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Classified Security

Leaked Ukrainian Documents - Pentagon
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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

My commentary ten weeks ago on classified documents focused on the government’s problem of over-classification. The US government creates approximately 50 million classified documents each year. One expert I cited explained that there are very high penalties for under-classifying or mishandling classified information. Thus, the default has become, “when in doubt, classify it.”

We now have discovered another problem. Too many people have access to classified information. The most recent illustration of that was the arrest of a newly minted 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard. He was relatively inexperienced in the military, and yet had access to highly classified military information.

When the president was asked about the documents that have now surfaced, he didn’t seem too concerned arguing that “there’s nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence.” Either he is lying or doesn’t understand the consequence of what has rightly been compared to the Pentagon Papers or the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden.

The difference is that the leaker this time was not a whistle-blower. There wasn’t any evidence of coercion or blackmail. He was just trying to impress some of his friends.

The leaks document that the Ukrainians are about to run out of air-defense missiles, that US intelligence agencies have penetrated Russian intelligence agencies, that China approved lethal aid to Russia, and that Egypt is producing rockets to be shipped to Russia. We have even heard that the Ukrainian army had to change its plans for a counteroffensive because of the leak.

Even more devastating was the revelation that these leaks of classified information came from nearly every major US intelligence agency. That would include the NSA and CIA, along with several agencies you probably have never heard anything about.

It is time for members of Congress to ask, “Can’t you keep anything secret?” It is time to limit the number of people looking at classified documents.viewpoints new web version

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