Friday, February 17, 2017

Woot! Leaks! Am I a hypocite?

I am thrilled about the leaks spilling out of the Trump administration about ties to Russia and all that.  But I consider Snowden to be a spy, and was not a fan of Chelsea Manning.  Am I a hypocrite?  Hells yeah, but not over this.

How so, Steve?  The big difference between what Snowden and Manning and these leaks?  Volume mostly.  What I minded about Snowden and Manning was the indiscriminate theft and release of information.  What I like about the latest leaks? It is selective--the leaks focus on particular policies/stances/conversations that are important for national security.  That Flynn had way too much contact with the Russian ambassador. That other members of the Trump team have had way too much contact with Russia.  That DHS was proposing to have the National Guard round up illegal immigrants.  These are specific things that the public had a need to know, not whole catalogs of stuff that had been sucked up and pushed out into the internet. 

Is this a distinction without a difference?  I don't think so.  To be clear, I do think that Obama's team spent too much time focused on leaks, that they should not have pursued reporters for their reporting of leaks.  Every democratic government leaks, and the iron law of leaks is that the more you seek to block leaks, the more leaks you are likely to have.  For a similar dynamic, see Princess/Senator/General Organa classic line, with English accent for emphasis. 

But overall, I find leaks not to be as problematic as floods.  Democracies actually need leaks form government to reveal things when the government is not behaving ethically, legally, wisely (the last one is the tricky one).  We do need secrecy for a variety of reasons, and, yes, we do need to spy on friend and adversaries.  International relations is not so civilized that we don't reach each other's mail.  So, am I a hypocrite?  Not on this.  But call me out on my other stuff.


Anonymous said...

Manning and Snowden leaking was of highly classified data, while the Trump admin's "golden shower" has been in more of a legal grey area (at least for now).

This month would've been far more terrifying if there were *no* leaks. Cue The West Wing:

Steve Saideman said...

That is a good point, although I wouldn't mind some classified stuff leaking if it was specific and focused on the government behaving illegally, immorally, and perhaps even unwisely. Snowden's initial leak of NSA collecting metadata could count, but the rest of it? No.