I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this WikiLeaks thing. The leak of diplomatic cables doesn’t directly put people in danger, as the earlier Afghanistan and Iraq leaks did, but rather causes great harm to the image of the U.S. diplomatic corps. Other countries won’t be trusting us so much to keep secrets.
For the most part, U.S. government reaction has been level-headed. But behind the scenes, something must be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again. I hate to say it, but some things need to be kept secret. Saudi Arabia’s desire to have the U.S. bomb Iran is one of those secrets worth keeping. Now , who the hell knows what’s gonna happen between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
First, the leaker, pfc Bradley Manning, should be held responsible for his actions. Treason charges should be waved over his head to get him to cooperate with the government on its efforts to protect important and classified information. Treason charges are notoriously difficult to prove, but this threat would serve. as a way to get Mr. Manning to talk. Other leakers (there are probably more) must be prosecuted as well, and heads should role at the State Department for allowing this to happen. It is the job of the government to keep its secrets safe. Government failed.
But what to do with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. To send a message to other potential leak-advocates, Mr. Assange should be charged with Espionage, which is essentially the trafficking of secret government information with the intention to harm (or something like that).
He will not be convicted. Because WikiLeaks is technically a media organization (nowadays anything can be a media organization), they are protected by federal statutes that protect news media from prosecution in instances like this. After all, it is not the role of the media to safeguard government secrets: It’s the role of the government to protect its own secrets. However, I do not believe that Mr. Assange has purely noble intentions. In fact, I think he wishes to harm the United States for what he sees as its bellicose foreign policy.
Ultimately, I think it is safe to say that WikiLeaks has done a bad thing, although some of the information is probably good for us to have (North Korea and Iran helping each other on nuke creation). I think the government aught to try and shut it down. But the blame falls mostly on the federal government for failing to protect private information. When millions of government workers can access this information, it’s no wonder it leaked out.
The U.S. must send a strong message by attempting to shut down WikiLeaks and prosecute its head honcho. But the final blame befalls the leakers and the government itself for failing to protect diplomatic and security interests.