Our country today faces dangerous terrorists that need to be taken out. Some carry out the plots, some recruit, some train, some supply funding, some supply weapons and other material, and some supply information about our weaknesses. By supplying information that hurts our national security where our enemies may see it, Mr. Assange is operating as a member of our enemies’ communication department. He need not be formally affiliated with any country or registered corporation to be one of our enemies. Al-queda itself is largely an informal network of quasi-autonomous cells that may or may not help each other out when asked. Many people see him as nothing more than a terrorist himself.
On the other hand, many have pointed out that what Mr. Assange has done is not so different from journalism. Journalists often report things that are leaked to them that may have some impact on national security and this is commonly accepted. The press is free so that it may continue to be a check on government abuse.
I realized after hearing this that there is little that the press can report on that does not impact national security in some small way. Who is to determine when the line has been crossed? Suppose a president is accused of sexual harassment (again). In a democracy, don’t we have the right to know? At the same time, won’t this make our allies think less of us, eroding our clout?
Clearly, there is a need for some means to go after the press, or else all who mastermind terrorist plots will claim to be nothing more than members of the press, but it should not be the government that determines guilt. Perhaps a special jury of some kind could be selected to determine whether or not the act in question “passed the line” from “the public needs to know more than we need our enemies not to” to “our enemies need not to know more than the public does need to know.” A system like this should force journalists to use their better judgment when reporting sensitive stories, but using juries should keep the power to decide the norms in the hands of the people instead of the government.
Naturally, we will still have disagreements where the line is, but isn’t settling these disagreements in some formal way (a trial) better than yelling at each other from our soapboxes until one side or the other feels they have no other choice but armed conflict?
I have already asked one man I know if this compromise would be acceptable. He said yes. His only concern was if the government would try to rig it in some way. I’ll leave the details up to others, but would my plan, or something like it, be acceptable to you?