Sunday, December 5, 2010

Prosecuting Wikileaks' Assange

Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that the US Department of Justice is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Under the Espionage Act, anyone who has "unauthorized possession to information relating to the national defense" and has reason to believe it could harm the United States may be prosecuted if he publishes it or "willfully" retains it when the government has demanded its return. Make no mistake, the government has demanded the return. Unfortunately, however, prosecuting Assange may mean that more classified information will have to be released in order to prosecute him. After all, how can you show it has harmed the USA without divulging other secrets?

From a personal perspective, I am in favor of the prosecution as I believe this narcissistic publicity hound has put lives at risk and damaged relationships between nations. All nations have, and must have, secrets. While they may be “our governments” this does not mean we have any great right to information any more than we have rights to pop down to the FBI and “borrow a car” because, after all “we pay for it”.

Before anyone starts in on me for my comments and proclaims him a “true patriot” or someone who has shone light on the machinations of governments, I will counter that what he has done is nothing more than a sordid crime of receiving stolen goods and promoting espionage. Whistleblowing is one thing, and this is not whistleblowing.

What is ongoing here with the steady drip, drip, drip of information is akin to bugging a phone line and then reporting to a husband what his wife said about him in a conversation with her family. Consequence wise the ramifications are far more serious, instead of nights spent on the couch or divorce people may, at worst, die or at best, lose their livelihoods. Have the potential consequences been overblown? Some say yes, others say no, I say time will tell. However, if one person dies as a result of the recent leaks then Assange should be on trial for more than espionage.

What is the greater good of publicizing that the President of France once ran around his office chasing his son’s rabbit? What also is the benefit of publishing the private views of an Ambassador on the readiness for office of a foreign opposition leader?

I have read comments on Facebook of people who post news article upon news article about the leaks and claim that Assange is honorable and has benefitted the world with his self-aggrandizing ego trip. They are wrong.

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