Advancing a Free Society

Seven Thoughts on Wikileaks

Friday, December 10, 2010
  • I find myself agreeing with those who think Assange is being unduly vilified.  I certainly do not support or like his disclosure of secrets that harm U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.  But as all the hand-wringing over the 1917 Espionage Act shows, it is not obvious what law he has violated.  It is also important to remember, to paraphrase Justice Stewart in the Pentagon Papers, that the responsibility for these disclosures lies firmly with the institution empowered to keep them secret: the Executive branch.  The Executive was unconscionably lax in allowing Bradley Manning to have access to all these secrets and to exfiltrate them so easily.
  • I do not understand why so much ire is directed at Assange and so little at the New York Times. What if there were no wikileaks and Manning had simply given the Lady Gaga CD to the Times?  Presumably the Times would eventually have published most of the same information, with a few redactions, for all the world to see.  Would our reaction to that have been more subdued than our reaction now to Assange?  If so, why?  If not, why is our reaction so subdued when the Times receives and publishes the information from Bradley through Assange the intermediary?

Continue reading Jack Goldsmith at Lawfare