U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp
Secrecy is for the convenience of the state. To support military adventures and budgets, vast troves of U.S. government secrets are routinely released not by lone dissident whistle-blowers but rather skilled teams of government officials. They engage in coordinated propaganda campaigns designed to influence public opinion. They leak secrets compulsively to advance careers or justify wars and weapons programs, even when the material is far more threatening to national security than any revealed by Edward Snowden.
Remember the hoary accounts in the first week of August trumpeting a great intelligence coup warranting the closing of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies in anticipation of an al-Qaida attack? Advocates for the surveillance state jumped all over that one to support claims that NSA electronic interceptions revealed by Snowden were necessary, and that his whistle-blowing had weakened the nation's security. Actually, the opposite is true.
The al-Qaida revelation, first reported Aug. 2 by Eric Schmitt in The New York Times, came not from the classified information released by Snowden but rather from leaks deliberately provided by U.S. intelligence officials eager to show that the NSA electronic data-gathering program was necessary. On Sunday, Schmitt co-wrote another Times article, similarly quoting American authorities, conceding that the officially condoned August leaks had caused more damage than any of the leaked information attributed to Snowden.
That's because the government leak, which revealed that the United States had intercepted messages between two top al-Qaida leaders discussing a pending attack, resulted in a sharp decrease in their use of the communications channel that was being monitored by U.S. authorities, leaving the U.S. officials to try to find new avenues of surveillance.
According to the story, "As the nation's spy agencies assess the fallout from disclosures about their surveillance programs, some government analysts and senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor."