Dissenting Libertarian Take on Wikileaks and Bradley Manning

In his Cato-at-Liberty post A Nobel Peace Prize for Julian Assange?, Roger Pilon has a take on Assange and related matters a tad different from that of most libertarians I know. I think bolding a few interesting passages is enough of a commentary. This should not too surprising, given Pilon’s defense of the Police America Act and his view that it is not unconstitutional for the President to go to war without a declaration from Congress.

Anyway, in the post, Pilon writes:

Today POLITICO Arena asks:

Does WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange deserve a Nobel Peace Prize, as Norwegian parliamentarian Snorre Valen urges, calling him “one of the most important contributors to freedom of speech and transparency”?

My response:

A Nobel Peace Prize for Julian Assange? Please! He’s a fence for stolen goods. Transparency has its place. But nations, like individuals and private organizations, need to conduct their business with varying degrees of confidence. Look at Egypt at the moment, where American, Egyptian, and other officials are conducting delicate negotiations in the context of a potentially explosive situation. Only the most naive would expect those to be fully transparent. That’s why all nations have strict rules about classified materials.

Is classification abused? Of course it is. In my experience in government, far too much was classified, often for the wrong reasons. But that’s hardly ground for abandoning classification. And if we have a classification system, it has to be enforced. If the alleged source of the WikiLeaks trove, Pfc. Bradley Manning, is proven guilty, he should be fully punished. It’s unclear whether our law can reach Assange, but surely he should not be honored, whatever incidental good may have come here and there from his duplicity. Not only would awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize dishonor the prize and so many who’ve received it before him, but it would contribute to undermining the very system of confidential communications that is essential to peace. The very idea should be put to rest, in the name of peace.

Update: A reader sent me this email:

I thought it was funny how Roger Pilon, among other things, was concerned on behalf about the Nobel Peace Prize being dishonored.  Hello!  The nobel peace prize was dishonored as early as when it was given to Henry Kissinger in 1973, but more recently, it was a complete joke when given to Barack Obama.

Whereas before it was given to Obama, it could still just baaarely eke out some actual honor, even when given to Al Gore (professional huckster and fear monger), the IPCC (same), the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces (can’t stop the bad guys, but are sure skilled at kidnapping and doing god knows what to 3rd world kids) , the United Nations in general, Yasser Arafat, even Woodrow Wilson.

Also: As I noted here, Pilon also endorses the clearly unlibertarian and unconstitutional Civil Rights Act of 1964 since it abolished (state) Jim Crow laws, even though that law also outlaws discrimination in the private workplace; though, as noted here, to his credit, his article “Corporations and Rights: On Treating Corporate People Justly” has some very good stuff on why limited liability does not give any special privilege to shareholders.

Update: Three people, either not noticing the block quote indentions or not reading closely, have emailed me to excoriate me, either assuming I wrote, or was endorsing, the above quoted words. Let me put those inferences to rest. I’m afraid I’m of the Murray Rothbard Do You Hate the State? school of libertarianism, which one can hardly imagine Pilon subscribing to (see also Roderick Long’s How Roger Pilon Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Empire).


2:44 pm on February 2, 2011