Julian Assange’s latest exploits from Wikileaks have caused about as much real news as Y2K on 1 January 2000…after all the hype and expectation-massaging, the latest torrent of leaked documents is about as inspiring and memorable as George Lucas’ attempt at a prequel trilogy to the Original Trilogy…I once heard somewhere that the body doesn’t remember pain: it’s not that great at remembering boredom either and hopefully once the ripples in the pond subside, Assange will be marginalised by the growing realisation that he has actually done anything…all the risk was taken by those who actually leaked the quarter of a million documents in question and anyone who believes that one disgruntled PFC who’s just been dumped by his boyfriend can steal such a range of classified documents is living in Lala-land (much, in fact, like those in my previous post…)…

Michael Yon puts it all in perspective on his Facebook Page by linking Assange to other nutjobs….

It is HIGHLY doubtful that the United States government would kill Assange. If Assange is killed, the hit more likely would come from a lone wolf or someone else’s government. The conspiracy theorists might then “prove” that it was a CIA hit ordered by the same people who killed Kennedy, and that we didn’t really land on the moon but we do have a secret moon base. And 9/11 was a Jewish plot…

Never really thought about that before either…that the same people who deny the moon landings are the same ones who think the US/UN World Government has a secret Moonbase…but then again, when I was 10 I was a big fan of Gerry Anderson’s UFO and thought that building a secret Moonbase (complete with chicks with purple hair – the penny relating to the benefits of the short skirts hadn’t really dropped when I was that old) was a. pretty cool and b. pretty simple…

Dean covers it all pretty well in Wikileaks and ‘cablegate’ and I share his desperate plea to stop adding ‘gate’ to everything that has the slightest potential whiff of scandal attached to it…much the same as could we please stop referring to every campaign or initiative as a ‘war’ unless we really mean to fix bayonets, send in the Marines and let Air Combat Command off the leash…

And on ‘wars’, let’s not forget that, rhetoric aside, we’re not really at war at the moment…in at least one…yes, certainly…but ‘at’ war…no, not really: we’re not harnessing all the instruments of national power to quell the adversary and most definitely, we are not acting against those who seek to undermine the ‘war’ effort through accident or deliberate action. And that, boys, girls and family pets, is why people like Assange get away with what they do: because they are not breaking any laws…that their motives and actions are reprehensible is beyond question but even if it can be proved in the World Court (where else would have jurisdiction?) that the wikileaks were directly responsible for deaths in Afghanistan or elsewhere, it is not an offense to publish leaked material – not unless perhaps there is some form of court-ordered suppression order in effect. Even then, with the internet being what it is, it is unlikely that this would be that enforceable or provable…

But that notwithstanding, the lunatic fringe is out there demanding that Assange be arrested, assassinated or otherwise jabbed in the calf by a ricin-loaded umbrella. There’s a good thread at Small Wars Journal that hammers out the why-nots of this issue. In fact, Small Wars seems to be all over this one…WikiLeaks, Round Three provides a comprehensive list of links to various comments and reports on Assange’s latest non-event: note the DoD caveat at the top of the list, two or more wrongs DO NOT make a right:

Department of Defense personnel should not access the WikiLeaks website to view or download publicized classified information nor should they download it from anywhere, regardless of the source. Doing so will introduce potentially classified information on unclassified networks. Executive Order 13526 states ‘Classified Information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information.

Digital security problem is bigger than Assange and PFC Manning discusses the likelihood of kneejerk reactions to PFC Manning’s indiscretions (so just how does one PFC access let alone copy 250,000 classified military and diplomatic documents between making coffee, sweeping the floor and being unappreciated?) leading to balkanisation of military and government information systems ( and Dean raises this as well)…might as well since most of them can’t talk to each other anyway, but doing so effectively cedes the public information domain to the other guys – which is probably not the sharpest move we’d want to be making…

And finally a word from our sponsor for the current ‘war’, Secretary Gates, once again courtesy of Michael Yon :

I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on.  I think — I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets.  Many governments — some governments deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us.  We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.

So other nations will continue to deal with us.  They will continue to work with us.  We will continue to share sensitive information with one another.

Is this embarrassing?  Yes.  Is it awkward?  Yes.  Consequences for U.S. foreign policy?  I think fairly modest.

The sooner we forget about Assange and let him be consumed by his own insignificance, the better…the real problem raised by the unauthorised release of close to half a million classified documents is what are we going to do a. about those who are releasing them in the first place (there can’t be THAT many briefcases and thumb drives left on the train each night)? and b. how do we train and educate their replacements that doing these is the wrong thing to do…?

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