Does It Matter If WikiLeaks Source Is Gay?
The posting of a massive trove of sensitive government documents by Wikileaks is sure to have a profound effect on information policy in the international community, and a previous leak of war-related material--including footage of civilians being gunned down in Iraq--has already caused a stir.
But while some are debating whether the leaks serve the causes of transparency and accountability--and whether those purposes provide adequate justifications for such leaks--others have zeroed in on reports that the suspected source of the leaks is a gay (or possibly transgendered) servicemember. Some have even held up the suspect's reported homosexuality (or gender identity) as proof that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should not only be retained, but enforcement of the anti-gay law should be more aggressive.
The question of whether to retain or retire the 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops is itself controversial. A Pentagon study on the issue shows that 70% of servicemembers do not feel that repealing the ban would harm the military, and an even larger percentage of the American public--more than three-quarters, according to a recent poll--favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. But GOP lawmakers, led by John McCain, have blocked repeal in the Senate following approval in the House, and with Republicans having gained Senate control in the last election there is doubt that lawmakers will set the ban aside any time soon. The issue may be settled by the courts--in which case, the matter may prove ultimately more polarizing than if lawmakers had repealed the law themselves.
Leaked military and diplomatic information presents grounds for further debate. Is democracy served by secrecy? Has national security been breached by Wikileaks? What of the role played by a young servicemember, purported to be either gay or transgendered? Are gays a security threat to the military? If so, is it because they are gay--or because they are legally barred from open service? Or is the sexuality of a young man described in the media as a talented hacker who subscribes to the hacker ethos that "information wants to be free" beside the point? Do hackers in uniform, rather than gays, pose a hazard to national security? And are proponents of retaining "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" making a valid point when they point to the case--or muddying the waters by seizing on to a high-profile, highly controversial, and opportune media sensation?
A Nov. 29 posting at Accuracy in Media by the site editor, Cliff Kincaid, accused the mainstream media of glossing over the sexual orientation of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the suspected source of the leaked documents that Wikileaks posted. Accuracy in Media took aim at the New York Times and the Washington Post for having neglected to mention that Manning is reportedly gay; the article then praised the International Business Times for its "honest reporting" in asserting that, "Manning is openly gay and has been active in gay rights movements."
The article shifted the focus from the story away from the leaks and onto the issue of the 17-year-old law that bars openly gay Americans from military service, asking, "But how was this possible if the Pentagon had a policy against gay soldiers?" The article went on to report, "Jonah Knox, the pseudonym for a noncommissioned officer and analyst in the United States Army Reserves, pointed out in an [Accuracy in Media] column that, rather than repeal the Pentagon's homosexual exclusion policy, the WikiLeaks scandal demonstrates that the policy and regulations need to be tightened up."
Knox suggested that the military might be in the habit of disregarding part of the law, writing, "[I]t does not surprise me that the Army may never have investigated Manning for his support of the homosexual agenda, for his frequenting of homosexual events and/or establishments because Department of Defense policy does not seem to allow it." Knox added, "However, Department of Defense and Army regulations did allow the Army to investigate Manning based on his declarations of being a homosexual who despised the Army for not fully embracing the homosexual agenda and not acting quickly enough to repeal DADT."
The Accuracy in Media article went on to refer to Manning's alleged open homosexuality as "insubordination and treason" to which his superiors "turned a blind eye".
Kincaid had authored an earlier article at the Post Chronicle in which he advanced the notion that Manning's alleged conduct was an inevitable result of his purported sexuality. In an Aug. 30 op-ed piece, Kincaid wrote, "[N]ew evidence about the destructive nature of the homosexual lifestyle has surfaced in the treason case of gay soldier Bradley Manning."
Kincaid's op-ed lashed out at S. E. Cupp, a conservative author and "occasional guest on the Fox News Channel," who told "Matt Lewis of Politics Daily that 'Conservatism and gay rights are actually natural allies.' She is, ironically, the author of a book, Losing Our Religion, on how 'Judeo-Christian values' are in danger of being 'relegated to the hush-hush subculture unable to operate in the open without fear of retribution and censorship,' " Kincaid wrote, going on to add, "Cupp apparently missed the parts of the Bible that talk about marriage between a man and a woman, and homosexuality being unnatural and sinful."
Next: A Watchdog's 'Obsession'