Throw the book at themPosted Wednesday, December 1, 2010, at 8:48 AM
There's a traitor in our midst.
The WikiLeaks release of more 200,000 U.S. State Department memos and reports concerning American diplomacy around the world is more than embarrassing -- in some cases it threatens lives and certainly won't help our relations with foreign countries.
It's easy to blame WikiLeaks, but the real culprit is whoever leaked the documents -- as well as the lack of security of those documents. WikiLeaks simply provided a convenient forum, but in truth, there are plenty of places those documents could have been sent and they'd have still become public knowledge. Blaming WikiLeaks is merely shooting the messenger. It doesn't address the basic issue.
What the United States government needs to do is find the person -- or persons -- responsible for stealing these confidential documents and prosecute them to the full extent of the law, including charging them with treason, if it is possible to do so (it may not be, considering how the laws are written and the Constitutional standards).
This follows hard on the heels of the release last year of Department of Defense documents concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A U.S. soldier, who served in a military intelligence capacity in Iraq, has been charged with the release of those documents.
But many of the documents released this week involve incidents that happened after his arrest, so whoever is responsible this time is still at large.
Were all these documents in a single database? Who had access to it? Was it an "inside job" or could a foreign government or individual hacker have been able to get access? These are questions that need to be answered.
Most of the documents were no better than "secret" classification, one of the lowest levels of security, and many were unclassified, but the fact that someone who was not acting in the best interests of our nation was able to gain access at all is disturbing.
For many people, looking at these documents is like seeing how sausage is made. These are the ingredients of foreign relations. But in diplomacy, it often is useful to keep things "in house," out of the prying eyes of the public. The greatest damage here is the loss of trust between our nation and the nations with which we must deal. That loss is no small thing. Without trust between nations, very little gets done.
That's why when the source of these leaks is found, we need to throw the book at them.
And, of course, we clearly need to tighten our cybersecurity.
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