August 06, 2012

To Survive And Prosper

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

How a nation handles its spycraft says a lot about its government.  Countries that undervalue it pay a huge price in stability and security.  Governments that direct it at their citizens undermine their own legitimacy.  States that mismanage it waste the investment and strategic advantage. 

Most states study and learn about the intentions and capabilities of those who seek to do them harm.  A deficiency of sound intelligence undercutsa nation and its armed services.  But, a smart nation does not show its opponents what it knows and how it knows.  An intelligence leak surrenders all the strategic value of the information.

The recent leaks regarding American national security interests jeopardize our nation's access to intelligence that is instrumental in protecting Americans from increasingly-creative terrorists.  These leaks must be stopped to best enable our nation to survive and prosper.

There have been many news articles published recently that detail highly-classified information, including the Obama Administration's planned use of drones and American participation in cyber attacks against Iran's nuclear facilities.  Many in the U.S. intelligence community and our allies put their lives at risk as they work to provide the intelligence necessary to protect Americans at home and abroad. 

Such breaches of classified information are unconscionable, risk lives and compromise our national security.  Peter Brookes, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, opined that, "All this boastful blabbing risks big consequences.  First, it's likely to hurt future operations.  It's not like we'll never want to use these techniques again-but they'll be harder to pull off now that we've given the bad guys glimpses of our playbook.  For the same reason, these revelations put our brave intelligence officers and special operators deeper in harm's way." 

Both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are working together to add provisions to the Fiscal Year 2013's intelligence authorization bill to require more forceful investigations of unauthorized disclosures.  The political nature of these leaks suggests that they must be investigated by a prosecutor independent of the U.S. Department of Justice.  Accordingly, I have called for the appointment of an outside special counsel to investigate recent leaks of classified and highly-sensitive information on United States military and intelligence plans, programs and operations. 

We know the Global War on Terror is a different kind of war, requiring a wide range of policy tools to achieve victories and prevent terror attacks on U.S. soil.  We have been committed to employing the multiple, influential tools of statecraft we have at our disposal:  diplomatic, economic, educational, cultural, humanitarian and moral, as well as military and covert operations.  The effective use of our intelligence sources improves our strategic position, but it also supports the other aspects of our statecraft.  Leaks hinder this effort.  

More than 50 publicly-known terrorist plots against the U.S. have been thwarted since September 11, 2001, which heightened our national awareness of terrorist threats to our nation and our democratic values.  Intelligence has been a critical tool in preventing these attacks.  Intelligence leaks are deeply concerning and must be handled with the utmost solemnity.  We must protect and safeguard information about our nation's most vital national security and defense interests to better ensure the safety of Americans both at home and abroad. 

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