If we had a president in the White House who understood that we are at war with a crazed faction of Islam, and was willing to act on that belief, there would be no question about how we should deal with people who give aid and comfort to the enemy -- they'd be tried for treason and when found guilty stood up before a firing squad.
Julian Assange and his fellow conspirator, Pvt. Bradley Manning, allegedly betrayed the United States, gave aid and comfort to the terrorists who seek to destroy the United States, and if found guilty, they deserve nothing less than death sentences for their unspeakable crimes. Their pitifully lame excuse that they were merely trying to provide information to the American people that was being improperly withheld from them by the government is on a par with Benedict Arnold's claim that he was merely trying to inform the British on information the American people believed they deserved to have.
On the contrary, the public does not have the right to know everything -- some information needs to be kept secret, if the public's safety is to be assured. Consumers do not need to know the gory details of how sausage is made, nor do the people need to be made aware of all of the details of what is being done to protect them. Nobody ever demanded that those scientists engaged in building the atomic bomb that ended the war with Japan should do their work openly and share their secrets with the public.
The release of these so-called WikiLeaks documents has put the American people at risk, as Secretary of State Clinton has said, and the two culprits deserve to be made to pay the price for their treasonous actions. Pvt. Bradley Manning, the soldier who is alleged to have illegally obtained the documents, is already behind bars where, if justice is to be served, he will remain for the rest of his life. Assange's punishment is yet to be determined, but it should be equally as harsh, if, indeed, he escapes the hangman's noose, although he should not.
According to news reports, the feds are attempting to learn whether Assange violated any criminal laws, most notably those covered under the Espionage Act. Both the Justice (DOJ) and Defense Departments say they are conducting "an active ongoing criminal investigation" of the entire matter, but there is no question of the serious nature of the crimes committed by Assange and Manning.
Moreover, the FBI is currently looking into the activities of all those who had come into possession of the subject documents, especially those who provided secret information to Assange's WikiLeaks organization. If they are found to be culpable, they should be harshly punished. There are problems involved in prosecuting the two men. Legal experts warn that prosecuting those charged with illegally leaking classified documents is difficult for a number of reasons, not the least being persuading foreign governments to hand Assange -- who lives abroad -- over to U.S. prosecutors.
It should be kept in mind that Assange and Manning are not the only entities who have put the American people at risk. Those in the media who couldn't wait to publish the information given them by the pair are equally guilty of endangering the American people. Indeed, it has been reported that DOJ is warning that media organizations could well be subject to prosecution, although that is said not to be in the cards because Justice fears possible violations of the First Amendment, and is fully aware that it has never prosecuted such a matter. According to Kenneth Wainstein, former assistant attorney general in the national security division, "Whenever you're talking about a media organization, the department is going to look very closely to ensure that any prosecution doesn't undermine the valid First Amendment functioning of the press."
Jeffrey H. Smith, a former CIA general counsel, noted that Assange is the DOJ's target. "I'm confident that the Justice Department is figuring out how to prosecute him," Smith told reporters.
They need to go further than that. They need to be figuring out how to hang him.
Michael Reagan is the elder son of President Ronald Reagan and a political consultant. E-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.