If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be prudent for the U.S. government to attempt legal action to preclude the further release of what it says is its stolen property?
At least that would clarify, in the minds of us all, the legality of what WikiLeaks is doing.
If it’s legal for it to obtain and release the information – the court will so-rule and its founder, Julian Assange, might no longer fear that he would face criminal prosecution in the United States.
If the court rules it is illegal to release the information – it might constrain WikiLeaks from doing so.
An analogy could be made to the Pentagon Papers. The government challenged, in court, the reporting of the papers, which it similarly argued were illegally obtained by the New York Times. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that to preclude their publication would constitute prior restraint and would infringe on the First Amendment. After the ruling, the Times reported on them.
The nation did not, as the Pentagon had feared, collapse under the revelation of these state secrets. To the contrary, Americans got a better look at how the Johnson administration had lied to the public to better entrench the United States in the Vietnam War.
Our innocence, as a nation, ended with that – and the people became more aware of how government works behind closed doors – how the very people we elect – even those to the highest office of the land – will lie to the people they’ve taken an oath to serve to get their way.
History will judge whether WikiLeaks is providing a service or undermining national security – just as history is judging now the effects on national security of the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
There are differences, of course, between those leaks and today’s. Today there is no Mike Gravel in Congress.
Gravel (D-AK), read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record to ensure that they would be publicly debated. Perhaps if a member of Congress has similar courage today to do likewise, the cables in WikiLeaks possession can be read on the floor - making them a matter of public record as well.