This is an amazing article about one of the first high profile leaks that shows how corporatism and Pentagon insiders’ lust for high paying jobs allowed the Soviets to put Sputnik up there first.
Over the past seven years, the Obama administration has prosecuted twice as many leakers as all previous administrations combined.
The accused have worked at the CIA, the National Security Agency, the FBI, and in the military. Their disclosures have ranged from discrete details about an intelligence operation in Yemen to Edward Snowden’s massive revelations about secret surveillance programs.
Dennis C. Blair, Barack Obama’s former director of national intelligence, explained the crackdown to The New York Times: “My background is in the Navy, and it is good to hang an admiral once in a while as an example to the others. We were hoping to get somebody and make people realize that there are consequences to this and it needed to stop.” This “war on leaks” is likely to prove one of the Obama presidency’s more contentious legacies.
The government has other, less dramatic—and less overtly public—ways to punish and deter leakers. In a Harvard Law Review article (for which the author was a research assistant), the Columbia professor David Pozen describes some of those other means: firing leakers, revoking their security clearances, internally shunning them, and so on. Though some may have been inspired by Nickerson, others were surely deterred by his accomplice’s fate. Even when it’s not in the papers, news—especially about a colleague’s misfortunes—travels fast within bureaucracies.
In the end, Nickerson’s prosecutors were left to wonder whether, in criminal prosecution, they had picked the right path. Over half a century later, as the government and the public evaluate today’s “war on leaks,” the question lingers.