Marc Thiessen Doesn’t Like It When The Internet Does What It Does

August 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m going to start throwing politics beneath the jump to maintain a little homepage continuity.

Politics below…

Wow, it’s even happening faster than I expected. Last week I said:

So, in summary: American outrage over Normal If Unseemly Behavior will subside to near-nothing, and the governments of the world will 1) realize “oh shit the Internet means business”, 2) overreact and try to regulate it as a defense maneuver, 3) eventually surrender and allow itself to be drastically reformed.

Well it didn’t take long for America’s Finest Defender of Tyranny, Marc Thiessen, to get on the mic and start spittin’ some grade-A police state violence:

And WikiLeaks is preparing to do more damage. Assange claims to be in possession of 15,000 even more sensitive documents, which he is reportedly preparing to release. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told ABC News that Assange had a “moral culpability” for the harm he has caused. Well, the Obama administration has a moral responsibility to stop him from wreaking even more damage.

Assange is a non-U.S. citizen operating outside the territory of the United States. This means the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business.

The first step is for the Justice Department to indict Assange. Such an indictment could be sealed to prevent him from knowing that the United States is seeking his arrest. The United States should then work with its international law enforcement partners to apprehend and extradite him.

Assange seems to believe, incorrectly, that he is immune to arrest so long as he stays outside the United States. He leads a nomadic existence, operating in countries such as Sweden, Belgium and Iceland, where he believes he enjoys the protection of “beneficial laws.” (He recently worked with the Icelandic parliament to pass legislation effectively making the country a haven for WikiLeaks). The United States should make clear that it will not tolerate any country — and particularly NATO allies such as Belgium and Iceland — providing safe haven for criminals who put the lives of NATO forces at risk.

With appropriate diplomatic pressure, these governments may cooperate in bringing Assange to justice. But if they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval. In 1989, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum entitled “Authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Override International Law in Extraterritorial Law Enforcement Activities.”

Advocating military action in our allies’ jurisdiction against said allies’ will? Wow, that premium nuttery. It’s almost as if Thiessen has no idea how he sounds. I’m struggling to figure out if that’s the case (one of blind ignorance) or if he in fact knows how he sounds and is okay with playing the role of a Wormtongue or hackneyed State Brutalist, the kind that always seems to be played by James Cromwell. Given that Thiessen was Secretary Rumsfeld’s speechwriter when the U.S. government did the exact thing he’s suggesting, I’m leaning more towards the really really evil option.

Also note that Thiessen is advocating a different form of censorship than the Chinese, but it’s only one of direction rather than intent. The Chinese put filters on the computers to stifle the Internet, Thiessen would like to filter the Internet to stifle content. I think he overestimates the efficacy of the US gov’t, btw, as I know several Chinese people who have no problem hopping around their government’s efforts, and I don’t foresee anything differently here.

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out, but my suspicions are that significant portions of the U.S. don’t view WikiLeaks as a criminal syndicate, and that just because the U.S. government doesn’t like what they’re doing doesn’t make WikiLeaks did a moral crime.

But, again, let’s focus on the positives here: we’ve found our first asshat politico to shout DERPDERP MAKE THE INTERNET STOP DERP. Let’s keep it up!

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