Insider Revelations Devastate U.S. Intelligence Capabilities

September 18, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
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NSA leaks leave friends reluctant and adversaries opportunistic.

The leaders of the U.S. intelligence community stated that the Snowden and Manning revelations of U.S. intelligence collection activities have done serious harm to U.S. national security in several ways. Three agency directors and one acting director stated that the ability to view the threat picture has been hamstrung as it is changing to an increasing degree.

The second plenary session at the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit 2014, being held September 18-19 in Washington, D.C., included strong statements about the insider revelations by the directors. Adm. Michael Rogers, USN, commander, U.S. Cyber Command and director, National Security Agency (NSA), said that people are “sadly mistaken” if they think these revelations have had no impact.

“There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we have lost capability because of these revelations,” he declared. “I am watching groups change their behavior as a result of these revelations.” He added that these groups have harming the United States as their intent.

Letitia Long, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, pointed out that these revelations have had an economic impact as well. She noted that many European countries no longer want to do business with U.S. industry because of revelations about their involvement.

Panelists also pointed out that these activities had been vetted by oversight organizations, so public criticism of both sectors has been strong. “How do you enjoy a relationship built on trust if those mechanisms that give us approval do not enjoy the same trust?” Adm. Rogers asked. He called for a broader dialogue about what the intelligence community does and why it does it, and why citizens should not be worried about it.

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