The debate over the intelligence leaks to the press involves the balance that should exist between citizens’ right to information and the need to maintain secrecy on matters of national security. This case is a great example to review.
A recent New York Times report revealed that the White House authorized cyber-sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program and expanding the use of unmanned drone strikes to fight terrorism. The article even shows President Obama personally selecting the targets of the attacks.
There are many reasons for Washington to leak confidential information, which happens in every administration. There are political reasons, such as testing out a reaction to an idea, advancing an agenda or making another person look good or bad. Informational reasons include publicizing how the government we all elected operates.
We think the Times article falls in the second category. The use of computers and drones is a new, significant part of the American covert strategy. In the case of the planes, it’s controversial because the results include civilian casualties. These are changes that should be known and deserve to be debated. Like, for example, whether it’s right that only one person-the U.S. president-has the authority to decide who should be killed in the next drone mission.
There are other leaks, like information about a double agent who infiltrated into Al Qaeda in Yemen, which have a very damaging effect on the persons involved and the future of similar actions.
Intelligence leaks are a very serious crime with an appropriate punishment, and it’s normal to launch an investigation to find out where they came from. For some, they are tantamount to treason. However, throughout history they have proven to be a useful information tool for citizens because of the obsession governments have with secrets.