George Mosher

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

In the spring of 2010, U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Iraq, hacked into U.S. Government computers and allegedly downloaded almost 750,000 military and diplomatic documents.

All of them were confidential—and many classified in various categories of “eyes only” and “secret”—that would not only prove embarrassing to American and foreign diplomats, but also could put at risk the lives of American and indigenous operatives in war zones and sensitive posts around the world.

Pfc. Manning allegedly handed over this massive trove of internal state secrets to a shadowy, gaunt 6-foot-2 Australian agitator—Julian Assange, proprietor of the notorious information sieve,

When Assange and his cohorts at WikiLeaks began releasing this sensational material to the media, they professed indignation and outrage at the theft. Whereupon newspapers and 200 websites published the stuff (in the interests of “transparency”), gleefully dumping a bucket of gore all over the diplomatic and military people and organizations of countries all around the globe.

Julian Assange is now in a desperate struggle with British authorities to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces rape charges. A Swedish jail is not a pleasant prospect. However, his real fear is that Sweden will turn him over to U.S. authorities.

For the past seven months, Pfc. Manning has been held in a Marine brig in Quantico, Va., where is kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day with little exercise, no possessions and very limited contact with the outside world.

With 22 new counts against Pfc. Manning reported last week, the federal government threw down the gauntlet:

: In that Private First Bradley E. Manning, U.S. Army, did, at or near Contingency Operating Station Hammer, Iraq, between on or about 1 November 2009 and on or about 27 May 2010, without proper authority, knowingly give intelligence to the enemy, through indirect means.

Giving intelligence to the enemy is capital offence.

Is a very bruised and angered U.S. government setting the stage for trials that would put Pfc. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange in front of firing squads?

In terms of our lives and careers, this grand theft and leak of sensitive information has huge ramifications for everyone in the private sector—hiring practices, safeguarding of company secrets and who has access to them.

How hack-proof is your confidential data?

Who has access to the most sensitive data in your organization?

Who hired those people and what might be their personal agendas?

Remember, once something is out on the Internet, it’s there for your lifetime and beyond.

“Did we do anything wrong?”

Anyone that asks that question is probably guilty.

The most egregious lede I have ever seen in 60 years of reading The New York Times:
My wife and I sat cross-legged on the floor of a local Barnes & Noble store recently, surrounded by several large piles of books. We were searching for interior design ideas for a new home that we are planning to buy.

As we lobbed the books back and forth, sharing kitchen layouts and hardwood floor textures, we snapped a dozen pictures of book pages with our iPhones. We wanted to share them later with our contractor.

After a couple of hours of this, we placed the books back on the shelf and went home, without buying a thing. But the digital images came home with us in our smartphones.

Later that evening, I felt a few pangs of guilt. I asked my wife: Did we do anything wrong? And, I wondered, had we broken any laws by photographing those pages?

It's not as if we had destroyed anything: We didn't rip out any pages. But if we had wheeled a copier machine into the store, you can be sure the management would have soon wheeled us and the machine out of there.

But our smartphones really functioned as hand-held copiers. Did we indeed go too far?

Yes, you and your wife went too far.

And your tacky little iPhones’ theft of copyright wasn’t the half of it.

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