View Full Version : Generation Talk

Bill Moore
02-16-2013, 06:37 PM

Numerous friends and soldiers who served with him in the Israeli army have confirmed that Zygier, whose parents were prominent in Jewish causes in Australia, joined the Mossad and was proud of his work as a spy.

"He liked to talk about it. Sometimes it was hard to take him seriously, because you thought, ‘Why would a spy admit to being a spy?’ But yeah, he was really proud," said Adam, who served with Zygier as a combat soldier and asked not to be further identified out of fear of breaking Israel’s censorship law. "Over the years he would come and go, so part of me thought, ‘Well, maybe he is a spy.’ But that’s always a joke with somebody who travels a lot in Israel."


Former special forces officers slam Obama over leaks on bin Laden killing

"As a citizen, it is my civic duty to tell the president to stop leaking information to the enemy," says Benjamin Smith, identified in the video as a former Navy SEAL. "It will get Americans killed."


Kiriakou admitted that, through a series of e-mails with Journalist A, he disclosed the full name of a CIA officer (referred to as “Covert Officer A” in court records) whose association with the CIA had been classified for more than two decades. In addition to identifying the officer for the journalist, Kiriakou also provided information to the journalist that linked the officer to a CIA counterterrorism program known as the Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) Program and a particular RDI operation.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but the links above are only the tip of the iceberg. We always had spies in our ranks, but this is different, there seems to have emerged a culture I'm currently labeling "Generation Talk" who feel compelled and entitled to leak classified information to the media. I doubt it started with Wikileaks, but if you look at the books published, and the books attempted to be published since that time revealing current classified information this is a disturbing trend. It cuts across all fields to include the military, law enforcement, intelligence, Congress, and the White House. Secret now seems to mean something cool to talk to the media about.

02-17-2013, 03:23 PM
I am going to agree with you in principle, and I have my own ideas about that, but I think you are talking two different things.

First there is the political leak, ala President Obama, or Bush II (yellowcake) or any of the previous administrations back at least to Reagan. That is one discussion that I think is separate from your main point.

The second is the individual who feels that it is part and parcel to being in a liberal society that everything they know is interesting dinner conversation. Granted, our DoD probably over-classifies information which creates the impression that "Secret- No Forn" really doesn't mean "don't talk about this". Your average SSG who receives an order one day marked "Secret No Forn", and sees a two-star briefing the press about it the next, sometimes makes it hard to take these classifications seriously. But I do believe that along with the changes that come with a liberal society and the idea of governmental transparency there is a feeling that secrets aren't really meant to be secret.

Bill Moore
02-17-2013, 05:34 PM
Over classification has been a lingering problem since the end of the Cold War where it seemed everything was protected to make it harder for the USSR to collect pieces of the puzzle that would enable them to determine what our plans and capabilities were. I agree that over classifying is clearly part of the problem, because over time it results in less respect for classification caveats. I like the current trend about thinking not twice, but three times before you mark something secret and four times before you a NOFORN caveat on it.

However, that isn't what I'm talking about. Special Operations personnel releasing sensitive, even if unclassified, techniques makes life tougher and more dangerous for their peers still in the fight. Leaking the names of covert officers is crime. Leaking the details of clandestine and covert operations that put our friends in danger like the Pakistani doctor who was arrested for allegedly assisting in the elimination of UBL was senseless and likely reduce our effectiveness for years to come, not to mention it is criminal and unethical behavior by those entrusted with that information.

There are factors influencing this I believe. One is the nauseating influence of our public affairs community who excessively push "telling our story." Some stories should be told, others should never be told outside our community for real, not imagined, security reasons. The other is the impact of social media. I'm not talking about just the means, but the impact it has had on behavior where Joe and Jane can't wait to post what they know on twitter, facebook, etc. to increase their coolness factor. Another is the change in our political culture where secrets are leaked to damage the other party, or gain additional support for the party that leaks them. I suspect a lot more "actual" secrets would have been leaked if it wasn't for the responsible behavior of some in the media who refused to publish them.

02-17-2013, 05:43 PM
You mention responsible media. That brings up the quesiton of what is really secret. The location of the drone base in Saudi Arabia was secret until the New York Times felt it was an an important part of a story:

DEYOUNG: Well, we and others did report that there was a base that had been built in the Arabian Peninsula, but we didn't say Saudi Arabia. That was at the request of the administration, which had argued that it was a national security concern. The New York Times decided that this was an important fact for a story that they were doing leading up to John Brennan's confirmation on Thursday, and once it was out there, it was kind of out there for everyone.http://www.npr.org/2013/02/06/171310931/media-reports-reveal-cias-drone-base-in-saudi-arabia

So how much is really secret and how much is simply FMUO - For Media Use Only

I would also argue that much of our problem comes from the laziness of the G2 types, who don't want to actually analyze what might be secret or not and simply classify everything as secret with no expiration date on that classification. If they were to create a system where operational information in general remained classified for 72 hours after the operation and specific portions of the operational information (like sources, TTPs, etc.) remained classified until released, that might make more sense from the end users perspective. But right now, Secret just means "don't tell the enemy, but anyone else is OK".

02-17-2013, 07:08 PM
VatiLeaks, as the scandal came to be known, dragged the fusty institution into the wild WikiLeaks era. It exposed the church bureaucracy’s entrenched opposition to Benedict’s fledgling effort to carve out a legacy as a reformer against the backdrop of a global child sex abuse scandal and the continued dwindling of his flock.


03-25-2013, 05:56 PM
A joint Australian-German article on the mysterious Zygier case:http://www.smh.com.au/world/double-agent-disaster-led-to-spys-downfall-20130324-2go1h.html

Citing an Israeli official:
Zygier wanted to achieve something that he didn't end up getting....Then he ended up on a precipitous path. He crossed paths with someone who was much more professional than he was.