Valentine: WikiLeaks scandal raises questions

Friday, December 3, 2010

The WikiLeaks scandal that has grabbed the headlines recently is much more than a simple espionage case. In fact, it raises more questions than it answers. For starters, how does a simple private in the Army have access to over 250,000 classified cables for over 8 months? And what would motivate him to commit such a breach of security?

The answer to those questions may be so complex and so politically incorrect that it may never be fully answered. There's plenty of speculation circulating around the Internet. I'll throw mine into the mix.

From the research I've done, PFC Brad Manning was/is most likely gay. Some suggest he was contemplating a sex change operation although that cannot be confirmed. His Facebook page interests were almost exclusively LGBT-related.

Where this gets really interesting is in the speculation. Did the Army tread lightly around Manning because he was gay and they didn't want to appear discriminatory? It's much the same scenario as the political correctness surrounding the Fort Hood shooter. Most everyone around him knew he was a radicalized Muslim but were afraid to speak up for fear of being labeled a bigot.

Has the U.S. Army gone too PC?

Many say it has. Certainly in this era of ending 'Don't ask, don't tell' it appears the mission of the Army has been distracted by periphery issues like gays in the military when it should be focused on its primary mission as a defensive machine.

I'm not suggesting that Private Manning's case should sway the issue of gays in the military either way. What I am suggesting is someone's sexuality should not be a distraction for the Army or, even worse, a compromise. We cannot allow political correctness to cloud the mission and it very well may have in this case.

The repercussions of this particular batch of diplomatic cables are unknowable at this point but most surely will be severe. Tenuous relationships that have been cultivated for years will evaporate. What that means in terms of national security is uncertain at this point but experts say the damage runs deep and will take years to repair.

Private Manning is quoted as saying he thought the information should be in the public domain. That brings up another interesting argument. Are there facts that will emerge from WikiLeaks that should be public knowledge? Perhaps. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would certainly have more credibility if he continues to sift through the 250,000-plus cables and chooses to reveal portions he feels are worthy of public consumption. Surely not all of the cables are worthy of such revelation. To date, Assange has posted some 281 cables of all the cables dating back to the 1960s. As far as anyone can tell the exposed cables are more embarrassing than anything else but hurt feelings will most certainly result in strained or broken diplomatic relationships.

One thing is perfectly clear. Some low-level private in the United States Army is not in any position to decide what's fit for public consumption and what's not. Private Manning's assertion that these documents belong in the public domain is absurd.

Nor is Mr. Assange any more qualified to make that determination. Our law enforcement agencies are looking into the possibility of criminal charges against Mr. Assange. One would assume his actions violate the Espionage Act but at the very least he's guilty of receiving stolen property.

As for Private Manning, if he ever sees the outside of a brig it would be a gross miscarriage of justice. If we ever hope to plug such leaks his punishment should be swift and severe.