Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has taken to her trademark social media platforms to deliver some oddly Twitzophrenic reactions to the recent Wikileaks document dump. On her Twitter feed, Palin compares the Wikileaks scandal to her legal battle against Gawker’s leak of excerpts from her book, while Facebook Palin wonders why the Obama administration isn’t treating Wikileaks just like al Qaeda and the Taliban. Palin’s scattershot reactions are emblematic of the partisan feeding frenzy over the still-developing response to Wikileaks.
First, Palin posed this query via her Twitter feed:
Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book “America by Heart” from being leaked,but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?
It shouldn’t take a finely-tuned legal mind to explain the difference between a copyright dispute and a possible violation of the Espionage Act, but Palin’s comparison fails even on its own terms. Her legal action against Gawker didn’t stop the excerpts of America by Heart from being leaked. Those excerpts remained online for over a week before Gawker took them down, and the very same excerpts remained online, despite the legal action, at pro-Palin sites who quoted them extensively.
If anything, the administration’s current effort to criminally prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange follows the exact same trajectory as Palin’s anti-Gawker effort.
On Facebook, Palin asks “Serious Questions about the Obama Administration’s Incompetence in the Wikileaks Fiasco,” such as:
…what steps were taken to stop Wikileaks director Julian Assange from distributing this highly sensitive classified material especially after he had already published material not once but twice in the previous months?
Why was (Assange) not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?
What if any diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on NATO, EU, and other allies to disrupt Wikileaks’ technical infrastructure?
Did we use all the cyber tools at our disposal to permanently dismantle Wikileaks?
Were individuals working for Wikileaks on these document leaks investigated?
Shouldn’t they at least have had their financial assets frozen just as we do to individuals who provide material support for terrorist organizations?
How was it possible that a 22-year-old Private First Class could get unrestricted access to so much highly sensitive information?
And how was it possible that he could copy and distribute these files without anyone noticing that security was compromised?
But why did the White House not publish these orders (to prevent future leaks) after the first leak back in July?
What explains this strange lack of urgency on their part?
Of course, some of Palin’s questions have already been answered, but most of them proceed from a fatally flawed premise. Palin and her haymaking ilk seem to think that the best way to respond to a leak of highly sensitive, secret information is to immediately reveal all of our highly sensitive, possibly secret plans to deal with it.
While there may end up being valid criticisms of the Obama administration’s response to these leaks, it is unfair and unwise to rush to judgment while they are being necessarily cautious in responding. They must not only avoid tipping their hand, but the President is also wise not to shoot from the hip, and make statements that could possibly damage the United States’ legal position against Assange and Wikileaks. Although the press has long lamented President Obama’s at-times too cool temperament, sometimes grown-ups have to resist the urge to throw a tantrum.
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