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Posted at 3:35 PM ET, 06/ 7/2010

Wikileaks: CIA studied why people steal secrets

By Jeff Stein

Officials and others pondering why U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning allegedly leaked reams of classified documents to Wikileaks need look no further than a 20-year-old CIA study on moles.

Project Slammer, now partially declassified, was based on extensive prison interviews with some 30 former military and intelligence personnel who had been convicted of spying for Russia, China and other hostile powers during the Cold War, from the lowest enlisted men to senior CIA officers like Aldrich Ames. It sought to answer why they had violated the trust their agencies had bestowed on them.

Two of the most important factors in a mole’s decision to steal secrets were present in Manning’s situation, if Wired.com’s report is true: The 22-year-old’s alleged emotional distress, and lax military security.


According to e-mail traffic between Manning and a former hacker, the military intelligence analyst “discussed personal issues that got him into trouble with his superiors and left him socially isolated, and said he had been demoted and was headed for an early discharge from the Army.”

Likewise, the authors of the highly classified Project Slammer report, delivered to CIA management on April 12, 1990, emphasized that behavioral changes were often associated with acts of espionage.

“Heavy drinking, drug dependence, signs of depression or stress, extramarital affairs and divorce could be warning signs of a security problem,” I wrote in 1994 when, ironically, still-classified portions of the report were leaked to me by a former counterintelligence officer who was concerned that important lessons were being missed in discussions of why people spy.

“The authors believe that if co-workers and bosses could be educated to intervene with a troubled employee early on, damaging espionage might be prevented.”

Manning detailed security lapses at his Iraq duty station: ”Weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis…" according to his e-mails Wired obtained.

He called it "a perfect storm,” as if the Army deserved punishment, another trait common to moles -- a belief that they're the smartest guy in the room.

Of course, there are important differences between someone who volunteers to work for a foreign intelligence service, and a person who leaks to the media for “moral” reasons, even if the FBI and federal prosecutors usually find little to distinguish the two.

But there are striking parallels, too. One is that the usual calls for security crackdowns and punishing the media that follow events like these are usually misplaced.

The Project Slammer report said it was "not possible to determine whether employee assistance, private counseling or other therapeutic applications would have made a significant difference ..." But it pointed out that no traditional counterintelligence methods -- background investigations, lie detectors, surveillance -- worked either.

“Project Slammer findings offer us some of the best verbal ammunition available for promoting the concept of co-worker responsibility and continuing evaluation” of troubled employees, the DoD Security Institute’s Lynn F. Fischer wrote in 2000.

“[W]e are learning that people who have fallen into the trap of espionage are like the guy in the next office or the trusted technician on the assembly line. As mentioned earlier, no offender studied so far has entered into a position of trust with the intention of betraying that trust.”

Personal demons drive people to leak, as well as to spy. And one of those demons can simply be a highly tuned sense of moral outrage at certain kinds of government conduct.

"He didn’t want to do this just to cause a stir..." Manning allegedly confided to the former hacker, who alerted the FBI.

"He wanted people held accountable and wanted to see this didn’t happen again.”

By Jeff Stein  | June 7, 2010; 3:35 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Justice/FBI, Lawandcourts, Military  
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Comments

The bottom line is there's no excuse for what Manning did. There may be reasons he thought he had for his actions, but none of them at all justify what he did.

If you think you're the smartest guy in the room, you either deal with it straight up & lead, find some other smart people to be in the room, or get out of the room. It's never a clean justification for betrayal of one's self, family, or country.

This is an example of egotistical stupidity at it's worst.

Posted by: Nymous | June 7, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

This is the third case where a leaker of classified information is likely to be prosecuted by the Obama Administration. I've been representing individuals involved in classified leak investigations for almost 15 years.

Much has been made about whether this Administration is more aggressive than those in the past. Honestly, I don't believe so.

What is different is that the leakers are being caught, whether through being turned in as Specialist Manning apparently was, or through apparent electronic surveillance or some other technological means as in the Drake and Leibowitz cases, and the Government has actual evidence to prosecute them. Unless one of these two things exist, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for prosecution to occur.

Believe me, the Bush Administration would have jumped all over a number of people if they had found evidence sufficient for prosecution.

But it is this paragraph that is, in my opinion, the most important of the story:

"But there are striking parallels, too. One is that the usual calls for security crackdowns and punishing the media that follow events like these are usually misplaced."

Will the US Govt focus its efforts on the symptoms to avoid these types of leaks from occurring again, or place a band-aid on the system in order to make it appear it is taking appropriate steps. Unfortunately, history shows the latter usually occurs and innocent people, primarily devoted federal employees, bear the brunt.

Ironically, the US Govt ends up creating more potential leakers by doing so due to the animosity that then flows from the "victims".

Posted by: ZaidMS | June 7, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

How about the natural tendency for one to finally feel important in this world? Especially when one has probably gone through life without passersby even knowing they are there....

Posted by: john_bruckner | June 8, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Here's another "secret" that mainstream media can't or won't report:

HOMELAND FUSION CENTER MICROWAVE CELL TOWER WEAPON SYSTEM SILENTLY ASSAULTS, TORTURES, IMPAIRS EXTRAJUDICIALLY 'TARGETED' AMERICANS: VETERAN JOURNALIST

• "Dissidents" and "undesirables" also targeted by multi-agency program for financial sabotage, community-based, police-protected, GPS-enabled vigilante stalking and harassment, and ideologically-driven censorship -- a genocidal purge.

All of those cell towers you see all over America are NOT all for phone calls.

Some of them are TORTURE TOWERS -- part of a nationwide microwave/laser radio frequency "directed energy weapon" system that is being used by operatives of the multi-agency Homeland Security-run "fusion center" network to silently torture, impair, and physically and neurologically degrade the functioning and well-being of extrajudicially, unjustly '"targeted" citizens...

And apparently, this precision-targeted domestic weapon system being used to attack and harm U.S. citizens has been deployed WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF CONGRESS or high state officials.

• When will President Obama stop the human and civil rights atrocities of a multi-agency fusion center shadow government?

BUCKS COUNTY, PA: "Mid-Atlantic States (including D.C.) Centcom of a Fusion Center Gestapo."

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
OR NowPublic.com/scrivener OR Facebook -- Vic Livingston ("Notes")

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 8, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

This is a telling statement:

"one of those demons can simply be a highly tuned sense of moral outrage at certain kinds of government conduct."

Apparently, outrage at murder and corruption and a desire for rule of law are personal demons that must be purged in the name of Protecting Our Interests. They have no place in the intelligence business.

Posted by: inverse_agonist | June 8, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I think it's faint provocative sarcasm albeit spineless when the author describes a moral objection as a personal demon.

one might observe that in a war based on lies to satisfy overt satanists like Bush (skull and bones, bohemian grove) resulting in the killing of a million people that their right to secrecy has then long been forefeited.
what a sick nation you are that you have come to accept depravity as the placid norm.
behold I send you out as sheep amidst the wolves. be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
what chance does a sheep stand against a wolf? and so you have been fooled my mindless fellow humans. be ye wise.

Posted by: danfrederiksen1 | June 13, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow, thats pretty insane dude, I mean seriously.

Lou
www.anonymity.au.tc

Posted by: clermontpc | June 14, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

'He called it "a perfect storm," as if the Army deserved punishment, another trait common to moles -- a belief that they're the smartest guy in the room.'

Huge leaps of logic and opinion -- another trait common to filler-text.

Posted by: torgytorgy | June 14, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

We are always voulnerable. Im trying minimize that risk with Safetica bussiness, but I still cannot protect stealing information from my sister's hospital card:(

Posted by: josephist | June 14, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

We are always voulnerable. Im trying minimize that risk with Safetica bussiness, but I still cannot protect stealing information from my sister's hospital card:(

Posted by: josephist | June 14, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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