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Friday, December 3, 2010

Is WikiLeaks a Clear and Present Danger?

"The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others."— John Locke

I have been following the news reports of the latest round of WikiLeaks for over a week and I have a divided view of this tempest. Before I go any further let me make one thing clear. In my opinion Private Bradley Manning is a traitor and if proven guilty should be punished to the full extent of the law.

According to the New York Times, Private Bradley Manning lip-synched to "Lady Gaga as he copied hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables." He spent part of his childhood with his father in the arid plains of central Oklahoma, where classmates made fun of him for being a geek. He spent another part with his mother in a small, remote corner of southwest Wales, where classmates made fun of him for being gay.

“Then he joined the Army, where, friends said, his social life was defined by the need to conceal his sexuality under "don't ask, don't tell" and he wasted brainpower fetching coffee for officers.”

Obama said again this week that the introduction of an openly homosexual culture into the military poses no threat to its discipline, even as his administration reeled from a blatant instance of it. Manning, a homosexual resentful of the military's constraints, is the source for the WikiLeaks scandal. Naturally, the media is downplaying that aspect of the story, lest it complicate the left's relentless propaganda in favor of abolishing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  Click here to read the full New York Times profile of Bradley Manning.

While Manning is the accused leaker the Bill Ayers-style anarchist, Julian Assange is the recipient and publisher of the leaks. Assange, an Australian uber liberal, is the person who founded the web site WikiLeaks. Assange, along with his team of left-wing British and Scandinavian cohorts have received millions of classified cables and documents from Manning (and or others) and published them on the Internet. Assange has been accused of rape in Sweden and there is a warrant out from Interpol for his arrest. Right now he is believed to be in hiding somewhere in southern England.

There have been two rounds of leaks published by Assange and his web team. The first round contained cables, documents and videos of our military’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also contained names of our operatives and Iraqis and Afghans who have cooperated with our military. This first round of leaks was, in my mind, a direct attack on our national security and Assange should be charged with espionage. Yet the Obama administration did nothing to stop Assange or shut down his web site. To me this would be analogous to a low ranking soldier releasing the plans for Operation Overload 48 hours prior to June 6, 1944 and having the New York Times publish them. The soldier would have been charged with treason and the Times charged with espionage. The release of the Normandy invasion plans would have been a direct attack on our national security.

The second round of WikiLeaks is more problematical. Most of the information released and published by Assange has been cables and documents embarrassing to our government. Some examples of this information are the failure of the Venezuelan Health Care System, The collapse of Cuban Health Care and the lack of doctors in Cuba, the mental condition of the president of Argentina, and the actions of the Saudis by taking our military aid while they continue to support al Qaida. All of these examples illustrate the ineptness of the Obama administration in dealing with the real world and how we are being feed half truths and spin from the government.

A "confidential" U.S. Embassy cable from Caracas, just released by WikiLeaks, says socialist Venezuela's health care system is in "disarray" -- and the poor are suffering the most. The document appears to be authentic. However, U.S. officials have flatly refused to confirm the authenticity of any purloined documents published by WikiLeaks.

The Embassy cable released in December 2009 blames Venezuela's ongoing health care crisis squarely on President Hugo Chávez -- his Cuban-style health care initiatives and overall mismanagement and his politicization of the South American nation's health care system. Physicians perceived as being anti-Chávez are disciplined, while incompetent military officials are placed in charge of public hospitals.

Looking ahead, the 1,900-word document warns that Chávez may create more havoc by nationalizing Venezuela's private clinics. These provide high-quality U.S.-style health care. This cable, had it been released to the public during the debate over Obamacare would have been damaging to the proponents Click her to read the entire cable.

According to the cable, critics say the missions are inefficient and have drained funding away from public hospitals that poor and middle-class Venezuelans still prefer — thus "lowering the overall quality of medical care" for everybody. Of the 30,000 personnel staffing the Cuba-style free clinics, about one half are reportedly Cuban physicians. Interestingly, the Embassy cable is at odds with the two United Nations agencies — UNICEF and the Latin American branch of the World Health Organization. Both have reportedly praised the Cuban-style missions. Click here to read more about the collapsing Venezuelan health care system.

Among the documents Wiki made public was a stunning communiqué from the office of Hillary Clinton asking the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires to "delve into the psyche" of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, current Argentine president and widow of late President Nestor Kirchner. Hillary Clinton, possessor of a mind so twisted that she can justify a marriage to a proven serial womanizer, has the nerve to inquire into the status of another woman's psyche?

The cable, sent at 2:55 p.m. on New Year's Eve, and originating in the department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, asked a series of other probing questions as part of what it said was an attempt by her office to understand "leadership dynamics" between Kirchner and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner. Click here to read more of Clinton’s request for information on Kirchner’s martial problems.

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh while denouncing Assange believes the information from this latest round of WikiLeaks is stuff the press should have been reporting on for the past two years. He stated on his show; “Now, as I say, none of this is unknown – for example, the business that our friends, the Saudis, are paying for al-Qaida, that they're funding al-Qaida, that they offer support for al-Qaida, that they may as well be al-Qaida in some cases. Now, this is not surprising to anybody. It's just nobody has the guts to say it. Some of this stuff in these cables is actually fascinating. I want more of it. You know, this is the stuff that's true.”

We continue to sell $60bn of sophisticated armaments to Saudi Arabia; it's our largest such sale to anybody ever, and they're funding al-Qaida. And they're not prepared to go to war with Iran. We're selling them all this ammo and all these armaments, but they want us to go take Iran out. What kind of idiots”

Laura Ingraham another conservative radio talker said in an interview with Fox News; “"I think that what we're finding out is that, once again, America is demonstrating to the world that its influence is on the wane and its … apparently, its determination to work with the world community on this is also absent."

“Remember when Obama came into office, it was going to be a whole new deal. We were going to be building bridges to all these other countries and they were going to be working with us, because it wasn't my way or the highway anymore. Yet, now we find out that this guy is doing an enormous about of damage to America's interests, America's security around the world, and we basically are saying we can't do anything about it.” You can read more comments from the conservative radio talker by clicking here.

Most conservatives are abhorred by the actions of Assange and want him punished and the leaks stopped. People like John Bolton, K.C. McFarland and Charles Krauthammer want the web site shut down and Assange brought to some sort of justice. On December 3, Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post;” The WikiLeaks document dump is sabotage, however quaint that term may seem. We are at war - a hot war in Afghanistan where six Americans were killed just this past Monday, and a shadowy world war where enemies from Yemen to Portland, Ore., are planning holy terror. Franklin Roosevelt had German saboteurs tried by military tribunal and shot. Assange has done more damage to the United States than all eight of those Germans combined. Putting U.S. secrets on the Internet, a medium of universal dissemination new in human history, requires a reconceptualization of sabotage and espionage — and the laws to punish and prevent them. Where is the Justice Department?”

“And where are the intelligence agencies on which we lavish $80 billion a year? Assange has gone missing. Well, he's no cave-dwelling jihadi ascetic. Find him. Start with every five-star hotel in England and work your way down.

Want to prevent this from happening again? Let the world see a man who can't sleep in the same bed on consecutive nights, who fears the long arm of American justice. I'm not advocating that we bring out of retirement the KGB proxy who, on a London street, killed a Bulgarian dissident with a poisoned umbrella tip. But it would be nice if people like Assange were made to worry every time they go out in the rain.”

Why such a passive response from the Obama administration? It appears that they are torn between their hyper-ideological world view and the real politick consequences of what Assange has done to our foreign policy and national security. The left has celebrated "whistleblowers" for so long - people who have outed CIA agents, leaked vital security programs and operations, and plastered our most carefully guarded secrets all over the front page of the New York Times - that when one of these miscreants comes along and damages a liberal administration, they don't quite know what to do. They are torn between cheering for the saboteur and whining about how unfair it all is.

So they basically do nothing. And, as Krauthammer points out, unbelievable damage has been done to some vital efforts in our war against terror. Considering these facts, the administration's actions prior to the release of the documents borders on criminal negligence.

If we get hit by a terror attack because a country had stopped cooperating with us fearing exposure, we shouldn't blame Julian Assange. We should blame those who did nothing to prevent him from damaging our security.

On the other hand Libertarians and Liberals praise Assange for his publishing of the documents. Libertarians like John Stossel, Pat Buchanan and Judge Andrew Napolitano believe Assange has done nothing unlawful and that the government has too many secrets. They believe, that while embarrassing to the government of the United States and other countries, these leaks pose little threat to our national security and Assange is protected by his First Amendment rights.

At some point you have to pose the question; is Assange a victim of demagoguery or a true whistle blower in the pure sense of freedom of speech? It was Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who wrote in his defense of the 1917 Espionage Act in the case of Schenck v. United States; “the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic”.

You can read a list of topics covered in the latest round of leaks as published by the UK Guardian and make your own evaluations. I think you will find the list of released cables and documents fascinating and you will not be able to stop reading down the list. 
Perhaps we need to agree that the messenger is flawed, but the messages cannot be ignored. Is knowing the truth worth the risk to the reputations of politicians or is Assange a Clear and Present Danger to the United States?

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