I haven’t said much about the Wikileaks case. That’s because there really isn’t much to be said. It’s a remarkably simple situation.
A US Army soldier who had access to a considerable amount of classified information allegedly turned it over to Wikileaks. That group (which has a history of committing fraud to express its opposition to the war) released a large portion of those documents, including the names of many Afghan civilians who have assisted or cooperated with the United States and the Afghan government. The Taliban has already announced that it intends to find and kill those people.
The US government denounced the move, and demanded that Wikileaks turn over all the remaining documents they possessed.
In response, Wikileaks posted an encrypted file they called “insurance file.” They offer no explanation for this 1.4GB file, but it’s a fair assumption that it’s the remainder of the documents and others that they think will embarrass and harm the US government. They have also asked the government to assist them in properly vetting and redacting the remaining files before they release them.
There’s already some great words of wisdom to cover this whole thing, enshrined in United States law.
The United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Whoever, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury or the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates… to any foreign government, or to any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States, or to any representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen thereof, either directly or indirectly any document… relating to the national defence, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than twenty years: Provided, That whoever shall violate the provisions of subsection:
(a) of this section in time of war shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for not more than thirty years; and
(b) whoever, in time of war, with intent that the same shall be communicated to the enemy, shall collect… any information with respect to the movement, numbers, description, condition, or disposition of any of the armed forces, ships, aircraft, or war materials of the United States, or with respect to the plans or conduct, or supposed plans or conduct of any naval of military operations, or with respect to any works or measures undertaken for or connected with, or intended for the fortification of any place, or any other information relating to the public defence, which might be useful to the enemy, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for not more than thirty years.
(Some excess legalese trimmed for clarity — see link for original)
Tree. Rope. Some assembly required.
What Wikileaks is doing is essentially playing chicken with the United States government. They are trying to, to coin a phrase, show that they’ve got bigger balls.
The problem is, they’re playing a far, far more serious game than they realize. They are playing at the game of thrones, the game of nations — and they’re looking to get crushed.
What Wikileaks is doing, by their actions, is declaring their own war against the United States. And they’re simply not equipped to wage that kind of war.
They don’t realize it, of course. They’re blinded by their misplaced sense of moral superiority and the imagined, intoxicating distance and anonymity they think they have over the internet.
They’re wrong. And the Obama administration needs to assert just how wrong they are. Because we, as a nation, simply cannot afford to let this kind of challenge, this kind of attack, to go unanswered.
The soldier in question and the leaders of Wikileaks have already made their open admissions that confirm their guilt of the above-mentioned laws. All that is left is the technicalities — arrest, trial, and sentencing.
And in this case, where they have willfully put the lives of countless innocents at risk (risk, hell — they’ve given them a death sentence), I don’t think the ultimate penalty is too extreme.