When it comes to intelligence matters, the past month has not been a good one for the defense establishment, with at least two instances (that we know) of military intelligence being leaked. From shredded documents obtained by the media to Navy officers copying classified material for access on insecure systems at home, the ramifications of such shoddy handling of secrets are manifold.
The most obvious consequence of these leaks is that it increases the chances that the enemy will get its hands on the material and thereby gain a military advantage. Minutes of meetings, orders of battle and contracts with foreign militaries -- all, if they end up in the wrong hands, can be detrimental to the security of a nation. They facilitate treason and can also subject individuals to blackmail.
A second area that can suffer from security lapses is ties with allied militaries. If a nation cannot be trusted with secrets, its allies will be hesitant to pass on classified material for fear it will be accessed by the wrong people. Alliances are based on trust and sometimes classification isn't only a product of what is told or shown in a document but rather of the sharing itself not being for public consumption. In other words, sometimes allies do not want the rest of the world to know that an alliance exists.
If leaks occur on a frequent basis and a nation's allies do not perceive that the problem is being addressed, chances are the latter will consider ending cooperation on intelligence and perhaps even on the sale of advanced weapons that, if mishandled, could result in technology transfer.
Leaks can also jeopardize sources -- electronic and human -- as well as collection methods and obviate years of efforts, an outcome that is all the more serious when the product comes from a foreign agency that does not want its expenditures in time and money to go down the drain as a result of irresponsible handling by an ally.
Lastly, news of intelligence leaks undermine public confidence in the state's ability to defend itself, giving rise to fears of institutional ineptitude or, perhaps worse, that the authorities simply do not take their responsibilities seriously. It can also give the enemy a psychological advantage, if not prompt it to act on the assumed weakness of its opponent. All in all, this is not the image the defense establishment wants to project.
Minister of National Defense Lee Tien-yu (
In many countries, even recruits caught taking home mock classified documents used for training purposes are not given a second chance -- they are fired on the spot. Leaks, willful or otherwise, are a career-ender. They don't result in transfer from one department to another, or in mere reprimand.
How defense and intelligence apparatuses handle classified material has very little to do with secure computer systems, firewalls and shredders. Dependable agencies have in place institutional ethics that make leaks exceptional events warranting serious action, not an almost routine occurrence that make onlookers shake their heads and wait for the next one to happen.
Heads must roll, Mr. Lee. Plug the hole.
Taiwan is not an orphan nation in need of someone to adopt it. Taiwan is not a foundling nation wandering the streets of the world looking for a home. It is not even a poor waif of a nation unable to take care of itself in that same big, bad world. Finally, Taiwan is certainly not terra nullius, a nationless land that is open and waiting to be explored and possessed by those who dare. Taiwan is a mid-sized, democratic nation that by GDP, profitability, location and even microchip production punches far above its weight in its region and in international commerce.
When analyzing Taiwan-China tensions, most people assume that the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) consists of rational actors. Embedded within this belief are three further suppositions: First, Beijing would only launch an attack on Taiwan if it were in China’s national interest; second, it would only attack if the odds were overwhelmingly in its favor; and third, Chinese decisionmakers interpret information objectively and through the same lens as other actors. These assumptions have underpinned recent analyses — including by Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) — concluding that there is no
Do you remember where you were last year at this time? Do you remember what it was like? Here in the leafy suburbs of Washington, D.C., we were in lock-down mode. The streets were bleak and empty. Schools, offices, malls, theaters, churches … all were closed. The essentials were in short supply. Grocery stores rationed the good stuff. Signs read: “One jumbo pack of toilet paper, two cartoons of eggs per family please!” Some days those signs mocked us from barren shelves. It was a lonely and anti-social time. Families and friends had to weigh the rewards of gathering together to celebrate Christmas
US-based diplomatic observers say that interaction between Taiwan and the US has grown in intensity over the past few months, falling short of establishing official relations. Although the interaction is still below the cabinet level because of Washington’s “one China” policy, these observers see a growing propensity in US political circles, across both sides of the aisle, to support Taiwan’s distinct political culture, the outstanding features of which are its vibrant democracy and respect for human rights, along with a thriving economy. The question often debated in academic and foreign policy research circles is whether the US would put boots on