Score One for the Private Sector

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 11 2013 10:55 AM

Score One for the Private Sector

My Slatest colleague Josh Vorhees reports that Booz Allen has canned Edward Snowden, the decision coming not 48 hours after the Guardian splashed the now-Hong Kong-based leaker's identity over the Internet. A reasonable first reaction: It took them this long to do that? But a more reasonable, cynical second reaction would credit the massive defense consulting industry for being quicker with the guillotine than the public sector.

After all, what's happened to the villains of other government information scandals? Lois Lerner, director of the IRS's tax-exempt groups division, "was placed on paid administrative leave after she refused to resign" in the wake of that scandal. The initial, 2012 State Department response to the Benghazi story was discipline of three low-level bureaucrats. They were suspended, not fired. Booz Allen doesn't play like that. It's private; it's not unionized; it can sack you in a second. And that's another reason some 500,000 private-sector employees now have access to top-secret documents.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.