In the modern era of technology and digital communications, the issue of leaks has become more prominent. Hackers can access internal documentation and communication that, in the past, would have been unavailable.
This point was on full display last year, when whistleblower website Wikileaks released a series of dumps containing e-mails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The contents of these e-mails ranged from questionable campaign tactics to revealing actions by politicians and media figures alike, but overall provided an intimate glimpse of the inside.
Other times, it can reveal activities of questionable legality and constitutionality. Perhaps the most prominent example is Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed massive secrets about the United States surveillance programs. Since his disclosures, the intelligence community and the United States Government as a whole have struggled to prevent further leaks.
How can the government prevent leaks from occurring?
Today in Washington D.C., Congress held a hearing discussing the alleged connection between the Russian government and the presidential campaign of President Donald Trump. It featured Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey and NSA director Mike Rogers, who were reporting on an ongoing investigation into the matter.
The hearing itself touched upon a number of topics. Democrats were interested in the connection between Trump adviser Roger Stone and the Russian government, the connection between Wikileaks and the Russian government, and other topics of partisan interest. Republicans were interested in targeting the source of the leaks and prosecuting the whistleblowers.
One thing that the political elite on both sides have shown in the last year is their opposition to whistleblowers. Democrats want Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Republicans want the nameless leakers of intelligence to the media, and both sides want Snowden.
Interestingly enough, Snowden had his own solution to the steady flow of leaks: stop breaking the law.
It may seem like a sly way of ripping the government, but it’s actually quite simple and logical. Look at the series of leaks and understand why the whistleblowers did what they did.
What if the United States government wasn’t spying on their own citizens in violation of the Bill of Rights? What if cell phone data wasn’t being massively connected and other communication information wasn’t being intercepted? Snowden wouldn’t have had a reason to risk his life. Instead, he could have been back home, perhaps working on building a family and career, while otherwise carrying on serving his country’s government.
This isn’t how the story played out.
The same applies to the issues regarding the Clinton campaign and Wikileaks, as well as Michael Flynn and the mainstream media’s unnamed intelligence sources. If the law hadn’t been broken, what would there have been to leak?
Edward Snowden’s point will likely go ignored. The government has shown an open hostility to those who expose wrongdoing, instead of devoting the same energy to correcting the problematic behavior.
What if we had a government that actually fulfilled its stated purpose instead of the dystopian prophecies of author George Orwell?