Another day, another Wikileaks dump. And it will go on until there are negative consequences with teeth in them for such acts.
At the moment, secret communications seem easy to obtain and to leak, and no one seems all that afraid of punishment. Julian Assange is sitting pretty and free as a bird. Newspapers run no risk. And, although Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence underling who seems to be the original Wikileaker, was arrested last spring and charged with “transferring classified data” and “delivering national defense information to an unauthorised source,” which could carry a maximum sentence of 52 years in jail, no one else seems especially perturbed by the idea of prosecution. His trial has not begun, and I, for one, doubt he will receive anywhere near that sentence.
Does anyone really think Rep. Peter King’s calls to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act, or to designate Wikileaks a Foreign Terrorist Organization (the better to go after those who help and fund them), will be heeded? Not I. And it’s interesting that this is happening under Obama’s watch, perhaps because he is even less feared than his predecessor.
The US has become a paper tiger in this respect, even before Obama. There should be huge and negative consequences for those who do this sort of thing. But it’s been clear for quite some time (since, perhaps, Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers) that no significant punishment will be forthcoming for the self-proclaimed whistleblowers who just can’t stand the hypocrisy of a government that fails to live up to its highest principles.
That means the targets of groups such as Assange’s Wikileaks can only be Western nations that aspire to something close to morality, who seem to have principles, not the bad guys who are unapologetically bad. And of course, it’s the unelected, self-appointed heads of Wikileaks, the NY Times, and Spiegel who can best decide what’s in the public’s interest to know, what will be harmful and what helpful.
Somehow it will always be something they hope will embarrass the West and especially the US. Isn’t it odd how it works out that way?
[NOTE: I mention Daniel Ellsberg, and it's not a coincidence. This sort of thing started during the Vietnam era, and is being actively fostered today by people such as Ellsberg and what he calls his "Truth-Telling Project."]