The CIA is a government agency that is part of the Defense Department. As such, since Donald Trump is the commander in chief, he is the commander of all forces, armed or otherwise. While people on the internet rant and rave about the CIA and all of the atrocities that it has committed, it has an indispensable part in our national defense. As the CIA is part of the Defense Department, and the Defense Department is in charge of protecting the U.S., sometimes they have to kill people. Killing is not the main objective of the CIA, but in certain circumstances, killing people is the only option. While I am not offering exoneration to the CIA for past atrocities, withering criticism of their past behaviors without understanding those actions in their context is naïve and unrealistic. The U.S. government has committed many atrocious acts, but, as in all history, you must examine the acts in the context of history. I am suggesting that you take an intelligent view of intelligence.
In the most recent dustup, there are experts who claim that if Russia had hacked into the computer systems that they are accused of hacking into, they would be easily detected and traced back to Russia. Let me state unequivocally that I am not a hacker, but even I know of websites that will almost guarantee anonymity. To state that the Russians would be easily identified seems rather naïve, since anyone who wants to visit the dark net knows where to go on the internet for someone who will run your signals through so many servers and encrypt your identity that discerning who and where you are would be almost impossible. To clearly identify any hacker who has any computer savvy at all is a gargantuan task. The notion that the Democratic Party by itself could identify a hacker is ridiculous.
I am certainly willing to entertain anyone’s version of the hacking event and prove that the people who were savvy enough to hack into these systems were stupid enough to leave tracks directly back to Russia, when there are websites that can erase your computer footprints available to anyone with internet access. This is just more the equine excrement that the internet is so famous for expounding. Another flaw in the theory that it wasn’t the Russians, is that if the critics claiming it wasn’t the Russians did not see it for themselves, how can they state unequivocally that it wasn’t the Russians, or anyone else for that matter? I’m under the impression that only the people who have seen the evidence could state who it was that hacked into the system, unless the people claiming to know have hacked into the system that was hacked into.
The other big problem with this is that publicly identifying the hackers would reveal how they were discovered, which would identify for the hackers the location of their weakness. For those of you who don’t know, this is classic CIA conundrum: If you reveal what you know, you reveal to your enemy the location of their weakness, and by that you strengthen your enemy by revealing their weakness. It’s the classic “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” This is where I have a problem with the people who claim to know the hackers weren’t Russians. If you didn’t see for yourself who the hackers were, how could you possibly know who the hackers were, and if you reveal how you know, you also reveal how you found out, which compromises your security.
The president receives daily a report on the security of the U.S. I have been told that the daily report on national security would make your hair stand on end. Here’s where I’m going to lose a lot of you. There are things that they can’t tell us, and an intelligent view of intelligence knows that. Your questions would be: “Why can’t they tell us? We’re all citizens here, so why not let us know what is going on?” One of the problems is how we know things. Often, the people who are telling us things are risking their lives in order to do so. Secrets are secret for a reason, and one of the biggest reasons is because people get killed protecting secrets.
Being a sad little off-my-meds man, paralyzed in my Cold War mentality, why do I propose an intelligent view of intelligence, and why don’t we just tell everyone everything? Because people get killed when the truth gets out at the wrong time. By the way, the Rosenbergs were guilty as sin, and there is corroborating intelligence to prove it, so don’t flood the comments section with diatribes about their innocence. But let me give just one example. The Soviet Union, that benevolent, loving and kind state, blockaded the city of Berlin and starved the people in the city in June of 1948 through May of 1949. One of the reasons Joseph Stalin (who only did things because of threats we, the U.S. made, which is the enlightened, realistic view that so many on this website believe) had spies who knew that the U.S. didn’t have enough nuclear weapons to use to retaliate against Stalin when he blockaded Berlin. Stalin knew of our limited capability to respond to his blockade of Berlin because of spies. Did Stalin announce that he had spies or that he knew we didn’t have the capabilities to respond to his blockade with nuclear weapons? The answer is no. We found many spies after WWII such as the Rosenbergs, and others. The British, who you have to wonder how were they threatening the Soviets, but I’m sure that the Soviets were just spying on Britain because Britain had threatened the Soviets just like the U.S. had. It was all their fault. That peace-loving Soviet republic with that benevolent Stalin as their leader spied on other countries because they had been provoked. Even today, that lovable fluff-ball Vladimir Putin has been forced, forced, mind you, to do all of the things that we say are atrocious, like taking over an area the size of Belgium. Putin had to, we provoked him. Even though many of the analysts believe Putin took the territories he took in order to strengthen the Russian position, we have to believe that he was provoked; that's the politically correct position, no matter how naive or unreasonable.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your adversary are important. Knowing where to hit and how to hit can mean a decisive victory, just as not knowing can mean bitter defeat. Frequently the difference is what you know, also known as intelligence. If it means keeping U.S. service personnel alive, I want U.S. intelligence to know it. If it means making attacks, killing more of our enemies and saving the lives of Americans in service to their country, I want U.S. intelligence to know it. If making what we know public will harm U.S. service personnel, or U.S. citizens, then I don’t want it made public. There is a reason for secrecy; it is lives. Should people be able to use insider trading to become rich? Absolutely not. But it’s a secret. Was the plan on the attacks of 9/11 a secret? Yes. What would we have done if we had known it? Hard to say, and there are people who say while we might not have known the specific act, we knew something was coming. What measures do we take when we know things like 9/11 are going to happen, and if we take measures because of things that are secret, should we then reveal what we knew and how we knew it to explain our actions? The intelligent view of intelligence says no, not if it will compromise ongoing operations. If we were to have had prior knowledge of 9/11, and had killed the young Muslims who were going to do it, would we then have to explain to the public why we killed those people, or just say that we had good reasons, and we can’t reveal anything else?
There is a transparency to things like government that should be practiced, and I am fully supportive of a transparent government. I am not supportive, however, of a government that gives away information that puts its people in danger. If everything is secret, then nothing is secret. There is a balance that needs to be maintained; that is an intelligent view of intelligence. We need to be very careful about who has access to intelligence, and be very careful with people who release information without authorization. Again: If it costs American lives, it is not ready to be released, that is the intelligent view of intelligence. Our need to know does not supersede to lives of those who are serving in our armed or intelligence services. In that same line of reasoning, the Secretary of State does not have the right to transmit classified information via unsecured devices simply for the sake of convenience. Again, people who understand and respect the nature of intelligence and the risks taken by our operatives understand the risks of revealing information; of course, there are those who do not respect our agents and put themselves, their convenience and their agenda above those who risk their lives for our security.
The problem is that we do not know what our adversaries know. The point being that when you reveal information about anyone, you do not know what that piece of information that you release might fill in for your adversary. The reason we are very careful with information is because we don’t know what they know, and sometimes one piece of information will be the missing piece for one of our adversaries.
In the case of people that release information, deliberately, accidentally or because they do not think that the rules apply to them, that they are not subject to the rules of the others, we never know what even small pieces of information might fill in and inform our adversaries. The intelligent view of intelligence realizes that giving away information endangers personnel, and can result in the failure of programs and the endangering the lives of our armed or intelligence personnel.
This brings us to the next point, which is how much damage people who reveal information cause. There are people who believe that they are patriots by releasing classified information, which “the people” deserve to know. While I am a transparent government advocate, as explained in previous paragraphs, revealing classified information is a crime. One could argue that too much information is classified, but then, as also stated, we don’t know what our adversaries know. There are a lot of people in this government that I don’t trust, and there are a lot of government officials who are limited in what they can tell you, but mostly they just tell you what didn’t happen because of what program they facilitated.
The CIA is not obligated to tell everything that they do to the American public, but they are answerable to the president of the United States. The U.S. president appoints the director of the CIA, and they are also answerable to the U.S. Congress, specifically the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. There seem to be a lot of former CIA people who are urging President Trump to get rid of certain people or programs; they have the right to free speech. However, if they (the people advocating the elimination of certain programs) understand the nature of intelligence and the risks of revealing information, they will not reveal information that will endanger their former colleagues and/or ongoing operations. Understanding the ramifications of revealing information is the intelligent view of intelligence.
As a free society, we are not obliged to reveal operations or programs that would endanger our fellow citizens. People die because of information released when it should be withheld, and programs costing millions of taxpayer dollars fail because of leaked information. Transparency ends when lives are at risk, and everyone who has access to classified information needs to understand that fact and face the consequences of unauthorized releasing of information or compromising the security of information. Just because they think no one will be harmed if they release or compromise information does not justify releasing information; there are always people who know what they do not know, and enemies of the state who we do not know what they know. As previously said, free speech ends when lives are at risk; we need to take an intelligent view of intelligence.