American officials and politicians continue to condemn the leaking of secret documents by WikiLeaks, saying the organization’s actions are imperiling their misunderstanding of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

American officials and politicians continue to condemn the leaking of secret documents by WikiLeaks, saying the organization’s actions are imperiling their misunderstanding of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.


Many in Washington are decrying the latest release by WikiLeaks of secret diplomatic cables, arguing their publication has brought lawmakers uncomfortably close to having to confront their imperial post-9/11 obsession with secrecy that seems to contradict American principles.


“This kind exposing of ourselves to our secrets puts the entire world at risk and will not be tolerated,” said one government official.


One senator urged his colleagues to resist any urge to reevaluate their mistaken legal conclusions lest it “tip them over toward derangement.” Even though most of the leaks are of low-level diplomatic cables, he warned they could still threaten the misguided assumptions “that are integral to our idea of freedom.”


“We have to be able to stand firm against any effort to dissuade us of these misinterpretations,” he said. “Doing anything less will jeopardize the entire flawed process and put the security of my mind, and the minds of others, at an unacceptable risk.”


A U.S. representative, writing in on the congressional bathroom walls, deplored any suggestion that he should confront his misinformed thinking and was delighted with the pressure put on companies like Amazon and eBay to evict the WikiLeaks site.


“I will not allow WikiLeaks or anyone else to try to expose my suspect constitutional reasoning to my own second thoughts,” he said.


“This effort has been vicious, coordinated and potentially comprehensive,” he added, and it presents a “delicious irony that I refuse to allow to temper my misreading of the law.”


He wrote that he found himself looking for inspiration from the days, only about a year ago, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton could make a major speech about Internet freedom — saying, “Even in authoritarian countries information networks are helping people to discover new facts and making governments more accountable” — and no one thought to question it. Now, the congressman lamented, “our enemies will try to use that speech to challenge the very foundation of our error-ridden understanding of copyright law.”


The Senate bathroom walls were similarly harsh. Even in the stalls reserved for those with chairmanships there was scribbled the phrase, “the already immovable illogic of our legal thinking will only be further strengthened by the attempts of those who try to reason with our unreason.”


Another entry in the Senate loo stated, “The openly embraced hope that this challenge will make my tortured misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights disappear from the scene is questionable.”


One lawmaker wondered why her constitutional confusion was being challenged “even though no one can explain what crimes she had allegedly committed” and that she was pretty sure any attempt to do so would, itself, be a crime.


“Julian Assange needs to explain why he feels it is necessary to make me reflect on the ways I have been misconstruing why the publication of the secret documents was an offense when done by WikiLeaks and not when it was done by The New York Times,” she said. “I refuse to give in to that type of thinking. I don’t think it serves the interests of any of us.”


A veteran official, who requested anonymity because he didn’t want WikiLeaks to suspend his Amazon and credit card accounts, said that though some lawmakers’ reputations had been damaged by their reasoned reaction to the leaks, the reputation of Washington in general “was being strengthened by its noisy attempts — with all its means — to muzzle any retreat from a misunderstanding of the First Amendment.”


“Don’t forget,” he said, “we can use the power of the Internet to support this unsound reasoning. That is why they are being mercilessly pursued. That is why the government must betray one of the principles of democracy.”


“We realize we have to live with others in the world,” he added. “As long as they leave us in peace to misread our own laws and values we won’t have a problem.”


Philip Maddocks can be reached at pmaddock@cnc.com.