While doing online research on an unrelated subject the other day, I stumbled upon a trove of State Department cables released by Wikileaks in 2010. Dozens of these cables, most classified, had my name on them either as classifier or as chargé d'affaires in keeping with Department reporting protocols. They provided our embassy's best analysis of our host country and its leadership, often citing sensitive sources.
My heart sank when I saw these documents. I was aware that some of my reporting as a Foreign Service officer was among the documents passed by Pvt. Bradley Manning to Wikileaks, but I had no idea so much of it was part of the quarter-of-a-million leaked State Department cables. Frankly, I didn't want to know. Now I know. The Wikileaks fiasco has gotten very personal for me, more than a decade since my having left government service. I read with dread the excellent candid analyses our embassy officers wrote on foreign leaders, their policy directions, along with policy recommendations for Washington decisionmakers. I say with dread because Manning and his Wikileaks accomplices gave away the farm. By exposing such information, foreign leaders can stay two steps ahead of us in formulating their own policy directions vis-a-vis the United States. The dread further extends to those contacts who assumed we could keep secrets when confiding to us. How many will talk to us now? In my earlier posts on Wikileaks, I likened diplomacy to a poker game. If your opponents know all of your cards, assume the game is over. Wikileaks and its fellow travelers either don't get this, or they are driven by pure malice toward the United States. My take is that they indeed do get it and it's malice that drives them. Their so-called commitment to "openness" and "transparency" is simply cover for their misguided anarchistic beliefs.
Bradley Manning was sentenced by a military judge to thirty-five years imprisonment today, of which he is required to serve about a third. Assuming he serves at least half of the sentence, it is a high price to pay for a young man for having acted so irresponsibly. Does the punishment fit the crime? Personally speaking, if he doesn't do the full sentence, no. Thirty-five years is a small price to pay for inflicting serious injury to this country's national security and endangering those who take us into their trust.
You'll have plenty of downtime to ponder your action, Manning. You'll have all the time in the world to contemplate how you pissed away your youth. Your vocal supporters will constantly agitate for your parole. But they, too, will be wasting their time, which is about the only satisfaction that I get out of this whole sorry affair.