Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wikileaks revelations

According to the Guardian, some of the 250,000 Wikileaks releases include:
• "Grave fears in Washington and London over the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, with officials warning that as the country faces economic collapse, government employees could smuggle out enough nuclear material for terrorists to build a bomb."
• "How the hacker attacks which forced Google to quit China in January were orchestrated by a senior member of the Politburo"
• "Allegations that Russia and its intelligence agencies are using mafia bosses to carry out criminal operations, with one cable reporting that the relationship is so close that the country has become a "virtual mafia state"."
The Jerusalem Post adds that the Wikileaks show that Saudi Arabia supports military action against Iran to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
I have couple "off-the-top-of-my-head" reactions to the Wikileaks.
1) The person or people who leaked these documents should be charged with treason and shot.
2) Perhaps it is time to set up a special, secret court (like the FISA court) consisting of a panel judges with the highest security clearance who would have to approve all government requests to make government information classified. I can't help wondering whether government officials don't sometimes (often?) classify information, not for national security but to protect themselves from public scrutiny. If so, this has to stop.


Kevin said...

I agree with you that the government should be very restricted in what they can and cannot make "secret".

I think your idea about shooting the leaker here is questionable, but if it were to be agreed to then it should apply to all officials... including the Senators, Representatives, and Presidents who selectively choose to leak "secret" information to further their agendas... let's not just limit this to some underling who got fed up with the lies and deceit in Washington.

Dennis said...

I think the penalty should, of course, depend on the nature and extent of the classified information revealed.

For example, the punishment for leaking a confidential memo that might embarrass a diplomat should be much less than the penalty for releasing hundreds of documents that compromise our ability to conduct foreign policy, or even the release of a single top secret document that compromises our national security.

In the case of Wikileaks, I think the magnitude of the leaks, and the incalculable potential damage to foreign relations is deserving of at least putting the death penalty on the table.

But yes, if a Senator, for example, deliberately leaks a top secret document for personal political gain, the same rules should apply.

Kevin said...

What your'e saying is that the decision about whether or not to execute soemone should be left up to lawyer and politicians who argue about the hypothetical impact of some leak. For example, Valerie Plame's name leak MAY have put multiple "top secret" programs at risk and MAY result in the deaths of unnamed (because they're secret) individuals and so the person who leaked her name should be considered for the death pentalty.