New Gag Order on Spies Will Make Us Less Safe

Jack Shafer: We need more debate on policies, not insular decision-making

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 22, 2014 1:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – The nation's intelligence chief has issued a new directive that severely clamps down on his underlings' ability to talk to reporters, reports the Federation of American Scientists. James Clapper's intent with Directive 119 is to eliminate leaks of classified information and thus make the country safer. Instead, this bone-headed directive—which makes even the discussion of non-classified information off-limits—will do just the opposite, writes Jack Shafer at Reuters.

One big problem is that the move "increases the insularity of the national security state," and insularity can be a dangerous thing. Instead of healthy debates about national security, we get an ever-shrinking circle of yes-men decision-makers. "One excessively ingrown presidential administration, as you may recall, acted on its excessively ingrown intelligence information and analysis to invade a foreign land to capture diabolical biological and chemical weapons that didn’t exist," writes Shafer. If only we had "more unauthorized leaks to neutralize all the authorized leaks of bogus information to gullible reporters," we might have saved ourselves from a war. Click for his full column, which draws from lessons offered in the new book Secrets and Leaks by Rahul Sagar.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.   (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
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