The latest unauthorized release of more than 250,000 American diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks has kept many State Department officials busy doing damage control with government leaders across the globe. But another consequence much closer to home is now becoming clear: that the incident will likely set back efforts to encourage greater information-sharing between U.S. government agencies.
As Chris Sailer noted in his recent DSBlog series on radical information transparency, all information, regardless of how private or sensitive, is fair game if it falls into the wrong hands, and serious questions have to be asked about a democratic society’s ability to govern in the face of such transparency.
As for the effect on collaborative sharing of sensitive security information, a key post-9/11 priority, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was quoted by The Washington Post as saying he believes the leaks will have a “chilling effect” on information sharing. Former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden likewise has come to much the same conclusion, reports Federal Computer Week: “Sharing is not an unalloyed good… This does expose the dark side.”
With a wave of new security reviews of agencies that handle classified information, and moves to curtail access to DoD’s SIPRNet system in the wake of WikiLeaks’ release of some 92,000 Afghan war documents, it’s a good bet we’ve only just begun to see the fallout.
(Photo of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange courtesy of AP via The Telegraph)
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