If you thought perhaps the Clinton administration had learned a
lesson from its experience with satellite encryption codes and China,
think again.

Earlier this month, Vice President Al Gore announced the
declassification and release of secret and restricted Navy data about
the world’s oceans. In addition, the administration has ordered the
Pentagon to produce computer-based nautical charts to replace the paper
charts used by civilian mariners for centuries.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, it took the U.S. Navy a long time to
become the greatest military force on the high seas. One of the great
advantages, for instance, of the U.S. nuclear submarine fleet has been
the data it has gathered over the years about ocean depths and their
ability to hide under thermoclines, or layers of water of varying
temperatures. Some data, like the latter, change frequently and requires
constant updating to maintain advantage. What permits the U.S. Navy to
do that is better technology.

What Al Gore has just announced to the world is that the U.S. Navy
has no more such secrets. They are as open to the Chinese, Russians and
Iranians as they are to commercial interests, environmentalists and
scientists. Don’t you feel safer now?

Why is the administration compromising national security once again?
You guessed it. It has discovered that there is important commercial
value to this information the Navy has collected for the purpose of
protecting our sea lanes and borders. Commercial value. Sound familiar?
Sounds like the Commerce Department has been calling the shots again.

Gore, too, is excited about what this treasure trove of data could
mean toward detecting evidence of global warming. All I know is things
are going to get pretty hot if we lose every single technological
military advantage we have over our potential enemies.

You have to wonder what kind of weak-kneed political hacks Clinton
has running our Pentagon and Navy to have permitted such monumentally
poor judgment to rule the day. Or, perhaps, as in the case of the
Chinese secrets, the military advised against the decision and was
overruled by greedy, treacherous civilians who have political debts to
pay off.

Whatever the case, here we go again. And just like the satellite
decision, no one seems to notice the importance of this announcement by
Gore June 12. Its ramifications may not be felt by us for years to come
— at least until the United States finds itself in its next major armed
conflict. It will be too late, then, to put the cat in the bag, to hide
what has already been made public, what has been sold to the highest
bidder or given away free to the biggest campaign contributor.

What’s at stake? The Navy is in the process of declassifying secret
data from its Sound Surveillance System, an array of underwater
listening devices used to hunt submarines. “The acoustical data can also
be used to track whale migrations, predict natural catastrophes and
support climate change research,” according to the White House.

Does this mean the Navy views its mission to hunt enemy submarines as
obsolete, or just of less importance than tracking whale migration?

The Navy is also releasing data on ocean temperature and salinity
levels collected by submarines on patrol under the Arctic ice cap.
Combined with declassified data from other oceans released by the Navy
in recent years, the White House promises “this new information
completes a global data set that will be a valuable tool in researching
long-term climate change.”

Doesn’t this just have Al Gore’s fingerprints all over it? And it
gets worse. Here’s the punchline to this bad joke.

The Navy employs one of the nation’s 10 largest supercomputers to
provide highly accurate and localized forecasts of battleground weather
conditions. The Navy has now been ordered to work with the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on sharing of even this highly
sensitive, secret and coveted know-how.

Welcome to the New Navy. Under Clinton, its motto seems to be: “Damn
the torpedoes, there’s a buck to be made.”

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