No more secrets

Last week the Washington Post outed thousands of top-secret security agencies, to the point of publishing an on-line map so that they can be located.  Now an online group WikiLeaks has released thousands of classified documents about the war in Afghanistan:

U.S. and Pakistani officials are condemning the publication of leaked documents that are said to be secret U.S. military files about the Afghanistan war.

The website WikiLeaks posted tens of thousands of documents online Sunday, and said it has another 15,000 documents that will be released “as the security situation in Afghanistan permits.”  It says the files cover the period between January 2004 and December 2009.

White House National Security Advisor James Jones issued a statement calling the leaks “irresponsible,” saying they not only put the lives of Americans and their partners at risk, but also threaten national security.

The leaked documents are said to include records detailing raids carried out by a secretive U.S. special operations unit against what U.S. officials call “high-value” insurgent and terrorist targets.  Some of the raids are said to have resulted in unintended killings of Afghan civilians.

Also included are documents allegedly describing U.S. fears that Pakistan’s intelligence service was aiding the Afghan insurgency.

Jones said WikiLeaks made no effort to contact the U.S. government, which learned about the release from news organizations.  Those include The New York Times, London’s Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel.

via Thousands of ‘Secret’ Afghan War Files Released on Internet | News | English.

It is certainly difficult to keep secrets in the age of the internet.  Should we just accept all of this “transparency” and embrace a totally free marketplace of information?  Of course, the exposure of government secrets simply follows the exposure of personal secrets that the internet also makes possible.  Do we need to find a way to allow for both individual privacy and national security secrets, or do we just need to find a way to live with the new information environment?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Winston Smith

    I fully understand that what Wikileaks does is potentially treasonous and, under the right circumstances, might actually endanger U.S. troops. Anyone who understands how government works also understands that government routinely over-classifies information, and there is a lot that could be released to the public without doing real harm.

    That being said, it’s hard not to sympathize with those who are trying to bring the unseemly truth to light. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and the instinct of a good investigative reporter is to expose the seedy underbelly of government corruption to public view. Wikileaks may be doing work that mainstream journalism should be doing and hasn’t done in a long time.

    It took a lot more courage for Bradley Manning to (allegedly) publish a video of a helicopter mowing down civilians in Iraq than it did for that pilot to sit behind a big gun and shoot non-combatants.

  • Winston Smith

    I fully understand that what Wikileaks does is potentially treasonous and, under the right circumstances, might actually endanger U.S. troops. Anyone who understands how government works also understands that government routinely over-classifies information, and there is a lot that could be released to the public without doing real harm.

    That being said, it’s hard not to sympathize with those who are trying to bring the unseemly truth to light. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” and the instinct of a good investigative reporter is to expose the seedy underbelly of government corruption to public view. Wikileaks may be doing work that mainstream journalism should be doing and hasn’t done in a long time.

    It took a lot more courage for Bradley Manning to (allegedly) publish a video of a helicopter mowing down civilians in Iraq than it did for that pilot to sit behind a big gun and shoot non-combatants.

  • Michael Z.

    I believe that during WWII there was saying…

    Loose lips sink ships…

    This may be something that people should remember when they post highly classified stuff.

  • Michael Z.

    I believe that during WWII there was saying…

    Loose lips sink ships…

    This may be something that people should remember when they post highly classified stuff.

  • Orianna Laun

    Posting of classified items is a side effect of technological communication overload. We still need to keep the safety of our troops in mind when posting classified items. Besides, wasn’t Geraldo chastised for such a thing?

  • Orianna Laun

    Posting of classified items is a side effect of technological communication overload. We still need to keep the safety of our troops in mind when posting classified items. Besides, wasn’t Geraldo chastised for such a thing?

  • Tom Hering

    Three things I’ve heard the leak has revealed so far. Drone strikes are less effective than we’ve been led to believe. Killings of non-combatants have gone unreported. Elements of Pakistani security have been helping the Taliban.

  • Tom Hering

    Three things I’ve heard the leak has revealed so far. Drone strikes are less effective than we’ve been led to believe. Killings of non-combatants have gone unreported. Elements of Pakistani security have been helping the Taliban.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    There is a need to protect information – information is power, and in the right hands, it is the power to kill Americans. But there is a very tough balance to strike here. Some of this information should be available to the American people – whose taxes are paying for war, and some of whom will go to war. My chief concern is that sites like WikiLeaks will lead to government censoring of media outlets – especially the internet. That would be intolerable.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    There is a need to protect information – information is power, and in the right hands, it is the power to kill Americans. But there is a very tough balance to strike here. Some of this information should be available to the American people – whose taxes are paying for war, and some of whom will go to war. My chief concern is that sites like WikiLeaks will lead to government censoring of media outlets – especially the internet. That would be intolerable.

  • Peter Leavitt

    We should take the White House National Security Advisor at his word that these leaks of Secret documents not only put the lives of Americans and their partners at risk, but also threaten national security.

    The government has charged an Army enlisted man, Bradley Manning, for providing the documents to Wiki Leaks; if convicted he could get up to a 52-year sentence. The government should, also, look into charging WikiLeaks for this serious breach of national security law.

  • Peter Leavitt

    We should take the White House National Security Advisor at his word that these leaks of Secret documents not only put the lives of Americans and their partners at risk, but also threaten national security.

    The government has charged an Army enlisted man, Bradley Manning, for providing the documents to Wiki Leaks; if convicted he could get up to a 52-year sentence. The government should, also, look into charging WikiLeaks for this serious breach of national security law.

  • Tom Hering

    This article in the Guardian says WikiLeaks did not release all of the low-level classified documents they received. (And all of the information is at least seven months old.) They reviewed and held back information they believed might endanger lives.

  • Tom Hering

    This article in the Guardian says WikiLeaks did not release all of the low-level classified documents they received. (And all of the information is at least seven months old.) They reviewed and held back information they believed might endanger lives.

  • Kirk

    @Peter,

    Wikileaks is based in Sweden and, unless that country decides to extradite the organization is safe from American prosecution. Interestingly enough, the US intel community did release a report detailing ways to marginalize Wikileaks, buuuuut it got leaked. http://wikileaks.org/wiki/U.S._Intelligence_planned_to_destroy_WikiLeaks,_18_Mar_2008

  • Kirk

    @Peter,

    Wikileaks is based in Sweden and, unless that country decides to extradite the organization is safe from American prosecution. Interestingly enough, the US intel community did release a report detailing ways to marginalize Wikileaks, buuuuut it got leaked. http://wikileaks.org/wiki/U.S._Intelligence_planned_to_destroy_WikiLeaks,_18_Mar_2008

  • WebMonk

    “Last week the Washington Post outed thousands of top-secret security agencies, to the point of publishing an on-line map so that they can be located.”

    That’s a horribly exaggerated way to phrase things. The WP didn’t “out” anything by posting the locations of security agencies in an on-line map. Most of the security agencies – CIA, FBI, NSA, NGA, etc – put on their own websites the addresses the WP used to make their map.

    That’s “outing” nothing.

    As far as these Wikileaks documents, I took a quick look at them and didn’t notice anything particularly informative, but then I was just looking at their highlighted items – top of the list type stuff. There might be more relevant and dangerous information buried in those thousands of documents.

    Peter @ 6, you naiveté is charming when you say we should just believe the Security Advisor’s statement. I have gotten that exact statement given to me when I was being given a map of a government office layout so I could get to the cafeteria. It’s one of those phrases that is used ad nauseum in government security circles. Maybe this time he is actually correct and there is stuff that might endanger lives in the documents posted by wikileaks, but you need to realize that he would say the exact same thing if someone posted the orientation map for the CIA headquarters cafeteria.

    I’ve checked around a little more while I’ve been typing this, and I still haven’t found any links to documents which look “dangerous” to lives. The government follows a VERY inclusive standard when classifying things, and easily 90% of what is classified doesn’t really need to be classified to save lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • WebMonk

    “Last week the Washington Post outed thousands of top-secret security agencies, to the point of publishing an on-line map so that they can be located.”

    That’s a horribly exaggerated way to phrase things. The WP didn’t “out” anything by posting the locations of security agencies in an on-line map. Most of the security agencies – CIA, FBI, NSA, NGA, etc – put on their own websites the addresses the WP used to make their map.

    That’s “outing” nothing.

    As far as these Wikileaks documents, I took a quick look at them and didn’t notice anything particularly informative, but then I was just looking at their highlighted items – top of the list type stuff. There might be more relevant and dangerous information buried in those thousands of documents.

    Peter @ 6, you naiveté is charming when you say we should just believe the Security Advisor’s statement. I have gotten that exact statement given to me when I was being given a map of a government office layout so I could get to the cafeteria. It’s one of those phrases that is used ad nauseum in government security circles. Maybe this time he is actually correct and there is stuff that might endanger lives in the documents posted by wikileaks, but you need to realize that he would say the exact same thing if someone posted the orientation map for the CIA headquarters cafeteria.

    I’ve checked around a little more while I’ve been typing this, and I still haven’t found any links to documents which look “dangerous” to lives. The government follows a VERY inclusive standard when classifying things, and easily 90% of what is classified doesn’t really need to be classified to save lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Steven Peterson

    Following along the lines of the ruling v. country class argument earlier, why is it that I get that “don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain” feeling when the Director of National Security complains about the leak threatening national security. It more likely threatens the position and influence of the Director, this administration, and the historical reputation of the previous administration than presenting an actual threat to the people of the United States.

  • Steven Peterson

    Following along the lines of the ruling v. country class argument earlier, why is it that I get that “don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain” feeling when the Director of National Security complains about the leak threatening national security. It more likely threatens the position and influence of the Director, this administration, and the historical reputation of the previous administration than presenting an actual threat to the people of the United States.

  • http://www.christlutheran.net Jeff Samelson

    To put all this in perspective for the wider public, I think it would be helpful for someone to write a detailed article/essay — or better yet, make a blockbuster Hollywood movie — showing how our enemies can take and use seemingly inconsequential information gleaned from leaks like this to hurt us. I think too many people, in the general public, the media, and even in parts of the government look at this kind of leaked information and say, “Well, *I* don’t see anything all that important in here!” without understanding how getting unfiltered information on how decisions are made, problems the military is facing, policy and diplomatic struggles, etc. helps our enemies make their plans and work against us.

    And yes, I know how the government tends to over-classify certain things. I used to be in the federal government, with all the appropriate clearances – but I also saw firsthand how seemingly inconsequential information, once “free”, can put our own people (and not just in the military) at risk. As far as classifying information, it may be helpful to remember the old expression, “Better safe than sorry.”

  • http://www.christlutheran.net Jeff Samelson

    To put all this in perspective for the wider public, I think it would be helpful for someone to write a detailed article/essay — or better yet, make a blockbuster Hollywood movie — showing how our enemies can take and use seemingly inconsequential information gleaned from leaks like this to hurt us. I think too many people, in the general public, the media, and even in parts of the government look at this kind of leaked information and say, “Well, *I* don’t see anything all that important in here!” without understanding how getting unfiltered information on how decisions are made, problems the military is facing, policy and diplomatic struggles, etc. helps our enemies make their plans and work against us.

    And yes, I know how the government tends to over-classify certain things. I used to be in the federal government, with all the appropriate clearances – but I also saw firsthand how seemingly inconsequential information, once “free”, can put our own people (and not just in the military) at risk. As far as classifying information, it may be helpful to remember the old expression, “Better safe than sorry.”

  • Leif

    You really need to look at something like this to realize why wikileaks is a good idea Human experimentation in the United States

    Regardless of the agenda a source seeking to provide transparency is and should be highly valued. Perhaps it’s not pleasant but it’s certainly nice to be informed and, ultimately, all’s I can say is that it would have been nice if someone had leaked the Tuskegee syphilis experiment prior to the following:

    “By the end of the study in 1972, only 74 of the test subjects were alive. Twenty-eight of the original 399 men had died of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis.”

    So…yeah. No reason inform the public about that one. It could endanger lives.

  • Leif

    You really need to look at something like this to realize why wikileaks is a good idea Human experimentation in the United States

    Regardless of the agenda a source seeking to provide transparency is and should be highly valued. Perhaps it’s not pleasant but it’s certainly nice to be informed and, ultimately, all’s I can say is that it would have been nice if someone had leaked the Tuskegee syphilis experiment prior to the following:

    “By the end of the study in 1972, only 74 of the test subjects were alive. Twenty-eight of the original 399 men had died of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis.”

    So…yeah. No reason inform the public about that one. It could endanger lives.

  • DonS

    Those who have a security clearance have a legal and moral obligation not to leak classified documents, regardless of whether they think the U.S. or its allies are committing “war crimes” or whatever else might be their motivation for abrogating the oath they took when they received their clearance. We have had recent discussions on this blog concerning Romans 13 and the biblical teaching that Christians are to respect civil authority. This seems to fall right in line with that teaching, does it not?

    Those who are found to have been leaking secrets should face the full penalty of the law and the scorn of the American people and its allies.

  • DonS

    Those who have a security clearance have a legal and moral obligation not to leak classified documents, regardless of whether they think the U.S. or its allies are committing “war crimes” or whatever else might be their motivation for abrogating the oath they took when they received their clearance. We have had recent discussions on this blog concerning Romans 13 and the biblical teaching that Christians are to respect civil authority. This seems to fall right in line with that teaching, does it not?

    Those who are found to have been leaking secrets should face the full penalty of the law and the scorn of the American people and its allies.

  • DonS

    This Reuters article quotes a Pentagon spokesman as indicating that it seems the leaked documents were classified at the “Secret” rather than “Top Secret” level. If true, this makes a huge difference in the damage potential of these leaks, and it may mean that the leaker(s) has/have only a Secret clearance.

  • DonS

    This Reuters article quotes a Pentagon spokesman as indicating that it seems the leaked documents were classified at the “Secret” rather than “Top Secret” level. If true, this makes a huge difference in the damage potential of these leaks, and it may mean that the leaker(s) has/have only a Secret clearance.

  • DonS
  • DonS
  • Peter Leavitt

    WEbMonk: I’ve checked around a little more while I’ve been typing this, and I still haven’t found any links to documents which look “dangerous” to lives. The government follows a VERY inclusive standard when classifying things, and easily 90% of what is classified doesn’t really need to be classified to save lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Who do you think you are to judge whether or not the links to secret documents look dangerous or that the government is too “inclusive” in deeming documents secret.? You scarcely know what you’re talking about. I’ll take General Jones’ word any day over your poor remarks.

  • Peter Leavitt

    WEbMonk: I’ve checked around a little more while I’ve been typing this, and I still haven’t found any links to documents which look “dangerous” to lives. The government follows a VERY inclusive standard when classifying things, and easily 90% of what is classified doesn’t really need to be classified to save lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Who do you think you are to judge whether or not the links to secret documents look dangerous or that the government is too “inclusive” in deeming documents secret.? You scarcely know what you’re talking about. I’ll take General Jones’ word any day over your poor remarks.

  • Kirk

    @Don 13,

    The war crimes issue raises an interesting question as to whether or not your allegiance to your government is actually moral when they, themselves, are violating moral law.

    Personally, I think that if I saw my government committing atrocities and found myself in the position to put a stop to it, I would, even if that meant violating the law.

    The issue at hand is a different one, I think, but dismissing all whistle blowers as immoral is not correct.

  • Kirk

    @Don 13,

    The war crimes issue raises an interesting question as to whether or not your allegiance to your government is actually moral when they, themselves, are violating moral law.

    Personally, I think that if I saw my government committing atrocities and found myself in the position to put a stop to it, I would, even if that meant violating the law.

    The issue at hand is a different one, I think, but dismissing all whistle blowers as immoral is not correct.

  • Kirk

    @16 and yet you somehow find yourself qualified to demean the economic programs of the current White House despite that you (to my knowledge) are not an economist.

  • Kirk

    @16 and yet you somehow find yourself qualified to demean the economic programs of the current White House despite that you (to my knowledge) are not an economist.

  • Joe

    I just don’t understand why we support lawlessness on this topic. We have FOIA and we have other sunshine laws and rights of access. You can make a formal request for information and if you don’t get it you can file a law suite for access. I have done it several times and have represented people doing it. It can be a fairly long process but in light of the other option (breaking the law and then self-justifying your behavior) it seems like the better course.

  • Joe

    I just don’t understand why we support lawlessness on this topic. We have FOIA and we have other sunshine laws and rights of access. You can make a formal request for information and if you don’t get it you can file a law suite for access. I have done it several times and have represented people doing it. It can be a fairly long process but in light of the other option (breaking the law and then self-justifying your behavior) it seems like the better course.

  • Joe

    Kirk – i think you make a good distinction @ 17.

  • Joe

    Kirk – i think you make a good distinction @ 17.

  • Leif

    @13

    So, what then? Do we strive against all that could “divulge” anything past the good ol’ Need To Know? Damn the consequences of our silence?

    Let’s not be naive and noble minded here. If the government is doing something actively evil (not saying that this is the case at the moment–only hypothetical) then come heaven or hell someone needs to stand up and come forth.

    But following this logic, I suspect the only reason we’re not looking at George Washington and Co. with scorn and moral outrage is because they actually pulled their treason off and we “agree” with their actions–so I understand the precarious nature of these things.

    @16

    Unless you’ve attained a level of 33rd degree uber Top Secret and know for a fact that this isn’t a line I have no idea why you’re so confident that we’re not being conned. If you don’t bear such a title, however, I’ve got a bridge for sale (on the cheap)–if you’re interested.

  • Leif

    @13

    So, what then? Do we strive against all that could “divulge” anything past the good ol’ Need To Know? Damn the consequences of our silence?

    Let’s not be naive and noble minded here. If the government is doing something actively evil (not saying that this is the case at the moment–only hypothetical) then come heaven or hell someone needs to stand up and come forth.

    But following this logic, I suspect the only reason we’re not looking at George Washington and Co. with scorn and moral outrage is because they actually pulled their treason off and we “agree” with their actions–so I understand the precarious nature of these things.

    @16

    Unless you’ve attained a level of 33rd degree uber Top Secret and know for a fact that this isn’t a line I have no idea why you’re so confident that we’re not being conned. If you don’t bear such a title, however, I’ve got a bridge for sale (on the cheap)–if you’re interested.

  • Joe

    From my perspective the video of the helicopter killing the civilians confirmed that there was no evil or nefarious conduct but rather these men made a terrible, terrible mistake. The audio clearly indicates that the ‘copter crew believed that they identified one of the man carrying a weapon. In the context of a war against an enemy who dons no uniform or other distinguishing manner of dress but instead attempts to look as civilian as possible, these men did their job to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, they made an error and that error has had terrible and horrific consequences for 12 people killed and their families.

  • Joe

    From my perspective the video of the helicopter killing the civilians confirmed that there was no evil or nefarious conduct but rather these men made a terrible, terrible mistake. The audio clearly indicates that the ‘copter crew believed that they identified one of the man carrying a weapon. In the context of a war against an enemy who dons no uniform or other distinguishing manner of dress but instead attempts to look as civilian as possible, these men did their job to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, they made an error and that error has had terrible and horrific consequences for 12 people killed and their families.

  • Kirk

    @21

    To add to your Geo Wash analogy, it should also be noted that Wikileaks broke the Climategate story with emails that stolen via hacking (intellectual theft). I didn’t hear a ton of moral outrage on this blog over that one.

  • Kirk

    @21

    To add to your Geo Wash analogy, it should also be noted that Wikileaks broke the Climategate story with emails that stolen via hacking (intellectual theft). I didn’t hear a ton of moral outrage on this blog over that one.

  • Leif

    @22

    Add to that the fact that the guy who leaked the video ended up bragging about all the secrets he could release to an ex hacker (who promptly turned him in).

    Once the bragging starts it doesn’t help you’re “I’m doing this for good” cause and at that point it seems like a quasi-Blago “I’ve got this thing and its ****in GOLDEN” status situation.

  • Leif

    @22

    Add to that the fact that the guy who leaked the video ended up bragging about all the secrets he could release to an ex hacker (who promptly turned him in).

    Once the bragging starts it doesn’t help you’re “I’m doing this for good” cause and at that point it seems like a quasi-Blago “I’ve got this thing and its ****in GOLDEN” status situation.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kirk at 18, the administration’s economic issues that one discusses are based on published government information about which one may make reasonable judgments; Same with national security issues based on published national security documents.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kirk at 18, the administration’s economic issues that one discusses are based on published government information about which one may make reasonable judgments; Same with national security issues based on published national security documents.

  • Leif

    @23

    But that information was stolen for the good of us all by a ragtag team of do-gooder A-teamesque hackers! No security clearances were involved.

  • Leif

    @23

    But that information was stolen for the good of us all by a ragtag team of do-gooder A-teamesque hackers! No security clearances were involved.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kirk, at 23, since the Climategate emails that were published did not relate to national security matters and not classified as secret, WikiLeaks had every right to publish them.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Kirk, at 23, since the Climategate emails that were published did not relate to national security matters and not classified as secret, WikiLeaks had every right to publish them.

  • Leif

    @27

    Even though they were stolen?

  • Leif

    @27

    Even though they were stolen?

  • Kirk

    @28

    Leif, surely you know the “unless it means bad things happen to liberals, then it’s ok” addendum to all scriptural dictums. It’s in Leviticus, I think.

  • Kirk

    @28

    Leif, surely you know the “unless it means bad things happen to liberals, then it’s ok” addendum to all scriptural dictums. It’s in Leviticus, I think.

  • Leif

    @29

    Apparently. And since the scorn and moral outrage for theft isn’t what it used to be you can be sure that I’ll be re-classifying everything I own or write from the silly standard of “it’s mine” to “Top Secret”.

  • Leif

    @29

    Apparently. And since the scorn and moral outrage for theft isn’t what it used to be you can be sure that I’ll be re-classifying everything I own or write from the silly standard of “it’s mine” to “Top Secret”.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Leif, at 28, they were not stolen. The Climate-gate emails were given to WikiLeaks by an as yet unnamed insider at East Anglia Us Climate ResearchUnit.

    Kirk, at 29, thanks for a classic liberal whine, though not quite up to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid standard.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Leif, at 28, they were not stolen. The Climate-gate emails were given to WikiLeaks by an as yet unnamed insider at East Anglia Us Climate ResearchUnit.

    Kirk, at 29, thanks for a classic liberal whine, though not quite up to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid standard.

  • DonS

    Kirk @ 17: I actually agree with you on that point, although there are those regularly on this blog who did not seem to allow for any substantial exceptions to our obligation to submit to civil authority during our discussion a few weeks ago.

    My caveat to your point, however, is that it is NEVER appropriate to violate your oath of confidentiality anonymously. In other words, I don’t see how anonymously leaking state secrets can ever be moral. If you believe your country is violating moral law, you should stand up and say so, and be willing to take the consequences for your civil disobedience.

  • DonS

    Kirk @ 17: I actually agree with you on that point, although there are those regularly on this blog who did not seem to allow for any substantial exceptions to our obligation to submit to civil authority during our discussion a few weeks ago.

    My caveat to your point, however, is that it is NEVER appropriate to violate your oath of confidentiality anonymously. In other words, I don’t see how anonymously leaking state secrets can ever be moral. If you believe your country is violating moral law, you should stand up and say so, and be willing to take the consequences for your civil disobedience.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 21: My comment @ 32 responds to your point as well.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 21: My comment @ 32 responds to your point as well.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Surely if the Post can be accused of “out[ing] thousands of top-secret security agencies”, then so can this blog — I hadn’t visited that section of their site until Dr. Veith linked me to it. One could, of course, argue that the information was already on the Post‘s Web site, and whether Dr. Veith linked to it or not is immaterial, but then, that’s the same logic WebMonk used (@9) to point out that the Post didn’t “out” anything, either.

    If you haven’t spent much time hanging around computer nerds, it may seem counterintuitive, but it is a long-held maxim in the cryptography world that “security through obscurity is an illusion”. This probably relates more to the aforementioned Post article than it does to this WikiLeaks document dump, but still.

    Also, must I be the first to acknowledge the (presumed) Sneakers reference? My voice is my passport.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Surely if the Post can be accused of “out[ing] thousands of top-secret security agencies”, then so can this blog — I hadn’t visited that section of their site until Dr. Veith linked me to it. One could, of course, argue that the information was already on the Post‘s Web site, and whether Dr. Veith linked to it or not is immaterial, but then, that’s the same logic WebMonk used (@9) to point out that the Post didn’t “out” anything, either.

    If you haven’t spent much time hanging around computer nerds, it may seem counterintuitive, but it is a long-held maxim in the cryptography world that “security through obscurity is an illusion”. This probably relates more to the aforementioned Post article than it does to this WikiLeaks document dump, but still.

    Also, must I be the first to acknowledge the (presumed) Sneakers reference? My voice is my passport.

  • DonS

    Kirk & Leif: Regarding the so-called ClimateGate leaks, I think Peter and others have adequately responded by pointing out the difference between disobeying civil authority and anonymously leaking state secrets and publishing leaked emails. Obviously, the so far anonymous leaker of those emails may have violated civil contract law — we don’t know what his/her contractual obligation to East Anglia was with respect to those emails. But in no way is it the same kind of issue as this latter one, involving secrets potentially harming national security.

  • DonS

    Kirk & Leif: Regarding the so-called ClimateGate leaks, I think Peter and others have adequately responded by pointing out the difference between disobeying civil authority and anonymously leaking state secrets and publishing leaked emails. Obviously, the so far anonymous leaker of those emails may have violated civil contract law — we don’t know what his/her contractual obligation to East Anglia was with respect to those emails. But in no way is it the same kind of issue as this latter one, involving secrets potentially harming national security.

  • Keith

    Those of you here that have not had any experience with classified briefings on information deemed Secret need to remember that our enemies don’t get all their information from one source. They scour the internet blogs, Facebook and “legitimate” news outlets to pick up pieces of the puzzle. I have seen with my own eyes how easy it is for someone to take a few pieces of information and with little effort come up with a detailed picture of how to thwart what we are doing and kill those who are protecting you.
    I am all about Freedom of Information, especially when it comes to government activities. It is very obvious that with this current administration the press has absolutely no desire to peek under the table to see how things are run. To that extent, organizations are doing the world a favor by exposing corrupt operating procedures. But, when the information they leak concerns an ongoing war where our enemies are doing everything they can to disrupt our offensive, fools can cost lives. A little bit of information in the wrong hands can kill many people. Frankly, there is just some pieces of information that the public should NOT know. And as a member of the military I feel safer in their ignorance.

  • Keith

    Those of you here that have not had any experience with classified briefings on information deemed Secret need to remember that our enemies don’t get all their information from one source. They scour the internet blogs, Facebook and “legitimate” news outlets to pick up pieces of the puzzle. I have seen with my own eyes how easy it is for someone to take a few pieces of information and with little effort come up with a detailed picture of how to thwart what we are doing and kill those who are protecting you.
    I am all about Freedom of Information, especially when it comes to government activities. It is very obvious that with this current administration the press has absolutely no desire to peek under the table to see how things are run. To that extent, organizations are doing the world a favor by exposing corrupt operating procedures. But, when the information they leak concerns an ongoing war where our enemies are doing everything they can to disrupt our offensive, fools can cost lives. A little bit of information in the wrong hands can kill many people. Frankly, there is just some pieces of information that the public should NOT know. And as a member of the military I feel safer in their ignorance.

  • Leif

    Peter/DonS,

    I’m pretty by “insider” you mean “hacker” wikipedia article with the operative quote being: “The breach was first discovered on 17 November 2009 after the server of the RealClimate website was hacked and a copy of the stolen data was uploaded.[3] According to Gavin Schmidt of RealClimate,”At around 6.20am (EST) Nov 17th, somebody hacked into the RC server from an IP address associated with a computer somewhere in Turkey, disabled access from the legitimate users, and uploaded a file FOIA.zip to our server.”

    So, assume that it was an “insider”–that “insider” still “hacked” into another server to upload stolen data. So not only is it theft it’s B&E! Perhaps we could compromise and call him the “insidious insider hacker”.

    But even so, let’s assume it was an insider that never violated any other law than stealing. What about stealing a document chock full of private conversations not theft? You’ve reached the absurd here and attempt to justify it with “well that’s just civil”. When, in fact, their data was being used by governments worldwide to justify massive legislation.

    DonS @32

    I agree with you but, then again, with that whole “presidential assassination” thing perhaps barring due process one needs a little anonymity.

  • Leif

    Peter/DonS,

    I’m pretty by “insider” you mean “hacker” wikipedia article with the operative quote being: “The breach was first discovered on 17 November 2009 after the server of the RealClimate website was hacked and a copy of the stolen data was uploaded.[3] According to Gavin Schmidt of RealClimate,”At around 6.20am (EST) Nov 17th, somebody hacked into the RC server from an IP address associated with a computer somewhere in Turkey, disabled access from the legitimate users, and uploaded a file FOIA.zip to our server.”

    So, assume that it was an “insider”–that “insider” still “hacked” into another server to upload stolen data. So not only is it theft it’s B&E! Perhaps we could compromise and call him the “insidious insider hacker”.

    But even so, let’s assume it was an insider that never violated any other law than stealing. What about stealing a document chock full of private conversations not theft? You’ve reached the absurd here and attempt to justify it with “well that’s just civil”. When, in fact, their data was being used by governments worldwide to justify massive legislation.

    DonS @32

    I agree with you but, then again, with that whole “presidential assassination” thing perhaps barring due process one needs a little anonymity.

  • Leif

    @34

    I didn’t want to say anything about Sneakers because I’d have started randomly quoting lines and probably donned a slicked back Ben Kingsley haircut (with kinky little pony tail!) and randomly blockcapping “MARTY!!!!!”

    I still won’t mention that movie save to say that it helped determine my career choice (until that art thing takes off).

  • Leif

    @34

    I didn’t want to say anything about Sneakers because I’d have started randomly quoting lines and probably donned a slicked back Ben Kingsley haircut (with kinky little pony tail!) and randomly blockcapping “MARTY!!!!!”

    I still won’t mention that movie save to say that it helped determine my career choice (until that art thing takes off).

  • DonS

    Leif @ 37: Well, I don’t know exactly how the ClimateGate leaks happened to occur, or whether the Wikipedia account is factually reliable. But the fact of the matter is that it did not involve a direct disobedience of civil authority, as did the leaking of national secrets. So it is a different issue, entirely, not involving our obligation under Romans 13 to submit to civil authority.

    Personally, I am glad for the ClimateGate leaks, as it put the brakes on what was clearly a politically motivated brand of “science”. It brought accountability to a sector that desperately needed it. BUT, I am not arguing the fact that the leaker(s) likely did wrong, either by breaching a contract or by violating other laws related to theft.

    As for your comment @ 37, as Christians if we are going to breach our obligation to submit to civil authority, it needs to be done openly regardless of personal consequence.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 37: Well, I don’t know exactly how the ClimateGate leaks happened to occur, or whether the Wikipedia account is factually reliable. But the fact of the matter is that it did not involve a direct disobedience of civil authority, as did the leaking of national secrets. So it is a different issue, entirely, not involving our obligation under Romans 13 to submit to civil authority.

    Personally, I am glad for the ClimateGate leaks, as it put the brakes on what was clearly a politically motivated brand of “science”. It brought accountability to a sector that desperately needed it. BUT, I am not arguing the fact that the leaker(s) likely did wrong, either by breaching a contract or by violating other laws related to theft.

    As for your comment @ 37, as Christians if we are going to breach our obligation to submit to civil authority, it needs to be done openly regardless of personal consequence.

  • Kirk

    @Peter 31:

    Surely you don’t think that Wikileaks did the hacking in the case at hand. As in the Climategate instance, the documents were passed on to Wikileaks via a secondary source. I fail to see the distinction that makes the ClimateGate leak moral while making the Afghanistan leak immoral.

    @Don 35
    Civil Authority made hacking illegal as well, so, in both instances the leakers were disobeying the law.

  • Kirk

    @Peter 31:

    Surely you don’t think that Wikileaks did the hacking in the case at hand. As in the Climategate instance, the documents were passed on to Wikileaks via a secondary source. I fail to see the distinction that makes the ClimateGate leak moral while making the Afghanistan leak immoral.

    @Don 35
    Civil Authority made hacking illegal as well, so, in both instances the leakers were disobeying the law.

  • Leif

    @39

    I fail to see how this is a different issue since civil authority extends beyond signed contracts (I’ve never signed a contract to say I’d pay tax and yet–render unto Caesar). By extension, I don’t commit theft for the same reason I don’t commit treason–I honor the laws of the land in which I live. My existence as a citizen binds me to civil authority regardless of what I choose to use it for (security clearance or otherwise).

    I say this so you understand my sticking point.

    However, (and no arguing here, just curious), why does being a Christian demand open submission? I suspect it speaks to honor and such but I can’t see any other reason to operate all or nothing.

  • Leif

    @39

    I fail to see how this is a different issue since civil authority extends beyond signed contracts (I’ve never signed a contract to say I’d pay tax and yet–render unto Caesar). By extension, I don’t commit theft for the same reason I don’t commit treason–I honor the laws of the land in which I live. My existence as a citizen binds me to civil authority regardless of what I choose to use it for (security clearance or otherwise).

    I say this so you understand my sticking point.

    However, (and no arguing here, just curious), why does being a Christian demand open submission? I suspect it speaks to honor and such but I can’t see any other reason to operate all or nothing.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Leif, thanks for the info on the hacking part. I wasn’t aware of this. The issue in my mind at this point is whether WikiLeak is legally liable for publishing information that presumably was illegally hacked. Don could answer this better than I.

    We’ve certainly come a long way from Henry Stimson’s time when, as he remarked, “Gentlemen don’t read other Gentlemen’s mail.” He would be appalled that secret government documents are routinely leaked by such liberal outfits as the New York Times, WaPo, and WikiLeaks.

    I read the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily and am not aware of them originally publishing any secret government information.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Leif, thanks for the info on the hacking part. I wasn’t aware of this. The issue in my mind at this point is whether WikiLeak is legally liable for publishing information that presumably was illegally hacked. Don could answer this better than I.

    We’ve certainly come a long way from Henry Stimson’s time when, as he remarked, “Gentlemen don’t read other Gentlemen’s mail.” He would be appalled that secret government documents are routinely leaked by such liberal outfits as the New York Times, WaPo, and WikiLeaks.

    I read the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily and am not aware of them originally publishing any secret government information.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@39), if you “don’t know exactly how the ClimateGate leaks happened”, nor “whether the Wikipedia account is factually reliable”, then how could you possibly be knowledgeable enough to judge whether the Climategate leaks “involve[d] a direct disobedience of civil authority” or not?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@39), if you “don’t know exactly how the ClimateGate leaks happened”, nor “whether the Wikipedia account is factually reliable”, then how could you possibly be knowledgeable enough to judge whether the Climategate leaks “involve[d] a direct disobedience of civil authority” or not?

  • Leif

    @42

    Wikileaks takes that whole “I’m a journalist” stance so, I’d think, as long as they’re in a safe haven (Sweden’s pretty safe, methinks) they’re pretty well guarded from revealing sources, methods, etc. but catch Julian Assange (wikileaks founder) in America and you’d definitely have a different situation (I believe what was stated at the time of the “collateral murder” release was that the US would have “more options” if he were arrested over here).

  • Leif

    @42

    Wikileaks takes that whole “I’m a journalist” stance so, I’d think, as long as they’re in a safe haven (Sweden’s pretty safe, methinks) they’re pretty well guarded from revealing sources, methods, etc. but catch Julian Assange (wikileaks founder) in America and you’d definitely have a different situation (I believe what was stated at the time of the “collateral murder” release was that the US would have “more options” if he were arrested over here).

  • DonS

    Kirk @ 40: Not arguing the point. But, leaking national secrets directly violates your oath as a holder of a clearance, to your government, not to do so. It’s treason. Not quite the same as regular lawbreaking. Both wrong, however.

  • DonS

    Kirk @ 40: Not arguing the point. But, leaking national secrets directly violates your oath as a holder of a clearance, to your government, not to do so. It’s treason. Not quite the same as regular lawbreaking. Both wrong, however.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 39: I don’t think you can equate treason to regular lawbreaking. There is no clearer application of Romans 13 than to the issue of one who has taken an oath to preserve national secrets and then violates that oath.

    As for the issue of open submission, can you identify an example in the Bible of a righteous person who disobeys civil authority because of moral concerns and does not do it openly? The N.T. apostles certainly openly preached Christ, and accepted the penalty for doing so meted out by civil authority. There are at least two good reasons for open submission. One is that, if you disobey civil authority but do so with a willingness to accept the consequences for so doing, then in a real sense you are still submitting. Second, the alternative is, essentially, anarchy. It’s an attitude of, well I’ll honor civil authority unless I think it is morally wrong, and then I’ll just do what I think is right. Unfortunately, no two citizens, even Christians, agree on what is morally wrong and right. So, if you think something is morally wrong, stand up and say so. Don’t be a coward.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 39: I don’t think you can equate treason to regular lawbreaking. There is no clearer application of Romans 13 than to the issue of one who has taken an oath to preserve national secrets and then violates that oath.

    As for the issue of open submission, can you identify an example in the Bible of a righteous person who disobeys civil authority because of moral concerns and does not do it openly? The N.T. apostles certainly openly preached Christ, and accepted the penalty for doing so meted out by civil authority. There are at least two good reasons for open submission. One is that, if you disobey civil authority but do so with a willingness to accept the consequences for so doing, then in a real sense you are still submitting. Second, the alternative is, essentially, anarchy. It’s an attitude of, well I’ll honor civil authority unless I think it is morally wrong, and then I’ll just do what I think is right. Unfortunately, no two citizens, even Christians, agree on what is morally wrong and right. So, if you think something is morally wrong, stand up and say so. Don’t be a coward.

  • Peter Leavitt

    That “I’m a Journalist” argument for publishing government secrets is morally and ethically flabby. Journalists, no less than individuals, ought to respect government secrets, unless as Don remarks, they wish to stand up and pay the proper price for violating the law.

    When Thoreau in 1846 decided not to pay his poll tax in order not to respect a government that allowed slavery, he fully expected to do lengthy jail time. He was distressed when after spending only one night in jail his relatives paid his fine and he was released. His essay, Civil Disobedience, is a classic, though most contemporary law breakers apparently don’t understand its principle

  • Peter Leavitt

    That “I’m a Journalist” argument for publishing government secrets is morally and ethically flabby. Journalists, no less than individuals, ought to respect government secrets, unless as Don remarks, they wish to stand up and pay the proper price for violating the law.

    When Thoreau in 1846 decided not to pay his poll tax in order not to respect a government that allowed slavery, he fully expected to do lengthy jail time. He was distressed when after spending only one night in jail his relatives paid his fine and he was released. His essay, Civil Disobedience, is a classic, though most contemporary law breakers apparently don’t understand its principle

  • Frank

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66P35Y20100726

    Whoops!

    OK, men, let’s get out to that ‘pro life’ rally!

  • Frank

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66P35Y20100726

    Whoops!

    OK, men, let’s get out to that ‘pro life’ rally!

  • Leif

    DonS @46

    “Unfortunately, no two citizens, even Christians, agree on what is morally wrong and right”

    Agreed!

    However, anonymity in no way equates to cowardice. If that were the case we’d have all sorts of random declarations of identity by people. “Hi fellow members of terror cell D. Funny thing really, turns out I’m a spy. I hope we can get past this little bump in the road but until then keep on letting me spy on you and with any luck we’ll laugh about this later”

    Ludicrous example I know but anonymity is very important.

    This is the same reason we have whistleblower laws. As an employee of a company I have a contract with my employer–should this contract prevent me from divulging anything the company does that is illegal? If I do so publicly I could be fired, discredited, sued, etc. and the company gets to persist with its wrongdoing. In short, my compliance and lack of tact prevents me from fulfilling my Romans 13 to the Government and its laws (not to mention that whole Love doesn’t harm your neighbor thing).

    For an wee David that is fighting a Goliath anonymity is my only resource until the hammer drops (or, in some cases, even afterwords) strip me of it and I’m useless.

  • Leif

    DonS @46

    “Unfortunately, no two citizens, even Christians, agree on what is morally wrong and right”

    Agreed!

    However, anonymity in no way equates to cowardice. If that were the case we’d have all sorts of random declarations of identity by people. “Hi fellow members of terror cell D. Funny thing really, turns out I’m a spy. I hope we can get past this little bump in the road but until then keep on letting me spy on you and with any luck we’ll laugh about this later”

    Ludicrous example I know but anonymity is very important.

    This is the same reason we have whistleblower laws. As an employee of a company I have a contract with my employer–should this contract prevent me from divulging anything the company does that is illegal? If I do so publicly I could be fired, discredited, sued, etc. and the company gets to persist with its wrongdoing. In short, my compliance and lack of tact prevents me from fulfilling my Romans 13 to the Government and its laws (not to mention that whole Love doesn’t harm your neighbor thing).

    For an wee David that is fighting a Goliath anonymity is my only resource until the hammer drops (or, in some cases, even afterwords) strip me of it and I’m useless.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sen. Lieberman has this issue nailed He writes:

    The disclosure of tens of thousands of classified documents on the Afghanistan war is profoundly irresponsible and harmful to our national security. The Obama administration is absolutely right to condemn these leaks.

    …It is also important to recognize that Wikileaks is not an objective news organization but an organization with an ideological agenda that is implacably hostile to our military and the most basic requirements of our national security. Americans and our allies should be wary of drawing conclusions based on materials selectively leaked by Wikileaks, as it seeks to sap support for the Afghan war among the American people and our European allies.”

    Those on this thread who take this issue lightly are dead wrong.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Sen. Lieberman has this issue nailed He writes:

    The disclosure of tens of thousands of classified documents on the Afghanistan war is profoundly irresponsible and harmful to our national security. The Obama administration is absolutely right to condemn these leaks.

    …It is also important to recognize that Wikileaks is not an objective news organization but an organization with an ideological agenda that is implacably hostile to our military and the most basic requirements of our national security. Americans and our allies should be wary of drawing conclusions based on materials selectively leaked by Wikileaks, as it seeks to sap support for the Afghan war among the American people and our European allies.”

    Those on this thread who take this issue lightly are dead wrong.

  • DonS

    Peter @ 49: Very well stated. This is not an ideological issue, as noted by the clear declaration of the Obama Administration. It is, simply stated, an issue of treason by American citizens that should be dealt with appropriately under the law. And to the extent that the illegal disclosures compromise the safety of our troops or other personnel, or civilians, their blood is on the heads of those doing the leaking.

    Leif @ 48: Well, we agree that your example is ludicrous. It’s not clear to me how it relates, exactly, to what we have been discussing.

    Whistleblower laws are designed to protect those whose identity is known, obviously. Again, if you believe you must disobey civil authority and disclose state secrets to address a greater moral good, by all means, do so. But, as a Christian, do so responsibly and openly, and prepare to take the consequences. If your judgment is correct, and you disclosed a serious moral wrong, then it is likely that whistleblower laws, together with resultant public pressure, will protect you from serious legal difficulties. On the other hand, if you have taken an oath to protect state secrets, I as a fellow citizen will be very upset if you take it upon yourself to anonymously disclose those secrets because of your own moral code and judgment. Quite frankly, such action is not your job and is, to quote our president, “above your pay grade”. Moreover, as a Christian, I believe such action is sin.

  • DonS

    Peter @ 49: Very well stated. This is not an ideological issue, as noted by the clear declaration of the Obama Administration. It is, simply stated, an issue of treason by American citizens that should be dealt with appropriately under the law. And to the extent that the illegal disclosures compromise the safety of our troops or other personnel, or civilians, their blood is on the heads of those doing the leaking.

    Leif @ 48: Well, we agree that your example is ludicrous. It’s not clear to me how it relates, exactly, to what we have been discussing.

    Whistleblower laws are designed to protect those whose identity is known, obviously. Again, if you believe you must disobey civil authority and disclose state secrets to address a greater moral good, by all means, do so. But, as a Christian, do so responsibly and openly, and prepare to take the consequences. If your judgment is correct, and you disclosed a serious moral wrong, then it is likely that whistleblower laws, together with resultant public pressure, will protect you from serious legal difficulties. On the other hand, if you have taken an oath to protect state secrets, I as a fellow citizen will be very upset if you take it upon yourself to anonymously disclose those secrets because of your own moral code and judgment. Quite frankly, such action is not your job and is, to quote our president, “above your pay grade”. Moreover, as a Christian, I believe such action is sin.

  • Leif

    DonS@51

    “Whistleblower laws are designed to protect those whose identity is known, obviously.”

    Sorry, I was going off of Section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley act “Each audit committee shall establish procedures for the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of the issuer of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.”

    I understand that that’s only for publicly held companies, etc. but I tend to assume things (wrongly usually).

  • Leif

    DonS@51

    “Whistleblower laws are designed to protect those whose identity is known, obviously.”

    Sorry, I was going off of Section 302 of the Sarbanes-Oxley act “Each audit committee shall establish procedures for the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of the issuer of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.”

    I understand that that’s only for publicly held companies, etc. but I tend to assume things (wrongly usually).

  • Leif

    sorry, 301. Section 301.

  • Leif

    sorry, 301. Section 301.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 52, 53: Regardless of what one thinks of SOX, the provisions you are citing render some leaking of information by insiders out of some public corporations, under certain conditions and using specified protocols, legal. So, I’m not sure how it is relevant to the clearly illegal leaking of national secrets.

    You still haven’t addressed the concerns I related @ 46 above. Namely, biblical support for anonymous law breaking. And, how we avoid spinning into anarchy if everyone gets to just decide for themselves whether or not they are going to obey the law or anonymously disobey it, based on their own moral code and convictions.

    And, please, do not take a job where you need a security clearance. I do not want you in charge of our national secrets.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 52, 53: Regardless of what one thinks of SOX, the provisions you are citing render some leaking of information by insiders out of some public corporations, under certain conditions and using specified protocols, legal. So, I’m not sure how it is relevant to the clearly illegal leaking of national secrets.

    You still haven’t addressed the concerns I related @ 46 above. Namely, biblical support for anonymous law breaking. And, how we avoid spinning into anarchy if everyone gets to just decide for themselves whether or not they are going to obey the law or anonymously disobey it, based on their own moral code and convictions.

    And, please, do not take a job where you need a security clearance. I do not want you in charge of our national secrets.

  • Leif

    My points about anonymity come from your declaration that “if you think something is morally wrong, stand up and say so. Don’t be a coward.”

    While this is true for some things, I fail to see how this is valid if there are situations that will crush you before you can even start to stand up to a situation and that is what I’m reacting against.

    “Namely, biblical support for anonymous law breaking.”

    Can we lead the witness more please. Which part should I start with “the Bible supports law breaking as long as you’re above board” or the part with “the Bible supports supposed sneaks”? I suspect neither defense will win me many points. I may as well ramble about how the Bible proves UFOs and Yeti and the Nephilim since that’d be about as useful.

    In fact, I wanted to avoid an argument here since it’s such a firm issue in peoples minds–hence my preface so long ago “However, (and no arguing here, just curious), why does being a Christian demand open submission?”

    “how we avoid spinning into anarchy if everyone gets to just decide for themselves whether or not they are going to obey the law or anonymously disobey it”

    Don’t we decide what we do every single day of our lives? And yet the world still spins.

    “And, please, do not take a job where you need a security clearance. I do not want you in charge of our national secrets.”

    Seriously?

  • Leif

    My points about anonymity come from your declaration that “if you think something is morally wrong, stand up and say so. Don’t be a coward.”

    While this is true for some things, I fail to see how this is valid if there are situations that will crush you before you can even start to stand up to a situation and that is what I’m reacting against.

    “Namely, biblical support for anonymous law breaking.”

    Can we lead the witness more please. Which part should I start with “the Bible supports law breaking as long as you’re above board” or the part with “the Bible supports supposed sneaks”? I suspect neither defense will win me many points. I may as well ramble about how the Bible proves UFOs and Yeti and the Nephilim since that’d be about as useful.

    In fact, I wanted to avoid an argument here since it’s such a firm issue in peoples minds–hence my preface so long ago “However, (and no arguing here, just curious), why does being a Christian demand open submission?”

    “how we avoid spinning into anarchy if everyone gets to just decide for themselves whether or not they are going to obey the law or anonymously disobey it”

    Don’t we decide what we do every single day of our lives? And yet the world still spins.

    “And, please, do not take a job where you need a security clearance. I do not want you in charge of our national secrets.”

    Seriously?

  • DonS

    Leif @ 55: “While this is true for some things, I fail to see how this is valid if there are situations that will crush you before you can even start to stand up to a situation and that is what I’m reacting against.” — Um, Paul and Silas, knowing they could be “crushed” by the combined forces of the Jewish hierarchy and the Roman Empire, nonetheless disobeyed civil authority openly, rather than anonymously. I know of no biblical support for your notion that you have the option to not submit secretly for fear of being “crushed”. In fact, we are told we will be crushed at times, here on this earth, which is not our home.

    Frankly, I didn’t understand your point about anarchy, or why it’s OK for each of us to decide whether or not to submit to civil authority on any given day.

    As for your last query, yes, seriously. You have demonstrated a mindset that you will only keep our nation’s secrets confidential if you agree that they should be so kept. Otherwise, in your world, it’s OK to leak them anonymously. Under those circumstances, why, exactly, should you be trusted with a security clearance?

  • DonS

    Leif @ 55: “While this is true for some things, I fail to see how this is valid if there are situations that will crush you before you can even start to stand up to a situation and that is what I’m reacting against.” — Um, Paul and Silas, knowing they could be “crushed” by the combined forces of the Jewish hierarchy and the Roman Empire, nonetheless disobeyed civil authority openly, rather than anonymously. I know of no biblical support for your notion that you have the option to not submit secretly for fear of being “crushed”. In fact, we are told we will be crushed at times, here on this earth, which is not our home.

    Frankly, I didn’t understand your point about anarchy, or why it’s OK for each of us to decide whether or not to submit to civil authority on any given day.

    As for your last query, yes, seriously. You have demonstrated a mindset that you will only keep our nation’s secrets confidential if you agree that they should be so kept. Otherwise, in your world, it’s OK to leak them anonymously. Under those circumstances, why, exactly, should you be trusted with a security clearance?

  • Leif

    Regardless of the consequences that fell upon Paul and Silas, you’ve proved my point.

    Paul and Silas weren’t crushed before they could start their mission. They entered towns, they ministered for a bit and were then (after ministering for a bit) crushed. Paul and Silas had no need for anonymity, their situation was such that they could simply walk in the front door. These days its harder and harder to even get outside the gate before the hammer drops. Of course if we need more explicit examples of anonymity, hiding, evading “crushing” we could always look at John 8:58-9

    “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”

    Wait no crushing there? Why not? What about Romans 13!!!

    Or was it because Jesus’ purpose was a bit larger than simply getting crushed at the first available moment?

    Also, the goals of witnessing (ie. the Great Commission) are vastly different from exposing a secret to the likes of “the government is experimenting on 400 black servicemen without their knowledge”.

    However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that spreading the Gospel is on par with breaking “national security”.

    The Great Commission is, for all intents and purposes, a call to action and we’re also told that our rulers are “…the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

    But then if witnessing, Christianity, etc. is made illegal I’m now being told that the above is completely cool as long as they (the rulers) know my name. I may get killed in the process but at least I’ve somehow (by them knowing who I am) avoided God’s wrath. You see the tautology here, right?

    And yet, if this earth is not our home, are we tasked to refuse to help our brother simply because “we’re under authority”. Which is the greater commandment? Need I remind you “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law”. Which is the greater good? Or further (Mark 3) “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” If I must choose I’ll choose on the side of love rather than on the side of “national security”.

    Therefore, if by being anonymous I can do more good for my fellow man than I see no proof that anonymity is wrong (using the examples cited above). There is nothing that states you can’t choose the best method for your mission (as proven by John 8:58-9).

    But none of this matters since we’re not actually dealing with the Bible anymore than we’re dealing with morality. We’re dealing with the notion that you believe to be anonymous is to be a coward and there’s no amount of law and gospel that will change that mindset.

    Now, as for me and my security clearance.

    I have no obligation to you to justify what I do and don’t have or why I should or shouldn’t have it. FYIFTF, correlation does not prove causation and by my defending the right to be anonymous and the right to disobey authority in pursuit of the greatest commandment doesn’t mean that I believe I should be doing either.

  • Leif

    Regardless of the consequences that fell upon Paul and Silas, you’ve proved my point.

    Paul and Silas weren’t crushed before they could start their mission. They entered towns, they ministered for a bit and were then (after ministering for a bit) crushed. Paul and Silas had no need for anonymity, their situation was such that they could simply walk in the front door. These days its harder and harder to even get outside the gate before the hammer drops. Of course if we need more explicit examples of anonymity, hiding, evading “crushing” we could always look at John 8:58-9

    “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”

    Wait no crushing there? Why not? What about Romans 13!!!

    Or was it because Jesus’ purpose was a bit larger than simply getting crushed at the first available moment?

    Also, the goals of witnessing (ie. the Great Commission) are vastly different from exposing a secret to the likes of “the government is experimenting on 400 black servicemen without their knowledge”.

    However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that spreading the Gospel is on par with breaking “national security”.

    The Great Commission is, for all intents and purposes, a call to action and we’re also told that our rulers are “…the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”

    But then if witnessing, Christianity, etc. is made illegal I’m now being told that the above is completely cool as long as they (the rulers) know my name. I may get killed in the process but at least I’ve somehow (by them knowing who I am) avoided God’s wrath. You see the tautology here, right?

    And yet, if this earth is not our home, are we tasked to refuse to help our brother simply because “we’re under authority”. Which is the greater commandment? Need I remind you “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law”. Which is the greater good? Or further (Mark 3) “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” If I must choose I’ll choose on the side of love rather than on the side of “national security”.

    Therefore, if by being anonymous I can do more good for my fellow man than I see no proof that anonymity is wrong (using the examples cited above). There is nothing that states you can’t choose the best method for your mission (as proven by John 8:58-9).

    But none of this matters since we’re not actually dealing with the Bible anymore than we’re dealing with morality. We’re dealing with the notion that you believe to be anonymous is to be a coward and there’s no amount of law and gospel that will change that mindset.

    Now, as for me and my security clearance.

    I have no obligation to you to justify what I do and don’t have or why I should or shouldn’t have it. FYIFTF, correlation does not prove causation and by my defending the right to be anonymous and the right to disobey authority in pursuit of the greatest commandment doesn’t mean that I believe I should be doing either.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 57: What in the heck point did I prove? Frankly, I’ve struggled to figure out what your point is, as you have been all over the map in your arguments. You’re so far off in the weeds now, that it is fairly hopeless.

    I never said anything about being “crushed” at the first opportunity. Re-read my comment, carefully. All I said was that if you believe that you need to disobey civil authority, because it is immoral, then you should do so openly, not anonymously. The Lord will protect you, as He did Paul and Silas in the jail. Sometimes, He may allow you to be persecuted and even killed (crushed, if you like), but that’s in His hands, power and timing. In John 8:58-59, Jesus was well known to the authorities. He was not anonymous. In that particular incident, he just left the scene, which is all the authorities really wanted at the time.

    I don’t understand your point about getting crushed before you get “outside the gate”. Take the Tuskeegee airmen incident, if you will. You see a wrong, and you disclose it, to the press or whatever you think is most appropriate. Yes, you might be prosecuted for so doing, but the wrong has been addressed in the meantime. Your assumption seems to be that you should get off scot-free. I don’t think that is biblical, in the case where you break the law to do what you think is a moral right.

    And, as for equating spreading the Gospel with “breaking national security”, don’t you have it backward? You’re the one equating the two. Think about it. In the Bible, civil authority was defied for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission. You want to defy it for lesser purposes, such as revealing secrets that you have decided are immoral to keep.

    “If I must choose I’ll choose on the side of love rather than on the side of “national security”. A worthy statement, but this is precisely the reason why you have no business holding a security clearance. You’re not trustworthy. When you hold a security clearance, you take an oath to preserve the national secrets with which you are entrusted under all circumstances. You don’t get to choose to “love” people by breaking your oath to your country. In a sense, if you hold or want to hold such a clearancy you DO have an obligation to me and every other citizen of this country to honor your oath. And, under extraordinary circumstances where you believe God is calling you to violate that oath because of a great moral wrong that is being done, to do so like a man, openly and in full acceptance of any consequences which may befall you.

  • DonS

    Leif @ 57: What in the heck point did I prove? Frankly, I’ve struggled to figure out what your point is, as you have been all over the map in your arguments. You’re so far off in the weeds now, that it is fairly hopeless.

    I never said anything about being “crushed” at the first opportunity. Re-read my comment, carefully. All I said was that if you believe that you need to disobey civil authority, because it is immoral, then you should do so openly, not anonymously. The Lord will protect you, as He did Paul and Silas in the jail. Sometimes, He may allow you to be persecuted and even killed (crushed, if you like), but that’s in His hands, power and timing. In John 8:58-59, Jesus was well known to the authorities. He was not anonymous. In that particular incident, he just left the scene, which is all the authorities really wanted at the time.

    I don’t understand your point about getting crushed before you get “outside the gate”. Take the Tuskeegee airmen incident, if you will. You see a wrong, and you disclose it, to the press or whatever you think is most appropriate. Yes, you might be prosecuted for so doing, but the wrong has been addressed in the meantime. Your assumption seems to be that you should get off scot-free. I don’t think that is biblical, in the case where you break the law to do what you think is a moral right.

    And, as for equating spreading the Gospel with “breaking national security”, don’t you have it backward? You’re the one equating the two. Think about it. In the Bible, civil authority was defied for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission. You want to defy it for lesser purposes, such as revealing secrets that you have decided are immoral to keep.

    “If I must choose I’ll choose on the side of love rather than on the side of “national security”. A worthy statement, but this is precisely the reason why you have no business holding a security clearance. You’re not trustworthy. When you hold a security clearance, you take an oath to preserve the national secrets with which you are entrusted under all circumstances. You don’t get to choose to “love” people by breaking your oath to your country. In a sense, if you hold or want to hold such a clearancy you DO have an obligation to me and every other citizen of this country to honor your oath. And, under extraordinary circumstances where you believe God is calling you to violate that oath because of a great moral wrong that is being done, to do so like a man, openly and in full acceptance of any consequences which may befall you.

  • DonS

    And, by the way, Leif, I held a clearance. I believe I hold it still, though I have not used it in several years. I know of that which I speak. I know the difficult and lengthy process by which is it obtained. And I know what a solemn obligation it imposes on me as a citizen. Duty, honor, country. Not just words.

  • DonS

    And, by the way, Leif, I held a clearance. I believe I hold it still, though I have not used it in several years. I know of that which I speak. I know the difficult and lengthy process by which is it obtained. And I know what a solemn obligation it imposes on me as a citizen. Duty, honor, country. Not just words.

  • WebMonk

    Just a note of follow up (and this doesn’t affect the rightness or wrongness of the guy who sent the documents to Wikileaks) but so far no one has been able to point to any documents that have endangered the lives of any soldiers.

    Maybe there might be a document in there that might, but if so it must very well buried. The danger of these documents seems to be more in the embarrassment caused to the US government as revelations of really stupid and possibly even criminal actions have been made.

    It doesn’t make it right for the guy to have released these documents, but it certainly does lay to rest a bunch of ignorant screeching from various corners of the government and bloggers. (our host not being one of the ones doing ignorant statements)

  • WebMonk

    Just a note of follow up (and this doesn’t affect the rightness or wrongness of the guy who sent the documents to Wikileaks) but so far no one has been able to point to any documents that have endangered the lives of any soldiers.

    Maybe there might be a document in there that might, but if so it must very well buried. The danger of these documents seems to be more in the embarrassment caused to the US government as revelations of really stupid and possibly even criminal actions have been made.

    It doesn’t make it right for the guy to have released these documents, but it certainly does lay to rest a bunch of ignorant screeching from various corners of the government and bloggers. (our host not being one of the ones doing ignorant statements)

  • DonS

    This might change things, Webmonk:

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/07/27/leaked-afghan-war-files-expose-identities-informants/

    The linked story indicates that hundreds of Afghan informants have been exposed and potentially endangered by the leaks.

  • DonS

    This might change things, Webmonk:

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/07/27/leaked-afghan-war-files-expose-identities-informants/

    The linked story indicates that hundreds of Afghan informants have been exposed and potentially endangered by the leaks.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X