WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange committed the worst possible crime, but it's not the one that the U.S. government wants to prosecute him for. His most serious offense isn't the theft or publication of thousands of documents, but the loss of face he has caused for some very powerful people.
Hillary Clinton has vowed to vigorously investigate and prosecute those responsible, but who is really to blame? Julian Assange published the documents, and it may be possible to prove he had some complicity in the theft, but he has no responsibility for the lapses in security, and he certainly wasn't the author of these documents.
Australia's foreign minister has said the US is to blame for the release of thousands of diplomatic cables on Wikileaks, not its Australian founder, Julian Assange. He went on to say that these leaks throw into question the state of American security. Mr. Rudd certainly isn't the only one who feels that WikiLeaks is being used to divert attention from those who should be taking at least some of the responsibility for this diplomatic disaster. There appears to be at least as much support for Julian Assange as for those trying to prosecute him.
Attempts to shut down WikiLeaks only resulted in thousands of mirror sites taking over, and companies cutting off WikiLeaks' funding saw their sites targeted. The American authorities, not surprisingly, labeled those responsible as criminal hackers. Others see their actions as a legitimate protest against government control.
It's convenient to keep the focus on Julian Assange, and away from American liability or criminal wrongdoing. There is a concerted effort to label these leaks as a foreign attack, and even an act of terrorism, but is this an accurate interpretation of the facts, or simply face-saving spin by an embarrassed government?
Julian Assange makes a convenient scapegoat, as a foreigner and head of an organization that operates outside of the United States. American authorities would love to make him the sole villain in this affair.
Is there any reality to the idea that this diplomatic fiasco is entirely the work of a foreign terrorist organization? It is at best a shaky premise. The idea that Julian Assange is a professional spy, who infiltrated American security agencies to make off with thousands of classified documents, is hard to swallow. Branding a website that merely publishes whatever embarrassing information that comes its way a terrorist organization only makes U.S. officials look silly (or desperate).