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  • The WikiLeaks Assault on the Rule of Law and National Security

    The publication of over 91,000 classified U.S. military documents on Afghanistan by WikiLeaks has, as White House national security adviser Jim Jones said, “put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk.” The documents include raw intelligence reports whose disclosure could not only endanger lives, but risk revealing the methods and means of gathering information vital to success in Afghanistan. WikiLeaks’s founder, Julian Assange, an Australian who has made no secret of his opposition to the war, is unapologetic about the disclosure. He obviously believes it will help the political agenda that he pursues with WikiLeaks.

    An army private, Bradley Manning, was already charged in July with passing classified information to WikiLeaks. Former computer hacker Adrian Lamo, who tipped off the Pentagon about Manning’s activities, claims that Manning is almost certainly the source of the latest disclosures. However, Lamo adds that Manning does not have “the technical expertise necessary to communicate this amount of information to the outside world…and I don’t believe he operated without guidance; rather, I think it’s more likely that he was a personal shopper for classified data for the WikiLeaks apparatus.” So Lamo believes that WikiLeaks may have been an active participant in obtaining classified information, not just a receiver of stolen goods.

    Besides being dangerous to the lives, safety, and national security of Americans, this type of disclosure of classified military information is a federal crime. If Bradley Manning leaked this information, then he violated 18 U.S.C. § 798, which prohibits the disclosure of classified information. He should be prosecuted and if convicted, sentenced to a long term in prison, not just to punish him for violating this law and putting his own personal interests ahead of the safety and national security concerns of his country, but as a deterrent to others within the military and the government who are tempted to do the same. As this incident shows, this is all too easy to do in the age of the Internet and modern technology that allows one to copy a huge volume of documents almost instantaneously.

    Since Assange is not a citizen of this country and does not reside in the United States, it is unclear whether he has enough other contacts for the United States to seek his extradition and prosecution. If, for example, there was email correspondence between Manning (or whoever leaked the 91,000 documents) and Assange or one of his agents at WikiLeaks in which disclosure of classified information was solicited and accepted, and those emails went through a U.S. server, then that might be enough for federal prosecutors to reach Assange. But the Obama administration should not automatically assume that he is unreachable and the Justice Department should look hard at whether it has the ability to prosecute Assange as well as the leaker. If it cannot, then it should use its diplomatic leverage with our ally to see whether Assange can be prosecuted in Australia.

    Some may argue that there is too much government information that has been deemed as “classified” by the huge and expansive bureaucracy that exists in our military, our intelligence agencies, and the federal government in general, especially since the attack on 9/11. But the selective exposure of classified information, particularly for political purposes, is dangerous, ill-conceived, and unjustified.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to The WikiLeaks Assault on the Rule of Law and National Security

    1. West Texan says:

      Most military members have a classified clearance for things like troop movements, personnel numbers, type of equipment and so on. Information that would be of great interest to an enemy planning their attack. Leaks force commanders to revise their plans and/or temporarily heighten security. At best it's inconvenience and at worse it's mission compromising and deadly. Leaking such information during hostilities can be grounds for a firing squad. So yes, it's taken very seriously. Leftist nut jobs obviously found their weak link in a young disillusioned enlistee. This Julian Assange is nothing more than a slimy snot-nosed egocentric coward. Don't worry. He'll be judged accordingly by the Almighty.

    2. danny roberts says:

      some one should be held accountable for the release of all this info that may put our troops at additional risk of injury or death,will this president

      put a stop to this,hope so, but it's doubtful.

    3. Adam, Australia says:

      I am far from a legal expert, so please forgive my ignorance if I am off the mark. There is no mention here of the legal frameworks under which Wikileaks operates – specifically the legal procedures in Sweden for protecting a journalist's source. Don't these matter in this case?

      As an Australian, I strongly doubt that the Australian public would allow prosecution in Australia (if in fact it is even possible) to happen without very vocal opposition.

    4. George Colgrove says:

      "Some may argue that there is too much government information that has been deemed as “classified” by the huge and expansive bureaucracy that exists in our military, our intelligence agencies, and the federal government in general, especially since the attack on 9/11. But the selective exposure of classified information, particularly for political purposes, is dangerous, ill-conceived, and unjustified."

      This is a result of a government that is too big. We need to get government size back in check with reality. This apparatus costs us taxpayers not only a portion of our financial resources, but increasingly our futures. We simply cannot pay for this. With over 850,000 top security clearances, we are vulnerable to more of these leaks. Government growth has far exceeded our capacity to control it. Yesterday the analysis on our intelligence community was that it is too big for any one person to grapple with. Gates went so far as to admit that a few weeks ago. If we do not significantly reduce the numbers on government quickly, this kind of leaking will become commonplace.

    5. Pingback: The WikiLeaks Assault on the Rule of Law and National Security

    6. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      If someone in the Pentegon released classified material it is Treason, plain and simple. The fact that an Australian printed it is simple, he got the information and released it. The American is the guilty one, that a pfc had access to this may be doubtful, I would think someone with a high clearance, I am sure all the armed forces Investigation services as well as the CIA and FBI are looking at the computers( Army and personal) used by this PFC and will question all those he had communication with. We have gotten very lax on our security since the end of WWII, maybe we need to look hard at those who have security clearances, making sure they are really who they say they are.

    7. Tim Az says:

      I don't think it would serve the regime to hold anyone accountable for this act of evil. There could be a consequence for wikileaks actions, and it may come from virtual community organizers who have time on their hands and the willingness to act.

    8. Billie says:

      Something smells like a rat. Is there National security in this country? Of course not. Obama accommodates criminals for more danger to the people of America. Who's in charge of national security besides unaccountables? I mean really!

      If something leaks, obama isn't doing his job of protecting America.

    9. Jana says:

      Why isn't anyone asking why an army private would have access to classified information? It is alarming that the pentagon is so lax in it's security. Is it "sloppiness" or a serious gap in technological advances.

    10. Phil, NY says:

      I can't help but to express my doubt on Pfc Manning could be the source of the leak. How can a private have access to all these information? If this were really the case, the entire military intelligence structure is in need of complete shake-up. The responsibility should lie with the officers as well.

    11. Pingback: Morning Bell: Just Another WikiLeak On An Already Sinking Ship | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    12. Pingback: Morning Bell: Just Another WikiLeak On An Already Sinking Ship | Big Propaganda

    13. Johnny says:

      Julian Assange hires Scooter Libby!!!
      http://www.thechicagodope.com/2010/12/03/scooter-

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