Tonight on The Factor, Bill O’Reilly wants to know what I think should be done to punish alleged secrets leaker, Bradley Manning, and Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.
Manning is now a military private now in custody, accused of leaking classified military documents to Assange.
Assange, an Australian national, gave some of the documents to media outlets around the world.
Bill is furious about all this and says: "I’m the President, I’m going to find a way to get this guy. I’m going to get him! I’m going after him."
I agree with him about Bradley Manning. The private had a security clearance, and one condition of the clearance is that one may not share classified material. If he broke that rule, he must be held accountable, even if he thinks it was the moral thing to do because America overstepped its bounds.
I also agree that the leak will probably make it harder for us to gather intelligence. One leaked document reports that the king of Bahrain told US official that Iran’s nuclear program “must be stopped.” King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked Washington to “cut off the head of the snake.”
Would they tell the State Department things like that if they knew it would be made public? Maybe not.
But O’Reilly hypes the issue when he calls Assange “a sleezeball… bent on damaging America.”
Assange is at least not a total sleezeball. He redacted names that he thought might endanger agents in the field.
Wikileaks may actually be good for the world if it embarrasses governments that go too far, and keep too many secrets.
Sunlight is often the best disinfectant. When The New York Times said that the National Security Agency had spied on Americans, President Bush said the paper’s editors could "have blood on their hands" and threatened them with criminal prosecution. The same thing happened when the Washington Post revealed that the CIA had illegal "rendition" camps. Yet apparently neither disclosure threatened national security. And the government stopped its illegal actions once they were exposed.
The US has too many classified documents -- 1.24 billion pages, according to the Obama "National Declassification Commission." In 2006, the federal government re-classified many documents – even an English translation of Belgrade newspaper article.
After the last Wikileaks dump of on-the-ground reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, officials panicked. “Innocents will die,” former CIA director Michael Hayden wrote.
The reality? Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote: “The review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised.”
Now Assange has announced that he also has documents from the Russian government and “large banks” that he plans to release.
Could Wikileaks turn out to be good thing? We’ll see.