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Oliver North
Oliver North
3 May 2013
Being Presidential

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Protecting Our Protectors

Comment

WASHINGTON — It's a tough time to be a member of the U.S. armed forces. Those serving in our all-volunteer military — and their families — are stretched and stressed by more than nine years of war. Unfortunately, our commander in chief — supposedly the champion of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines — isn't doing anything to make serving in uniform any easier.

President Barack Obama — fresh from his 3 1/2-hour "visit" to Afghanistan — continues to insist that the U.S. Senate act immediately to allow active homosexuals to serve in the military. He followed up by announcing a paltry 1.4 percent pay raise for those serving in harm's way. In justifying this parsimony, Obama notes that he has "frozen the pay of all other government workers" — as if feeling up airline passengers can somehow be equated with standing watch in the icy-cold winds sweeping down from the Hindu Kush.

Those are but two of the icebergs threatening to sink our military. On the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we learned from the director of national intelligence that 25 percent of the detainees transferred from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility are either "confirmed" or "suspected" of rejoining terrorists waging war against us. According to the DNI's unclassified report to Congress, "of the 150 former (Guantanamo) detainees assessed as confirmed or suspected of reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities, the Intelligence Community assesses that 13 are dead, 54 are in custody, and 83 remain at large." The DNI notes that of the 66 detainees transferred since Obama took office, only two are "confirmed" and three are "suspected."

Though the report does not specify how many U.S. troops have been killed or wounded as a consequence of the detainee transfer program, White House officials say that the Obama administration still is committed to "closing the prison at Guantanamo" and that it will "move toward that goal in a way that best protects the American people." That assurance is scant comfort to the families of troops returning home in flag-draped coffins or those recovering in military hospitals from life-altering wounds inflicted by terrorists turned loose from detention in Guantanamo.

Continuing the atrocious catch-and-release policy at "Gitmo" puts Americans on the battlefield at greater risk. But it doesn't stop there. The administration's unwillingness or inability to bring charges against those responsible for posting hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents on the Internet also puts U.S.

troops in jeopardy.

Most of the so-called mainstream media have focused on the "embarrassment" to U.S. diplomats caused by WikiLeaks' revealing titillating details about foreign leaders, but there is a far more sinister aspect to what Julian Assange and his co-conspirators are doing to our troops. Last year, WikiLeaks posted classified information about U.S. technology used to protect against deadly improvised explosive devices — the No. 1 cause of death and injury to American and coalition personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. When confronted about the disclosure by a reporter from The New Yorker, Assange, who claims to be engaged in "scientific journalism," acknowledged he and his colleagues might get blood on their hands.

More recently, WikiLeaks disseminated the names and Social Security numbers of military personnel, some of whom are deployed overseas. Thanks to Assange, cyberthieves — from common-criminal hackers to terrorists — can access private information about vulnerable American troops. Despite warnings about the risk of identity theft — or worse — from the availability of Social Security numbers for 2.5 million U.S. military personnel, Obama's Pentagon can't figure out how to convert to a safer system. Note: The commonwealth of Virginia — population 7.8 million — replaced Social Security numbers on driver's licenses in less time than it's taken the O-Team to think about the problem.

The Obama administration's response to the WikiLeaks cyberassault on our troops has been completely ineffective at stopping the attacks — or deterring others from doing more of the same. This week, in a meaningless gesture, federal departments and agencies warned government employees and contractors against "accessing or downloading" information from the WikiLeaks website — even though the data are readily available to any terror organization on the planet.

In a farcical effort to appear proactive, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — on the day WikiLeaks "editor" Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, was arrested in Britain on a Swedish sex-crime warrant — issued a press release claiming she and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd had discussed, inter alia, "the WikiLeaks disclosures." A day later, Rudd declared: "Mr. Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorized release. ... The Americans are responsible for that."

The Obama Justice Department needs to charge Assange and his collaborators with violations of the Espionage Act. Doing so might infuriate the president's cronies on the far left, but it's well past time for him to stand up and protect America's protectors.

Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "American Heroes." To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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