Central View: Security breach, some budgets tell all
September 5, 2013
As of this writing, what President Obama means by "firing a shot across the bow" of President Assad's regime in Syria is unknown. But then, what do you do if Assad ignores your warning shot? And, just which, if any, of our vital interests are at stake in Syria?
Great nations that want to remain great nations act only in their own vital interests. At home and abroad, we face more questions than we have answers.
But what we do know is that Edward Snowden gave all of our adversaries the contents of our highly classified intelligence budget.
The big deal is the spreadsheet tells the intelligence officers of Russia, Red China and Iran exactly what we know about them and exactly what we do not know about them. Where we are spending little money is probably where we have already penetrated their sensitive military secrets..
Long ago, back when Pfc. Elvis Presley was an outstanding Army jeep driver, this writer worked for U.S. Intelligence in Western Europe. Our unit had access to what we informally called the "Wish Book" — America's cosmic top-secret intelligence budget. It gave us a detailed list of the things intelligence directors wanted to know about the Red Army and how much monetary support our unit could expect for pursuing a particular line-item in the Wish Book.
One hot question was: What is the length of the military airfield runway under construction just outside of Potsdam, East Germany? Right next to that question was the amount of money budgeted for that intelligence requirement.
Was that question answered? Yes. One night, when the Potsdam area was shrouded in pea-soup fog, a daring U.S. Intelligence officer managed to find one end of the under-construction runway. He set his sedan's odometer to zero and drove to the other end of the runway. Voila! He recorded and reported the exact runway length before the runway was even finished. Of course, he did not receive any money for himself; however, his unit was rewarded in accordance with the dollar amount shown in the Wish Book.
Is Edward Snowden a hero or is he a traitor? For sure, all of our intelligence-gathering efforts are now an open book for our adversaries to study and to react accordingly. And, rest assured, should we decide to commit foreign policy suicide in the Middle East, our adversaries will be applauding, not interrupting.
A nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S. Naval War College, the University of Nebraska and Harvard University.