When I was in college “24” was all the rage, and any red-blooded patriot cheered when Jack Bauer did what was necessary to catch a terrorist before he could inflict harm to the homeland. For those of us who remember where we were when the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11th, 2001, homeland security means something. The sense of fear and rage that permeated the American landscape in the aftermath of that day of fire gave all of us a sense of urgency about protecting America, and we honored the men and women on the front lines fighting for our freedom. The Central Intelligence Agency, the NSA, and the FBI all constitute front-line agencies in the ongoing war on radical Islamic terrorism, and they should be afforded our respect. Instead of siding with Julian Assange and Wikileaks, American leaders ought to denounce the actions of this man who is waging cyber-war on America.
Media personalities like Sean Hannity ought to be ashamed at their role in bolstering the reputation of Assange, effectively turning him into a conservative hero during the 2016 presidential election. While I am glad that Hillary Clinton is not president, and am dismayed at the horrible things she and her staff said about everyday Americans, the idea that Julian Assange sought to help Republicans is ludicrous. For people like Hannity to say that he “believes everything he [Assange] says” is absurd. Julian Assange has consistently targeted American intelligence services and dumped damaging dossiers that undermine our national security. Interestingly, Assange has never sought to target Russian or Chinese intelligence services, which betrays his anti-American agenda.
President Trump was right this week to denounce Wikileaks’ release of classified CIA information regarding its intelligence gathering techniques. Praising a non-state actor that is jeopardizing our nation’s ability to gather vital intelligence necessary to protect the homeland is unconscionable. The CIA is not the enemy of the American people; those they are trying to stop are the enemies of our country. When Wikileaks released information about the CIA’s ability to turn smart phones and tablets into listening devices even while those devices are off, they tipped-off the terrorists to these tactics used to stop their attacks. Wikileaks, of course, made it seem that these surveillance programs were being used to target innocent civilians, but no such evidence has been produced.
There is nothing wrong with America’s intelligence community having state-of-the-art tools to target enemies of human freedom. There is nothing wrong with CIA analysts turning smart phones and tablets into surveillance tools when the target is a non-U.S. person under suspicion of the United States. Abuse of these programs should be what concerns the American people, not their mere existence. The men and women of America’s intelligence community are not monsters hell-bent on spying on their fellow Americans; they are dedicated patriots who are seeking to secure our way of life.
The actions of political appointees in the intelligence community have undermined Americans’ confidence in the institutions themselves, but it should not be this way. While we witnessed officials in the Obama Administration use the IRS to target conservative groups, and the Holder Justice Department cover-up everything from Fast and Furious to Benghazi, we should not allow the actions of a few to undermine our confidence in the many. Most employees of the CIA, NSA, and FBI are “lifers” who serve under both Republican and Democratic Administrations. While the directors of these agencies may be political appointees, most of the men and women actually carrying-out operations are seasoned professionals who would not jeopardize their careers or freedom to abuse their surveillance powers.
The men and women of America’s intelligence services are the real heroes for defending our civil liberties, not Julian Assange and the crew at Wikileaks.