Commentary Magazine


The Administration’s Feckless Response to WikiLeaks

The Obama administration’s response to the WikiLeaks fiasco is going from inadequate to farcical. Prosecutors have had months to prepare a case against Julian Assange for the harm he is doing to U.S. national security by posting online stolen military and diplomatic documents. It was back in July, after all, that WikiLeaks released nearly 80,000 documents relating to the Afghan war. But instead of throwing the book at Assange and his online collaborators, what has the administration done? It has issued a laughable directive “forbidding unauthorized federal government employees and contractors from accessing classified documents publicly available on WikiLeaks and other websites.” Talk about shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Granted, there are a lot of problems with potential prosecution under the Espionage Act or other statutes, but if those barriers are insuperable, why hasn’t the administration proposed legislation to Congress that would allow the prosecution of cyber-vandals like Assange? Given the diplomatic damage that WikiLeaks continues to cause, the administration’s inaction so far signals a dangerous ineffectuality that will come back to haunt the U.S. We can’t rely on the Swedish courts to lock up Assange for rape — not when the apparent facts of the case appear to be as bizarre as they are. (For a rundown, see this Daily Mail article. H/T to Gabe Schoenfeld, who has been out front on this story.)