Julian Assange in the crosshairs: Is he being unfairly vilified?
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange seems to be on just about everyone's hit list in Washington. But there are some who call for restraint, saying the legal issues are murky at best.
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“We’ve got low fences around a vast prairie [of secrets] because the government classifies just about everything. What we really need are high fences around a small graveyard of what’s really sensitive,” said Conyers.Skip to next paragraph
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Number of 'Wikimyths'
Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive and a witness at the House hearing, agreed with Conyers that the US has so much classified material that it’s hard to protect it all.
Furthermore, the WikiLeaks case has been dogged by a number of “Wikimyths,” according to Mr. Blanton.
For instance, WikiLeaks’ recent release of US diplomatic cables is routinely described in the press as a “document dump,” but it’s been nothing of the sort, said Blanton. Only about 2,000 cables have been made public – and those were published by mainstream news organizations that attempted to judge their newsworthiness.
Nor has there been an epidemic of leaks, said Blanton. All of WikiLeaks’ most important source material appears to have come from one person, alleged to be Manning. He’s already been arrested by the Defense Department, so that leak is plugged, as far as the government is concerned.
“They’re not terrorists,” said Blanton of WikiLeaks.
Of course, not being a terrorist is a pretty low bar to clear. Other experts take a dimmer view of WikiLeaks and Assange.
Assange appears to have no compunction about releasing such things as the names of Iraqis who work with the US military, pointed out the Judiciary panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas.
Safety of US personnel
“This isn’t simply about keeping government secrets secret. This is about the safety of American personnel overseas at all levels, from the foot soldier to the commander-in-chief,” said Representative Gohmert.
In fact, WikiLeaks has displayed so little regard for its actions, and has employed such sophisticated Internet technology to acquire and disseminate its information, that it might be said to have created “Leaks of Mass Destruction,” or LMDs, said Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, at the House hearing.
These are “leaks so massive in volume and so indiscriminate in what they convey, that it becomes very difficult to assess the overall harm, precisely because there are so many different ways in which that harm is occurring,” said Mr. Schoenfeld.
WikiLeaks 101: Five questions about who did what and when