- The Washington Times - Monday, July 26, 2010

FREAKY LEAKY

Why, it’s just like health care reform legislation. The massive Wikileaks release of classified information about U.S. activity in Afghanistan is huge and unwieldy. But the cache of documents — about 75,000 reports — is more than 30 times the size of the health care legislation, give or take a couple of hundred pages. And like health care reform, the principle players admit even they have not read it all.

Julian Assange — the elusive, silver-tressed, 39-year-old Australian computer hacker/activist/nomad who founded Wikileaks four years ago — says he and his “team” read perhaps 2,000 of the documents before rushing them online, in concert with three news organizations. Even the Pentagon can’t gauge “the extent of the damage” to national security, and the assessment could take weeks. Meanwhile, the New York Times was the sole American newspaper to be privy to Mr. Assange’s revelations — and lunged at the chance. And not for the first time.

The New York Times hasn’t shown much regard before now for protecting U.S. efforts to thwart terrorism, as exemplified by James Risen’s 2005 exposure of the monitoring of terrorist suspect phone calls with people inside the U.S.,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker tells Inside the Beltway.

The Times mined seven stories from the documents on Monday alone, including a navel-gazing entry called “Deciding What to Publish” plus a dozen document samples. Are we leery? An online poll from Mediaite.com already reveals that 61 percent of the respondents say the newspaper should not have published the leaked documents at the expense of military secrecy. Thirty-nine percent said the public “has a right to know” about the content.

“The quickness and extent the New York Times decided to devote to addressing outrage from government officials and readers about the damage the publication may cause, is new — and shows the newspaper recognizes that respected experts believe it has gone too far and will cause real harm,” Mr. Baker adds.

THE ASSANGE WATCH

Inquiring minds want to know. The U.S. is mighty vexed at the aforementioned Mr. Assange. Will the proverbial long arm of American law have enough reach?

“Since Assange is not a citizen of this country and does not reside in the United States, it is unclear whether he has enough other contacts for the U.S. to seek his extradition and prosecution,” says Heritage Foundation security analyst Hans von Spakovsky, who notes that e-mails from Mr. Assange revealing that “disclosure of classified information was solicited and accepted” on a U.S.-based Internet server could be the key.

“The Obama administration should not automatically assume that he is unreachable and the Justice Department should look hard at whether it has the ability to prosecute Assange as well as the leaker. If it cannot, then it should use its diplomatic leverage with our ally to see whether Assange can be prosecuted in Australia,” Mr. von Spakovsky advises.

BUSY BUSY BUSY

He might as well peek in on Martha Stewart as well. President Obama will tape an episode of “The View” on Wednesday to air Thursday; but not to worry, the ABC talk show was on the way. Mr. Obama will be attending a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Manhattan as well.

This will be his third appearance on the female-dominated chat fest; Mr. Obama appeared in 2004 when he was still an Illinois senator, and again in 2008 when he was on the campaign trail. The network is all excited though, crowing that the appearance is “the first time in history a sitting United States president has visited a daytime talk show.”

BAG WARS

“I find it amusing that designer Diane von Furstenburg has come out with a $65 ‘Team Pelosi’ tote bag for the Democratic National Committee, since I have been donating Sarah Palin Radio ‘Tea Bags’ for months now. Like they say, imitation is the highest compliment,” LaDonna Hale Curzon, producer and host of Sarah Palin Radio, tells The Beltway.

Indeed, Ms. von Furstenburg has created patriotically themed totes for the cause.

“Since I underwrite the cost myself, the ‘Tea Bags’ are extremely limited edition. I give them to special people — like Gov. Sarah Palin. I plan to have more made and will give them out, free of course, at the 9/12 Tea Party rally in Washington,” Mrs. Curzon continues.

“I guess with Team Pelosi, it’s all about the money. Tea partiers are more about the principle; getting our government back to the ideals expressed in our Constitution. We don’t mind raising money but we are more interested in raising awareness about what is happening to our country,” she adds.

BUH-BYE FOLKS

“The lifting gets lighter when you drop the ball. Congress is about to adjourn for a six-week summer recess — the longest in memory. This despite the fact that Democrats have completely failed to address Americans’ worries about the economy, unemployment, reckless spending, skyrocketing debt, job-killing tax hikes, rising health care costs, endless bailouts, and Washington’s obstruction of private sector success,” says the Republican Study Committee.

“While Vice President Biden and other Democrats seem to think that ‘the heavy lifting is over,’ all the aforementioned issues remain major concerns for the public. Why? Because the heavy lifting is not actually over. Democrats just dropped the ball.”

POLL DU JOUR

87 percent of U.S. voters say it is likely a woman will be elected president in the next 25 years.

32 percent would support a female candidate, 30 percent would support a male candidate in a woman versus man matchup.

43 percent of Republicans would vote for the man, 43 percent of Democrats would vote for the woman.

45 percent of voters overall would support the woman in a Republican woman versus Democratic man matchup, 35 percent would vote for the Democratic man.

14 percent say describing a female candidate as a “feminist” is a positive.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted July 22 and 23.

Oddities, rants and press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com.