Yesterday, Secretary of State Clinton called the disclosure of the WikiLeaks documents "an attack on America's foreign policy interests." She and her colleagues in the Obama administration have proceeded, as they must, to try to limit the diplomatic damage, to reassure allies, to improve security procedures, and to launch criminal investigations.
But all of this still leaves us looking like a pitiful, helpless giant—albeit a pitiful, helpless giant in damage-control mode. Is there nothing to do other than wait this all out in a defensive crouch? Is there no way to counter-attack against the attackers?
Maybe there is. Marc Thiessen argues powerfully in the Washington Post that “the Obama administration has the ability to bring Assange to justice and to put WikiLeaks out of business,” and challenges the administration to do so. And it's hard to see why Thiessen isn't right. Why can't we act forcefully against WikiLeaks? Why can't we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can't we disrupt and destroy WikiLeaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible? Why can't we warn others of repercussions from assisting this criminal enterprise hostile to the United States?
I suspect sufficient legal bases already exist for whatever presidential findings, authorizations, and orders would be needed to be given to intelligence agencies, the military, and federal investigative agencies to do what they need to do to defeat WikiLeaks. But perhaps not. In any case, there's one institution that can quickly find out. Congress has just come back into session. Congress can have emergency hearings—in closed session, if necessary—to find out if the executive branch has the necessary means to defeat WikiLeaks. If it doesn't, Congress can provide additional means and authorities to those that already exist.
But in either case, Congress can act, in an expeditious and bipartisan manner, to encourage and authorize the use by the executive branch of all necessary means to respond to and defeat WikiLeaks. Surely the Obama administration would welcome such congressional action. Surely the nation—and all our friends and allies, amazed and alarmed by our apparent helplessness—would as well.
Taxes are important, but national security comes first. Acting together to degrade, defeat, and destroy WikiLeaks should be the first topic discussed at today's White House meeting between the president and the congressional leadership.