A Leaky Boat Has Many Bailers

empty boatThat title sounds as if it came from Confucianism [1]. It is meant to describe the current relative bipartisanship among Congress, which up until this time has usually been at odds among the political party’s.

The latest disclosures about the National Security Agency have elicited mutual involvement from both political party’s. There are various reasons for this sudden bipartisan behavior; they include the effects on future spy activities, balancing confidentiality with security and the political fallout from the Edward Snowden revelations.

I also have concerns beside the obvious of wanting to be sure the NSA, FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, EPA, IRS and the rest of the alphabet soup don’t exceed their authority within the guidelines of the Constitution. Let’s assume for the moment that discussing these topics are healthy in a Democracy.

When Julian Assange first became known among the general public, it wasn’t shocking to understand someone like him existed. There have always been people outside normal channels interested in the inner workings among government spooks and shadows. For the most part, western governments portray themselves as the ‘good guys’ in an environment filled with an us against them world. Unless  you live in a vacuum or have a mind-set so biased, there is credibility in the necessity of protecting your country and its intellectual secrets. The fact that Assange was so successful, partly due to his clever intellect and part due to inner moles working within the military and state department. This became troublesome for these organizations to stop the leaks. Edward Snowden came forward after Bradley Manning was arrested and made it obvious to everyone, there’s another fox in the chicken coop.

It’s easy to get caught up with public euphoria, a lot of people want to consider Snowden a hero. I want to understand a few things about Snowden and the human resource screening process at Booz Allen Hamilton. Why assume from the start Edward Snowden is a man worthy of public adulation? What were his motives? Are they as straight forward as he wants them to be perceived? How does someone with what I consider a relatively short IT record, most especially with sensitive data, become so trusted?

I raise these questions because I have worked in the military and held a secret clearance. It was so many years ago, nothing I know is relevant and important today but it formed my identity of how I might conduct myself in a future trusted private situation. It is one thing to be open and honest, quite another to understand when taking an oath to keep secrets because if you remain silent, it says a lot about you as an individual. Once the trust of others is obtained, even if it isn’t about state secrets, financial or intellectual property, an obligation whether implied or under oath exits or should exist. This is part of having personal integrity.

Rally at US embassy in Hong Kong by Snowden supporters

Protesters rally at US embassy in Hong Kong in support of Edward Snowden

Personal integrity is like building a bridge, it takes time; however if you destroy the bridge, disclose private information or even discuss what should be held in confidence among friends or associates the trust is gone along with future bridge building. If anyone decides it’s absolutely imperative to release information to the public, what are the criteria? What are the real, not covert motives for revealing this information?

Perhaps questions such as; what valuable information did Edward Snowden reveal? Did he expose anything so significantly worthy of ending his career or perhaps forfeiture of his life? Did he inadvertently set himself up as a public relations endorsement for the espionage activities of China or did he become a tragic pawn in the spy game?

Perhaps without a trial, we may never know Snowden’s motives. The public discussion however continues.

American exceptionalism, seen through the prism of American blunders

By Ian Bremmer – Rueters June 13, 2013

” . . there are real differences between China and the U.S. on cyberwarfare. It’s true both countries attack one another. By some accounts, more than 90 percent of cyberespionage in the U.S. originates in China. In April, NSA chief Keith Alexander told Congress that 40 new CYBERCOM teams are being assembled — 13 of them will focus on offensive operations. But America’s offense comes from its military and surveillance arm and is predominantly directed towards China’s.”

Related Reading

[1] A life well lived ▫ ▫ ▫

Master K’ung – At 15 I set my heart on learning; at 30 I firmly took my stand; at 40 I had no delusions; at 50 I knew the Mandate of Heaven; at 60 my ear was attuned; at 70 I followed my heart’s desire without overstepping the boundaries of right.

Confucius, the common name of Confucianism’s founder, is a Latin derived form of the Chinese K’ung-fu-tzu, “Master K’ung.” The terms “Confucianism” and “Confucian,” derived from Latin and are not Chinese, named as such in the 18th century.