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How This Year’s Military Intelligence Leaks Could Damage US Security

The recent court appearance of a US Air National Guard member, accused of posting top secret military intelligence records online, has heightened questions about whether leaks harm US national security. Internal assessments are kept secret, making it difficult to prove that a leak has damaged US government, but analysts have warned of the potential for great damage to intelligence methods that can be evaded or spoofed. There is also the danger of disclosure of information itself, the source or method of collection, the mere fact of US interest and public disclosure, which can hurt diplomatic relations. The damage from leaks tends to be hard to appraise, as it may lead to further disclosures if assessments are released. In addition, officials may play down the significance of leaks or exaggerate their harm. The case of the Hughes Glomar Explorer, built by the CIA to recover a sunken Soviet submarine but publicised as a ship to mine manganese nodules, proved to be of no use for the agency once its cover was blown. The ship was eventually put into private use for deepwater oil drilling but has now been slated to be scrapped.

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