Private First Class Bradley Manning, arrested in May and transferred from Iraq to a detention center in Kuwait, has now been formally charged with passing a classified video to Wikileaks.org, and also with providing the shadowy website with more than 50 classified State Department cables. According to the New York Times, the “more than” might mean that as many as 150,000 classified documents were leaked.
Whatever the ultimate fate of Manning in the military justice system, such indiscriminate leaking brings to the fore the problems posed by WikiLeaks, which describes itself as a “whistleblower’s site.” I wrote about some of these problems in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. A different view—and one even more pointed—now comes from Steven Aftergood, the editor of Secrecy News, published by the Federation of American Scientists. Aftergood is an impassioned advocate of governmental transparency, and probably the best-informed student of secrecy in the country. WikiLeaks, he writes, “must be counted among the enemies of open society because it does not respect the rule of law nor does it honor the rights of individuals.”
The entire entry is indispensable reading. Because Aftergood stands squarely on the liberal side of the political spectrum, his views are all the more important in shaping the emerging consensus, spanning Left and Right, that WikiLeaks is an assault on democratic governance.