Some Julian Assange supporters have dismissed the potential national-security risk of WikiLeaks as an unfortunate, but unavoidable, consequence of the fight for more government transparency. But now Assange has taken his “crusade” a step further, by threatening to release even more dangerous documents if government leaders make any attempt to shut down his website or detain him. This is essentially blackmail:
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has circulated across the internet an encrypted “poison pill” cache of uncensored documents suspected to include files on BP and Guantanamo Bay.
One of the files identified this weekend by The Sunday Times — called the “insurance” file — has been downloaded from the WikiLeaks website by tens of thousands of supporters, from America to Australia.
Assange warns that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.
There’s a reason why this batch of information is being used as a bargaining chip:
[Assange] has suggested the contents are unredacted, posing a possible security risk for coalition partners around the world.
If Assange were merely a proponent of open government, as he has portrayed himself, he would have released all the documents at the same time — including the “insurance file” — along with the necessary redactions. What is the point of leaking the files so strategically if there wasn’t a broader strategy to inflict as much destruction on the U.S. as possible?
Assange may not share al-Qaeda’s tactics, but his intent is similar. All his fans who believe he’s a crusader for government transparency are fooling themselves. In fact, Newt Gingrich and Mitch McConnell are already calling Assange a terrorist: “Information warfare is warfare, and Julian Assange is engaged in warfare. Information terrorism, which leads to people getting killed, is terrorism, and Julian Assange is engaged in terrorism,” said Gingrich. “He should be treated as an enemy combatant.”
I understand where Gingrich is coming from, but I don’t think Assange’s actions warrant the terrorism label just yet. He hasn’t purposely targeted specific groups of individuals with violence. However, WikiLeaks is making it easier for terror groups to target civilians, so terrorist abettor may be a better description.