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Inman on the Culture of Leaks


I recently asked Admiral Bobby R. Inman (USN Ret.), a professor at UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs who served as both Director of the National Security Administration and former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, what he thought about Wilson, Plame and the leaking of classified information. Inman brought up an episode that has been overlooked in the recent debate — the CIA leaks during the 2004 election cycle, particularly the book Imperial Hubris, published by former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer under the pseudonym Anonymous. Inman said:

I was utterly appalled during the 2004 election cycle at the number of clearly politically motivated leaks from intelligence organizations — mostly if not all from CIA — that appeared to me to be the most crass thing I had ever seen to influence the outcome of an election. I never saw it quite as harsh as it was. And clearing books to be published anonymously — there was no precedent for it. I started getting telephone calls from CIA retirees when Bush appointed Negroponte, talking about how vindictive the administration was in trying to punish CIA, and I was again sort of dismayed by the effort to play politics including with information that was classified. What is the impact on younger workers who see the higher-ups engaged in this kind of leaking?

Johnny Walker was probably the single most devastating spy to the Navy, maybe the country, and when he was caught he was asked, “Why did you do it?” He was working communications on the staff of a submarine and he owned a bar that was going broke, so he needed the money. He said one day he had handled and decoded a classified message and sent it off, and the next day he read the contents on the front page of the Washington Post. He said,


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