It isn’t because of the Diplomatic Cable release. This is America, we have a free (if often irresponsible, yes I am looking at you New York Times and your weaselly public editor ) press enshrined in the first amendment. Besides, the person actually responsible for the breach of security is in custody awaiting trial.
It isn’t because he embarrassed America. Yes, the cables were embarrassing, but the most enlightening thing I have seen said on the subject so far came from the editor of Foreign Policy magazine, who said that the cables show a remarkable consistency between what the government says in private and what they tell the American people.
It isn’t because he has done grave harm to the national security of the United States. Over half the documents released were unclassified and the remainder were confidential or secret, meaning that they were capable of causing some harm but not grave harm to our national security. Of course taken as an aggregate whole the damage is multiplied by some X amount, but we still haven’t (and this is only my opinion) reached the level of grave damage. In fact most of the data I have seen in rather banal and only deals with information that was already common knowledge. The most damaging thing I have seen is a list of infrastructure targets that the U.S. consider vital to national security. I would contend however that any serious terrorist group could have come up with the vast majority of that list merely by applying critical thinking. In fact that is probably why it was only classified secret.
It isn’t because he is a slimy rapist. Yes, he has been accused and arrested but he hasn’t been convicted, and frankly to me the charges sound rather inflated.
No, it isn’t any of those things. It’s because he has become a terrorist himself. I could respect a person who truly thought he was addressing a real wrong, one who made a decision and accepted the consequences. (and being honest in the U.S. with the first amendment those consequences would be minimal) That however is not the game Assange decided to play. Assange has decided to place himself outside the realm of law by attempting to hold the world hostage through the use of a so called “insurance file”
Assange has warned he can divulge the classified documents in the insurance file and similar backups if he is detained or the WikiLeaks website is permanently removed from the internet. He has suggested the contents are unredacted, posing a possible security risk for coalition partners around the world.
Assange warned: “We have over a long period of time distributed encrypted backups of material we have yet to release. All we have to do is release the password to that material, and it is instantly available.”
Ben Laurie, a London-based computer security expert who has advised WikiLeaks, said: “Julian’s a smart guy and this is an interesting tactic. He will hope it deters anyone from acting against him.”
In other words he is willing to put innocent lives in danger to ensure his freedom. He has moved from ”journalist” / “whistle blower” to hostage taker, a move which cannot and should not be tolerated. If it is the precedent set will give others leave to attempt the same thing. The French have a saying for this type of situation: pour encourager les autres. We need to apply a little encouragement to keep people from engaging in digital terrorism.
Of course if Assange were to surrender, disarm his “insurance file”, and publicly state that his acts were wrong I could see letting him rot in a SuperMax facility for a good long time. Not for the leak, like I said that is something that I think has to be adjudicated in accordance with the first amendment, but for the attempted blackmail of the United States and its people.