Goldsmith on WikiLeaks


Over at Lawfare, former OLC head Jack Goldsmith has a very nice, compact summary of what I think are the main points in the great WikiLeaks controversy. In particular, even for those who take a dimmer view of WikiLeaks and its founder than Goldsmith does, I really think a lot of people aren’t thinking hard enough about his fourth point:

Whatever one thinks of what Assange is doing, the flailing U.S. government reaction has been self-defeating. It cannot stop the publication of the documents that have already leaked out, and it should stop trying, for doing so makes the United States look very weak and gives the documents a greater significance than they deserve. It is also weak and pointless to prevent U.S. officials from viewing the wikileaks documents that the rest of the world can easily see. Also, I think trying to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act would be a mistake. The prosecution could fail for any number of reasons (no legal violation, extradition impossible, First Amendment). Trying but failing to put Assange in jail is worse than not trying at all. And succeeding will harm First Amendment press protections, make a martyr of Assange, and invite further chaotic Internet attacks. The best thing to do — I realize that this is politically impossible — would be to ignore Assange and fix the secrecy system so this does not happen again.

The whole thing is worth a quick read.

UPDATE: Here’s the Guardian on U.S. attempts to take down WikiLeaks:

Attempts to railroad WikiLeaks off the net quickly failed. Removing its hosting servers has increased WikiLeaks’ ability to stay online. More than 1,300 volunteer “mirror” sites, including the French newspaper Libération, have already surfaced to store the classified cables. Within days the WikiLeaks web content had spread across so many enclaves of the internet it was immune to attack by any single legal authority. In some respects, WikiLeaks has never been safer or as aggressively defended.

Italics mine. The rest of the piece is a look at the hacker community that’s defending WikiLeaks, and it’s interesting throughout.