Secret Cables, the State Department, and the Danger of WikiLeaks
by Philip Terzian @ the Weekly Standard Blog
But in the wake of this latest document dump from WikiLeaks, it ought to be understood that security classification is not intended to hide facts from the public, or conceal wrongdoing, but to allow government officials—posted overseas, in the executive branch, on active service—to speak with candor. This applies to diplomats reporting from their posts or lawyers responding to an inquiry from the president.
The greatest danger of episodes like this is not the “damage” that might be done to foreign policy—which is minimal, since everybody knows that friendly governments gossip about one another, have occasional spats, and negotiate on many fronts—but to free and unfettered communication on matters of war and peace, life and death. If an ambassador or military officer knows that his honest answers to questions from superiors will soon be in the public domain, he will begin to furnish dishonest answers—or no answers at all. How any news organization can conclude that this is in the public interest is beyond me.
That is why it is important to regard the actions of people like Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and his informants as dangerous to our democracy. There is a cult of the “whistleblower” in the American media; but whistleblowers have motives, and their motives are often grounded in hostility to American policy, or the national interests of the United States. These are not people to be celebrated or indulged, but to be called to account for their crimes.
I don’t know exactly where my father works, though he has told us that his office is “somewhere in the vicinity of Tyson’s Corner.” I don’t know exactly what he does, though I can guess it has something to do with the War on Terror. When Dad is at work, we can’t call him on the phone because his office has no outside line — and we can’t send him an email because his office has no outside internet.
This is not a new experience for our family. When Dad was an active duty submarine officer, he often went on deployments that he couldn’t discuss. And this was a state of affairs that we readily accepted. Why? Because we understood that successful military operations often depend on secrecy. Loose lips sink ships.
Our military in particular needs to have secrets. Radical libertarians and radical leftists make a potentially deadly mistake when they conflate “secret” with “nefarious.” If we announce every single military maneuver we plan to make beforehand, we will lose whatever war we happen to be fighting.
Assange needs to be extradited and brought up on criminal charges. Moreover, the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets should cease giving this anti-American a public stage. Plug the leak!