Thursday, February 10, 2011
I've made my thoughts on Julian Assange and Wikileaks abundantly clear both here and at the Huffington Post. As expected, at HuffPo, those views drew plenty of righteous indignation from the peanut gallery and got me labeled a reactionary asshole, but I stand by them: While I think that Assange has done some good and has the potential to do more, he's in possession of far too much power to be at the whim of one man, particularly one as arrogantly messianic -- as devoid of an ounce of humility -- as he is. He and his supporters seem to believe he can do no wrong and can divulge no secret that deserves to be kept simply because there are no secrets that deserve to be kept.
They're wrong on both counts.
The self-serving crusade of Julian Assange and of course the plight of his little familiar, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, have been the cool-kid left's favorite cause célèbres for months now. Barely a couple of days can go by without Glenn Greenwald or Jane Hamsher piously raging against the inherently nefarious government that would dare to keep classified information classified, the jackbooted thugs that would try to arrest Assange and that currently keep Manning confined to a tiny cell, and the monstrous philistines like myself who can't see or don't care about the injustice of it all.
Enter reasonable people like Oliver Willis, Nicole from Political Ruminations, and Matt Osborne. In fact, Matt just posted something over at his site that's a must read -- because not only is it admirably rational and does it come from a source whose credentials are just about unimpeachable, it's fearless in its willingness to thumb its nose at the Greenwalds and Hamshers of the world. And quite frankly, there need to be more progressives doing that sort of thing.
From "Manning Is Not Special":
"Manning has not been convicted — yet — but there is nothing especially harsh or unusual about his conditions. The Rosenbergs were isolated. Aldrich Ames was isolated. There is no 'plan' to drive Bradley Manning insane. He’s a prisoner accused of giving away his country’s secrets. Such prisoners are held in solitary confinement as standard counterintelligence protocol. Who wants a caught spy to tell the other side what you have sweated out of him in the interrogation room? Who wants him to be free to do more damage?
To whom Manning gave secrets, why, and whether Julian Assange asked him first are really not important questions here. When the military court convenes (and the delay is because his defense asked for it), the only question that will get answered is did Bradley Manning break the law? And the almost-certain answer is 'yes.'
Giving away American secrets is against the law; the penalties are stiff. Manning knew that, but chose to give secrets away — and then got caught by bragging about it to strangers on the internet. That there are no other prisoners in Quantico accused of espionage is a happy accident: most American service members take their oaths as seriously as I did, and do. Manning didn’t. A justice system will adjudicate what that means, not Glenn Greenwald...
I know, I know. Manning is the bright new shining beacon of progressive fire, dogs, and lakes. But we know he is guilty of one thing, which is being an absolute dumbass and bragging to strangers on the internet while still in uniform."
That sound you hear isn't the professional left's collective head exploding -- it's just me applauding.