Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NSA Wistleblower

Via Insty, Wired Blog is running a poll on whether the NSA guy who leaked the NSA wiretapping story to the New York Times should be prosecuted.

When I was a wee lad, and read in on classified projects, there was no question in our minds about what would happen if we disclosed classified material. None.

We knew that this was go-to-jail-do-not-pass-go stuff. The security team at Three Letter Intelligence Agency made sure that we knew that.

The only reason not to send this guy to jail is that you think he was on The Right Team, and because you think that nobody on The Right Team should go to jail. We'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

Oh, and Scooter Libby could not be reached for comment.


West, By God said...

Agreed. Before your security clearance is even activated, you sign a non-disclosure agreement with the government. Aside from the criminal aspect of divulging national security information (which, in my book, merits a good old-fashioned hanging) there is also the issue of contract violation. The NDA is just like any corporate agreement, except of course for the parts related to the possibility of criminal prosecution.

The thing is, DCID 6/3 does not allow for illegal actions to be classified. If the wiretaps were illegal, the perpetrator of this offense had a legitimate means of running up the chain to get the material declassified. Unfortunately, he decided to go to the media instead. Other people who have leaked less sensitive information have been severely punished, and justifiably so.

Borepatch said...

Great point on the NDA. I remember the security folks explicitly telling us that the point of the NDA was to let the government sue to get any profits from any book.

They used this as a deterrent - I can't believe that anything has changed.

As to "illegal" wiretaps, while IANAL, it's not at all clear how the NSA listening into phone calls from someone outside the USA to another guy outside the USA is illegal just because it's routed through the USA.

I don't want to open up a whole political discussion on this, other than to point out that none of this was "clearly illegal".

Chain of command is really bad on this sort of thing, but that's true in private companies as well. Ultimately if you don't like it, make a change.

NotClauswitz said...

I signed an NDA in private industry that turned all my patentable work over to them - I got six plaques of glory and that's it.
Maybe this should be privatized and corporate. Maybe if "NSAco Inc." ran the jobsite this asshole would be sued to the bone and standing homeless on a street-corner holding a cardboard sign with, "will give away secrets for money" written on it.

TOTWTYTR said...

Jail? You want to send this guy to JAIL? What are you, a wimp? Tried, convicted, hung.

"Pour encourager les autres", as the French are wont to say.

What he did is treason, pure and simple.