As soon as WikiLeaks founder and Australian activist Julian Assange released
92,000 secret U.S. documents pertaining to the Afghan war, there was an immediate backlash
. Many feared the sensitive documents would expose Afghan informants and serve as a kind of "treasure trove
" for Taliban and al-Qaeda assassins. News that the Taliban were rifling through
the documents to mete out revenge killings exacerbated those fears.
Now, neoconservatives including Liz Cheney and former George W. Bush
speechwriter Marc Thiessen, want Assange apprehended and his website
WikiLeaks shut down. Has the pendulum swung too far?
- We Must Shut Down This Site, says Liz Cheney
on Fox News: "Clearly Julian Assange's effort was to change course for
the US policy in Afghanistan. He was unsuccessful in that. He does
clearly have blood on his hands potentially for the people whose names
were in those documents who helped the US and I think that's something
he will have to live with now. I would really like to see President
Obama to move to ask the government of Iceland to shut that website
down. I would like to see him move to shut it down ourselves if Iceland
won't do it. I would like to see them move aggressively to prosecute Mr.
Assange and certainly ensure that he never again gets a visa to enter
the United States. What he's done is very clearly aiding and abetting al
Qaeda. And as I said, he may very well be responsible for the deaths of
American soldiers in Afghanistan."
- Find Assange and Arrest Him, implores Marc Thiessen
at The Washington Post: "Let's be clear: WikiLeaks is not a news
organization; it is a criminal enterprise... A Taliban spokesman said
the group is scouring the WikiLeaks Web site for information to find and 'punish' these informers.
Beyond getting people killed, WikiLeaks' actions make it less likely
that Afghans and foreign intelligence services (whose reports WikiLeaks
also exposed) will cooperate with the United States in the future...
Will President Obama stop WikiLeaks from doing so -- or sit back and do
nothing?" Thiessen goes on to demand the U.S. arrest Assange on foreign
soil even if the harboring nation disagrees.
- Thiessen Is Woefully Mistaken, writes Michael Scherer
at Time: "Assange's crime, according to Thiessen, is intentionally
receiving and republishing classified information, something that is
done with some regularity in the United States by respectable and responsible
reporters working for top flight news organizations. To adopt
Thiessen's view, one would effectively have to reject the Supreme
Court's opinion in New York Times Co. v. United States, the so-called
Pentagon Papers case from 1971."
- Also—Using the Military to Capture Assange Is 'Wacky', writes Thiessen's colleague, Eva Rodriguez
at The Washington Post: "Thiessen asserts that the United States does
not need 'permission to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators
anywhere in the world' and that the U.S. should act alone if allies
won't cooperate. I'm not sure this is legally accurate, but let's assume
it is. Is Thiessen suggesting it would be a good idea to disregard an
ally's sovereignty, perhaps do irreparable damage to our relationship
with it and the international community just to get our hands on
Assange? Thiessen's concerns about leaks may be justified, but at least
some of his proposed plans of action are more than a little scary and,
as it concerns the Wiki founder, more than a little wacky." The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan adds, "Thiessen backs a president-as-global-dictator, above the law and capable of doing anything. Nothing would surprise me. He's a Cheneyite."
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