by Brad Matthews ‘11
The international media has been swept up in recent months by the rise of WikiLeaks, which acquires diplomatic cables and classified documents (including those pertaining to our Mideast campaigns) and leaks them over the Internet for the entire world to see.
WikiLeaks claims to be the final development in free speech and transparency, but one man leaking diplomatic documents does not replace journalism. Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, has publicly threatened world governments with releases of the documents, saying on CNN and other programs that he will release a massive leak if the site is closed down permanently.
Since WikiLeaks is free and accessible with a simple Internet connection, terrorists and insurgents will now be able to wreak havoc on the proper governments of the world. In November, a quarter of a million U.S. diplomatic cables were released by WikiLeaks. The United States in particular is imperiled due to our key role as a world player, mediator and economic force. These cables impair our military and ruin our credibility. How are we supposed to fight wars and project our power if Army personnel can upload our documents to WikiLeaks? Our military operations are endangered by operatives releasing these classified documents, and these leaks will only help our enemies.
Diplomatic cables aren’t safe from WikiLeaks either. WikiLeaks releases their massive diplomacy caches in a steady stream of documents, including the 251,287 diplomatic cables that began leaking in late November. As of January 30, 2,859 cables had been released over the Internet. The majority of these are cables concerning foreign governments and our relations to them. These cables included information about U.S. civilian facillities and military installations. Ninety-one other cables regarded intelligence, counterintelligence and cryptology, and 20 cables regard scientific, technological and economic matters relating to the security of our country, including defense against transnational terrorist actions. Five cables center on nuclear materials and facilities, including Lisbon, Kinshasa and the Kremlin. Five cables center on weapons of mass destruction, and five are designated for national security systems. These cables are now open to the public, and more importantly, to our enemies. Terrorists groups and rogue states can now download our cables and access our secrets. The security of the United States has been compromised by these cables. Terrorists can find out how we obtain our information, where our security is based, what civilian installations to attack, and where nuclear materials are stored.
WikiLeaks is also damaging to our diplomatic efforts abroad. Cables regarding various opinions on foreign leaders were scandalous and embarrassing. Hamid Karzai, our ally in Afghanistan, was called paranoid and weak. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, was called authoritarian and thin-skinned. Benjamin Netanyahu, current Prime Minister of Israel, was called a charming liar. Putin’s Russia was called a “mafia state,” and Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of Britain, was referred to as incompetent by American diplomats. These cables reveal the truth behind the cordiality of international politics, and these frank comments are not meant to be heard by anyone except diplomats. These opinions will only serve to damage our foreign interests.
WikiLeaks is a huge detriment to the efforts of our government, and only impedes our ability to function properly with other countries. WikiLeaks is compared to Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, which unearthed U.S. corruption in the Vietnam era. Those great journalistic achievements served to reveal and thwart governmental corruption. WikiLeaks, by comparison, serves to damage our government, with Julian Assange cackling as our national security is repeatedly jeopardized. This cannot stand; WikiLeaks is not an avatar of transparency but rather a tool of anarchy.