SEE NO EVIL
July 25, 2004 - Republican Senator Richard Shelby is under fire. He is the focus of an intensive leak investigation by the FBI. Justice has referred the results of the investigation to the Senate Ethics Committee. This is a serious matter and the offense alleged is grave. It is alleged that the Senator leaked classified information to the press and thus to the American public. What was the information that was so highly classified? What information did the Senator give the American people that so badly imperiled the security of the nation?
According to Fox News the Senator is alleged to have given out the information that the National Security Agency had intercepted Arabic two messages on September 10, 2001. One allegedly said, “The match begins tomorrow”. The other, “Tomorrow is Zero Day.” That was bad enough but then he allegedly gave out the information that the super secret Agency had not gotten around to translating the intercepts until September 12th. That is certainly dangerous information for the American people to have and it certainly affects someone’s job security if not the security of the nation.
We all know the routine explanation for classifying information that is embarrassing to the Government. If we let that out it will compromise our sources and our methods of collecting intelligence. If we let out that we had those intercepts it would reveal that NSA has the capacity of intercepting radio transmissions, including cell phone conversations, anywhere in the world. But then if there is anyone literate in the English language who has not known for decades that the NSA had that capacity, they are either so isolated that no newspapers are available or are in an irreversible coma.
The investigation of a Representative of the American People revealing important information to the American People has nothing to do with national security and that is not why the information was sensitive. It was embarrassing that the government did not have the routine ability to translate messages that could have alerted the nation to the threat of an attack on September 11th. It was embarrassing that the materials were not translated for 48 hours.
Commissioner Robert Kerry was exactly on point when he decried our penchant for reflexive secrecy as preventing us as a nation from having a reasoned discourse on the best avenue to achieve security against stateless terrorism. We can’t be effective against the threats we are warned about unless we are told what they are.
If indeed Senator Shelby did give that information out to the press – and I believe that he did - he should be commended as a patriot doing his duty and not pursued as a traitor. We can’t defeat terrorism by sitting like three monkeys in a row. We can’t meet threats we are blinded to.
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