“We should never be afraid of one guy who popped down $35 and bought a web address. … Our foreign policy is stronger than that. We’re a stronger country than that. We’re not scared of one guy, with one keyboard, and a laptop.” — Robert Gibbs, December 1, 2010
So said America’s press secretary regarding the latest batch of American secrets revealed via WikiLeaks — it is hard to know precisely where to begin parsing such an entirely witless statement. WikiLeaks represents only the latest manifestation of the cancer relentlessly eating away America from within. The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats had it right nearly a century ago:
… Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
… The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Yeats was in large part writing about the devastation of the First World War, but his poetic imagery can easily be applied to Obama’s soft America of 2010. To punctuate the point, now comes Julian Assange, blatantly blackmailing not only the United States and every other government he might choose to destroy by threatening to release an enormous package of encrypted, sensitive, even secret American documents should he be held accountable for his crimes, allegedly including multiple rapes in Sweden. Apparently an unknown number of like-minded internet vermin have been given encrypted copies of the package with instructions to release it on command. Despite Assange’s arrest by British authorities and the subsequent denial of bond, his “thermonuclear weapon,” as he termed it, has yet to be released, however this is likely only a matter of time.
The WikiLeaks debacle is one of the most damaging wartime releases of sensitive and secret information in American history. The greatest immediate damage, however, is to American prestige and reliability. What nation will cooperate with America knowing that their cooperation can, likely will, be made public at any moment? Forget that untold numbers of Americans and others in far-flung lands will be tortured and killed as a result of the revelations already made, and those yet to come. Forget that our national security has suffered another serious blow. Forget that our intelligence and diplomatic sources and methods have been yet again exposed to enemies who will be as amazed and delighted at their unexpected good fortune as they will be quick to capitalize on it. As horrific as all of this is, it is secondary to more fundamental concerns — concerns that might be illuminated by the answers to the questions that follow, answers made obvious by commission and omission by successive presidential administrations:
(1) Is America worth defending?
(2) Is freedom of the press more important than the Constitution? Than American sovereignty and security?
(3) Is it any longer possible to commit treason against America?
The Clinton administration was famous for its laxity in handling American secrets, for its transfers of secret missile technology to the Chinese, and for its establishment of the principle that terrorism should be handled as a law enforcement rather than a national security matter. Mr. Clinton, on at least one occasion, even lost “the Biscuit,” the cards he was required to carry 24/7/365 with access codes to America’s nuclear arsenal. Not only did he lose them, he did not tell the military liaison officer assigned to monitor nuclear issues that he lost them. He had to discover it himself. The cards were apparently never found.
What is less widely known is the Clinton emasculation of the CIA, beginning with a near elimination of human field assets in favor of high-tech electronic means of intelligence gathering. Clinton even refused to meet one-on-one with his CIA director. (When a light plane crashed on the White House lawn, the joke making the rounds in Washington was that the pilot was the CIA director trying to get a meeting.) The few agents still working in the field were further hampered by such brilliant Clintonian moral initiatives as forbidding agents from working with anyone, anywhere who had a criminal record. It was this kind of moral reasoning and these policies that also led Mr. Clinton to refuse, at least twice, foreign governments who were willing and able to hand over Osama bin Laden on a platter. Had Mr. Clinton taken the hint, the attacks of 9/11 might have been aborted.
Immediately after 9/11, there was no doubt about George W. Bush’s answers to these questions — but the days of “if you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists” were brief. Still, for a time, the media used to an administration that leaked information and secrets like a leaky faucet were very upset with Mr. Bush. Frequent and bitter were their complaints when they discovered that Mr. Bush hired honorable men and women who took national security and the positions of trust given them by the people seriously, and did not leak.