from the it's-everyone,-we-all-kinda-hate-the-government dept
[T]he former head of the CIA has a theory about a possible root cause of the leak: Millennials.
Michael V. Hayden, who was the CIA director until 2009, said that in order for the agency to engage in the digital espionage described by the documents, the agency must “recruit from a certain demographic” — in this case, younger hackers brought on to help with these efforts.
“I don’t mean to judge them at all, but this group of millennials and related groups simply have different understandings of the words loyalty, secrecy and transparency than certainly my generation did,” Hayden told the BBC in an interview this week. “And so we bring these folks into the agency, good Americans all, I can only assume, but again, culturally they have different instincts than the people who made the decision to hire them.”
That’s Hayden’s response to the CIA leak, which exposed the agency’s exploits and device-targeting tactics. Hayden’s saying people used to trust the government more. That’s what this breaks down to, even if couched in Hayden’s implicit demand youngsters remove themselves from his lawn, but leave any and all government documents behind.
“Transparency” should mean what it’s always meant. But “transparency” is defined by government agencies and officials harboring zero desire to engage in it. We spent years listening to Obama pat himself on the back for increased government obfuscation and secrecy, something he referred to as the “most transparent administration.” The word “transparency” is meaningless in the government’s hands. That’s why almost anything of significance is revealed by leakers/whistleblowers routing around the “official channels.”
“Secrecy” means the same thing it always has as well. The government likes it. Citizens are not quite as enthralled with government secrecy, especially considering more and more of their lives are open books. An example: anyone shot by a police officer will have their criminal record immediately delivered to the press while EMTs are still checking for a pulse. Weeks or months will pass before law enforcement agencies release the name of the officer whose gun “discharged,” much less their disciplinary record.
People of all ages are likely tiring of the government’s insistence on keeping secrets, even as it engages in mass surveillance, reinterprets privacy-shielding laws on the fly, builds massive biometric databases, and declares the Constitution invalid within 100 miles of the border. It’s not just millennials. It’s everyone.
“Loyalty” still means the same thing, too. But the government’s used to receiving it unconditionally. It has spent years abusing it and is finally seeing the consequences of its actions. Millennials may be the least willing to show loyalty to a government that has already mortgaged their future, but again, this crosses all ages. Loyalty isn’t something the government can demand, not when it’s done as much as it has to demonstrate why it’s unworthy of it.
Undeniably, leaking is easier than ever, with multiple journalistic outlets offering multiple ways for the anonymous to dump their documents and grievances. Engaging in some sort of age discrimination at the federal level isn’t going to stop the flow of leaks.
What’s happening now is a severely-broken system reaching its apotheosis. With someone else in the Oval Office, we likely wouldn’t be seeing nearly as many leaks. Almost as soon as the administration makes a claim (or a tweet), a leaked document or comment refutes it. Agencies are going rogue. Confidential conversations with administration officials are being discussed on social media by those involved in them.
Trump’s tweets about subjects of investigations and national security-related matters show he cares just as little for secrecy or loyalty. His refusal to release information the public’s been asking to see (tax returns, divestment plans, etc.) shows he cares little for transparency.
It also sets an example for others. The administration is seemingly moving from one disaster to the next without indicating it has a blueprint for the future. This helps generate even more leaks — and not just because ill-advised moves tend to produce interesting documents and irate government employees. The leaks are continuous because no one’s worried the administration will ever locate the sources. The constant flow sends a clear message: those leaking info and documents — and there are a lot of them — feel the President and his staff are too incompetent, or too easily-distracted, to track them down. The CIA may track down the source of the leaked documents, but it’s heavily-invested in its own secrets, which has nothing to do with the hurricane of disruptive activity taking place in the White House. But those leaking info related to the current administration have little to fear.
The administration has managed to make enemies of several federal agencies. Federal agencies are amazing at stonewalling. The best. If the administration thinks it’s going to get assistance rooting out leakers, it’s in for yet another surprise. And the administration will continue to be unsurprisingly surprised by the resistance it faces when it shows up with guns loaded, looking for rogue messengers.