Monday, April 18, 2011

sooper kewl - but...

It's one of my favorite harps on people in "Western" governments, how things clandestine ...supposedly only to be known by people in government responsible for things clandestine... have a bad habit of showing up in distinctly not-clandestine places like the newspapers.

Oh, sometimes it is just that the activity wasn't really that secret... or just a little bit so... see the latest Wikileaks troublemaking for one example, or note that folks in the U.S. DeptState are often too willing to say things to blow their own horns... but the worst ones are usually from insiders with political or media agendas acting as "off-the-record" sources. Here's an excerpt from Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette in a recent well-presented article on the Libya Intervention:
That news prompted more squawking about "al Qaeda members among the rebels" - but in the meantime other reporters asked the real question that that response made obvious, but that so many missed: Wait, we have intel guys on the ground? Again, the best answer would have been a simple explanation of some of the many reasons why turning enemies into allies is a good idea, instead we got (shhhh... off the record, of course - and not in these words) "oh stop worrying - this has been a CIA op from the get-go. The boss authorized it before the first bomb fell." (Um, shhhh... that sounds totally sooper kewl - but saying it was a really a super bad idea.)
Bold by me, author comments in parentheses in the original.

There are a host of reasons why much of the inner workings of diplomacy and espionage intelligence activities are generally not topics of conversation, even in peacetime... even between 'friends'... in a time of conflict you can multiply those reasons by a couple orders of magnitude. But, of all that, one thing stands out:

When those things about what "we" are doing get out in public, it paints a target on the people "we" are working with... and sometimes on our operatives as well.

Word gets around about that, pretty quick.

Not many folks remain willing to help our side when doing so borders on the suicidal.

So... please...

those of you in the Trade: Keep secrets secret. That means not only not running your mouth to people outside the operation, but also not violating compartmentalization by leaving bits of operational details in low-security locations.

those of you in the Media: Show at least a little sense about what you publish. Save it up; it'll make a heck of a book you can be famous for writing *after the operation is long over*.

There's a reason for the old admonishment about "not until after 5 and 10"... to not even consider discussing an operation until one has been separated from the Trade for at least 5 years and that the operation have been over for at least 10 years. The bad guys out there have long memories, you see.

Lives, our friend's lives, our people in the field's lives, depend on it.

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