Much of the mainstream media is missing the important point about the WikiLeaks memos. These memos, recently released, consist of a few hundred thousand classified State Department cables covering diplomatic issues in several countries, primarily in the Middle East.
The memos were allegedly leaked by Private First Class (PFC) Bradley Manning who copied them to a removable storage device and provided copies to the offshore WikiLeaks web site. While there is much consternation among the press and the political elite, I suspect that among diplomatic circles there are not too many surprises.
What boggles the mind, however, is how in the world did a PFC get access to so much (apparently) unencrypted material? Sensitive classified data is compartmentalized, and only those individuals who can demonstrate a “need to know” have the keys to the kingdom. Removable storage devices on classified computers are strictly forbidden except under tightly controlled circumstances. Is security management within the State Department that incompetent? Or was PFC Manning just a tool, used by a rogue State Department executive or military officer in an attempt to discredit President Obama and disrupt the behind-the-scenes progress that is being made in foreign policy?
PFC Manning is facing a half-century in military prison once he is convicted by the often oxymoronically-named military justice system. His languishing in a cell block will serve no purpose toward reversing any damage done or enhancing national security. Instead, the government should work out a plea bargain to ensure that if there is more to this than just a rogue enlisted man’s 15 minutes of fame, that Manning’s manipulators are brought to justice.