Ralph Peters:

AFTER more than two decades in the intelligence world, I know a few secrets. Some would merit brief, trumped-up headlines. But keeping those secrets is a matter of honor.

I don't keep secrets from the American people. I keep secrets for the American people. I took an oath not to divulge classified information. In return, I was trusted. And I never broke my word.

That means that I and all those like me who keep the faith don't fit in Washington, D.C., where leaking our nation's secrets is now a competitive sport - for both Democrats and Republicans.

The climate of leaks-without-penalties must end. But it probably won't. Why? Because senior figures in both parties see political advantages in well-timed leaks. They're willing to betray our nation for a brief partisan edge.

I've already used two out-of-date words that mark me as a patsy in D.C.: "honor" and "betray."

What happened to honor? Among our elected and appointed officials? A sense of honor still prevails within our military and among hundreds of thousands of government employees. Honor still prevails in much of our community life. Many Americans beyond the Beltway maintain a strong sense of personal and professional honor.

But honor's dead in Washington. And at "leading" universities (where patriotism, too, is beneath contempt). And in the media. Honor isn't hip. It's as pathetic as a powder-blue, polyester leisure suit.

To journalists and members of Congress, the concept of honor is so alien it's incomprehensible. If you can grab a headline, no matter the cost to your country, tell our secrets - and win an award for your "courage."


"Betrayal" is the other un-cool word I used up above. But it's the right word. Whether a senator or a low-level staffer in a government department, the man or woman who intentionally compromises classified information has betrayed you, your family and your country.

The latest example was a selective leak from a National Intelligence Estimate - a high-level document that reports not only a consensus view, but also dissenting opinions (I know - I read plenty of 'em in the past). According to the media's version of whatever was leaked, we're less secure now than before Iraq was invaded. It was a cynical set-up just over a month before national elections: In order to challenge the allegations, the president had to declassify a very sensitive document.

The leak wasn't about some phony "right to know." It was a political stunt performed for political gain. And now our enemies know what our intelligence community thinks. Gee, thanks. We don't need to know what intelligence documents say. What matters is what our leaders do or fail to do.


There is more. Will there be any consequencies for those responsible for the latest leak for political purposes? The media is a coconspiriter to this betrayel and its reward will be to give itself more journalism rewards rather than any introspection on the wickedness of its acts. It puts itself above the rule of law and the national security of this country and calls that patriotism.


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