Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wikileaks steps on Superman's cape.... again

Danger Room is reporting that Wikileaks has posted a classified report on one of the jammer systems the military has developed to counter the threat of remotely controlled IED's.

I'm not going to debate the merits of the system, or even discuss what's in the report. What's in that report isn't any of my business. It certainly isn't something that I want to help pass on.

Listen up kids:

Things like this are classified for one of very few reasons. They either talk about operational plans, sources and methods for intelligence, or the capabilities and shortcomings of technology.

I think we all understand why we don't want to talk about operational plans. Anyone who paid attention to the early stages of the Iraq War remembers when Geraldo Rivera (occupation: tool) was kicked out of the AO for broadcasting plans for the unit he was attached to. Broadcasting plans for upcoming operations puts soldiers lives in jeopardy. Broadcasting plans for operations that have already happened lets anyone listening learn about how things are done, and can help them predict what's going to happen in the future.

Intelligence methods and sources are just as easy to understand. If a target knows that someone or something is a source for our intelligence staffs, they can eliminate that source. In real words, that means that a living person will be killed, usually after some pretty horrific interrogation.

The last one, at least to technology types, seems to be hard to understand. When you talk about the pros and cons of a given piece of technology in the civilian world, it's a good thing. If you try to conceal problems with your technology, especially if it's something that has to do with security, you get branded with "security through obscurity".

In the military realm, openly discussing problems and limitations of technology tells our enemies what our technology can and can't do. It can help them develop countermeasures to our technology, or to develop tactics that take advantage of our limitations. Classifying these characteristics is an attempt to force opponents to learn these limitations the hard way, through having to face our technology in combat and pay for it in blood.

Some people I know think that the government classifies most things to cover up bad deeds or stupidity. I'm not going to argue that that doesn't happen because it does, and it will happen again. And when the press publishes reports on these instances, I'm all for it. That's one of the reasons we have a free press, to publicise instances when the government is either stupid, malicious, or both.

But publishing documents that put the lives of our soldiers in danger, however indirectly, is irresponsible and criminal. I'd like to have the yutz who leaked this staked out on the lawn of the Pentagon for a couple of weeks.

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