This week we all read and heard about the recent dump of classified information into the internet, a scandal called wikileaks named after the website (wikileaks.org) that divulged the information.  The website was founded in 2006 and is famous for gathering information from anonymous sources then placing them on their website for all to view.

The most recent information disclosed private communications between the US and 270 embassies and consulates.  The information is embarrassing at the very least.  It will undoubtedly fuel already boiling tempers in the East.  Years of goodwill will be destroyed as private conversations and name calling is made public.  Leaders of countries will now know exactly what other leaders think of them, as very candid and (assumed) private conversations are revealed.

One of the scariest revelations for me is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad now knows that his neighbors view him as a trouble maker and asked the US to destroy the nuclear facilities in Iran before they were functional.  Without a doubt this will be an irritant to Iran and probably lead them to be less cooperative (if possible) in the future considering that the US did not act even though a number of our Middle Eastern allies asked us to.

So, what do we do with Wikileaks, its founder (Julian Assange) and Army PFC Bradley Manning?

Wikileaks will claim freedom of speech and that it has a right to disclose information that it did not steal or obtain illegally.  The question that will likely need to be sorted out in court is did Wikileaks (or its owner) have any obligation to protect classified or secret military information?  Julian Assange will be the one to receive any direct punishment since he is the founder, owner and one that makes the decisions for wikileaks.  PFC Manning is the one that illegally obtained the classified, secret and normal electronic transmissions.  Manning then provided this information to wikileaks for some reason unknown to me.

The losers in this situation: 

  1. Manning.  He will pay the highest price for this.  He’s currently serving in the military; he knowingly, intentionally and voluntarily downloaded the information and allegedly provided the information to Wikileaks.  Manning was discovered to be the “alleged” perpetrator only after he confided his actions to a reformed hacker named Adrian Lamo.   That hacker reported the confession to the government.
  2. Currently serving military personnel.  Information never intended to be shared with the opposition has likely been leaked and will be read by insurgents.  There will be lives lost because operations and locations have been disclosed.
  3. Diplomacy.  Communication from world leaders shared with various government officials known as “cables” were downloaded and shared.  Some of these communications were extremely damning of other countries and was never intended to be read by anyone but the intended recipient.  There will be hard feelings, growing distrust between countries and leaders will be hesitant to speak freely any longer over email with diplomats and leaders from other countries.

This whole event is disturbing to me because you have a very low level analyst (Private First Class) able to scour servers for classified, secret and even top secret reports and emails, download them and burn them to CD,  place them on a flash drive or even email them to anyone that he wanted without detection.  This will undoubtedly hurt our soldiers serving in the Middle East because those documents likely detail many of our Operations as well as identities of embedded spies.  From an IT perspective I’m mystified by many reports I have heard indicating that PFC Manning had the authority to access server logs and erase the footprints that would have implicated him as the downloader.  In other words, not only did he have top secret clearance, he had the ability to destroy any evidence that he ever viewed and/or downloaded the information.  This is an incredible oversight and needs to change immediately.

I fail to see how this leak provides any benefit to anyone short of those working for the opposition.  We may for a very long time wonder what motivated an active military enlistee to disclose this harmful information.  For now I will watch as the events unfold as additional information is disseminated through the media.  We can be assured that since this information has hit the web it will forever be out there.  The files are currently accessible by downloading the torrent using a P2P program … they are roughly 350 MB per the wikileaks.org site.

Wikileaks founder has found his moment of fame and is trying to draw it out by indicating his next disclosure will bring down a very large and prominent US bank (rumored to be Bank of America). The documents are rumored to demonstrate unethical behavior.  Assange told Forbes.com in an interview (about the bank), “You could call it the ecosystem of corruption.

My question—how will the media portray Wikileaks and Julian Assange?  Will they be made a hero or a villain?  How about PFC Manning?  Will he be a martyr?  I personally think they should both be locked up for what they have done with classified information.

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Squeaky is a member of The Political Observers, a sub-group of our writers who are devoted to topics that are political in nature. Squeaky provides a conservative viewpoint in his articles.

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