Ecuador must've gotten the seven-year itch. They finally got rid of The Guest Who Wouldn't Leave, aka the saboteur Julian Assange. Welcome, Mr. Assange, to the outside world and jail.
In June of 1942, authorities on the American East Coast picked up a few Germans after the failed Operation Pastorius. The Germans were saboteurs who wished harm upon the United States, and had the equipment and training to do it. After a military tribunal, most were executed and buried in a potter's field. It's doubtful that kind of fate awaits Julian Assange, but that doesn't mean he did no harm. The Germans surely did much less.
Mr. Assange has been evading authorities for seven years. He faced a rape charge in Sweden at one point (and still might now that he's in the open again) and still faces other changes in Britain. After much fuss and ado, the Ecuadorian embassy in London finally got tired of him and showed him the door. Scotland Yard has him now.
Actually, the Ecuadorians have been tired of him for years. In March of 2018, the embassy cut off his Internet access in a hint as to his fading welcome. If that doesn't vex a modern hacker, nothing will.
As soon as the Brits and Swedes are done with him, maybe even before, the Americans have a few questions, and indictments. Prosecutors on these shores are already lining up charges that he conspired with former Army private Chelsea Manning to break into computers and leak classified information. Better said, to make public one of the largest leaks of classified material in U.S. history. Even better said, to give our enemies more classified information about the United States than anybody in the history of this country, from Benedict Arnold to Robert Hanssen.
Initial dispatches from United States sources say Mr. Assange only faces a few years behind bars for hacking and computer crimes. But those are just initial dispatches. Authorities here should throw the book at him. Then their pens.
For there really is no telling how much harm WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have done to this country. First, and maybe most importantly in the long-term, friends and allies around the world might be less inclined to work with, or even talk to, American intelligence.
Intelligence isn't to be confused with intelligence, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, but our spooks need help from inside sources. Inside foreign countries. Inside foreign armies. Inside foreign terrorist outfits. This whole WikiLeaks fiasco shows that, once again, it may be dangerous to be America's enemy in this world, but it can be fatal to be her ally.
And we haven't even talked about what our enemies learned from the leaks. We wonder if anybody in American intelligence can guess at how many people, our people, have been killed, or might have been killed, after this information was dumped on the Internet. Or what secrets and tactics are no longer useful because the enemy has been alerted.
Sabotage? Can there be another name?
WikiLeaks dumped secret files about the Guantanamo prison, published NSA intercepts, CIA correspondence, even trade negotiation documents. Any embarrassing emails Mr. Assange released from the Democratic Party during the late campaign for president might have been embarrassing in a few precincts, but they weren't deadly. He should be prosecuted on the deadly stuff.
It comes as no surprise that the Ecuadorans could no longer put up with their guest, because of his personal habits. No less than the president of Ecuador put out a statement saying the WikiLeaks founder blocked security cameras, treated guards like trash and, according to the papers, even smeared human waste on the walls. Nice guy.
So nice that he needs a fair trial and a good sentencing. We don't do good hangings anymore, for which Julian Assange should count his lucky stars.
Editorial on 04/14/2019
Print Headline: Justice delayed