Friday, January 31, 2014

takes one to know one

Frank Snepp, a former CIA operative who published information about U.S. activities at the time of the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese, notably the agency's failure to try to protect its indigenous agents, says Edward Snowden should accept punishment for his disclosures.

Government prosecutors never accused me of betraying classified secrets. But in 1980, the Supreme Court decided that I had "irreparably harmed" national security by publishing my book without official approval, in violation of CIA nondisclosure agreements. This, the court said, harmed the government's ability to prevent serious leaks.

The ruling left me destitute, stigmatized and gagged for life, required to clear with the CIA all my spy-related writings, including this one, with the threat of jail time if I screw up. The 1st Amendment also took a hit with the rulings in my case. Now, all intelligence alumni, Snowden included, can be severely punished for merely speaking out about their work, regardless of whether what they say contains any classified information.

Yet, for all that I suffered personally, I never ran or tried to hide. And when the time came to face the music, I never bargained for mercy. I simply took my lumps, accepting them as the price we pay in a democracy for the right to speak out.
I agree. Snowden is no Ellsberg.

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