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November 29, 2010

The Latest Wikileaks Release and What We Should Do About It

The emotional reaction to all of the "document dumps" by Wikileaks is to send a group of specially trained people over there to kill Julian Assange and his cohorts. Or hire someone or some group of whatever reputation. Maybe we should just tell Sweden, where I think he he is now, to hand him over, shoot him themselves, or we'll make life in their pipsqueak country miserable.

Julian Assange

But of course we can't do that. Assange has a special spot in hell reserved for him anyway, though I can't figure out exactly where that will be. Dante famously divided hell into nine circles, some of which are divided further.

The ninth circle, the lowest before getting to Satan himself, would seem appropriate, as this is for those who have committed acts of treachery. Dante seemed to have in mind personal acts of one person to another, so I don't know if that's quite right.

But it does satisfy to think of Assange trapped in the ice for all eternity.

Dante's 9th Circle of Hell

Perhaps better is the 6th Bolgia of the 8th circle. The 8th circle is reserved for "the fraudulent--those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil."

The 6th Bolgia of the 8th circle is for the hypocrites, who walk along listlessly "wearing gilded lead cloaks, which represent the falsity behind the surface appearance of their actions - falsity that weighs them down and makes spiritual progress impossible for them."

Assange is a hypocrite because he would not want his private correspondence made public, nor that of anyone at Wikileaks. After all, as Victor Davis Hanson points out, would we not need to see the internal communications of the board of directors at Wikileaks in order to assess the "context" in which they released the documents? "Context" is one reason they give for releasing our secret documents.


OK, Let's Get Serious

The Obama Administration is suitably alarmed:

Moving full bore to contain the damage from the latest WikiLeaks document dump, the Obama White House on Monday ordered a top-down review on safeguarding classified data while Attorney General Eric Holder announced a criminal investigation into the website and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton moved to soothe ruffled feathers abroad.

Describing it as no laughing matter, Clinton suggested any hurt feelings or embarrassment from the release may blow over. Saying "nothing laudable" came from WikiLeaks' action, she recalled that one counterpart told her, "Well don't worry about it. You should see what we say about you."

"This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community -- the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity," Clinton said.

Well no, it's an attack on the United States, but never mind. We expect our public officials to say these types of things because it's what the wine, cheese and PBS crowd want to hear. And if that's what it takes to move us to action then so be it.

More seriously, the Administration knows how much harder diplomacy is going to be going forward.

The Media, or at least the New York Times

Long gone, apparently, are the days when liberals snickered when the New York Times revealed something classified about what the Bush Administration was doing. Hey, that's our guy in the White House now! You can't do this to him!

But of course the liberal press, or at least the Times, is in fact undermining the Obama Administration by publishing the purloined documents. This is a matter of high principle, you see. Undermining the government of the United States is always a matter of principle of the highest degree.

We know this because when the Times refused to publish the Climagegate emails the excuse was that "The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won't be posted here."

So what is the excuse then, for publishing the illegally acquired Wikileaks documents? The Times explains that they "serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match."

Huh? So publishing illegally obtained documents is ok in one instance but not in another, because only in the latter the served "an important public interest?" Anything that might make the global-warming crowd look bad is apparently not an important public interest, but embarrassing the United States is.

Got it.

Max Boot adds this important observation

One can understand if the editors of the New York Times, Guardian, and Der Spiegel have no respect for the secrecy needed to wage war successfully -- especially unpopular wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are, after all, the sorts of people who, over a few drinks, would no doubt tell you that diplomacy is far preferable to war-making. But it seems that they have no respect for the secrecy that must accompany successful diplomacy either. That, at least, is the only conclusion I can draw from their decision to once again collaborate with an accused rapist to publicize a giant batch of stolen State Department cables gathered by his disreputable organization, WikiLeaks.

So What Should We Do?

Bill Krystol has some of the best advice for what to say - nothing:

From now on, a policy of no comment about anything in any of these documents should be the absolute rule. No apologies, no complaints, no explanations, no excuses. No present or former government official should deign to discuss anything in these documents. No one in the executive branch should confirm or deny the accuracy of any document. No one should hasten to reassure any foreign leader of anything, or seek to put any cable in context. No one in Congress should cite anything in these documents to make a point about any issue. The entire American government and political class should simply go about its important foreign policy business, and treat these leaks as beneath contempt, and beneath comment.

Krystol goes on to recommend "criminal prosecution or covert action or cyber-warfare against WikiLeaks." But as for a public position, I'd say he's just on target.

James Carafano has two good and in my mind common-sense suggestions:

First, it can embrace a foreign policy that our adversaries fear and our friends respect. Nobody gets more cooperation than a winner. For starters, the president should dump the New START treaty -- its one-sidedness makes the U.S. look like a lousy negotiator in the eyes of the world... and a patsy in the eyes of the Russians. He should also reject out of hand calls to gut the defense budget and just flat out declare that America will stick it out in Iraq and Afghanistan until the job is done. And while he's at it, he could stand up to China and stop extending the hand of friendship to regimes interested in a world without freedom or America.

Second, the administration can hunt down any American connected with these leaks, try them for treason, and seek the death penalty. They deserve nothing less. Ordered liberty rejects the notion that any one citizen can jeopardize lives and give away America's secrets -- just because they feel like it.

Good ideas all and let's pursue them.

Posted by Tom at November 29, 2010 10:00 PM

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snake hunter sez,

In Wartime, there are laws in place to handle our traitors, and other laws to execute foreign espionage agents. We have been at war since November 4, 1979. Now, it's time our leadership to show us that they have the spunk and will to enforce existing law!

___ ___

Posted by: Ralph E at December 2, 2010 11:38 PM

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