I’m a firm believer in knowing your principles intimately. This kind of inward knowledge serves as a compass as we navigate life. Principles allow us to see certain aspects of life as black and white, which allows for extreme clarity no matter the circumstance. Although principles give a black and white, good and bad image on aspects of life, life itself can be a mixture of infinite shades of gray.
Take the CIA for example. The CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency, is a vitally important part of national security. Through it America has been able to foil terrorist attacks, gain insights into our enemies across the globe and influence international actors for our benefit. Although covert tactics can be messy and sometimes questionable, this usage of the CIA is smart, as well as justified.
Recently, the CIA has come under attack after a recent WikiLeaks release of classified files. This release titled, “Dark Matter”, is a huge collection of files which appears to represent undeniable proof that America’s Central Intelligence Agency has been working tirelessly to infiltrate Apple and Mac based devices and operating systems, Microsoft, Android and Linux based operating systems, even smart televisions. Basically, the CIA has hacking codes and software to spy through virtually every device which connects to the internet.
And if true, the most sinister aspect of this discovery is that the CIA’s treasure trove of hacking codes, were not under lock and key like you might expect. CIA files containing these cyber weapons were hackable, which is how WikiLeaks supposedly came across this vast information pile.
If WikiLeaks is able to get their hands on this information, then so can foreign governments, terrorist organizations and possibly even career cyber criminals. In essence the CIA collected many years worth of advanced cyber weaponry and locked the access door with little more than a cheap padlock.
Another troubling element in these revelations is how the CIA kept these security flaws hidden from industry experts. Traditionally, when security flaws are detected and new hacking methods are uncovered the United States Government is supposed to share this information directly with the companies who have these vulnerabilities.
For example, if Uncle Sam discovers a vulnerability in Apple’s iPhone operating system they would bring this knowledges to the company’s attention. This way tech companies can continue to increase their security, which increases the security for all Americans who use their products and services. In a blatant 180 degree turn the CIA kept an enormous amount of security related information hidden purposefully so they could exploit it further. That’s just plain shady!
In typical fashion, the CIA refuses to admit or deny allegations that the WikiLeaks release is authentic. However, cyber experts seem to all agree that this is the real deal. In addition, WikiLeaks has an extremely solid track record of releasing only authentic information. Even WikiLeaks haters openly admit this much.
So, on one hand, the CIA is a necessary tool in our survival and in maintaining our status in the world. On the other hand the CIA could very well be involved in unconstitutional behavior through the use of broad surveillance directed at the very same people they took an oath to protect. These two truths create the gray area where the CIA, and the United States Government generally, have placed themselves.
This is an unfortunate reality, because many people are unable to see the world in shades of gray, and therefore miss out on basic truth. Many Americans will either adhere to a willing blindness that Uncle Sam is altruistic, and can do no wrong. Another segment, equally blind, will use revelations like those in WikiLeaks’ Dark Matter dump as fuel to fight against traditional American values. As is the case so often, the truth lies somewhere in between.
The United States of America is great, greater than any other country in the history of our planet. Americans are blessed to be Americans, and we should be proud of who we are, but we cannot allow ourselves to be blinded by any force, foreign or domestic, which seeks to diminish our rights.
Sometimes this knowledge means that we must accept our greatness, while at the same time acknowledging that we must tirelessly fight to keep ourselves great. Our power derives from the same liberty our founders fought for viciously. Without liberty, America would just become another mediocre country mentioned only as a footnote in the pages of history. So, while we should evaluate, scrutinize and work to eliminate CIA actions which are clearly at odds with American values, we also need to commend them for all the good they have done, are doing and will continue to do. Anything less is simple being naive.