Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Let's be clear: WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise. Its reason for existence is to obtain classified national security information and disseminate it as widely as possible -- including to the
These actions are likely a violation of the Espionage Act, and they arguably constitute material support for terrorism. The Web site must be shut down and prevented from releasing more documents -- and its leadership brought to justice. WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, proudly claims to have exposed more classified information than all the rest of the world press combined. Herecently told the New Yorker he understands that innocent people may be hurt by his disclosures("collateral damage" he called them) and that WikiLeaks might get "blood on our hands."
With his unprecedented release of more than 76,000 secret documents last week, he may have achieved this. The Post found that the documents exposed at least one
Beyond getting people killed, WikiLeaks' actions make it less likely that Afghans and foreign intelligence services (whose reports WikiLeaks also exposed) will cooperate with the
And WikiLeaks is preparing to do more damage. Assange claims to be in possession of 15,000 even more sensitive documents, which he is reportedly preparing to release. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told ABC News that Assange had a "moral culpability" for the harm he has caused. Well, the Obama administration has a moral responsibility to stop him from wreaking even more damage.
Assange is a non-U.S. citizen operating outside the territory of the
The first step is for the Justice Department to indict Assange. Such an indictment could be sealed to prevent him from knowing that the
Assange seems to believe, incorrectly, that he is immune to arrest so long as he stays outside the
With appropriate diplomatic pressure, these governments may cooperate in bringing Assange to justice. But if they refuse, the
This memorandum declares that "the FBI may use its statutory authority to investigate and arrest individuals for violating United States law, even if the FBI's actions contravene customary international law" and that an "arrest that is inconsistent with international or foreign law does not violate the Fourth Amendment." In other words, we do not need permission to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators anywhere in the world.
Arresting Assange would be a major blow to his organization. But taking him off the streets is not enough; we must also recover the documents he unlawfully possesses and disable the system he has built to illegally disseminate classified information.
This should be done, ideally, through international law enforcement cooperation. But if such cooperation is not forthcoming, the
Last year, the Obama administration stood up a new U.S. Cyber Command(USCYBERCOM) to "conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations" in defense of U.S. national security. With the stroke of his pen, the president can authorize USCYBERCOM to protect American and allied forces by eliminating WikiLeaks' ability to disseminate classified information that puts their lives at risk.
WikiLeaks represents a clear and present danger to the national security of the
Marc A. Thiessen is a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute and writes a weekly column for The Post.
More takes on the WikiLeaks records: Editorial: Wikileaks' release of classified field reports on Afghan war reveals not much , Eva Rodriguez: Drone strike for the WikiLeaks founder, Eugene Robinson: Futility's open secret, Richard Cohen: Will revelations move Obama?, Media Notes: Air leaks from the WikiLeaks bar andCheckpoint