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A Letter to President Obama
Wikileaks should inspire the federal government to do better.

April 22, 2011
Also published on Quora

This note was sent today, April 22, 2011, via http://www.whitehouse.gov.

Mr. President:

Though I do not agree with the decision of Wikileaks to distribute classified government documents, I strongly concur with the sentiments expressed in this letter:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/28/private-mannings-humiliation/

I urge you to immediately and publicly order the Department of Defense to remedy Pfc. Bradley Manning's conditions and treatment.

I voted for you with the understanding that you would prevent these kinds of horror stories from continuing given the actions of the last administration, not that you would prolong and encourage them.

I myself disclosed a computer security flaw that affected the General Services Administration in 2006 during President George W. Bush's second term. (See http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/13/technology/13secure.html.) Though my treatment was not anywhere close to Pfc. Manning's, I was still treated as a criminal though no trial had taken place, and was forced to defend myself before the U.S. Attorney in Northern Virginia and numerous federal agents, though I had done absolutely nothing wrong. The U.S. Attorney ultimately agreed; no charges were filed. Yet I had to pay thousands of dollars in legal and other fees merely for reporting a vulnerability to the proper authorities (the GSA Inspector General), for which the government would not reimburse me.

As the Wikileaks incident demonstrates, not to mention countless Government Accountability Office reports, the security of the federal government's computer systems is woefully inadequate. Torturing Bradley Manning will not solve the problem, but it does make it worse: the next time I find a flaw in a government system—and I will—you won't be hearing from me.

Aaron Greenspan is the CEO of Think Computer Corporation and author of Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era. He is the creator of the FaceCash mobile payment system, ThinkLink business management system, and PlainSite legal transparency project.

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