Digital Pearl Harbor (Part Two)

Part Two is the finale to the abridged version of a June 13th article published in the New Yorker about former CIA employee Joshua Schulte. This curious case explores the question of whether in the years since WikiLeaks was established, in 2006, public attitudes toward both the intelligence community and the act of leaking itself might have shifted? Endless revelations concerning warrantless wiretapping, the use of torture, and extrajudicial killing have done little to enhance the prestige or the moral standing of America’s defense and intelligence establishment. And many people consider Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, along with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to be heroes.

A particular personality profile dominates these times: the boy emperor. How could the CIA have missed the obvious combustibility of Schulte and given him a security clearance? Perhaps, as the agency took up digital spying and sought to bolster its hacking capability, it deemphasized qualities like emotional stability, and turned a blind eye to the sorts of erratic or antisocial tendencies that are widely accepted in Silicon Valley (and even embraced as the price of genius). The agency may have been blinkered about Schulte’s destructive potential because it had concluded that this was simply how coders behave. Of course, in Schulte’s case, there did not appear to be any moral imperative driving the leak. If he did it, he wasn’t blowing the whistle…but seeking payback.