Monday, August 2, 2010
WikiLeaks' Spoiler and Sponger
By Alan Caruba
Julian Assange first came to public notice when he was caught hacking into the computer networks, including that of Nortel, a Canadian communications firm. In 1995 he escaped prison time after admitting to twenty-five charges. He was fined and released.
He has since made headlines worldwide as the spokesperson for Wikileaks, the Internet site that dumped 79,000 pages of classified data related to the conflict in Afghanistan. As this is written, the Taliban is going through it to find the names of informers who assisted U.S. and NATO forces deployed there.
As noted in a commentary in the August 2nd Wall Street Journal by L. Gordon Crovitz, “Taliban leaders have since told Britain’s Channel Four they are using WikiLeaks data to hunt down Afghans who helped NATO. Taliban ‘justice’ including hanging, beheading and strapping people to explosives and detonating them in public.”
WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 and Assange is a member of its nine-member advisory board. He comes from what I call the Daniel Ellsberg School of Treachery, named after the man who released the “Pentagon Papers” to The New York Times in 1971. The Vietnam War was already winding down. Nixon’s response was to enjoin the Times from publishing, but a 6-to-3 Supreme Court decision cleared the way.
The Pentagon Papers confirmed what Americans already knew by then. The Vietnam War had begun in earnest with a lie by President Lyndon Johnson and had failed thanks to various corrupt South Vietnamese governments despite having 537,000 U.S. troops there by 1968. By 1971, troop levels had fallen to 213,000. The war was over but for the complete withdrawal.
The leaked information was offered to The New York Times, Britain’s The Guardian, and Germany’s Der Spiegel. Drawing a lesson from the Pentagon Papers, the White House and Pentagon offered a very muted response to the WikiLeak posting. The news was met with a public shrug.
Eventually, but never soon enough, our troops and those of our NATO allies will leave Afghanistan. The bloodletting in Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the Middle East will continue because it is enslaved by a seventh century religion intent on imposing its will on the world. Do not doubt we shall have to return at some point.
Reportedly, U.S. officials want to apprehend Assange so it is no surprise he has not made any recent appearances here, although I saw him on television when he granted an interview to the BBC. Being anti-war is a reflexive and fashionable liberal preference, but I don’t know many people who are actively pro-war. Remember, though, U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and later Iraq were initially popular.
The Telegraph, a London newspaper, reported “(Assange) has already said he would ‘deeply regret’ any lives being lost as the result of the leak, but stood firm in his conviction that it was a risk worth taking because of its importance ‘to the history of the war’.”
The Afghan war has been going on now since 2001 and, other than the Taliban, there are few people, including those charged with waging it, who want it to continue.
The data Assange received is widely believed to have come from a young American intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning. If he is found guilty by a military court, it constitutes an egregious act of treason.
Assange’s receiving and disseminating classified information should merit putting his name on an Interpol most wanted list, but I doubt that the current administration will pursue him. At the very least he has aided and given comfort to our nation’s enemies.
Aside from his obvious skills as a hacker and an inventor of free software, Assange’s life would likely be described as a loser. Born in Townsville, Queensland, Australia in 1971, his parents ran a touring theatre company. He has said that was enrolled in 37 schools and six universities during his early years. He appears to have no real roots.
An article in The New Yorker reported that he was married to his girlfriend in “an unofficial ceremony” at the age of 18 and they had a son. She left him when the Australian Federal Police came knocking on the door to charge him with hacking.
Hackers are, by definition, a loathsome and dangerous group. They are the digital version of break-and-entry criminals.
WikiLeak is funded by the Berlin-based Wau Holland Foundation. Given Assange’s work history, it should come as no surprise that he lives off the donations of those who think making war against the enemies of the West is a bad thing.
In the meantime, Assange continues to travel the world pretending to be a crusader seeking only the truth.
The truth is that he is a spoiler, an intruder, and a sponge off of mushy liberals who members of the Taliban and al Qaeda would gladly behead.
When U.S. and NATO troops do finally leave Afghanistan, a massacre will ensue.
© Alan Caruba, 2010