Secretocracy (2)

I noted yesterday that the novel Secretocracy is based on my own experiences. The fury of the administration I describe in the novel is drawn from events I lived through. Like the protagonist of the novel, while on assignment as an intelligence budgeteer, I refused to submit to Congress a funding proposal for a highly-classified operation that was illegal. I was persecuted and isolated in hopes that I would give up and resign. Instead, I persevered. When an election changed the administration in power, I was exonerated and resumed my career.

I can’t tell you what the proposed operation was or when the events took place. All that is, as far as I know, still classified to this day. After my assignment as a budgeteer, I returned to my home agency, the National Security Agency (NSA), and lost the special clearances given to me to allow me to process top secret codeword-plus budgets. Glimmers and hints in news reports led me to suspect that later administrations may have revived the project I nixed. And my guess is that the project would prove powerfully attractive to the Trump administration.

If the current administration is pushing that operation, there is some likelihood that the press will stumble on to its existence and expose it publicly. The president is notorious for his casual handling of classified information, and many of his principals are equally careless.

But two factors argue against the probability of compromise. One is that the public would almost certainly react very negatively to the execution of this classified operation because of its very nature. So the administration would have strong motivation to keep it under wraps. And the press, throughout my years in the government, showed great restraint about revealing classified information that might prove harmful to the U.S. Many times during those years, the press caught wind of classified information but agreed not to publish it for the good of the country.

So I’m reasonably confident that if the Trump administration is pursuing the operation in question, none of us would know it. Time will tell.

More tomorrow.

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