Information is vital in politics, government, healthcare, warfare, and business. Secrets are a type of information that has value and power if the confidences involved are maintained.
Secrets are kept to protect the information from other people who might use them to their advantage, or to harm the people the secrets are designed to protect.
When secrets “leak,” they can cause serious damage to systems that rely on confidentiality. If the attitude about classified information that the State Department displayed under Hillary Clinton prevails, our national secrets are not safe.
Recent leaks of the contents of General Lynn’s secret phone conversations with the Russian ambassador, are intentional betrayals of trust by employees of the federal government, violating their security clearances, and pledges to maintain national secrets. The leakers are enemies of the US Government, and should be treated as dangerous to our national security.
The question for the Trump administration is how to quash the subversive elements hiding in the bureaucracy.
It seems likely that employees of the Intelligence Community are responsible. The heads of these agencies have failed to structure, manage, and supervise their staffs to prevent such leaks. Therefore, these agencies involved cannot be trusted to fix the problem.
It will take a focused, rigorous, and ruthless effort to find and punish the leakers, cauterize the wounds inflicted, and inoculate the intelligence bureaucracy against further subversion.
President Trump could direct his Director of National Intelligence to lead the effort to uncover the leaker(s).
The president could also appoint a Presidential Commission for this purpose. A commission might be more effective, and manageable to investigate the leaks.
Whichever authority he chooses could announce a four-stage, 30-day, no-nonsense plan to find the person(s) who leaked the contents of the phone call.
Stage 1. Identify all agencies and staff positions with authorized access to the phone taps and transcriptions.
Stage 2. Provide incentives, and substantial rewards to those who report the leaker(s).
Stage 3. If no one identified within 10 days, suspend or revoke the security clearances of those with access.
Stage 4. If no one identified after 30 days, replace agency heads and their managers.
Is this unfair to innocent, loyal employees? Maybe. However, those who do not think that national security is critically important, and do not take their responsibilities seriously, are in the wrong jobs.