The latest WikiLeaks dump has backfired on the Left, which had expected confirmation of its fevered speculation about the Iraq War, including the preposterous tale that 1.4 million Iraqi civilians died in it. The WikiLeaked data suggest that the figure is about 8 percent of that. Other “revelations”: It is far more pleasant to be a prisoner of the United States than of Iraq, our drones sometimes crash, and other equipment performed imperfectly. Much of the material was ho-hum stuff about widely reported events, but the wholesale exposure of classified documents remains troubling. The most damaging information — the names of 300 Iraqis who cooperated with Coalition forces — was, thankfully, redacted, though their lives remain in danger so long as they are vulnerable to exposure, a fact that will make it harder for the U.S. to secure cooperation in the future. Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst behind some of the leaks, faces 52 years in prison; if convicted, he should serve every day of it — and the spooks should rethink allowing a private access to such a trove of data. It is not clear that the government has any recourse against WikiLeaks’ oddball boss, Julian Assange. He has a rape case against him in Sweden and stands accused of another sex crime; one hopes that if he should be caught jaywalking, our allies would throw every available book at him for the needless danger in which he has placed our troops and those who have aided them.
The debt commission established by President Obama will issue recommendations in December, and is reportedly eyeing “tax expenditures” it would like to scale back, such as the deduction for mortgage interest and the child tax credit. Conservative organizations such as Americans for Tax Reform say that any reduction in those tax breaks should be accompanied by reduced tax rates, and otherwise should be opposed as a tax increase. We would urge Republicans to keep five points in mind. First, the commission is not the legislature, and its suggestions need not be adopted in total. Republicans can pick and choose the ones with merit. Second, spending cuts are preferable to tax increases, and any deficit-closing deal should be weighted as much toward the former as possible. Third, some tax increases are worse than others. If tax increases are inevitable, or are deemed to be a price worth paying in order to get a deal that includes big spending reductions, those tax increases should move in the direction of a sensible tax code. Paring back the mortgage deduction would be such a step. Fourth, not everything called a tax break deserves the label. The child credit is a partial corrective to the tax code’s overtaxation of parenting. A reformed code should keep and expand it, and Republicans should oppose its reduction as vigorously as they oppose increases in capital-gains taxes. Fifth, beware preemptive concessions. Until President Obama comes out for slowing the growth of Social Security or capping Medicaid spending, Republicans would be foolish to give up any ground at all on taxes.