By Lawrence J. Fedewa

An extraordinary scenario is taking place right out in the open, and we all seem to be missing it. The subject is the utterly incompetent protection our “intelligence community” (as they like to be called) is providing for the nation’s most precious secrets.

It was bad enough when a young contractor named Edward Snowden could steal millions of classified records pertaining to the plans, strategies, surveillance, identities, and reports of all types and pass these files to WikiLeaks founder, Swedish gadfly Julian Assange, who promptly disclosed the whole lot to the entire world (2013). But this adventure foreshadowed the popular response to all the subsequent WikiLeaks. What happened were cries of righteous indignation — against whom? Against the keepers of these secret files, who allowed this to happen? Not at all. The outrage was against the little leaker, Mr. Snowden. The outrage was so intense and so universal that Mr. Snowden was forced into exile.

But surely, the primary sin was the work (or lack thereof) performed by our esteemed “intelligence community,” whose responsibility it is to guard the nation’s secrets against all comers. But they couldn’t even stop a young contractor.

The next big leak was at the hands of another young American, a transgender Army corporal named variously Bradley or Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, who perpetrated the largest public disclosures of military secrets in the history of the United States (2014). So, who went to jail? Manning. What about those senior officials up and down the line of command whose incompetence allowed such a thing to happen? Not one was ever even accused, let alone indicted, of treason or even dereliction of duty. No wonder there have been further violations of our national security.

This time (2017), there is a casual admission by the FBI and the rest of the “intelligence community” that the Russians have systematically hacked into our national security data – although no public evidence has been produced to that effect. All the Washington wonks are assuming that the purpose of this intrusion was to trifle with the American election. Interestingly, that charge seems to assume that WikiLeaks obtained the Podesta emails from the Russians and used it to damage the Hillary Clinton campaign.

In the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, this assumption is so much poppycock. In the first place, Mr. Assange himself maintains that the data were obtained from a disgruntled Clinton campaign worker. Secondly, this is not a far-fetched claim, based on the identity and type of little guys who pulled off much greater and more damaging disclosures in the past. Thirdly, the disclosures were true. No one has ever denied the authenticity of the material, damning as it was to Mrs. Clinton herself. So, this whole house is built upon sand – there is nothing there but the angry musings of a defeated campaign trying desperately to blame someone else for their own failures.

But what about the cyber security which protects the nation’s secrets? Are we being informed that once again, there has been a catastrophic breakdown of that shield? Who is responsible for that?

We know that Barack Obama, in his last days in office, geometrically expanded the number of agencies (from one to 17) and people (unknown hundreds) who were to be given access to raw (unmasked) data. It has also been reported that Mr. Obama authorized continued access of Hillary Clinton and six aides to the same top secret material she had as Secretary of State, presumably right up to the election. This in spite of her obvious disdain for the laws and rules governing such access.

This cavalier attitude toward cyber protection clearly does not bode well for the state of the art. Further, there seems little doubt that the Obama Democrats spied on the Trump transition team. That is a violation of the law and Americans would like to see somebody go to jail this time, someone to keep Manning company.

But no one seems to be talking about these failures of the “intelligence community.” It is time to clean up the flagrant incompetence surrounding cyber protection of our national secrets. Those responsible must be held accountable, and a new team appointed to the task.

The new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, should also empanel a grand jury to investigate the people and the reasons behind this breakdown to determine whether laws have been broken. Obviously, the FBI under the perpetually confused and confusing James Comey can’t handle the job. If the likes of Snowden and Manning can penetrate our national security, surely the Russians, the Islamic State, North Korea and who knows who else shouldn’t have any trouble.