By Roger Pilon
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”?
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.