You heard me….it won’t be drone aircraft, or smart bombs or IED’s, important as they’ve been. It will be the lone disgruntled soldier, staring into his computer screen and clicking his mouse, instantly sending secret war documents to WikiLeaks for publication on its website.
Today WikiLeaks unveils that it received nearly one hundred thousand secret documents outlining covert operations, military battles, and naming names.
In other times, in other wars, this would be considered an act of treason. But today? Who knows. Can we track the leakers down? Can we prosecute WikiLeaks for publishing classified information? Everybody involved will scream First Amendment rights, freedom of the press, protecting sources.
The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, said he expects a 'substantial increase in submissions' of more secret military documents. He blithely waved off accusations that the leaks compromise America's national security and could put the lives of Americans and our allies at risk. As to whether WikiLeaks committed a crime, Assange says no, but the leaked documents suggest it was the US military that committed crimes - war crimes!
The WikiLeaks folks knew what they were doing - they gave a few select liberal newspapers around the world an advance peek of the documents. They chose the New York Times, presumably in part because it was the paper that published the top secret Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, and won a Supreme Court case establishing their legal right to do so.
The leaked documents don’t reveal much we didn’t already know. The Afghanistan War was under resourced almost from the start. After initial successes, we steadily lost ground as Taliban forces regrouped in Pakistan and headed back to Afghanistan to fight an insurgency. The Pakistani intelligence services are closely tied to some Taliban groups. The Karzai government is corrupt and incompetent.
But the long term significance of this cannot be underestimated. Will any intelligence or military secrets be safe? Will every field lieutenant have to assume his after-action battle report could find its way into print? Will every general have to weigh how his top secret orders might be taken out of context, and edited down by someone with an axe to grind? Will the margin of victory come down to whether an unhappy file clerk clicks Send?
No one knows what the long term ramifications are of a world where no secret information is safe. But most people fear - for good or for ill - that there is no going back.
Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. She is frequent contributor to the FOX Forum and Foxnews.com's "Strategy Room." She also appears weekly in the Foxnews.com video blog "DefCon3."
Fox Forum is on Twitter. Follow us @fxnopinion.
Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland is a Fox News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com's "DefCon 3." She served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. She was an aide to Dr. Henry Kissinger at the White House, and in 1984 Ms. McFarland wrote Secretary of Defense Weinberger's groundbreaking "Principles of War " speech. She received the Defense Department's highest civilian award for her work in the Reagan administration.