Culture of Disclosure Puts U.S. at Risk

The growing “culture of disclosure” in Washington, D.C., has become so common that it is putting our national security at risk and jeopardizing the lives of our brave military men and women as well as our intelligence community. If it continues, our nation’s very future could be at risk.

The leak last week of more than 90,000 documents filled with sensitive, classified information illustrates how the current culture of disclosure has become the norm rather than an out-of-the-ordinary situation.

As the Internet and digital communication become a rapidly growing part of our daily lives, the public release of national security information is running rampant. With every disclosure, America’s enemies gather additional information about how we defend ourselves and can adjust their own tactics accordingly.

For those who lived in the 1940s or are history buffs, we remember the World War II motto, “loose lips sink ships.” Protecting our national secrets is not about me or you individually; it is bigger than any one person. We have to understand that leaked information can have horrible consequences. It can cause the death of our fellow citizens.

Anytime you tell the enemy where your soldiers are and how they perform or don’t perform, you are giving them valuable intelligence. It is unfortunate that the 24-hour news cycle, and the ease of information exchange, have eroded the responsibility that is laid on the shoulders of every American by the U.S. Constitution.

I was once a young soldier who thought I knew how the army ought to run its business. But as a young soldier, I had no real understanding of the big picture and what strategy was being implemented to keep our nation protected. If I had posted my thoughts on a public website, I could have damaged or destroyed a carefully planned and implemented strategy.

Worse, once information—right, wrong, or a mixture of both—is out in the public eye today, it is getting analyzed by third parties, often with political agendas, and filtered through yet another perspective, causing even more trouble for those who are trying to keep America secure.

That means someone without full information and often with no real understanding of out-of-context details is analyzing and publicizing information that could hurt the United States and help our enemies.

Worse, releases of classified information have sometimes come even from the very top. The White House, in one example, actually told the world how many nuclear weapons the U.S. has available for our defense.

There is nothing wrong with having state secrets. As long as there is good oversight, the best thing for our nation’s security is to have information about our national defense tactics kept under lock and key. It is time to shut down this growing culture of disclosure.