WELL. NOW THAT our brilliant Government has been horribly embarrassed thanks to WikiLeaks' disclosure of myriad correspondence from our diplomats abroad, one wonders what to make of it all.
One would certainly hope this will prompt the Government, which once seemed very good about keeping secrets, to take pains in creating new security measures that would at least prove moderately difficult to breach. It is worth noting the likely source for these cables is an Army ex-Specialist, who despite being barely old enough to drink, apparently had access to our classified data networks. That such junior personnel had such access is absolutely amazing, and that allowance can only be described as incompetence in the extreme. Even small private companies take pains to conceal their important data, and even a medium-sized firm does better at it.
Keeping secret information secret, of course, is the key -- once it is out, one might as well try stopping a volcano from erupting. We now find ourselves in the ridiculous position of having our political leaders scrounge around for ways to punish those connected with the leaks. Witness U.S. Rep. Peter King asking the Attorney General to declare WikiLeaks a terror group -- one can hear the laughter already in Brussels over that one.
About the only saving grace here is that the ex-Specialist in question remains under the Army's thumb, and will almost certainly be court-martialed. Yet even that outcome would be sub-optimal, for if found guilty, the maximum penalty he could face would be 52 years in prison. One would think being guilty of such offenses, which have undoubtedly compromised our nation's intelligence operations, would merit being shot at dawn.
Still, the cables' release may not prove entirely a bad thing in the long run -- at least if it leads to a re-emergence of realpolitik among our political leadership, which in public has too long appeared soft and weak.
We live in a hard world, and too often circumstance requires that we deal with men who only recognize power when it is applied with all due force. Previous Governments recognized this. After all, it was Colson who said, "When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."