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Our own worst enemy is ourselves

July 26, 2010

Not all things that couch themselves as transparency are, including Wikileaks’ unleashing of thousands of classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’d say it’s one of the casualties of the current push for open government – the very false notion that everyone needs access to the interworkings of government, or inside the intelligence and policy decisions that shape our military.

I find Wikileaks to be a laughable organization, and at the end of the day the information that was released was certainly inappropriate, and may in fact put our Soldiers at risk, but I don’t think it’s as severe as Wikileaks would like to think it is. The fact of the matter is, if they can get it, it’s probably already in the hands of those who wish to do us harm.

I think the leak primarily points to two things:

1. Why do so many people have access to such information and who could gather such a wide cross-range of information? (Answer, too many).

2. More than any other conflict, today’s War on Terror is characterized by an intense internal political debate that adversely impacts our policies, and hampers the success of our troops.

The first point is rather self-explanatory. I think the government’s process for doling out security clearances needs a severe overhaul, and while I’ll disagree with many of the points/assertions of the Washington Post’s Top Secret America series, the inefficient growth of our intelligence sector is something I don’t disagree with.

The second point is more complex and debatable than the first, but I believe that regardless of what your political persuasion you have to see how today’s wars, more than any other, including the Vietnam War, have been plagued by political tug-of-war that puts our mission in jeopardy. From within our country, our government and our military, I believe there are individuals who want to not just see us end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but hope that we would fail at those wars. They’re within plain sight, and in cases like Malik Nadal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, more obvious in their threat to our safety than we give them credit for.

Lest you think I’m just taking a far-right wing, anti anti-war protestor approach, I’m not taking about the average dissident here. But I am talking about a willing and not marginal group of people within our own society who are willing to take extreme measures and who have extreme thoughts in regards to America’s proper role in international affairs – and how that role shouldn’t include our current overseas conflicts.

It’s never popular to go to war with yourself. But if we’re ever going to keep the next Wikileaks story from spreading across the news, or keep the Washington Post from airing our intelligence dirty laundry (and office locations) all over their front pages, it’s something we need to do.

Government needs to take a smart look at who they’re hiring, how they’re growing our government, and how transparent they’re being with our information. Because if they opened the doors to information that could and should be made public more often, maybe they’d have a better case to keep certain information secret. And maybe if we took the hiring and growth of our government security sector more seriously, we’d have one less leak, and a smarter, safer intelligence system.

Disagree? Think I’m writing this post too late at night after one too many virgin strawberry daiquiris? Let me know in the comments section!

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