08.06.14

CNN: Does Snowden's celebrity breed copycats?

Evan Perez of CNN reports on possible new leaks of classified national security information:

U.S. intelligence agencies fear Edward Snowden has achieved celebrity as a leaker and could be inspiring others to disclose classified national security information.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called it the "copycat phenomenon" and noted it was a big concern.

"The degree that people have been lionizing Snowden, it encourages people to make a name for themselves by leaking," Schiff told CNN in an interview.

Schiff said the issue has come up in intelligence briefings that he couldn't talk about.

"It's a concern we've discussed: That Snowden has become the model for other leakers," he said.

The spate of leak scandals stems in part from the government's move since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks to more broadly share information.

Some of the 9/11 hijackers were being tracked by one or more federal agencies. But the failure to share information across various agencies is one reason why the 9/11 attacks succeeded, officials have said.

Schiff said the lesson learned then was to "break down the silos" of information. That effort, perhaps went too far.

"Beginning with [Chelsea] Manning, you see people having access to things they had no reason to access to," Schiff said. "The pendulum is clearly swinging back in the other direction."

A recent GAO study concluded the Pentagon approved as many as 3.2 million people for access to secret and higher-level classified information between 2006 and 2011.

Schiff said there were far too many people with security clearances. At the same time, he said the government's national security work requires some secrecy.

Revealing the methods by which security agencies try to prevent terror could show terrorists how to evade detection and thereby increase the risk of a disastrous attack.

Intelligence agencies are "kind of damned if they do and damned if they don't," he said.

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By:  Evan Perez
Source: CNN