According to documents published yesterday by WikiLeaks, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has, possibly had, the capability to hack, exploit software vulnerabilities, and so much more. Why is that news? Taxpayers, I hope, expect that after they invest billions in intelligence that entities such as the CIA have the best tools at their disposal to do their job.
On the WikiLeaks website, it states that the CIA “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal,” and that former employees and contractors had circulated controlled material, some of which made its way to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks claims Vault7 is “largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.” WikiLeaks, and those who support reckless activities such as these leaks, argue leaks are necessary to, among other things, protect privacy and civil liberties. Frankly, that’s bunk.
A CIA spokesman said that the agency does not “comment on the authenticity or content of the purported intelligence documents.”
Violating many federal laws and engaging in criminal behavior, potentially a conspiracy of former employees and contractors, does not advance U.S. national interests one iota. There are a variety of legal mechanisms in place such as whistleblower laws that these cast of characters could’ve used. Congressional oversight Committees also have a process in place for concerned executive branch employees or contractors to share information (do so with a lawyer).
In 2013, I wrote this about Edward Snowden:
Snowden’s waving the [privacy and intel community] reform talisman is supposed to make us all think he did the nation a favor. He’s wrong. He did our enemies a favor and continues to do so (yes, we still have enemies in this world). Like Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Snowden picked a side, the wrong one. The entire foreign policy establishment, including the Congress, needs to focus on securing this fellow’s extradition to the United States. He belongs in a prison cell with no Internet access.
The same goes for this lot. If Vault7 data turns out to be genuine, what these people have done is harmed U.S. national security, damaged relations with allies, and sent adversaries or, depending on your view of the world, enemies, another piece of a larger puzzle that will be used to undermine U.S. interests around the world. Who knows, it may also get people killed.
These characters are looking to destroy the CIA, not advance a dialogue about privacy or civil liberties. They are no different that the pre-Internet fellow travelers who came before them. Let’s hope Congressional overseers and the Trump administration focus on the real problem: putting a stop to these reckless, and potentially treasonous leaks, as well as catching the people who did it and holding them accountable. While they are it, someone needs to tame the contractor industrial complex as well as give the agency the resources, and authorities, it truly needs to do its job.
N.B., on a related note, be sure to read Judge Napolitano‘s latest commentary on this matter. He’s right on point.