Americans learned Tuesday that the CIA has tools that can hack smartphones, computer operating systems, message apps, Wi-Fi networks. That blockbuster revelation came courtesy of WikiLeaks, the organization last in the headlines for its role in the purported Russian leaking of emails to tilt the Nov. 8 election to President Donald Trump.
First reaction: We sure hope the CIA has those abilities, given that terrorists around the world need to communicate somehow.
Second reaction: That doesn’t mean we want the world to know how the CIA does its job. WikiLeaks’ publishing of the CIA’s spying methods is a reprehensible trespass on American security. Under the guise of internet security or privacy or whatever phony justification WikiLeaks claims, the secret-busting organization now hands over the CIA’s master keys to cyber criminals, spies and other foreign malefactors.
Third reaction: What a huge embarrassment for the CIA. The agency devoted to learning and protecting secrets apparently fumbled an invaluable hacking arsenal. The CIA should launch a full-scale investigation to learn who stole this information and how.
What we don’t know yet is how the CIA used these tools, whom the agency spied on, what intel was gleaned. One tool reportedly allowed the CIA to intercept smartphone text messages and calls before their content was encrypted or decrypted. Another reportedly allowed the CIA to use Samsung Smart TVs as covert listening devices, even when they appeared to be off.
As usual, WikiLeaks hasn’t disclosed the source of this information. “The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.
By all means, let’s have a debate. But the correct place for that is in Congress, behind closed doors to protect secrets that can – and now will – be exploited by America’s enemies. Now more than ever, you can include the WikiLeaks conspirators in that camp.