Jonah Goldberg
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Meanwhile, conservatives have something like a mirror-image view of the black-ops crowd. We tend to think they're either well-intentioned bunglers or noble ninjas in London fog trench coats. Again, either way, Assange's shrimp-on-the-barbie should have had Strontium-90 in it years before anyone heard his name.

Oh, and it's not just nation-states that are threatened by WikiLeaks. These guys spend much of their time going after big corporations that, we're often told -- at least by Hollywood and the people who e-mail me in ALL CAPS -- routinely rub out gadflies and whistle-blowers who try to let the world know the electric car was perfected in 1920, or that milk companies are making millions by poisoning their customers (that was the actual plot of "I Love Trouble," by the way).

Now, I know there are many solid answers to my question. For starters, the world isn't nearly so dramatic as novelists, bloggers, self-important journalists and nostalgic former spies often claim it is. The main reason the U.S. government didn't bring down the World Trade Center on 9/11 is that no one has the ability to pull off a conspiracy like that. And the people who come closest -- i.e., those very same spies -- are too decent and patriotic even to imagine trying.

Indeed, most of the documents from WikiLeaks debunk the vast majority of conspiracy theories that fueled so much idiocy on the left for the last decade. No sinister plots involving Halliburton or Israel have been exposed -- because they only existed in the fevered fantasies of some coffee-shop dissidents.

Second, Assange is essentially hiding behind his celebrity and the fact that it wouldn't do any good to kill him, given the nature of the Web. Even if the CIA wanted to take him out, they couldn't without massive controversy.

That's because assassinating a hipster Australian Web guru as opposed to a Muslim terrorist is the kind of controversy no official dares invite.

That's fine. And it's the law. Ultimately, I don't expect the U.S. government to kill Assange, but I do expect them to try to stop him. Alas, as of now, the plan seems to be to do nothing at all.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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