US Gov't Strategy To Prevent Leaks Is Leaked

from the not-quite-getting-it-yet dept

There's something rather ironic that the US government's document on how to get various US government agencies to prevent future leaks (a la Wikileaks) was quickly leaked to the press. But, it's not really that surprising, is it?

Of course, the main thrust of the document isn't to question whether or not so much secrecy is really necessary, but to send out a memo to various government agencies suggesting they use psychiatrists and sociologists to sniff out workers who might be disgruntled (full memo embedded below). Among a variety of (pretty unsurprising) suggestions for keeping confidential information confidential, the checklist of things that organizations are supposed to do includes:
  • Do you use psychiatrist and sociologist to measure:
    • Relative happiness as a means to gauge trustworthiness?
    • Despondence and grumpiness as a means to gauge waning trustworthiness?
I didn't realize that you needed to use such professional help to figure out if you had a disgruntled worker on your hands. Isn't it the role of managers themselves to have a sense as to whether or not their employees are disgruntled? Though, I'm somewhat amused by the idea that the US government thinks that a psychiatrist or sociologist can accurately pick out who's likely to leak documents.

Not that it's a bad thing to try to figure out if there are disgruntled workers or to make sure secure systems really are secure. I'm all for that. I just think it's a bit naive to think any of this will actually prevent future leaks. You just need one person to get the info out, and there's always someone and always a way to do so -- as demonstrated by the fact that this document itself "leaked" so quickly. It seems a better situation would be to focus on making sure that any damage from such leaks is minimal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    man what

    ...That's the most insane method of preventing leaks in the world.

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    Yeah. They guy who hates his job is easy enough to spot, but the guy who is actively working to undermine his superiors is probably smugly happy.

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    "...That's the most insane method of preventing leaks in the world."

    Insane enough that maybe whoever wrote the memo should have a psychiatrist or sociologist check him/her out?

     

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  4.  
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    Yogi, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re:

    Touche`

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re:

    Or it's the newest area of specialists that will need government protectionism in a few years.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:25am

    Be weary of the Cannary Trap.

    In the Cannary Trap inflammatory statements are purposely made so that they are publically quoted. Each person the document uses a different set of inflammatory statements and/or each statement used different words. Thus magically when the inflammatory statement is quoted the source is revealed.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Using shrinks that are friends of the current administration I'm sure...

     

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  8.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    therefore

    so all anyone has to do is be incredibly happy with their job while leaking info, and then they can't possibly be one to leak documents?

    wow.

     

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  9.  
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    Sixter, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:08am

    If I was on a job and they started evaluating me with a psychiatrist or a sociologist I would soon be pretty disgruntled and relatively unhappy about my job. I had a job where they gave me a self evaluation form before my annual review. If I didn't think I was doing a good job, do they really think I would tell them? What is my greatest strength/weakness? Come on. I started looking for another job soon after that.

     

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  10.  
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    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    I certainly would like to give them that benefit of the doubt. That perhaps this is an attempt to ferret out those currently leaking documents. But it's hard to make that leap when so much of the rest of our government's "public reaction" has been so shortsighted and similar in tone to this.

     

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  11.  
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    ofb2632 (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:16am

    doctor-patient confidentiality

    So you tell your Govt provided psychologist that you are disgruntled and they tell the Govt., won't that break federal laws?

     

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  12.  
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    toyotabedzrock (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:27am

    BETTER IDEA

    How about we stop doing so many things that require the Government to Lie to it's people? And have accountability when that contract of trust is breached. - Thats how you prevent leaks.

     

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  13.  
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    A. Lloyd Flanagan (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Re: BETTER IDEA

    Damn, beat me to it.

    Actually, you're clearly a radical subversive with an anti-American agenda. As will be verified by the "psychiatrists" over there with the government IDs.

     

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  14.  
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    A. Lloyd Flanagan (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    Re: doctor-patient confidentiality

    Not a problem. Any psychiatrist who claims to be able to tell who's a leaker from an interview has no ethics to violate.

     

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  15.  
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    Eugene (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:33am

    That this need to be leaked at all is silly. Security through obscurity anyone? If the method actually works, it will be irrelevant whether it's public knowledge or not.

     

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  16.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:48am

    Re: BETTER IDEA

    Yeah, there's a brilliant idea, total honesty. Make sure and tell your wife, girlfriend, etc... when the sex you just had was mediocre. Is it too much to ask that people either be a hypocrite or a moron but not both at once?

     

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  17.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Private Citizen != Government

     

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  18.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    "...Of the people, by the people, for the people..."

     

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  19.  
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    PRMan, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    I have an idea...

    Didn't Bradley Manning leak everything because he was distraught at some of what the government was doing? How about being the America that we all used to think we were? If we stopped acting like total jerks at every turn, everyone would want to protect our few secrets.

     

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  20.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Hmm...

    Don't the psychologists and sociologists have enough problems?

    At stake in the fight between Frances and the APA is more than professional turf, more than careers and reputations, more than the $6.5 million in sales that the DSM averages each year. The book is the basis of psychiatrists’ authority to pronounce upon our mental health, to command health care dollars from insurance companies for treatment and from government agencies for research. It is as important to psychiatrists as the Constitution is to the US government or the Bible is to Christians. Outside the profession, too, the DSM rules, serving as the authoritative text for psychologists, social workers, and other mental health workers; it is invoked by lawyers in arguing over the culpability of criminal defendants and by parents seeking school services for their children. If, as Frances warns, the new volume is an “absolute disaster,” it could cause a seismic shift in the way mental health care is practiced in this country. It could cause the APA to lose its franchise on our psychic suffering, the naming rights to our pain.

    Good article, but it seems the battle over the DSM-V may keep them busy in the next two years while mental disorders are "diagnosed".

     

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  21.  
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    Schwindler's Liszt, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    This document clearly says it is UNCLASSIFIED. On every page. It can't be 'leaked' - it isn't restricted.
    (Doesn't stop it being stupid, though)

     

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  22.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    But more to the point, there is no difference. Parents govern their children and it would be insane to pursue a policy of total honesty with them. When your five year old sweet little girl knocks on the door and asks what you're doing, do you tell her yanking one out to some lesbian rimming vids or do you tell her you're changing clothes?

    Should the State Department tell smaller nations that we really don't give a happy damn about them but we'd like <insert diplomatic goal here> anyway? Should we tell Iran (because if we tell the public, they'll read it in the same papers) that we already have plans drawn up to bomb nuclear facilities if necessary. How about the exact flight path of the planes?

    Total honesty is tied with total secrecy as the worst possible approach to take to government. It's only asked for by hypocritical fools or the party currently out of power (assuming you don't consider those two to be the same to begin with).

     

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  23.  
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    Dohn Joe, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Big Stick

    All this does is give a big arbitrary stick for the US government to use on it's staff - for any reason whatsoever as long as the pretext is "you SEEM disgruntled".

     

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  24.  
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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    I can't help but find it highly amusing that you are saying trust is necessary because if people didn't trust they'd become aware that the people they aren't trusting are not trustworthy at all, and plotting against them in secret.

     

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  25.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Trust the government? Are you mad? I'd never advise that. What I am saying is that where secrecy is required or greatly beneficial for effectiveness we should have secrecy and where it's not we shouldn't.

    Every time government secrets come up though, some anti-establishment dipshit starts saying we should have completely open government without putting any actual thought into what that would mean. To them I offer this:

    Any position taken far enough towards absoluteness is worthy of nothing save ridicule. Check your ideas against this rule before believing them to avoid being a fool.

     

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  26.  
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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    While there are different degrees of trust, permitting a party to have secrets at all is by definition placing an amount of trust in that party. You are arguing that it is necessary that governments have some secrets; this is by definition trusting the government. Those who do not trust do not tolerate secrets.

     

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  27.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Not quite. I fully expect them to abuse any of what you call trust placed in them. So it's not exactly trust, is it?

     

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  28.  
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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    So it's not that you trust the government, it's that you know the government is going to screw you and you voluntarily let them? That's actually more insane than just trusting the government to act in your best interest in the first place.

     

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  29.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Really? You must have experience of a different government than I do if you've had an experience different than voting for politicians that you know with every fiber of your being are going to screw you.

    See, I live in a little thing called the real world. In it we trade control of our nation and certain aspects of our personal lives for security, economic oversight, and a host of other things. We know full well we're going to get screwed by any power we allow the government but we do it anyway. For over 200 years. You included.

    Representative governments have always been this way. They will always be this way. The very fact that there is a government at all is an act of trust placed in a system out of necessity. You will always be screwed by any power you allow them but if you don't allow them any they don't have any to use on your behalf.

    Seriously... drop the idealism and grow the hell up already. You compromise your ideals every single day for a lot less benefit than a strong national government gets you. Get off your anti-establishment soapbox until you have a clue about what would happen with perfect transparency or even about your own actions.

     

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  30.  
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    TDR, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Prove that total transparency can't work. Specific, detailed examples that have actually happened. No one should be above accountability, especially the government. Considering that the federal government has become much more bloated and powerful than the founders ever intended, it's not wrong to rethink whether it should still be allowed to exist in its current state.

     

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  31.  
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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 4:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    My, my. Such hostility and insults. Very unbecoming.

    We have been debating one thing and one thing only: whether you trust the government to any degree. You said you do not to any degree, and I said that the fact that you voluntarily permit the government to have secrets by definition means that you trust the government to act in your best interest a sufficient amount to justify that trust.

    Please point out where I have said even once that secrecy is 100% unnecessary, that I have 0 trust the government, that government is unnecessary, or anything else that expresses "anti-establishment", not living in "the real world", etc. Of course, you can't. I merely pointed out the irony that you argued that the government must be trusted using as evidence examples of secrets that harm those they are kept a secret from, and you've been raging ever since, for reasons that are unclear. Whenever you made an argument, I responded to it, and nothing more. Perhaps you could show the same courtesy, or is courtesy only for people who need to "grow the hell up"?

     

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  32.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Pffft, weak attempt at trying to get me to prove a negative that has never and will never actually occur to be able to cite.

    And I never said and don't think that the current incarnation of the federal government is the way things should be. I think it should be much smaller, much more open, and unbeholden to corporate interests where they conflict with the interests of citizens.

    I'm just enough of a realist and student of human nature to know that there will always be things in life, government not excluded, that need to be said but should not be said publicly. And it kind of pisses me off when ideologues say the world can be all hugs and puppies if we just want it hard enough.

    They never take into account the facts on the ground. They just say this is the way I'd like the world to be, so that's how it should work. That's how children think, not adults.

     

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  33.  
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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Pffft, weak attempt at trying to sidestep the matter.

    I asked you to prove a positive. You claim that I am those things. I ask for the evidence that your claim is true. The requires a single example of something that already exists; at least, it already exists if your claim is based on actual evidence, and not merely pulled out of thin air with no factual basis at all.

    Similarly, my argument against you is based on something which already exists and has been demonstrated, and not a negative.

    How are you going to wriggle now, I wonder?

     

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  34.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    You didn't start this thread of debate, so I didn't feel the need to let you set you topic. But since you've clarified your misunderstanding and asked, here you are.

    Trust is too broad a word for this topic as we have at least two separate kinds being brought up. There's the personally held faith that politicians will act in our best interest and there's the act of placing them in a position of trust. The two need not coincide. In fact they should never coincide in anyone old enough to buy alcohol.

    Now I'm fine with placing people who I do not trust to act on my best interests in positions of trust because there is one thing I do trust about them. They will always look out for their own best interests. Specifically their interests in being reelected. That's usually enough to get them to at least act on my best interests when it's not too much trouble, gains them something, or they can't get out of it without risking their own interests. But it's not something I count on or expect. Explained enough?

    On the hostility and insults? Yeah, you probably didn't earn the last paragraph of my last post, so I'll take a mea culpa on it and claim it's been an extremely long day. The rest I'm fine with standing by.

     

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  35.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Wasn't responding to you, I was responding to TDR.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    Look, to keep only what needs to be kept secret there needs to be some kind of penalty for keeping secrets it needs to cost something so only what is needed is done, in this case is transparency, if they break that they should pay with their jobs and careers for it, because what they are upholding is something more important and that is freedom.

    Just like when you get caught by your daughter yanking one out to some lesbian rimming, you don't try to hide it you acknowledge what you did and say it is bad and that you were wrong for doing it and say I'm sorry for lying.

    You don't need to be totally honest but you need to take responsibility for the things you do or is forced to do.

    Or you can keep stating that dumb thing about "needing secrets" and letting them have it.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2011 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    So what you are saying is that is better to them to screw us them us to screw them?

    I think you are wrong, every time transparency is breached it should be punished, they should loose their jobs and careers that is the cost of the secrets and it is the mechanism that will guarantee that the system is not abused and you want to take it away so it is abused?

    You don't live in the real world, you live in a fantasy world pal.

     

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  38.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 5th, 2011 @ 10:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: BETTER IDEA

    AC, it's well past time for me to be getting some sleep, so I'll make this short and to the point.

    If you can't manage to think through both the positive and negative implications of the things you get up on your soapbox over, then you simply aren't capable of independent thought at all. You can and probably should be replaced by a very small perl script.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 11:52am

    Re:

    ...that's the most type of response in the world

     

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  40.  
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    Andy, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:41pm

    "Leak" is a Misnomer

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2011 @ 8:06am

    How did that old saying go? Something like

    If you want a secret to get out tell a secret agent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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