Classified Information and the Internet
Here at "The Stupid Shall Be Punished", I do my best not to post any classified information (which really limits the quality of what I can say in response to different news articles). In some cases, classified information may make its way into the public domain, and I may link to it. However, you hopefully won't find me saying that "This is from a secret document, and as someone known to have once had a security clearance, I'm confirming that this is what the secret document actually says". Additionally, I've never been the presidential nominee of a major party.
This is why I'm concerned about a new E-mail Sen. John Kerry sent to his supporters today. (Scroll down to today's 5:40pm entry, "Sorry, Senator: You Don't Pick The SECDEF".) (Direct link to the E-mail at the wacky Democratic Underground here; read the comments at your own risk.) This E-mail contains the following paragraph:
'In August 2003, the Joint Chiefs of Staff prepared a secret report assessing the post-war planning for Iraq. The report blamed "setbacks in Iraq on a flawed and rushed war-planning process." It also said "planners were not given enough time" to plan for reconstruction.'
The quotes he gets come from this Washington Times article, printed in September 2003. What concerns me is this: if a person known to hold a secret security clearance (such as Sen. Kerry), who presumably has access to the document in question, is holding forth these statements as true, based on a report the paragraph itself says is secret, is this not the same thing as releasing the classified information? Granted, it could have been that these quotes were taken from unclassified portions of the report. I just believe that it's "bad form" for our senior statesmen (despite what you may think of Sen. Kerry, he is still a senior Senator) to be quoting from documents they know to be secret in E-mails released into the world. Surely he could have made the same point by using an unclassified source -- let's face it, events have shown that the planning for aftermath of the Iraq War probably could have been improved.
(Disclaimer: I did work in the Planning Directorate at Central Command in the aftermath of the war, so unfortunately I can't provide any concrete examples of what happened there, due to the aforementioned secrecy issues. However, I can make a general statement to the effect that if I were to choose an organization I've worked for to be held up as a model of efficiency and clear planning, CENTCOM J5 would not be at the top of my list.)