The nonsense of Wikileaks’ grand exhibition these past several months is not something I intended to cover or comment on. Its self-aggrandizement has generated enough international news. But the depth and breadth of these breaches are so stunningly defiant of civilized sensibilities – and possibly laws – I’m wondering….how is this not criminal?

For Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is currently in solitary confinement for his role in stealing the damaging documents and causing them to go viral, it is. But Julian Assange is still out there dropping electronic bombs apparently at will. How eerie the atmosphere surrounding the planned and imminent release of this latest document dump, as if no one in the world could stop one guy on one website from causing an international crisis.

There will be consequences.

The White House last night condemned the “reckless and dangerous action” in releasing the classified US diplomatic cables, saying it could endanger lives and risk relations with friendly countries.

But no consequences for the leaker? Some members of the U.S. government are trying to make sure there are. New York Rep. Peter King says Assange has violated the Espionage Act. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the leaker’s actions amount to an attack on the U.S. and the world.

In her first public comments since the weekend release of the classified State Department cables, Clinton said Monday that online whistleblower Wikileaks acted illegally in posting the material. She said the Obama administration was “aggressively pursuing” those responsible for the leak.

Meaning what?

Obama administration officials said the investigation into the release of 76,911 documents could extend beyond members of the military. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said posting the war logs on the Web jeopardized national security and put the lives of Afghan informants and U.S. military personnel at risk.

However…

Asked what the Obama administration could do to stop the disclosure of more war secrets, Gibbs said, “We can do nothing but implore the person that has those classified top secret documents not to post any more.”

That sounds so implausibly weak.

This whole international affair seems surreal. Look…

WikiLeaks describes itself as a public service organization for whistleblowers, journalists and activists.

And yet journalists (real ones) and human rights workers are among those real, individual people who may now be in harm’s way because of this cyberwar launched by one self-righteous character with a motivating value system strangely similar to a James Bond villain.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the release of the documents deeply damaging and potentially life-threatening for Afghan informants or others who have taken risks to help the U.S. and NATO war effort.

Is this just collateral damage for Assange and Manning on the way to achieving some sort of bizarre goal of chaos, or is that damage the goal itself?

That question is secondary to this one: While trying to contain the consequences of shattered confidences and threatened lives around the world, what will be the consequences for those who pulled that trigger to release these projectiles?

For some media complicit in disseminating Assange’s munitions, consequences are being determined by a group of citizens rapidly diminishing in numbers…their readers.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....