Lately, NATO countries have not been having luck with keeping particularly sensitive information secret. Following the U.S. that allowed the leak of a wide range of data regarding the war in Afghanistan not intended for public use, the Czech Republic made a serious blunder.
On August 2, leading Czech newspaper Mlada fronta DNES wrote that the local Institute for Research of totalitarian regimes mistakenly posted on its website a list of names of the Czechoslovak military intelligence who served in socialist times (1948-1989). This information was provided to the fighters with the communist past by Czech military intelligence, of course, without the right of publication. However, the information has leaked.
The employees of the institute hastily removed sensitive information from the website. Yet, those really interested in the mysteries of the Czechoslovak National Security Service had a great deal of time to familiarize themselves with the list of 380 agents.
“No one took into account that since 1989, many of the staff of the Security Service (in socialist Czechoslovakia - Ed.) and undercover agents were still working and continue to work for current intelligence services,” noted Mlada fronta DNES about the incident. Local experts added that many agents working undercover in the Czech diplomatic missions abroad were put at risk.
"This example shows that the government is still unable to protect its citizens' personal data from illegal access. The agents whose names are on the list and who live in other countries are jeopardized. If we call a spade a spade, they now can be treated as traitors,” Andor Sandor, an intelligence officer, described the situation.
A large scandal erupted in the country. The Leadership of the Czech Military Intelligence made a statement: “None of the people caught up in the list are current employees or informants for intelligence agencies.” The Ministry of Defense has tried to cover up the incident, noting in its press release that the leak did not threaten the functioning of intelligence services.
However, the parliament believes otherwise. Next week, members of the parliament will be coming back from vacation and holding an emergency meeting in connection with the leak. It seems that not only the names of retired intelligence officers were put in public domain.
The situation is obviously unpleasant, but not unique. The scandal regarding the leak that occurred a week ago with the main ally of the Czech Republic, United States, is still going on. Then the secret information about the war in Afghanistan was made public. The information indicated that NATO forces led by America were losing the war. Civilians fell victims of airstrikes increasingly more often, and the Taliban managed to hide from the huge western group and control a growing number of areas.
It is not clear who made the leak in the U.S. Maybe it was Obama's opponents from the staff of the CIA and the Pentagon who wanted to thwart the President and show everyone that his Afghan strategy is failing. Yet, there is still likelihood that sensitive information leaked into the Internet by accident. In the Czech Republic such release of data is quite natural.
The country still has very active people whose main task is fighting with the communist past. The Research Institute of totalitarian regimes has employees of this type. Publishing the list of secret agents, they could be convinced that they were committing a good deed making public the names of those who collaborated with the totalitarian regime.
They cannot wait to see in court all those who had once served, as they think, to “collaborators” who gave their homeland to the “terrible Soviet Union.” These people did not seem to be interested in the fact that it could threaten the country's security or the fact that socialist Czechoslovakia, too, could have certain national interests.
Another question is who gave the order to provide the list of agents to the fighters against communism? It is unlikely that the decision was made by middle-ranking officials. So, we are talking about high ranking authorities. And among them there are still many who made their names on the fight against communism. For example, supporters of former dissident and President Vaclav Havel, who continues to talk tirelessly about terrible communist times. People like him support dubious structures that publish anything they can find.
The story with the leak of sensitive data is a serious reason for the Czech Republic (and beyond) to think whether the country needs such structures as the Research Institute of totalitarian regimes. Being engaged in endless turning of the past, they, as it turns out, not only damage relations between Russia and the Czech Republic, but also position the latter as responsible for all crimes committed in the past. They have caused enormous damage to their own country.
Yet, it may make some of them proud. The Czech Republic has proven that it is now in step with the U.S, although in such a questionable matter as leakage of classified information.