :)

Perhaps this guy will soon have an "accident" ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31870356)

It's what they'd do in Russia.

Of course, in Soviet Russia, accident would have YOU.

the guy was a whistle blower (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#31870548)

he was exposing government waste

if he were exposing state secrets, let him rot in jail

but that's all sound and fury surrounding the real issue of what was actually disclosed, and why

the substance of his disclosures and what motivated him: wasted tax payer dollars on lame NSA projects

as far as i am concerned, for his actions, this guy is a hero. we need MORE government employees like this. and his timing is impeccable, government waste is pissing off the country like never before right now: perhaps the tax party can make him some sort of patron saint?

Re:the guy was a whistle blower (1)

copponex (13876) | about 4 years ago | (#31870890)

if he were exposing state secrets, let him rot in jail

Sweet. Chairman Mao got a slashdot account.

i don't understand your implication (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#31870956)

exposing state secrets is a crime in china, russia, the usa, india, etc... as well it should be

do you have some sort of belief that exposing state secrets is a beneficial exercise?

Re:i don't understand your implication (1)

memnock (466995) | about 4 years ago | (#31871072)

Bush (and Obama seems headed down the same path) wanted to make everything a state secret.

Re:i don't understand your implication (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#31871074)

Re do you have some sort of belief that exposing state secrets is a beneficial exercise?
Sure http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagon_Papers [wikipedia.org]

well there's state secrets, and then state secrets (2, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#31871314)

for example: the security apparatus around nuclear power plants, that should not be exposed and anyone who does should be punished. that's what i was talking about

but something like bush and cheney's end runs around the constitution: yeah, that should be exposed

so i apologize, you are correct:

i should have qualified my comments better, as i was only really talking about the kind of state secrets like missile launch sequences, that should never be divulged publicly. but you are correct to take issue with my blanket comment, it was unqualified, plenty of "state secrets" need to be divulged

Re:well there's state secrets, and then state secr (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#31871848)

Be thankful someone did talk about "the security apparatus around nuclear power plants" too :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Bank#Later_years [wikipedia.org]

wow, good link (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#31871952)

yeah, again, i utterly fail in the comment qualification department

anyone who divulges a LACK OF security like this guy should get the congressional medal of honor

anyone who divulges the OPERATING DETAILS of a genuine security apparatus should get a cold cell

Re:i don't understand your implication (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871306)

I guess it depends on what you call a "state secret". If you declare that it's a state secret that millions of people are starving due to your stupid policies (Mao) [wikipedia.org], then anyone who complains publicly about the situation could be brought up on charges. That doesn't make it right.

We're talking here about wasting vast amounts of taxpayer dollars (billions of $$) on programs that apparently didn't work. Disclosure of incompetence and waste should be encouraged, not declared a "state secret". It depends on what the nature of the information is -- something that will presumably come out in trial.

Re:i don't understand your implication (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | about 4 years ago | (#31871416)

Yes, but I as an Australian am legally allowed to expose the state secrets of China in Austraila. It's not a crime. If (figuratively speaking) I happened to expose the points at which the Australian Defence Signals Directorate was in violation of Australian law, you can bet your backside I'd be sent to jail - Even if I just outlined the higher level details and not the specific collection systems, my backside would still be toast. In theory you are supposed to follow the chain of command if you see something not right. Theory and reality are very different on this point - you're more likely to find your career path vanish before your eyes.

Patriotism is a strange beast.

Disclaimer: This post does not imply the DSD is breaking the law or sucking down Chinese state secrets. Just making an example.

state secrets (1)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | about 4 years ago | (#31871830)

An argument can be made that most "state secrets" are unhealthy in a democratic republic. We might be a lot better off if we admitted openly nearly all government activity.

Re:the guy was a whistle blower (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31870970)

Please, who marked the parent +5 Insightful - stop it!
Whistle blower is the one who goes before the gov't comity that has authority over NSA.
Giving a journalist classified documents is not whistle blowing.

Idiot hasn't heard of Wikileaks? Or it shows that he knows Wikileaks to be part of NSA?

you can't fix the system (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#31871034)

from within the system

going public means they can't sweep the issue under the rug. public anger compels the system to actually fix the problem. this is the function of the press in a healthy society. i don't know why you think problems could be solved without public knowledge and outrage breathing down bureaucrats necks. without the public knowledge and outrage, no solution would be forthcoming, ever

Hold on (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 4 years ago | (#31871106)

Ok, let's say that Program X was a disaster. What you also expose by leaking this is that we don't have the capabilities of Program X. In other words, other intelligence agencies understand what we can and cannot do.

I would be entirely sure that the Congressional committees know perfectly well that a program is messing up. And while we should be concerned about technical projects being mismanaged or being messed up (not that that doesn't occur in private industry, right?), let's not kid ourselves.

Leaking this type of information is a problem. And if Congress didn't know about the mess, that's the appropriate people to leak to.

true, perception is everything (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#31871406)

it could be said that reagan's completely bullshit star wars program spooked the russians, and if it was publicly revealed how much money was being wasted on complete crap, the russians wouldn't have been so spooked

however, if you are playing this game of managing perception and deceit, you've entered the rarified, high paranoia stratosophere of smoke and mirrors where the other side might also equally conclude that a "public disclosure" that a program is a failure is a lie in order to hide real deadly capabilities. in other words, its all high anxiety, all the time, and no one really trusts what anyone says anyway, so disclosure or nondisclosure of a "failed" program doesn't effects perceptions by the enemy either way: they are going to get spooked or not depending upon their own confidence levels

Guilty Of Embarrassing Them (1)

SplicerNYC (1782242) | about 4 years ago | (#31870564)

"National security"? Please. This is about the fact that someone exposed the fact that they are wasting money in a highly incompetent manner.

Re:Guilty Of Embarrassing Them (2, Insightful)

castironpigeon (1056188) | about 4 years ago | (#31870652)

This is about the fact that someone exposed the fact that they are wasting money in a highly incompetent manner.

Actually the government is quite competent at wasting money!

Re:Guilty Of Embarrassing Them (2, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about 4 years ago | (#31871012)

That money got wasted in a highly incompetent way is not news.

That someone is getting in trouble for whistleblowing is not especially news.

But this kind of whistleblowing is always going to end badly for the whistleblower, because even if a legitimate transparency function is served (calling attention to wasteful and inefficient program administration), the programs themselves are classified. In the public eyes, they're not supposed to even exist. To praise them in public would also be a breach of classification. So, this is the hardest class of whistleblowing on the books: even if 99% of the classification decisions on the program can be written off as cover-up, there's still a critical core of legitimate secrecy which gets violated. Trends and techniques used in espionage get exposed. Adversaries are tipped off. Whole lines of intelligence gathering dry up, fail, or have to be abandoned.

It's an unpleasant situation.

Forget Hushmail (5, Informative)

Obyron (615547) | about 4 years ago | (#31870606)

Hushmail is notorious in certain circles for sharing people's PGP keys with investigators who come knocking. This was in relation to DEA and Customs investigations in Operation Web Tryp to crack down on people using the internet to get ahold of research chemical indoleethylamines and phenethylamines (read: designer psychedelics). A lot of these people were using Hushmail, and when the investigators went to Hushmail, the provider burned their users. If they'll rat you out to the DEA and Customs, bet your sweet ass they'll rat you out to the NSA. Fuck, read this article at Cryptome [cryptome.info].

If you need any expectation at all of ACTUAL privacy (the kind that'll keep you out of prison), don't use Hushmail. Someone people actually trust, like maybe the people behind Wikileaks, should start a real anonymous mail network.

Re:Forget Hushmail (1)

geekboy642 (799087) | about 4 years ago | (#31870982)

for sharing people's PGP keys

Well there's your problem right there...if you let any email provider have your private key, you might as well have just stapled it to your forehead and wandered around New York asking to be mugged.

Re:Forget Hushmail (1)

Obyron (615547) | about 4 years ago | (#31871098)

The point of Hushmail was to make PGP-encrypted email easier to use for people who don't understand PGP encryption. As part of this, Hushmail has/had some sort of java client to encrypt your messages for you. They were logging that data and giving it to the DEA. Not everyone who'd like to protect their privacy has the time or faculties to educate themselves on cryptosystems.

Re:Forget Hushmail (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31871502)

If you can't be bothered to put forward the minimal effort it takes to make and distribute your own PGP keys, privacy really isn't that important to you. Using a provider like Hushmail is worse than no encryption at all, as it gives you a false sense of security.

Re:Forget Hushmail (4, Informative)

metrometro (1092237) | about 4 years ago | (#31871336)

If you need any expectation at all of ACTUAL privacy (the kind that'll keep you out of prison), don't use Hushmail.

As noted in the prior /. thread on this, Hushmail uses two mode: stupid and secure. They explain as much when you sign on.

In stupid, they do all the work for you, webmail style, which means they have a copy of your key. You are now screwed.

In secure, encryption is done in a Java applet, which is open source. That means (barring any man in the middle weirdness with the Java download) they do not have access to your keys, because they are never sent. While they would certainly "rat you out" if they don't have the goods, they can cheerfully comply with the law (or the NSA pseudo legal equivalent) without providing much of value: just encrypted emails. This appears the be the basis of the government's evidence: the alleged leaker sent a lot of encrypted email. Their indictment, however, did not mention the specific contents of that email, probably because they can't read it.

Alternatively, FireGPG seems like a good option for webmail. More secure systems exist, but as always, in the real world security balances against user experience and people sure seem to like this webmail thing.

Re:Forget Hushmail (2, Insightful)

gknoy (899301) | about 4 years ago | (#31872924)

In secure, encryption is done in a Java applet.... they do not have access to your keys, because they are never sent. While they would certainly "rat you out" if they don't have the goods, they can cheerfully comply with the law (or the NSA pseudo legal equivalent) without providing much of value: just encrypted emails.

The NSA is one of the few organizations that I would expect to be able to break the encryption on a mass of encrypted e-mails -- not by brute forcing it, but by awesome cryptanalysis. I'd be surprised if the Java applet didn't have some implementation errors, or the data being encrypted had enough recognizable patterns in it to allow some work with known plaintexts.

That said, Hushmail giving them a copy of all your (encrypted) e-mail is not a whole lot different than your normal e-mail provider doing the same. About the only significantly different situation (that I can think of) would be if they were to have physical access to your drives... but for that they'd (we assume) need a warrant.

Re:Forget Hushmail (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 years ago | (#31874556)

The NSA is one of the few organizations that I would expect to be able to break the encryption on a mass of encrypted e-mails -- not by brute forcing it, but by awesome cryptanalysis. I'd be surprised if the Java applet didn't have some implementation errors, or the data being encrypted had enough recognizable patterns in it to allow some work with known plaintexts.

For people using the java applets, at law enforcement's request, Hushmail pushes out a backdoored applet to grab the encryption keys.
"Hushmail recommends using non web-based services such as GnuPG and PGP Desktop for those who need stronger security."

You can have secure e-mail communication, it's just not point-and-click convienent.

Re:Forget Hushmail (1)

killmenow (184444) | about 4 years ago | (#31871556)

What should they do? If you're doing something illegal and the law enforcement agencies start investigating you, should hushmail aid and abet? If I suspected my neighbor was brewing meth in his kitchen would I go to the police? Probably not. Because (a) it's just a suspicion, and (b) he has a right to privacy. But if I had evidence and the police ASKED me for it, I'd sure as hell give it to them.

Also, I don't recall hushmail ever advertising that they would NOT cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

Now, that aside, this guy was an idiot for not knowing what hushmail is/isn't and using it anyway. He could've easily used any number of anonymous mail services and he definitely should've encrypted his OWN damn emails and not relied on hushmail to handle the encryption part for him...and of course he should have only ever accessed the email account behind 7 proxies.

real anonymous network (1)

Pegasus (13291) | about 4 years ago | (#31871618)

Just use Freenet [freenetproject.org]. It has both BBS style message exchange and the beginnings of something like smtp.

Why the fuck would you ever *trust* Wikileaks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31871984)

As Steven Colbert recently demonstrated [colbertnation.com], Wikileaks has a clear agenda.

Whether you agree with that agenda or not, once you know that Wikileaks has an agenda you're stupid if you don't realize they're going to prioritize their agenda over your interests.

USE Wikileaks if you want. Like a piece of toilet paper if that floats your boat.

But only a FOOL would trust them.

Re:Why the fuck would you ever *trust* Wikileaks? (1)

Obyron (615547) | about 4 years ago | (#31872342)

The copyright nazis tell me that I can't watch that interview since I'm in Canada, but I watch the show and saw the interview as it ran (presumably edited), and had no issues with it. Assange was saying that part of the promise they make to their sources is that they will use the material they receive for maximum political effect. They put the full video out there for people to make their own conclusions, and even though Assange said himself that only 1 in 10 watched the full video after seeing the edited one, I happen to think that's because most people saw enough to convince them the whole affair was execrable. I'm not sure the full video could have added any context that would have excused the soldiers laughing and being flippant about machine gunning children.

My point about trust with Wikileaks is that if people trust them enough to protect their identity while leaking documents to them that could get them executed for treason, or imprisoned for the rest of their natural life, I'd trust them to run anonymous email. I'm fine with them having an agenda. Everyone has an agenda. You're not going to find someone who cares enough about privacy to run an anonymous email service and thumb their nose at authority who does not have an agenda that fulfills some base personal need by running the service or flaunting authority.

Re:Forget Hushmail (2, Insightful)

Zak3056 (69287) | about 4 years ago | (#31872104)

If you need any expectation at all of ACTUAL privacy (the kind that'll keep you out of prison), don't use Hushmail. Someone people actually trust, like maybe the people behind Wikileaks, should start a real anonymous mail network.

I don't trust Wikileaks--they have an agenda, and it isn't simply informing people about things which are unlawfully/immorally kept hidden. I will grant that they are serving an important function right now, and I am grateful for this... but trust? No way.

Re:Forget Hushmail (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 4 years ago | (#31872554)

Just use the gold standard [wikipedia.org].

It doesn't get too much more secure than Mixmaster. Granted, I'm not sure if anybody is still running it these days. This was a big thing about the time that pgp was being written in the first place.

Could be worse than stated, though (0, Troll)

medcalf (68293) | about 4 years ago | (#31870920)

The information given is also consistent with leaks to the New York Times that destroyed (hopefully temporarily) our ability to move captured enemies safely, and destroyed (probably permanently) our best tools for intercepting enemy financing, and destroyed one of our best tools for monitoring enemy communications. IIRC, there were some other similar leaks. Yeah, the government sometimes uses classification to hide embarrassments, and that should be rooted out. But it also uses classification to undertake its constitutionally mandated duties. For the former, leaks are not the answer: whistleblower statutes and notification of congressmen on the intelligence oversight committees are the answer. For the latter, leaks are treason in time of war, though we seem to have discarded the notion of treason lately at least in terms of prosecuting people for it.

Bahahah (3, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | about 4 years ago | (#31871010)

Oh my god. This is the funniest post I've read in years.

Tell me, which article of the Constitution permits

1) unreasonable searches and seizures by
2) agencies under no or very little congressional oversight
3) which have secret budgets?

I think you and the tea partiers will be slightly disappointed once you get around to understanding the constitution instead of reading it for selective applications of your own biases.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Re:Bahahah (0, Flamebait)

medcalf (68293) | about 4 years ago | (#31871156)

Your point 1 requires evidence. What unreasonable searches and seizures do you refer to? Your point 2 is clearly false. There are committees in both the House and Senate whose job is to oversee the intelligence agencies. Note that this ... person ... did not report to those committees, even anonymously or under the whistleblower protections, but leaked to the media instead. Your point 3 is covered by Article I Section 8. If you want to make a case that all budgets must be entirely disclosed at some given level of detail, I'd love to hear it. Also, this is all entirely a red herring. Are you disputing the government's authority to operate clandestine intelligence agencies? If so, I'd love to hear the argument for that, too. Look, I'm not a fan of large, intrusive governments. I'm especially not a fan of permanent intelligence agencies with sweeping powers (though this applies less to the NSA than to the CIA and other organizations with "direct action" capabilities). But the solution for that is not turning a blind eye while people spill our secrets in wartime. If you don't trust the government to keep secrets, fine, push for laws or amendments that remove that power from them. I'd likely even support you. As far as this being treason, if indeed the guy disclosed intelligence programs, then he has committed it because he gave aid to the enemy (the overt act of making public information about our operations that enables the enemy to avoid detection). If he admits it, or if his acts are attested to by two witnesses, then he can be convicted for it. (In this case, I'm betting it's the lack of direct witnesses that would prevent a treason charge from sticking.)

Re:Bahahah (4, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | about 4 years ago | (#31871936)

Your point 1 requires evidence. What unreasonable searches and seizures do you refer to?

Have you read a single newspaper in the last eight years?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_warrantless_surveillance_controversy [wikipedia.org]

What exactly do you think the NSA does? Are you really that credulous?

If you want to make a case that all budgets must be entirely disclosed at some given level of detail, I'd love to hear it.

Article 1, Section 9: No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

Are you disputing the government's authority to operate clandestine intelligence agencies? If so, I'd love to hear the argument for that, too.

They have shown repeatedly [wikipedia.org] that they are incapable of controlling themselves when there is no oversight. The NSA and CIA and FBI have repeatedly operated outside the law. We are supposed to be a nation of laws.

But the solution for that is not turning a blind eye while people spill our secrets in wartime.

Do you think you're channelling Thomas Jefferson or Stalin with that kind of outlook?

Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and rebellions? Examine the history of England. See how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. They have been either real treasons, wherein the parties might as well have been charged at once, or sham plots, where it was shameful they should ever have been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, that operation is now become habitual and the minds of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant suspension. -Thomas Jefferson

Re:Bahahah (0, Offtopic)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31873084)

By pointing to Wikipedia, you undermine your own argument. Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information.

A "regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time." It is. The budget is published, with certain details redacted for national security purposes. This is completely legal and constitutional.

Your Jefferson quote does not support your position. Drake is not being held without benefit of habeas corpus. He has been charged with a crime and indicted as described in Amendment 5 of the Constitution.

Re:Bahahah (3, Informative)

copponex (13876) | about 4 years ago | (#31873526)

By pointing to Wikipedia, you undermine your own argument.

By pointing to nothing, you fail to make an argument. I check the sources.

The budget is published, with certain details redacted for national security purposes.

Here's sworn testimony from the Director of the CIA that contradicts your claims:

Finally, in evaluating whether to release the total intelligence appropriation, I have to consider whether a release could add to information that is already available to hostile individuals in a way that could reasonably be expected to reveal or lead to identification of other information that could damage the national security. Information that is in the public domain is not, in fact, entirely accurate. Where official release of the budget total, even if it does not itself reveal all the sensitivities of the intelligence Community, would provide valuable analytic benchmarks or clues to make our sensitive intelligence activities, sources, or methods more readily and precisely identifiable by hostile services and groups, then official release reasonably could be expected to damage the national security.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/foia/2002/tenet.html [fas.org]

No budget is published. There is nothing to redact, and any redaction would be a violation of providing a regular statement of account, notwithstanding the direct violation of taking money out of the treasury for unlawful purposes. Not being aware of the facts undermines your argument pretty seriously, don't you think?

Your Jefferson quote does not support your position.

The word you're missing is context. Medcalf tried to make the assertion that wartime is an excuse for breaking the laws of our country. I demonstrated that this belief was not shared by at least one of our founding fathers.

This ignores the fact that the war on terrorism is just like the war on jealousy - it's never going to end, and it will be an eternal excuse for abuses of power.

Re:Bahahah (0, Flamebait)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31874126)

By Wikipedia's own admission, anyone can edit an article at any time, therefore the information in the article can not be trusted at any point in time.

At the time Tennet was Director of the CIA, the intelligence budge was considered classified information. The release of classified information is at the discretion of the federal government. There is a federal budget, the analysis of which is published by no fewer than four different agencies. Maybe you should try researching the federal budget and the budget process.

In other words, your quote actually argues against your point because Drake was breaking the law. The information Drake released did not show any illegal acts, merely failed projects the nature and existence of which were classified. Drake violated the law and was indicted by a grand jury. Your quote does not help your cause in the least.

Re:Bahahah (2, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | about 4 years ago | (#31874514)

By Wikipedia's own admission, anyone can edit an article at any time, therefore the information in the article can not be trusted at any point in time.

Unless you check the sources. Are you aware of how research works? How would you treat Wikipedia differently from Encyclopedia Brittanica? I mean, besides prancing around red herrings.

Maybe you should try researching the federal budget and the budget process.

At no point is there a clear accounting of money spent on intelligence agencies. This violates the constitution. You're free to pretend otherwise; I imagine it's necessary to fill in the holes that your alternate reality requires.

Is there any other power center you'd like to shill for? No, I'm serious. I'd love to see how badly you would do for the Pentagon. Maybe you could take a crack at defending extraordinary renditions?

In other words, your quote actually argues against your point because Drake was breaking the law. The information Drake released did not show any illegal acts, merely failed projects the nature and existence of which were classified. Drake violated the law and was indicted by a grand jury. Your quote does not help your cause in the least.

Aww boo. Oh wait! Here's one:

If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so. -Thomas Jefferson

Score one for reading the founding fathers, and a second point for understanding the empire they were fighting against.

Re:Bahahah (0, Flamebait)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31874632)

Please explain how a law stating one may not release classified information is unjust.

At no point is there a clear accounting of money spent on intelligence agencies.

This is a false statement, as the intelligence budget is no longer considered classified.

As anyone can change Wikipedia at any time, the information contained in Wikipedia is not fact checked, nor is the veracity of the sources verified.

Re:Bahahah (1)

copponex (13876) | about 4 years ago | (#31874798)

Please explain how a law stating one may not release classified information is unjust.

If the information is classified to cover up injustice. Which is the purpose of classifying most information.

This is a false statement, as the intelligence budget is no longer considered classified.

Provide a link to the latest detailed account of CIA and NSA spending.

As anyone can change Wikipedia at any time, the information contained in Wikipedia is not fact checked, nor is the veracity of the sources verified.

You know you can click on the links, right? Then look at the domain, and see if it's legit, or look up the ISBN number and do a Google Books search. I'm almost certain you do not understand what the verb "verify" means.

Re:Bahahah (0, Offtopic)

thoth (7907) | about 4 years ago | (#31874492)

Article 1, Section 9: No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

If you're using this for justifying a detailed accounting of expenditures, I'd rather see it applied to how public money given to banks for "troubled asset relief" was spent. Banks are apparently threatening to appeal to the Supreme Court to keep this info under wraps. The amount wasted on whatever system the NSA was upgrading is complete round-off compared to TARP money.

Re:Could be worse than stated, though (1)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | about 4 years ago | (#31871128)

I bet half of the congressmen on the IOC have been bought bribed or payed for in some other way that prevents them from actually doing anything useful. If a real whistle-blower actually brought something bad to them, they still probably roast him at the stake. Security through obscurity is not. Also, [citation needed].

Re:Could be worse than stated, though (1)

medcalf (68293) | about 4 years ago | (#31871242)

If you think the Congress is powerless to regulate (or even eviscerate) the intelligence community, you should research the Church Commission. You can argue whether Congress is doing a good or a bad job regulating the intelligence agencies, but that they have the power to do so effectively has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.

Re:Could be worse than stated, though (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#31871840)

What happens when the intelligence agencies lie to their oversight committees? The CIA in particular has been known to lie to its own director, and presumably by extension the president.

As far as your specific arguments:
  - Moving prisoners to known locations rather than unknown locations really doesn't do much if they're legitimate prisoners. Do you seriously think that, say, Al Qaeda, could launch anything approaching a successful assault on a well-defended military base?
  - The capability of the intelligence agencies to analyze all the stuff they'd get by intercepting all phone and financial transactions (which are the "tools" you describe) is not infinite.
  - If there were a legitimate reason to wiretap somebody or determine what's going on with their bank accounts, warrants and subpoenas are quite capable tools for getting the intelligence agencies what they need. Even the Swiss are now willing to give out information about bank activity with the appropriate legal authority.
  - You mistakenly assume that just because an intelligence agency describes a person or group as an enemy, they are an enemy.
  - No terrorist worth their salt will send a truly secret message in the clear over a telecommunications channel. They also won't move money via standard bank accounts, they'll use suitcases of cash or something similarly hard to trace.

To take your basic approach here to its logical and absurd conclusion: Based on your argument, the New York Times is an enemy of the United States, because it is aiding and abetting enemies. In addition, all people who read or advertise in the New York Times are aiding and abetting terrorism, because they're funding this terrorist news outlet. And in addition, all people who are friends with people who read the New York Times are clearly linked to the terrorist network. So by your argument, most of the citizenry of the United States is an enemy of the United States.

you are wrong (1)

Weezul (52464) | about 4 years ago | (#31871944)

You're discussing operations that clearly fall into the domain of the CIA, military intelligence, etc., clearly NSA wouldn't even know about moving captured enemies. We're fairly sure that Drake disclosed the data for Siobhan Gorman's article simply because Drake should never have had need-to-know for anything outside the NSA.

Intelligence services often don't prosecute leaks because they fear the trial might cause further real damage, but they'll probably prosecute when the trial merely prolongs their embarrassment otoh.

We know the Gorman article was based upon classified NSA documents showing massive waste. To me, that says the source was not given strong enough internal recourses.

A strong measure would be granting all senators automatic clearance for budgetary issues, thus effectively granting employees like Drake the ability to discuss the matter with a senator.

Unfriggin believable (2, Insightful)

Syntroxis (564739) | about 4 years ago | (#31870944)

Can anyone say Valerie Plame?

Re:Unfriggin believable (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31871588)

Please explain in detail what Plame has to do with Drake being indited on charges of violating federal law and his oath of service?

Re:Unfriggin believable (1)

Syntroxis (564739) | about 4 years ago | (#31872522)

Federal government employees released information on Valerie Plame which decimated on-going operations. That pretty much has everything to do with busting a federal employee for releasing data. The main difference is the guy at the NSA is a lowly underling, and those involved in the Valerie Plame incident were in the executive branch, or acting on their behalf.

Re:Unfriggin believable (0, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31872796)

From what I know, the exposure of Plame's identity did not "decimate" anything. It ended her effectiveness as an agent.

Basically, you are arguing that two wrongs make a right, specifically that because the bozo who got away with exposing Plame's identity this bozo should not be prosecuted for violating his oath of service and federal law. That is a fallacy. Using that reasoning, no murderer should ever be prosecuted because other murderers have gotten away with their crimes.

The Plame incident is not related to this incident. Two separate incidents, two separate crimes, two separate perpetrators, two separate trials.

Re:Unfriggin believable (1)

Syntroxis (564739) | about 4 years ago | (#31873400)

It is directly related. The Plame incident was a deliberate "leak" to expose a CIA operative who had been supposedly effective in her mission. We will never know how many of her operatives were killed because of the Bush administrations treasonous activity. Yes treasonous. Bush the first signed a law which made it treason to out an operative of the CIA.

I'm not saying that the NSA employee should not be prosecuted. He should be. This administration, instead of "looking forward", should be investigating the malfeasance of the previous administration and implement prosecutions for violations of the law when applicable.

Last I checked, NO ONE in the United States is above the law.

Re:Unfriggin believable (0, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31874224)

Then, what exactly did you mean by "Can anyone say Valerie Plame?"

So, your idea of a direct relationship is "They both involve leaked information"? That is all it takes? Well, hell, we can just give everyone ever convicted of passing on classified information a pardon. /sarcasm

Again, you are arguing using a fallacy, specifically, two wrongs make a right.

Re:Unfriggin believable (1)

Syntroxis (564739) | about 4 years ago | (#31874370)

Not saying two wrongs make a right. Saying that both should be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.

Re:Unfriggin believable (0, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 4 years ago | (#31874668)

That is not what you said, nor is it what your original post implies.

Re:Unfriggin believable (1)

Syntroxis (564739) | about 4 years ago | (#31874848)

The 5 words which I used in my first post pointed to the hypocrisy present in the prosecutions. I'm sorry that I did not elucidate clearly to prevent any possible misunderstanding. I'm really surprised that you were able to take any other implication from that. What exactly, did you think the implication was?

What is a good email provider (1)

bhima (46039) | about 4 years ago | (#31871540)

This raises the question about email providers. Who provides good, private, secure email service? If Hushmail has handed over keys & data on request, I'd rather not pay them €50-100 per year. In truth I'm not an international criminal or James Bond or anything... so I can't really justify too much cost. But surely there is a service which does not retain data for too long and would at least ask for a court order before handing anything over... and does not assume you have the financial backing of a TLA.

Lock Him Up and Throw Away The Key (3, Informative)

Necron69 (35644) | about 4 years ago | (#31871866)

One of the very first things you have to do before getting a security clearance is sign a document acknowledging that revealing classified information is punishable by a fine of $10,000 or 10 years in prison or both. If you can't handle that from the outset, you have no business having a security clearance.

Make no mistake: this was a very serious crime. While I applaud this guy's intent, the proper place for his complaint was either the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, or the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. From that point on, it is the responsibility of those Congressional committees to follow up on the information. No person other than the Director of Central Intelligence or the President has the authority to release classified information.

If you think that sucks, then imagine the situation where everyone with a clearance got to decide on their own whether that information should be kept secret or not. There wouldn't be any point to having classified information, and you might as well give it all away to the Chinese/Russians, etc. Do you think they'll reciprocate?

Necron69

Re:Lock Him Up and Throw Away The Key (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31873596)

"No person other than the Director of Central Intelligence or the President has the authority to release classified information."

Thank god there's never any actual reason to *leak* classified information.

Re:Lock Him Up and Throw Away The Key (1)

MattskEE (925706) | about 4 years ago | (#31874360)

Would you say then that Thomas Tamm [wikipedia.org] should be fined or imprisoned for illegally blowing the whistle on the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program? From a position of blindly following the law, he should be, because he revealed classified information to the media. But he exposed illegal government activities that had been classified to hide them from the public, and I would say that he was simply following his civic duty to reveal corruption.

It's hard to interpret this Drake case, because we have little information. If however the speculation is true that he was only revealing information on billions of dollars the NSA wasted in failed programs which was then covered up, there is certainly a strong argument in my opinion that this revelation is of net benefit to the US public. I don't see (yet) that any significant operation knowledge was exposed, but his actions could bring the oversight needed to prevent the continued waste of our taxpayer dollars. If he reported through appropriate channels there is not much guarantee it would ever escape the black hole of classified information, and he would have been an immediate suspect if he then tried to escalate by leaking to the media. And it could have easily resulted in "workforce punishment" e.g. get assigned boring tasks, get passed over for promotions if he pressed the issue through official channels.

Of course if you disagree with me and think that Tamm should be prosecuted for his whistle blowing, then there is no reason for you to give Drake the benefit of doubt in this case.

Re:Lock Him Up and Throw Away The Key (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 4 years ago | (#31874444)

Finally somebody gets it. For high levels of clearance the non-disclosure is good for 99 years and is punishable by...wait for it....DEATH.

So whistle-blow all you want, morons, but you should have thought about that before signing the paper that says, "I will not whistle blow for the next 99 years by penalty of death" (my paraphrase).

Its about time... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | about 4 years ago | (#31873826)

>that examined in detail the failings of several major NSA programs, costing billions of dollars,
>that were plagued with technical flaws and cost overruns
I have to thank this guy profusively, now that we know all the problems with mismanagement
there should be an investigation, and they should be held fully accountable, but it will be tough to
prove anything, everything might be encrypted.

Also, they learn from their mistakes, now try getting any sort of info from there, it will be almost
impossible. I think though, there should be a sort of law against companies run by the government
using public money to fund projects, that specifies that financial information (not actual project info)
can not be kep secret, and any employee forwarding financial that should otherwise be public,
for some reason was hidden, can not be prosecuted, this would make a few more companies rethink their
while cloak and dagger scam.

NSA>We need billions of dollars for our projects
Gov.>Ok, we need a business plan or we need to know what it is for...
NSA>That is classified...
Gov.>That's good enough for us, here you go...

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