I thought of this post out of the blue this morning, and it is not connected in any way, shape, or form to current events! No, Siri Bob! And by that last point I mean "No sirree bob," dangit Siri. Below is my very helpful guide to leaking things, you rascally dripping apertures, you.
- Don't! Just don't. Don't do it. Just...don't.
- Still don't!
- Nope! Not here either!
- Don't do it!
- Just no.
- It's your job and the law not to! So be happily prepared beforehand to deal with those vocational and legal consequences if you do leak. Assume from the outset you will be caught and ruined for life. Remember! Martyrs become lion poop—and they usually thank God it.
- What you have is probably not as incredibly world-shattering as you think. The system is designed for the lower-downs to ignorantly feed data bits to the higher-ups, who assemble, assess, and work with these various bits of information. It's pretty much guaranteed you have no idea what your little slice of info is doing in the grand scheme of things (i.e., at the federal policy level!). It might seem cool to you, but it may not really be all that incredible.
- On that note, you also likely have little idea of where in the process of evidence gathering your intel is! Let's say, for example (and I'm just making this up as I go), you've got intel that proves Russian intelligence did spelunk around inside American election voting machines. Well, so what? That sounds to me like a small piece of evidence in a larger investigation/mission that's currently underway. Why would you mess that up? Let the process do its thing.
- Seriously! Unless you have strong, tangible evidence that something absolutely horrible is happening and strong, tangible evidence the chain of command is actively repressing it and there is a grave and immediate threat to the physical or political integrity of the country, your leaks won't mean jack squat anyway! They'll be forgotten after a few days of Twitterstorms, and you'll still be in jail many years later.
(Realize that outside security and tech wonks, people generally don't know, or even care, what that whole Snowden thing was really all about! In my experience they believe a) the NSA was literally listening to their phone calls and b) this wasn't a big enough deal to do anything other than get momentarily shouty on the internet.)
- Even if you do have something world-shatteringly important your superiors are actively silencing (to the grave danger of the integrity and safety of the country), don't traffic with polemical drama stars like Glenn Greenwald and narrative-driven platforms like The Intercept.
Not that I would leak—because it's a terrifically stupid idea—but someone like Barton Gellman (or, as I like to call him, B-Man Gellster), whose reporting on Snowden I respect (if reluctantly), someone whose journalistic style is not antagonistic but open and curious, someone who won't rat you out through incompetence, would be a better choice.
- If you do leak (though don't), don't do it to people or outlets made up of or funded by foreigners and ex-pats, and especially not to people or outlets who apologize for your home nation's geopolitical enemies. If you're gonna be stupid, be All-American stupid.
Whew! I hope that was helpful. Let's go over the instructions again.
Glad we covered that. Who wants lunch?