The leak of a top-secret document about America's 16 spy agencies to The Washington Post may cause "incalculable damage" to national security, according to Fred Fleitz, chief analyst at LIGNET, a global forecasting and intelligence website.
"These documents were so sensitive that the Post itself had to admit that they could not publish most of them. They only published summary tables and very brief outlines," Fleitz told George Marlin, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"The Post set up a special classified reading room, special computers not linked to the Internet, to make sure that this material did not get leaked to the public. They said there was so much sensitive material on American sources and methods involving very sensitive collection programs and states who are hostile to the United States, they simply could not reveal most of this," Fleitz said.
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The document, known as the "black budget," outlines the costs of America's spy programs and details their successes and shortcomings.
It was leaked to the Post this week by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who is now a fugitive from justice who has been given a year's asylum in Russia.
"What concerns me is that China and Russia got full access to this material when Snowden was in Hong Kong and while he's been in Moscow," said Fleitz, who added that the vetting of hiring contractors to oversee sensitive documents is flawed.
"To escape budget rules by Congress, the intelligence agencies have been going around them by hiring contractors … They've taken a number of short cuts on how to get these people on board," he said.
On the subject of a possible U.S. military strike on Syria, in response to President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against rebel forces which resulted in more than 1,400 deaths, Fleitz said:
"I agree that Assad should not be allowed to get away with that, assuming we can prove that Assad did it."
But he said he was concerned about the "so-called intelligence assessment" of Syria’s misdeeds "put forward by a political official like [Secretary of State] John Kerry."
"Why didn't an intelligence officer or a senior official put that forward? … It makes me wonder about the validity of the case for going to war in Syria," Fleitz said.
He added that the vote by Britain's parliament against the U.K. joining the United States in a strike against Syria is a jolt to the Obama administration's foreign policy.
"It was an enormous and unprecedented blow and it reflects the blowback from the Iraq war that is going to start becoming a bigger issue in this country," Fleitz said.
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