Posting a quarter million diplomatic documents labeled everything from classified to top secret might be Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s idea of a good time, of some kind of public service or prank, but we’ve got another name for it: crime.
What Assange is doing directly threatens U.S. relations with other countries at a time when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have worked hard to repair damage done by the Bush administration.
Worse, Assange’s criminal stupidity could get a bunch of people killed — and for what good purpose?
The transcripts of diplomatic cables include things that will anger and embarrass U.S. and foreign leaders and diplomats. The notoriety will surely add to Assange and Wikileaks’ rogue reputation.
Is that what it’s all about — stoking this irresponsible creep’s ego and building his brand? Wikileaks bills itself as a site that brings whistleblowers’ revelations to the world. The person who apparently supplied the U.S. diplomatic cables to Wikileaks is no whistleblower, however — if authorities have the right guy, he’s a traitor.
The possibility that a large number of diplomatic cables might become public has been discussed in government and media circles since May. That was when, in an online chat, an Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, described having downloaded from a military computer system many classified documents, including “260,000 State Department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world.” In an online discussion with Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker, Private Manning said he had delivered the cables and other documents to WikiLeaks.
Mr. Lamo reported Private Manning’s disclosures to federal authorities, and Private Manning was arrested. He has been charged with illegally leaking classified information and faces a possible court-martial and, if convicted, a lengthy prison term.
There is a place in this world for genuine whistleblowers. They are people who see wrongdoing where they work, or in some other setting, and make it known. That’s not the case with stealing and passing along 250,000-plus diplomatic cables.
What we have here is wholesale looting of sensitive information belonging to the U.S. government. Rather than pointing up wrongdoing, the material includes names and other information that could cause people who’ve been helpful to the U.S. to be imprisoned, tortured and/or killed.
It’s been reported Wikileaks revelations could put the final nail in the START treaty coffin Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has been working on.
Pvt. Pfc. Manning, if guilty, is a traitor and a thief. No matter who supplied the cables, Assange is a receiver of stolen goods and an accessory to espionage.
Interestingly, a Swedish prosecutor is already after Assange for not one, but two, rape allegations. Assange denies the charges, claiming he’s been set up. But it comes as no surprise that after being notified the prosecutor wanted to interview him, Assange skipped the country, quickly returning to Britain.
From an October story about Assange and the fallout from publishing sensitive material about U.S. operations in Afghanistan:
Underlying Mr. Assange’s anxieties is deep uncertainty about what the United States and its allies may do next. Pentagon and Justice department officials have said they are weighing his actions under the 1917 Espionage Act. They have demanded that Mr. Assange “return” all government documents in his possession, undertake not to publish any new ones and not “solicit” further American materials.
Mr. Assange has responded by going on the run, but has found no refuge.
Return documents and not publish new ones? We see how that worked out.
The CIA should make providing Assange “refuge” in a U.S. lockup a top priority. This reportedly high-IQ former hacker needs some time off from “work” to think and reassess his priorities. A day for each stolen document he’s put up on the Web, at least. The same goes for whoever supplied the stolen documents to Assange.