Hoekstra on Wikileaks: ‘Across the Board Neglect’

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BY JOHN FUND – One lesson from 9/11 is that government agencies needed to share more critical information with one another. But the Wikileaks scandal shows that some lessons can be overlearned.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, says the Pentagon should never have created a system which allowed so much information to be stored in one place and then pilfered. Private First Class Bradley Manning reportedly stumbled onto the trove of documents released by Wikileaks while on duty in Iraq. He then transferred them to a computer memory stick by staying late after work.


“Why would a private first class, sitting in Baghdad, have access to data far beyond his area of responsibility?” Rep. Hoekstra asks. “How can it be that between 500,000 and potentially over a million government employees have access to a database of sensitive state department cables?” Mr. Hoekstra calls the Wikileaks disaster “a failure of leadership that will result in dramatic setbacks to U.S. foreign policy and national security.”

Apparently, the Pentagon now realizes that there has been a massive failure in security. Defense officials have moved to curtail access to Pentagon classified computers, in part by disabling their ability to transfer data to disks or memory sticks. Use of classified computers will now be monitored for suspicious behavior.

Rep. Hoekstra welcomes the new measures but insists that hearings on the intelligence failures that led to them be held. “I fear this is an indication of across the board neglect by government in preparing for the new cyber security threats of the 21st Century,” he told me.

— John Fund