Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Can Eric Holder protect us from the WikiLeaks threat?

Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, 
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and President Obama.

Whenever America is attacked, we have two choices:  we can roll over and die, or we can fight back.  Because we're America, we fight.  How do we fight?  We fight back militarily wherever possible, but because we are society of laws, we also fight by adjusting the balance between freedom and security.

Americans know the time for us to give up freedoms is before we are dead.  Precisely, we have to let go of our freedoms at the point when we are starting to become very afraid.  With respect to the WikiLeaks threat, we are just about at that point today. Americans are clearly terrified of WikiLeaks.   For example:

 Jihun Park  i'm afraid of the wikileaks' side effect. it may leak bloods of innocent people.

 Luke 'Wengles' James  This Wikileaks thing is quite worrying. Afraid it's going to mess up relations all over the world.

 ☆ Haroon ☆ No sleep...  Ugh scared of these wikileaks exposing.

But there's a right way, and a wrong way of sacrificing freedoms. In World War II, FDR made a mistake by interning Japanese Americans by an Executive Order (EO 9066). Because Roosevelt didn't go to Congress, the resulting internment became controversial. And it ended up costing American taxpayers a lot of money.

Fortunately, in 2001 Vice President Dick Cheney showed America how to do things the right way.  He asked Congress to pass the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001" (otherwise known as the USA PATRIOT Act.)

By timely coincidence, the terrorists followed-up the attacks of 9/11 by sending packages of anthrax to Democratic senators and leading members of the liberal news media.  Fully cognizant of the risks America faced, overwhelming majorities in both parties felt compelled to approve the USA PATRIOT Act, which was signed into law on Nov. 18, 2001.

This week America experienced what experts refer to as our "digital 9/11."   In the intelligence and defense communities, it is widely understood that the release of cables by WikiLeaks is the digital equivalent of the attacks of September 11.   Just as the strikes of 9/11 required the USA PATRIOT Act,  a similar response is called for today.   Where is Dick Cheney when we need him?

We may be in luck.  America may have a new Dick.  The Washington Post quotes US Attorney General Eric Holder today:
"To the extent there are gaps in our laws we will move to close those gaps, which is not to say . . . that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or a subject of an investigation that’s ongoing.” He did not indicate that [WikiLeaks founder] Assange is being investigated for possible violations of the Espionage Act.
The attacks by WikiLeaks have demonstrated that information can't be free.  It requires limits.   The time has come for America's lawmakers to act.

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Dr. Rebecca Wolf
Undersecretary for Community and New Media
United States Department of Fear