Can Americans trust their spies?

After the Manning leak, I’m sure that America’s spymasters thought they had learned their lesson and put in place new, more effective controls. After the Snowden leak, I’m sure they thought those controls had been updated enough to solve the problem. Yet here we are, reading about the CIA’s secrets on the front page of the newspaper.

In 2013 Mr. Clapper testified in an open congressional hearing that the intelligence community did not maintain a cyberdatabase on Americans. That wasn’t true. He misled Congress and the public. The Snowden leak soon showed that the NSA did indeed have a massive database of telephone metadata.

Now the intelligence community has been implicated in the release of information damaging to the incoming president. Telephone conversations involving Mike Flynn, who briefly served as President Trump’s national security adviser, were collected and leaked to the media.

For 10 years I served on the House Intelligence Committee, and the men and women I met from America’s spy agencies were dedicated, hardworking and committed to serving their country. But these episodes indicate that at least a few within that cadre are willing to risk the security of the U.S. for what they must see as some higher purpose. In the process, they betray their oath and tarnish the reputations of their organizations.