Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says his action “puts people’s lives in danger,” and U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has called for his website to be declared a foreign terrorist organization, but radio host and former White House leaks-stuffer G. Gordon Liddy has a more severe step in mind for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: kill him.
“Julian Assange is a severe national security threat to the U.S., and that then leads to what to do about it,” Liddy told WND. “This fellow Anwar al-Awlaki – a joint U.S. citizen hiding out in Yemen – is on a ‘kill list’ [for inciting terrorism against the U.S.]. Mr. Assange should be put on the same list.”
“I’m not surprised that G. Gordon Liddy wants Julian Assange killed,” commentator Bill Press told WND. “He admits he once tried to figure out how to kill journalist Jack Anderson. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think people should have to commit a crime and be convicted before getting the death penalty. And, so far, Assange has done neither. The best treatment for Julian Assange is to ignore him – and focus on who’s leaking to him.”
Assange’s WikiLeaks – operating from a bunker in Iceland – created an international firestorm this past weekend by releasing to the public some 250,000 secret and sensitive diplomatic cables allegedly received from a U.S. Army private who is currently awaiting court-martial.
Clinton called the document dump “not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests [but] an attack on the international community: the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.”
Liddy, whose G. Gordon Liddy Show” is heard on nearly 200 stations nationwide, as well as on XM satellite radio, also was a member of President Nixon’s staff in the early 1970s, assigned specifically to stop leaks of classified information to the media.
“When I was in the military, and especially when I was in the White House, I had very high clearance, codeword clearance,” Liddy told WND, “and I had information that, were it to be learned by enemies of our country would have enabled them to do great damage.
“If you compromise a source of information, you lose the source of information,” Liddy said, referring to the WikiLeaks document dump. “As soon as the other side learns your techniques and mechanics in regards to security measures, you lose them.
“We’re not playing games here,” he continued. “This is a deadly confrontation between radical Islam and the U.S., and Mr. Assange and his activities are extremely dangerous to us.”
Diversity of opinions on what to do with Assange
Jill S. Farrell, director of public affairs for the government watchdog foundation Judicial Watch, also emphasized the threat to national security WikiLeaks poses, but stopped short of calling for Assange’s death.
“It is unbelievably dangerous, and it undermines the rule of law,” Farrell said in a statement on WikiLeak’s actions. “Julian Assange should be held to account and sent to jail for a long, long time.
“To take it upon yourself to release classified material is dangerous, it can get people killed, and it undermines national security,” she continues. “This is not about transparency. Judicial Watch is second to none in advocating for transparency – but it has to be transparency under the law. The release of these documents was an attack on America, pure and simple.”
Judicial Watch Founder Larry Klayman, however, presented in a statement of his own a radically different opinion – claiming that Assange has done “a public service.”
“While I do not condone breaking the law,” says Klayman, who is no longer associated with Judicial Watch, but now leads Freedom Watch, “if indeed this was the means to obtain and release so-called national security documents, the hard fact is that the government has again been caught lying to the American people about the motives and means behind its foreign policy.
“That a group like WikiLeaks had to arguably break the law to lay bare the dishonesty and incompetence of American foreign policy shows just how crooked our government itself is,” Klayman says. “By exposing this corruption, WikiLeaks’ document dump will hopefully have a positive effect on future American foreign policy.”
Klayman explained to WND the reasons why he believes WikiLeaks’ release of the cables “does not compromise national security but strengthens it”:
Klayman says the leaks will put pressure on President Obama to get serious about national security now that it has been revealed how he has “looked the other way” as China and North Korea arm Iran with missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons to Israel and Europe.
Klayman says the leaks wipe away the “ruse” that Arab nations support Iran and a Palestinian state, erasing justification for Obama’s “policy of appeasement.”
Klayman says the leak itself exposes Obama and Clinton “to be incompetent ‘Keystone Cops’” and will force the administration to shore up cyber-security.
“The establishment just wants its neglect and incompetency if not malevolent foreign policy covered up,” Klayman told WND. “The establishment does not like to be exposed as the corrupt fools they are.”
Assange implied something similar in an e-mail to ABC News in which he also took issue with Clinton’s assertion the dump of secret documents “puts people’s lives in danger.”
“U.S. officials have for 50 years trotted out this line when they are afraid the public is going to see how they really behave,” Assange said in his e-mail. “The facts are that we wrote to the State Department asking for a list of any specific concerns that might have. They refused to assist and said they demanded everything, including those documents that revealed abuses, be destroyed.”
But while Klayman and others view the information disclosed by WikiLeaks as long-overdue accountability in foreign policy, Clinton warned that Assange should not be seen as some kind of government-busting folk hero.
“Some mistakenly applaud those responsible,” Clinton said in a press conference. “There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people … nothing brave about sabotaging peaceful relations between nations.”
Furthermore, the Washington Post reports, an investigation is under way to see if Assange violated criminal laws under the 1917 Espionage Act.
Jeffrey H. Smith, a former CIA general counsel, told the paper, “I’m confident that the Justice Department is figuring out how to prosecute him.”
Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed at a press conference that if authorities find that those behind the WikiLeaks release have broken American law and put U.S. foreign agents at risk, “They will be held responsible. They will be held accountable.”