NEW YORK — On Christmas night 1776, George Washington and his troops silently crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania east into New Jersey. They pounced on snoring Hessian mercenaries at their barracks in Trenton. Washington’s surprise attack vanquished the pro-British unit. This unexpected victory rejuvenated the American Revolution just when the cause looked lost.
Were they alive back then, Army Private Bradley Manning (alleged purveyor of some 250,000 secret diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks) might have forwarded Washington’s covert plans to Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ founder. Assange would have galloped on horseback through Trenton’s snow-clogged streets yelling, “The Yankees are coming! The Yankees are coming!” — all to “inform the public.”
Roused from their sleep, the Hessians might have crushed Washington and his men and, thus, the Revolution. If so, we now would drink warm beer at cricket matches.
WikiLeakers and their increasingly vocal apologists are stunningly oblivious to military and diplomatic secrecy’s role in preserving freedom and national security. Informing the American people is a noble objective. Unfortunately, our enemies listen in.
Germany was unaware that Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt read Adolf Hitler’s military commands, thanks to captured Nazi Enigma coding machines. England kept this secret until 1974 — 29 years after Hitler put a gun to his temple in the Fuhrerbunker.
WikiLeaks about Jimmy Doolittle’s post-Pearl Harbor raid on Tokyo would have knocked American airplanes from Japanese skies. Likewise, “the public’s right to know” about D-Day would have told the Nazis that Eisenhower was en route and turned Normandy beach into an American Waterloo.
WikiLeaks’ operators and supporters either recklessly disregard the implications of their revelations or actively subvert U.S. interests, while risking mayhem against Americans and our allies.
• WikiLeaks disclosed that a major Mediterranean city has become an al-Qaeda hotbed. (To limit further damage, I have excluded its name.) Consequently, American diplomats there have redoubled their counter-terror efforts. WikiLeaks exposed this to America’s biggest enemy, placing a giant bull’s eye on the relevant U.S. outpost and jeopardizing the country that hosts it.
• WikiLeaks posted diplomatic cables detailing critical infrastructure overseas, such as pipelines and vaccine factories. What a perfect target list for those who want to see “infidels” sick or dead.
• WikiLeaks blabbed that China seems sanguine about Seoul controlling the entire Korean Peninsula. Next time Washington asks China to babysit Kim Jong Il, it will not help that leaked U.S. cables outed Beijing as less than thrilled with Pyongyang. This raises, not lowers, the odds that Kim will lob more explosives (conventional or atomic) at South Korea, possibly hitting American GIs and perhaps dragging America into another Korean War.
Since it is painfully clear that America cannot keep secrets (an old problem that WikiLeaks has updated) foreign intelligence sources will tend to clam up. Why whisper to American officials when the result is like shouting into a bullhorn?
Nonetheless, a group called WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org argues that “WikiLeaks performs an invaluable service to the broad U.S. and global public with a commitment to the protection of human rights and the rule of law.” Academy Award winning filmmaker Michael Moore offered $20,000 toward Assange’s bail. “He should be thanked and honored, not abused and jailed,” Moore declared Tuesday.
WikiLeaks will snuff innocent lives, if it has not done so already.
The U.S. remains at war with Muslim fanatics who plot mass murder against Americans and our friends overseas. From Mogadishu to Tehran to Pyongyang, bad men wish America the worst. That’s why WikiLeaks is neither funny, nor cute, nor just a “newsy” offshoot of the logorrhea that fuels breathless “Tweets” about Kardashian leg waxings and such.
Underscoring this point also serves justice. WikiLeaks’ chief source, Private Bradley Manning, should be court-martialed for espionage and treason. If convicted, he should be placed against a wall and executed by firing squad. (If extradited here, Assange deserves the same sendoff.) Maybe that will convince Americans to stop flapping our gums about things that will get us killed.
* New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.