Leaks Probe Focuses On Low-Level Army Analyst The unauthorized release of some 250,000 diplomatic cables raises questions about how such sensitive information could be made public so easily. Apparently, a young Army soldier had access to the State Department documents and managed to download them. The Pentagon has instituted changes to protect its computer systems.

Leaks Probe Focuses On Low-Level Army Analyst

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131687808/131687830" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.


Beyond the latest WikiLeaks revelations is a question: Its how hundreds of thousands of State Department documents became public at all, exposing diplomats' private views of foreign leaders and nations. The answer involves technology, the desire to share information within the government and, in a way, this music.


LADY GAGA: (Singing)

INSKEEP: NPR's Rachel Martin has our story.

RACHEL MARTIN: It made sense that someone with Manning's job would have access to those documents. But the latest release has left many in the intelligence community asking this...

JOEL BRENNER: What is a private, an Army private, in a war theater doing with access to sensitive diplomatic cables involving the king of Saudi Arabia or the economy of Iceland?

MARTIN: Joel Brenner is the former inspector general for the National Security Agency.

BRENNER: This is really information sharing run into the ditch. And as a result, we're undressing ourselves electronically, faster than our adversaries could possibly do it to us.

MARTIN: Brenner says that now there's a culture of over-sharing.

BRENNER: I've been terribly concerned that a disaster like this was just waiting to happen, 'cause it's caused by a relentless push to move information before we understand where it's really going.

MARTIN: Philip Zelikow is a former diplomat and executive director of the 9/11 Commission.

PHILIP ZELIKOW: When PFC Manning or anyone else uses this intelligence database, there's a big warning on the screen that they get that tells them that anything you do on this database is subject to be monitored - which is exactly as it should be. But you actually then have to monitor it.

MARTIN: And because that monitoring hasn't been happening.

ZELIKOW: Apparently no one noticed that one of their analysts was pulling down hundreds of thousands of pieces of information, far beyond any conceivable definition of that analyst's need to know it.

MARTIN: Still, Colonel Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, says the technical fixes may not be enough.

DAVID LAPAN: You're talking about individuals. Only so many procedures can be put into place to monitor and to safeguard information. Ultimately it's the responsibility of individuals to follow those.

MARTIN: Rachel Martin, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.