Operational security and political advantage

Phil Carter, whose blog joins the blogroll. reflects on the journalistic responsibility not to publish order-of-battle information that would be useful to an enemy. His argument is a solid one. But he does not reflect on the documented willingness of the Defense Department to use operational security as an alibi to hide whatever is embarrassing. Optimally, the press wouldn’t publish anything genuinely threatening to operational security, and the Pentagon flacks wouldn’t try to hide anything else. But we live in a suboptimal world. It’s natural, though wrong, for the flacks to regard any information that gets to journalists other than through them as a Bad Thing, and for the reporters to regard any information they can get from other than official channels as a Good Thing. The abuse of the classification system for political and bureaucratic advantage discredits the whole system, and the people who carry out such abuse need to take their share of responsibility for the resulting casualties.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com