A new week, and a new pile of stuff for Wikileaks to publish to the world at large. This latest batch consists of diplomatic cables and State Department documents that covers the gamut from impressions of world leaders, to what to do about Iran, to discussions with Yemen and Pakistan regarding the effects of gravity, rocketry, and explosives on various and sundry scumbags.
Part of me isn't surprised by some of the 'revelations'. Missile attacks on terrorists in Yemen? I rather thought that fell into the 'open secret' category. The Arabs and Israel want us to Do Something about Iran? The Arabs and Israel could do the job themselves together. It's the Middle East. A backalley deal could be cut there. Israel could provide the hardware and the Arabs could have convenient radar malfunctions. Plus, the desert is a big place and the sneaky Zionists could always 'steal' a supply depot or create an airfield in the emptiness. The German chancellor is 'unimaginative'? She grew up a functionary in East Germany's communist system. What would you expect? Spying on the diplomats in the UN? Please. That's what people do there. I suspect every nation with spies better than Maxwell Smart has databases and dossiers on every major world leader and senior diplomat squirreled away somewhere. How else are you going to 'convince' the Supreme Leader of Bugfuckovia to give you basing rights it you don't have pictures of him in flagrante delicto with a platypus?
Nor do I have a particular axe to grind with Mr. Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. I do think that his days on this planet are becoming numbered. If he's hidden away, he might want to stay that way. To be honest, he looks like a little twerp who thinks it's cute to twist a few tails. Now, I'm not saying that anyone in this country would order a hit on him. I'm also not saying they wouldn't. He has, however, brought to light activities of leaders of nations that aren't so picky on the legal niceties and wouldn't be above sending a couple of gentlemen to visit upon him the usual array of punishments reserved for little twerps who don't realize they're not pulling a prank on the university dean. This is the big leagues. Oh well...
I do, though, have issues with the alleged leaker of many of the Iraq/Afghanistan/Diplomatic documents, one Specialist Bradley Manning, US Army and possible disgrace to the uniform. Born to an American father and an English/Welsh mother, he was able to obtain an intelligence analyst billet, making him privy to all sorts of interesting information.
The Army plainly screwed up when doing the background check for Specialist Manning. His dual nationality should have made him ineligible for any kind of intelligence job-too easy to be co-opted by the other country. He is supposedly homosexual. That should also be a down-check due to the perceived 'shame' and 'dirt' another nation's intel assets could dig up on him or her. One could argue that a change of official policy regarding gays in the military would negate that, but that's a topic for another time.
I'm not sure if Spec. Manning got all of this material himself. I suspect a lot of people contributed (knowingly or unknowingly) little bits and pieces, which were assembled like a jigsaw puzzle to arrive at the complete document. I AM sure that I'm tired of the culture of leaks that seems to be the norm in this country.
I could argue that Specialist Manning committed espionage by divulging confidential documents to a foreign entity. You might say 'That's your opinion, YD.'
Read on. This is from the United States Code of Military Justice:
906a. ART. 106a. ESPIONAGE
(A) (1) Any person subject to this chapter who, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to communicate, deliver, or transmit, to any entity described in paragraph (2), either directly or indirectly, any thing described in paragraph (3) shall be punished as a court-martial may direct, except that if the accused is found guilty of an offense that directly concerns (A) nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, early warning systems, or other means of defense or retaliation against large scale attack, (B) war plans, (C) communications intelligence or cryptographic information, or (D) any other major weapons system or major element of defense strategy, the accused shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court- martial may direct.
(2) An entity referred to in paragraph (1) is--
(A) a foreign government;
(B) a faction or party or military force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States
(C) a representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen of such government, faction, party, or force.
(3) A thing referred to in paragraph (1) is a document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance or information relating to the national defense.
Hmm. The UCMJ seems to be fairly comprehensive on this.
And what is the punishment for espionage under the UCMJ?
(b) (1) No person may be sentenced by court-martial to suffer death for an offense under this section (article) unless--
(A) the members of the court-martial unanimously find at least one of the aggravating factors set out in subsection (c); and
(B) the members unanimously determine that any extenuating or mitigating circumstances are substantially outweighed by any aggravating circumstances, including the aggravating factors set out under subsection (c).
(2) Findings under this subsection may be based on--
(A) evidence introduced on the issue of guilt or innocence;
(B) evidence introduced during the sentencing proceeding; or
(C) all such evidence.
(3) The accused shall be given broad latitude to present matters in extenuation and mitigation.
So Spec. Manning will get a long stretch in Leavenworth making sand out of rocks. But if the court-martial board thinks the situation requires it:
(c) A sentence of death may be adjudged by a court-martial for an offense under this section (article) only if the members unanimously find, beyond a reasonable doubt, one or more of the following aggravating factors:
(1) The accused has been convicted of another offense involving espionage or treason for which either a sentence of death or imprisonment for life was authorized by statute.
(2) In the commission of the offense, the accused knowingly created a grave risk of substantial damage to the national security.
(3) In the commission of the offense, the accused knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person.
(4) Any other factor that may be prescribed by the President by regulations under section 836 of this title (Article 36).
The possibility does exist that Specialist Manning could swing from the end of a short rope. The conditions under which the capital punishment can be inflicted are a bit more arbitrary under the UCMJ.
'But what about his civil rights, YD? His right to free speech?'
My understanding is that when one signs the papers to join the service, one signs away some of the rights one enjoys as a civilian. Military law applies, and it's a bit more strict.
I remember reading about Oleg Penkovskiy. He was in the Soviet GRU (Foreign Counterintelligence Service) and passed along information about the USSR's nuclear arsenal and that the USSR was going to place missiles in Cuba. He may have provided President Kennedy enough information to stare down the bad-mannered hillbilly fucking Ukrainian in the Kremlin (sorry-learned about Soviet minorities from a fellow from Leningrad a few years back). He may have saved the world from destruction in those dark days of 1962. His motives were good. It didn't save him from a trial for treason and espionage, a probable round of beatings in Lubyanka, and a 7.62 x 39 headache/forced retirement (or cremation alive, if you believe certain accounts). Brutal. But it is a deterrent to those who think that spilling secrets is 'cute'.
Personally, I think it might be necessary for some of these leakers to suffer the ultimate price for shooting off their mouths indiscriminately. The country needs to learn the difference between what needs to be exposed for the national good and what needs to be left quiet for reasons of security or diplomatic confidentiality.
But I'm not the President. And you ought to be glad of it.
I dedicate this song to all the Julian Assanges and Bradley Mannings of the world. Enjoy.