Martin Gurri: why the media was terrified of the Pentagon leaker
The CIA analyst on how Gen Z might threaten the security state
Over the last week, the international news cycle has been dominated by the Pentagon leak story. The online spread of classified intelligence documents, the arrest and charging of 21-year-old national guardsman Jack Teixeira, and the resulting questions of how America handles sensitive intel have provoked responses well beyond the insular confines of Washington D.C.
Teixeira’s arrest has split opinion: is the airman a whistleblower or a traitor? In each case, the fact remains that a relatively junior employee is being credited with one of the most serious intelligence leaks in US history. Martin Gurri, a former CIA analyst and writer, joined Freddie Sayers on UnHerd to discuss this strange and quickly developing story.
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Speaking about the motivations behind the leak, Gurri said: “The problem is we have these institutions — that essentially are 20th century institutions — that believe in all these steep hierarchical things, like how you classify information and where you stand inside the organisation.” The analyst referred to Teixeira as a “Zoomer” who “has access to all this material. And as opposed to most people who used to leak, who are either being paid by somebody, or have usually an ideological axe to grind, or they think that they’re saving America from making these terrible mistakes, this guy just likes to look cool with his friends on Discord.”
Recent years have also marked a change in the methods used to distribute classified information. “When I first came on,” Gurri said, “if you wanted to steal something, you probably had to sneak in a camera and take a picture of it. Now all you have to do is put a smart stick on the server, pull it out, and you’ve got zillions and zillions of documents”.
The most interesting element of the saga for Gurri, however, was the way in which the American and foreign press worked to reveal Teixeira’s identity and then “rejoiced” at his exposure. “The media was actually hunting this kid,” Gurri told UnHerd, “engaged in some sort of collaboration to snatch this villain who was leaking American secrets.” This “collaboration” was not just between different publications, but instead a case of the media and the political establishment standing “shoulder to shoulder” in the face of a common enemy.
According to Gurri, where previously the American Government “had great influence over the other elites in the media,” this arrangement was “blown up” by what he refers to as “the digital tsunami”, the democratisation of information through the vastness of the Internet. “They just want the world to go back to the 20th century,” Gurri said of the media establishment, “and this is a good example of that.”
The former CIA analyst went on: “They feel that people are speaking out who should not speak out,” drawing comparison with the release of the Twitter Files at the end of last year. Because the establishment has grown nervous about the unrestrained power of the Internet, they are “trying to put the genie back in the bottle”, with limited success.
Asked where he sees this trend going, Gurri said:
Egads! You mean the establishment media wants to go back to the 20th century when they had complete control of all the information that went out into the public sphere? You mean they want to shape public perceptions to benefit themselves? You mean they covet the immense power that their role as information curator provides? Can it be that they resent the growing trend of people turning increasingly to alternative information sources? I’m stunned, nay flabbergasted, that they would ever abuse their power in such a way or *gasp* work with the government to deceive and manipulate the populace. Surely the author must be mistaken. Surely this cannot be. How will our civilization survive without a small, unqualified, and unelected clique of people to decide what is true and what isn’t or what news is worthy of our fragile ears?
It turns out China was right from the beginning. Unregulated Internet was a breeding ground for cynicism and anarchism. The concentration and strength of a state’s capabilities is a sign of the modernization of a state. China is 1800 years ahead of the West in governing the country and its people.
Spoken like a good CCP member.
Sorry, but it just doesn’t seem credible that a young weekend soldier would have access to the information that he’s supposed to have leaked.
It smells like a fit up to me.
The bureaucracy needed to support the Elite has grown like Topsy – very fast and in an uncoordinated way. The bureaucracy is now too big to maintain secrecy or maintain competence so is beginning to rely on authoritarianism to stay in control. You can even make the argument that the bureaucracy is the New Elite, but the Old Elite do not realise this yet. Heaven help us.
According to Google over 1.3 million people in the USA are cleared to Top Secret level. This is only getting worse because as Martin says everything gets evermore overclassified and yet everyone ‘needs’ the access.
Of course 1.3 million people will contain examples of the greedy, the unstable, the offended, the narcissistic, etc. The whole bloated system is unsustainable and guaranteed to leak like a sieve. Unfortunately these leaks can get innocent people killed.
Maintaining an aura of secrecy under such an impossible system in order to pretend their own competence (and as evidence of their own importance) is just another establishment smoke screen.
I self-identify as a person with a Top Secret clearance: please hand over the documents.
I only learned about Martin Gurri last week when I saw his longer interview on Triggernometry. For an old guy, he seems to have his finger on the pulse of the modern world.
I actually feel sorry for Teixeira who leaked the classified documents. He should be punished but he strikes me as very naive. The feds and the military will give him life in prison.
I found Mr. Gurri’s comments on the younger generation’s perspectives on history and on oaths to be particularly interesting. I am also looking for grounds for optimism and would love to share his optimistic take, but I think he is surprisingly shallow when he says that as long a we aren’t arming ourselves and shooting each other we will be OK. For instance, what if the authoritarians control all messaging and start rounding up dissidents and free thinkers? I don’t think we would be OK in that instance. There are a lot of dangers he seems to dismiss.
Our Media has had the 20 Century control but they made the mistake that the Bolsheviks’, Fascists, Nazis, and other Communists made, they all sent out Misinformation and Lies into an Era of the 21st Century young people who have no old traditional stability and are more Globalists and self centered.
Who is approving my comment and why? I thought unherd did not believe in Censorship?
Now find who Q-Anon is.
‘This “collaboration” was … a case of the media and the political establishment standing “shoulder to shoulder” in the face of a common enemy.’ Do we not sense a problem with this? As in, what we now have is no free mainstream press, but instead, our versions of the Soviet-era Izvestia and Pravda?
I only listened for 20 min. I didn‘t get the topic of this. What is it about?
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