Another Word on Diane Roark and Intelligence Oversight

A January 31 Secrecy News item on “Diane Roark and the Drama of Intelligence Oversight” focused on the personal friction and hostility that are sometimes generated by the intelligence oversight process.  Unfortunately, what I wrote did an injustice to Ms. Roark, the former House Intelligence Committee staffer, and to Thomas Drake, the former National Security Agency official, as well as to the larger issues involved.

I should have made it clear that I do not endorse the criticism of Ms. Roark that was expressed by Barbara McNamara, another NSA official.  On the contrary, under prevailing circumstances the “intrusiveness” that Ms. Roark was accused of is likely to be a virtue, not a defect.  It is the NSA, not Ms. Roark, that stands accused of mismanaging billions of dollars and operating in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Ms. Roark together with Thomas Drake and others did exactly what they should have done by bringing their concerns about NSA mismanagement to the attention of the DoD Inspector General, among other things.  Significantly, they had nothing to gain for themselves.  Their actions did not embody any motive of personal interest or self-aggrandizement, but something more like the opposite.  They were acting in the public interest, as they understood it.  That they (and especially Mr. Drake, who is now under indictment) are suffering for it is a worrisome sign of a broken system.

I also should not have repeated the insinuation in the Drake indictment that he and Ms. Roark had an intimate relationship.  This would be irrelevant in any case, but in this case it is also false.

My apologies to Ms. Roark and Mr. Drake.