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One reason for the “stamp and leak” culture is the institutional failure of the intelligence community to find an effective way of allowing people uncomfortable with certain secrets to protest them without leaking to the public. Channels that allow for proper and credible adjudication are essential. David Grannis, the staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says he is not aware of a single instance where a whistleblower from within the community successfully navigated the complex rules set up by agencies to handle complaints. And simply put, the people who work with secrets have little faith in the inspectors general, no matter how independent they are, and have every reason to believe, because they can read newspapers, that their whistleblowing will end their careers if done internally.

* Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady, Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry