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    WikiThieves And False Analogies

    WikiThieves And False Analogies

    Defenders of WikiLeaks have portrayed Bradley Manning and Julian Assange as heroes who only want transparency, and who did no real harm.

    In fact, WikiLeaks has put lives at risk and damaged international attempts to rid Zimbabwe of the Mugabe regime.  And beyond that, Wikileaks has damaged our ability to conduct diplomacy, where off-the-record frank conversations are critical.

    Defenders of WikiLeaks have constructed a justification that Manning is just another Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame someone who sought to bring truth to the historical account of major events, and Assange as merely a conduit.  Since Ellsberg is something of a folk hero to the left, the comparison has a superficial appeal.

    Thanks go out to Floyd Abrams, one of the premier First Amendment lawyers in the country (and a Senior Partner at the law firm I worked at right out of law school) who represented The NY Times in the Pentagon Papers case, for destroying the Ellsberg analogy. 

    In an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal, Abrams explains that unlike Manning and Assange, Ellsberg specifically held back a large stash of diplomatic documents:

    In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg decided to make available to the New York Times (and then to other newspapers) 43 volumes of the Pentagon Papers, the top- secret study prepared for the Department of Defense examining how and why the United States had become embroiled in the Vietnam conflict. But he made another critical decision as well. That was to keep confidential the remaining four volumes of the study describing the diplomatic efforts of the United States to resolve the war.

    Not at all coincidentally, those were the volumes that the government most feared would be disclosed. In a secret brief filed with the Supreme Court, the U.S. government described the diplomatic volumes as including information about negotiations secretly conducted on its behalf by foreign nations including Canada, Poland, Italy and Norway. Included as well, according to the government, were “derogatory comments about the perfidiousness of specific persons involved, and statements which might be offensive to nations or governments.”

    The diplomatic volumes were not published, even in part, for another dozen years. Mr. Ellsberg later explained his decision to keep them secret, according to Sanford Ungar’s 1972 book “The Papers & The Papers,” by saying, “I didn’t want to get in the way of the diplomacy.”

    Julian Assange sure does. Can anyone doubt that he would have made those four volumes public on WikiLeaks regardless of their sensitivity? Or that he would have paid not even the slightest heed to the possibility that they might seriously compromise efforts to bring a speedier end to the war?


    Abrams goes on to point out the there are valid grounds for an indictment of WikiLeaks under the 1917 Espionage Act and that “if Mr. Assange were found to have communicated and retained the secret information with the intent to harm the United States—some of his statements can be so read—a conviction might be obtained.”

    Thank you Mr. Abrams, for scraping off the gloss people like Glenn Greenwald are putting on the whole WikiLeaks affair.

    Manning, Assange and the others involved in WikiLeaks should be prosecuted.  The real wonder is why this wasn’t done months ago.

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    The fact that diplomatic cables have been stolen, and that some are being released while many more are being held back to be released later, does substantial damage to effective diplomacy regardless of the specific content released. The fact that the thieves offered to have the government acquiesce in the theft by negotiating over what would be made public is meaningless; Assange and his crew were very aware of the damage which would be done by revealing confidential communications with the Lebanese defense minister and the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. Manning, Assange and the other Wikileaks operatives are entirely responsible for what happens to the subjects of the cables.

    Why is it that Bradley Manning's superiors have wholly escaped criticism and responsibility for his grand theft of documents?

    At Abu Ghreib, the MSM was yowling for the heads of the whole chain of command, up through Rumsfeld and GW Bush. The general commanding A.G. was relieved of her job. But under Obama, only the private at the bottom takes the fall?

    With all those antiAmerican leftists in the WH, State and Justice Department, we aren't surprised that there has been no indictments yet, we are only surprised that Obama hasn't awarded Assange the Medal of Honor or the Medal of Freedom. Such are the crumbs we must nibble on with this Administration.

    KenL could be very wrong. If Australians can be charged in the USA for murder, then Assange can be indicted and charged in the USA for the leaking of those documents.

    There are precedents for my line of thought on this subject. For example there have been Australians charged with online piracy of music and movies in the USA.

    If there is a secret Grand Jury, I do hope that they will be able to come to a conclusion soon about possible charges of treason against Assange.

    He has put too many lives on the line. It is not just the one in Zimbabwe, it also the lives of the Afghanis who have helped the Americans and the Australians as well as other foreign forces against the Taliban. Their names were released and if they are not already dead they are in danger…..

    You might be interested in this:

    It is worth a read. It is interesting to note that Peter North from the UK has echoed my own sentiment, except he wants to see Assange end up in Guantanamo Bay…

    Here is an extract worth repeating:

    "As to the morality of mass dumping, I have made the argument too many times to repeat it here. I am now completely robotic on this matter. My main observance would be to point out that there's a massive gulf between "public interest" and "the public are interested". Also the difference between loyal nationalist whistleblowing and internationalist espionage. Evidently there are those left and right who seem completely incapable of making the distinction."

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