The WikiLeaks docu-dump has been heralded as a “breath of fresh air” and welcome transparency by some journalists, who seem to revel in the breach of classified material. “The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match,” the New York Times notes on its decision to publish 100 secret State Department cables. Times editors excised information they judged to be a security risk. But shaming appears acceptable. “On the other hand, we are less likely to censor candid remarks simply because they might cause a diplomatic controversy or embarrass officials,” the paper says, a strategy that drew “uncomfortable” reactions from Gray Lady loyalists, says Executive Editor Bill Keller.
“The release of these documents means that people will die. It is as simple as that,” writes reader David Stier in a special reader response section. “I cannot say how many, but the butcher’s bill from this sorry ‘disclosure’ will have to be met. Personally, I consider this willful release of secret documents to be treason. I am not a Tea Party fanatic, nor even a Republican. I am proud to be a Democrat and have enjoyed your publication for many years both online and in print. I fear that this relationship will now have to end. I expected better.”
In one of many replies to irate readers concerned that “unelected editors” were determining the fate of sensitive government documents, Mr. Keller responds, “Why do we get to decide? And why did we decide to publish these articles and selected cables? We get to decide because America is cursed with a free press.”
The Wall Street Journal and CNN declined to strike a deal with elusive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is asking for public donations for his group. As the blithe press prattles on about the public’s right to know, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs framed the big reveal as “a serious crime,” while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton deemed it “an attack on the international community.” Others have a grave, visceral response, including Bing West — a former Marine who served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Reagan administration.
“Whoever provided the material to WikiLeaks should be prosecuted under the death sentence, regardless of his or her alleged motivations or mental worries,” says Mr. West, a National Review contributor. “Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups read the Internet avidly, so it is likely that, by now, some individuals who cooperated with America have fled for their lives, or been murdered. Capital punishment is a deterrent to betrayal. As for the founder of WikiLeaks, surely the U.S. government has the power and the motivation to, without physical or illegal methods, make life miserable for him, regardless of where he is.”
Interesting, and way ahead of the curve when it comes to wooing the potential Hispanic voting bloc, should a certain Republican decide to run for president in 2012. Coming Thursday: the Americano Forum and Gala to focus on “sharing American liberty with Hispanics around the globe.” The Americano is a bilingual news website for center-right Hispanics founded by Gingrich Communications; Newt Gingrich himself will give the welcome and join former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan for a discussion on terrorism and transnational crime. The huge cast of speakers includes Jeb Bush Jr.; the topics include “Why Hispanics are natural conservatives.”
It is the proverbial big hoopla at the Washington Hilton. Mr. Gingrich also is hosting the evening gala, featuring the Miami Symphony Orchestra. Among the sponsors: PepsiCo, the Heritage Foundation and marketing giant Fleishman-Hillard.
THE EVOLVING GOP
Behold, a new set of virtues for the Grand Old Party: “Efficient, relevant, professional and credible.” So says Ann Wagner on announcing her bid to chair the Republican National Committee; the former ambassador to Luxembourg and leader of the Missouri Republican Party is the second declared aspirant to replace current chairman Michael S. Steele. The other hopeful at this point is former Republican chairman from Michigan, Saul Anuzis, who is proud of his outside-the-Beltway status, has viable ties with “tea party” activists and has garnered the support of conservative heavyweight Morton C. Blackwell.
Also on the watch list of candidates: Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, former RNC Political Director Gentry Collins, Connecticut GOP Chairman Chris Healy, former RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, RNC official Maria Cino, California GOP Chairman Ron Nehring and Republican Governors Association Executive Director Nick Ayers. Mr. Steele is undecided about his status. Everyone better hustle, though. The Americans for Tax Reform candidate debate at the National Press Club is just 34 days away.
POLL DU JOUR
- 66 percent of likely voters favor cutting the federal payroll by 10 percent in the next decade, by 1 percent a year.