Wiki Espionage

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“Wiki” is a cute Hawaiian word for “quick” — borrowed by Ward Cunningham, creator of the first Internet wiki — from the name of a fast little interterminal shuttle at Honolulu International Airport.

But cute and innocent as the word may sound, when attached to damaging wartime leaks by WikiLeaks operator Julian Assange, its cuteness should not protect Mr. Assange from being prosecuted and possibly executed by the U.S. government for wartime espionage.

Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 794, Paragraph (b) reads:

Whoever, in time of war, with intent that the same shall be communicated to the enemy, collects, records, publishes, or communicates, or attempts to elicit any information with respect to the movement, numbers, description, condition, or disposition of any of the Armed Forces, ships, aircraft, or war materials of the United States, or with respect to the plans or conduct, or supposed plans or conduct of any naval or military operations, or with respect to any works or measures undertaken for or connected with, or intended for the fortification or defense of any place, or any other information relating to the public defense, which might be useful to the enemy, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life.

Our friends at The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel — who coordinated the publication of his leaks — might find the following Subsection (c) also to be a revealing read:

If two or more persons conspire to violate this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.

And, according to Friday’s New York Times, “Justice Department lawyers are exploring whether Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks could be charged with inducing, or conspiring in violations of the Espionage Act.”

Now, as regular readers of this column know, I have written a dozen columns, starting last August, opposing the Afghan war because I think our war-fighting strategy, resources and senior civilian leadership (outside the Pentagon) will fail in their objectives and thus needlessly sacrifice the lives of far too many American troops.

But however wise one may think one’s policy goals are, that is absolutely no justification (or even mitigation) for committing espionage to advance them.

And note, Mr. Assange — you ideological cold-blooded killer of Afghans working with our troops — unlike with the crime of treason, one does not need to be an American citizen to be convicted and executed for espionage against America.

How much damage did this heartless ideologue commit? I don’t know.

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  • LibertyLover

    How about rendition to Egypt and turn him over to Hosni Mubarak? That way Egypt could earn their foreign aid money.

    • guest

      They've already earned it, they've been torturing people for us for decades.

      • William Smart

        Mubarak also earns his keep imprisoning the Gazans in a concentration camp, much to the fury of the Egyptian population. How much longer before Israel wipes out this ghetto filled with the ethnically cleansed?

  • Reason_For_Life

    Blankley –

    Learn something about the law. Assange can't be touched, nor can the Times. The only people who can be charged with a crime are the military personnel who leaked the documents.

    This is settled law as a result of the "Pentagon Papers" trial years ago. Even if deaths result and can honestly and accurately be attributed to information in those documents no one who does not have a security clearance can be held accountable for published information.

    • ajnn

      You may be correct but a prosecutor can get a bit 'creative'.

      This 'pentagon papers' holding may need to be overturned by legislation. "Knowingly publishing clssified information that can harm oersons …" might be a good text.

    • Tom

      Not true. The Pentagon Papers case never went to trial. The case was dismissed due to government misconduct. The law is not settled by any means.

      • Reason_For_Life

        The case against Ellsberg was dropped because of lack of evidence. The government claimed it lost the wiretap tapes (the dog ate my homework?). However, it was clear at the time that the feds knew that they would lose the case against Ellsberg and desperately wanted to avoid any adjudication on the matter.

        This was no doubt true because the Supreme Court had eviscerated the attorneys who attempted to get an injunction against the Times to prevent publication of the "Pentagon Papers".

    • Gary

      You, Tony are a fanatic, and fail to accept that we are blessed in this country because we have the freedom of the press. Your talk of war time espionage is mindless and without merit when considering that this country has been consistently at war with someone without let. I can imagine the self-righteous commentary that would come from this country if George Bush were to be held accountable overseas for crimes against humanity? Your self-righteous indignation towards Mr. Assange is unwarranted and unjustified.

  • Jeff

    Although Mr. Assange may not be able to be charged with anything, theres no reason that two cant play his game as someone could "Wiki-leak" his personal information out over the web (address, family address, phone # ect.) and let the Afghan & US military victims of his deeds deal with him directly in there own way. The US government need not get involved here.

    • scum

      Actually Jeff, why don't you post yours.

  • Paddyjdonovan

    We need to take some action or we aren't a nation of laws when it comes to treason and espionage

  • dubrovnov

    Assange is a marked man. He can now live in terror for the restof his life. He deserves it.

    • USMCSniper

      Ahhh yes,,, an unfortunate accident someday will br attributed to Karma. I put the Arab curse on him. May the fleas from a 1000 camels make their home in his crotch and consume his manhood.

  • blotto

    That is how the left gets away with everything they do. They know no matter what they say or do, they will never have to face the consequences-they are never held accountable.

    The NYT, WaPo and every news organ plus bloggers, judges, and even those in Congress, they all know since we are a nation of laws, we can and never will hold them accounatble for the deaths or msifortune their words and deeds have done.

    The left has always used our laws, Constitution and rights against us-to our detriment.

    It would only take one time that some judge or NYT reporter be held accountable. Or Julian.

    • WFB

      Or Daniel Ellsburg, or Jane Fonda, or Code Pink, or half the MarxiCrat party.

      • guest

        i don't know, i kind of like the fact that there are people out there willing to take risks to expose govt. cover ups, ESPECIALLY when it comes to war and military actions. Not only the lives involved but the wasted billions. Shouldn't conservatives want to know when govt is lying to us? Or is it only when the govt is Democrat lead or it involves any agency but the military? Ellsburg essentially blew the lid on outright deception of the people by the state. You could easily argue that no one causes more death and misfortune than a military industrial complex driven by contractor profit, revolving door between private and public sector, and deception! I may not like everything the NYT or WAPO say, but I', glad someone is paying attention. The two parties and their true believers only care about ideology and political points.

        • William Smart

          Ellsburg blew the lid off the defeat that was Vietnam and back in the 60s, rather a lot of people cared for good reason, American boys were getting killed. The war had to stop.

          Whereas Assange has blown the lid off another war that's been lost for precisely the same reason. However, nobody cares about the consequences of this defeat – in fact many must be pleased, it gives us the excuse to waste millions of lives next time round. Unlike Vietnam, the "War on Terror" doesn't have to stop. There's nobody to sign a cease-fire (or a modern day version of the "Paris Peace Treaty") and we can go on fighting this one for ever.

  • Tom

    Exactly. When Eisenhower spoke against a "military-industrial complex" he wasn't saying that the U.S. had one, he was warning about a possible future which never happened (if it had, contractor overcharges would NEVER make the news). He was also being diplomatic about the USSR, which had a real MIC that consumed 50% pf the GDP.

    As a general himself, Eisenhower understood all of the motivations of military men and contractors. No one watched the budget better than he did. He understood that defense began with a strong economy.

    • guest

      Um, contractor overcharges make the news because of the "leftist" media you've just criticized. Only if conservatives controlled the media would stories like that get buried because it would be "unpatriotic" to smear the glorious military.

      The existence of a MIC here is so well documented but all the facts in the world can't penetrate blind faith.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Assange should be sent to Afghanistan for trial, why has this government not asked
    for his extradition? His crime abeted by the NYT should be the greatest outrage
    but seems dwarfed by the criminals in D.C. who are tearing America down, he is
    merely part and parcel to the world wide leftist assault on America. The NYT should
    be shut down for espionage and the Editors hanged……………….William