from the which-one-is-more-of-a-threat dept
As German notes, Delisle isn't a one-off situation either.
So how come most people have never heard of Jeff Delisle? He is, after all, an admitted Russian spy who compromised US signals intelligence for almost five years before his arrest in 2012 and whose dismissal from the Canadian military was revealed in court last week.
Don’t blame Canada; American officials have been strangely silent on the matter. As part of his duties as an analyst assigned to an “intelligence fusion centre”, Delisle had access to a top-secret US Defense Intelligence Agency database – part of the intelligence-sharing arrangement among the so-called “Five Eyes”, the US, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. He volunteered his services to Russian intelligence as an embassy walk-in, then used thumb drives to steal classified material that he disseminated to his spymasters through a shared email account. He was prosecuted in Canada, and sentenced to 20 years in prison – 15 fewer than Manning received.
Delisle isn’t the only spy you never heard of. Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Ana Montes spied for Cuba for 17 years before her 2001 arrest. Former US Marine Leandro Aragoncillo spied on behalf of the Philippines for five years while serving as an aide to Vice President Cheney and then an FBI analyst, before his 2005 arrest.But we don't really hear about those folks. And, as German points out, they actually caused a lot more damage. And that leads one to the inevitable conclusion. The anger about Snowden and the others has little to do with national security. It's much more about the uncomfortable reality that these whistleblowers are shining a very bright spotlight on questionable policies that were approved of and supported by these politicians:
I think to some extent it goes further. Defenders of the intelligence community understand spies who sell out to other countries. It's part of the espionage game. Whistleblowers, however, they don't understand at all. It makes them uncomfortable in a very different sense. They're used to keeping secrets. The idea of "going public" with something goes against basically their entire life's work. And, even worse, whistleblowers reflect directly back on them in a way that spies selling out to other countries don't. Spies who give information to foreign governments aren't making any kind of comment on those who didn't do that. Whistleblowers, on the other hand, are by default highlighting exactly what the rest of the intelligence community has been doing and the fact that no one else was willing to step up and call out obvious wrongs.
If the US government’s crusade against Snowden reflected a genuine concern about leaks that do serious harm to the our nation’s security – rather than a public relations response to disclosures about controversial surveillance activities – one would expect to hear the names Delisle, Montes and Aragoncillo brought into the discussion as well. And often.
When spies reveal information to foreign powers, however, there are no angry tirades in Congress – no vote-grabbing tactics – that might draw public attention to this counter-intelligence failure. The silence helps them avoid uncomfortable questions about whether such broad information-sharing was really in our national security interests, or whether our intelligence agencies were negligent.
And that's why they freak out so badly when true whistleblowers come along and treat them worse than actual spies and double agents.