WikiLeaks debate heats up among party leaders
December 1st, 2010
11:34 AM ET
7 years ago

WikiLeaks debate heats up among party leaders

(CNN) – Amidst the fallout from the WikiLeaks release of sensitive State Department cables, an ongoing fury of words has erupted from both sides of the aisle over blame and accountability.

Former President Bill Clinton issued a warning Tuesday at an appearance in Greensboro, North Carolina. "I'll be very surprised if some people don't lose their lives over these leaks," he said, while addressing a crowd at Guilford College. "And goodness knows how many will lose their careers."

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee indicated those responsible for the leak should face a punishment no less than execution. He visited the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California Tuesday to promote two new Christmas-themed books. When asked to comment on WikiLeaks, Huckabee declared that "Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason. And I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty."

The 2008 GOP presidential hopeful continued, "They've put American lives at risk…and any lives they endanger they're personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stopped short of recommending execution while appearing Tuesday on Fox News, declaring instead that "The WikiLeaks guy should be in jail for the rest of his life." The former Speaker of the House called Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, an enemy of the United States and agreed with both Clinton and Huckabee, stating that Assange is "going to get a lot of folks killed."

His comments echo those of New York Rep. Peter King, the ranking member of the House committee on Homeland Security, who called Assange an enemy combatant while appearing on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer Tuesday night.

Gingrich rendered his final judgment on Fox, declaring that "These are bad people doing bad things and they're going to get Americans and our allies killed and we should recognize that and recognize that is in effect an act of war against the United States."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drew praise for her efforts to thwart the scandal from Gingrich and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Gingrich commented that he was "proud" that Clinton "actually cared about national security" and suggested that "she should be praised for trying to gather intelligence and not in any way attacked or condemned…"

Assange feels differently, telling TIME managing editor Richard Stengel that Secretary Clinton "should resign." He spoke to Stengel over Skype from an undisclosed location Tuesday and indicated that Clinton "should resign if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations…"

Gibbs fired back Wednesday, rejecting the statement as "ridiculous and absurd." He followed up with strong support for Secretary Clinton and asserted that "The president has great confidence in and admires the work that Secretary Clinton has done…I'm not entirely sure why we care about the opinion of one guy with one website. Our foreign policy and the interests of this country are far stronger than his one website…"

In an attempt to squash talk of doubt surrounding Secretary Clinton's ability, he stated "These are State Department cables and the Secretary of State and the State Department have reached out to world leaders and foreign ministers to alert them that these documents would be coming…I think the Secretary of State has dealt with the situation very effectively.

Since this weekend, WikiLeaks has published hundreds of classified U. S. diplomatic messages, the first of what the organization says is a quarter million similar documents.

In addition to being published on WikiLeaks website, the documents were acquired in advance by five major newspapers in Europe and the U. S. (The New York Times, The Guardian of the UK, El Pais of Spain, Le Monde of France, and Der Spiegel of Germany.) CNN declined a last minute offer to discuss advance access to some of the documents because of a confidentiality agreement requested by WikiLeaks that CNN considered unacceptable.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Mike Huckabee • Newt Gingrich • Peter King • Robert Gibbs • WikiLeaks
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. King

    Hey one of the few times I agree with he repugs. This is an act of treason and the responsible culprits should be severely punished.

    December 1, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Four and The Door

    I am not surprised that a rag like the New York Times supports this terrorist.

    December 1, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. Rickster

    Bill Clinton said..."And goodness knows how many will lose their careers."............Is he thinking of, perhaps, the lovely Mrs. Clinton?? Looks like ol' Barry has Hillary in checkmate. Why do you think Barry has done nothing to prevent these leaks? So much for Hillary's presidential ambitions. One corrupt politician topples another.

    December 1, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. john

    Anybody consider that maybe this Julian Assange might be an American agent? Nothing much was revealed that couldn't have been discovered by someone with the slightest curiosity and ametuer research skills. Also, seems like more damage was done to foriegn governments than to the US. So Hillary ordered DNA collected off business cards? So she wanted the phone numbers, frequent flyer numbers, passwords etc. of UN officials? Did anybody really think they weren't looking for that info? I think its interesting that All the MidEastern Leaders want the US to attack Iran. Just like Fox News wants the US to attack Iran. Notice how suddenly Armandijad wants to talk again. Also, interesting how North Korea now wants to talk. Seems like it hurt them more than it hurt US.

    December 1, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Without any facts of who and where the leak came from Huckabee and no one should be talking about treason and execution. Leave politics out of this if you're truly concerned about a dangerous outcome of these leaks because they just might be proven to come back to bite you in the rear.

    December 1, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. sammieb51

    Actually I'm looking forward to the next leak they plan - on the banking system.

    December 1, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. Expat American

    This is not a Party issue; although undoubtedly many, who do not possess the global perspective necessary to understand the ramifications of the leaks will need to make it as such in the hopes of putting the issue into a context that they can understand.

    December 1, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Padraig

    I am not a Hillary Clinton fan but I would like to congratulate Secretary of State Clinton for taking point on this. She is doing exactly what she should be doing. She needs to find where he is getting his information and stop it. I also applaud former President Clinton on speaking up.

    What Mr Assange is doing is extremely dangerous and as many leaders on both sides have stated that this will get people killed. He is playing with people's lives and does not care.

    It is strange that President Obama is not vocal in this matter. I guess he is only concerned with Senator Reid going to Camp Daivd.

    December 1, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. concerned liberal

    @Rickster "Looks like ol' Barry has Hillary in checkmate. "

    Obama has done this in the past. I read a story detailing how he had disqualified and got rid of competition before any actual campaigning way back in Chicago. He is a standard slick career politician. He does what is needed to stay on top. I can definitely see him pulling that again – Hillary might get too strong.

    December 1, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    Oh, goodie. More news written by CNN producers. Not even a full-fledged producer this time, just an "associate" producer.

    I note the Clintons weren't this upset when the leaks about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars came out and risked the lives of innocents and our servicemen. Oh, no, they didn't get their panties in a bunch until Mrs. Clinton's name appeared in a leak. All of a sudden the sky is falling now that some peoples' diplomatic careers are in jeopardy.

    And have you noticed the idiots who support Wikileaks are the same ones who wanted all republicans to hang for outing Valerie Plame? Ya gotta love the immeasurable hypocrisy of the loony left.

    December 1, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. Eunice

    I would like to know if there are any leaks about Isreal..... This would REALLY be interesting.

    December 1, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    Why is everybody so upset and surprised that leftist loons are out to damage and destroy the USA any way they can? Look no further than Obozo and his gulf drilling ban and the person(s) who stole the documents and those who spread them. Leftists, all of them.

    December 1, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. JonDie

    While it is understandable that our leaders are embarrassed by their misdeed and misspeaks, anyone who shines light into the dark recesses of government is a hero, not the world's enemy or a "terrorist." Our "democratic" leaders by their strident comments show that they are just like the leaders of communist China and the Islamic dictatorship that rules Iran.

    December 1, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. JonDie

    King "Hey one of the few times I agree with he repugs. This is an act of treason and the responsible culprits should be severely punished."

    Bush outed a working, undercover CIA agent named Valerie Plame. Why wasn't that "treason?" You are a Repug. So is Hilary Clinton.

    December 1, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Jim from Va

    So the oil leaking into the Gulf wasn't the only leak that Obama has had to deal with. When will people realize Obama doesn't know what he's doing and doesn't know how to respond to problems like this.

    December 1, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Charles W. Skinner

    There are a couple of simple things that need to happen in order for this to NEVER happen again:

    1.) Find the leaker(s). If it is Pfc Bradley Manning, he should be tried by military tribunal for treason, and if found guilty, shot on the White House lawn in front of reporters by President Obama himself as a message. Give him the choice of the Head if he wants it to be quick, or the Heart if he wants to have an open casket. Any and all assets he had should be confiscated. Same protocol for any other leaker who is discovered.

    2.) Find and capture Julian Assange as an enemy of the State and try him for aiding and abetting terrorism and for espionage (which is also punishable by death). If the US doesn't have the will to execute him, put him in SuperMax in solitary forever.

    3.) Declare wikileaks a terrorist organization in violation of the espionage act, freeze their assets and find any person who gives them any sort of aid to be aiding terrorism. Put out a bounty on the wikileaks programmer heads of not less than $50K each for capture, and task a minor military unit to just capturing them They're largely nerds with little physical security / spycraft training. In moving from place to place, they tend to stick out like a sore thumb, and with just a little bit of effort, we could probably locate them. Greenlight a black-op to pick them up no matter where they go. Try them publicly, and if found guilty, off to SuperMax with them.

    December 1, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Dave

    Sure, go ahead and cover for Hillary. The fact is, if you think these kinds of things don't go on behind closed doors then you should just go back and put your head in the sand and keep watching your tv shows! Our government is as corrupt as all the others they try and defame.

    December 1, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Peace

    "Assange spoke to Stengel over Skype from an undisclosed location"
    He better find where Osama bin Laden is hiding and they hide together. Once this fugitive is caught he will regret why he was born and why he behaved as he did. Bastard!

    December 1, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. T'sah from Virginia

    @Rickster – Lay off the ROCKS!!!

    "So the oil leaking into the Gulf wasn't the only leak that Obama has had to deal with. When will people realize Obama doesn't know what he's doing and doesn't know how to respond to problems like this."

    And in the past, there were NEVER leaks??? It all began when President Obama took office!!!

    If the REPUBS were in control, the OTHER SIDE will blame the PUBS... Since DEMS are in control, the OTHER SIDE is blaming the DEMS. Beginning January 1, 2011, who will be BLAMED????

    December 1, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. DownTownBrown

    To all the people saying that Assange is committing treason:
    Get that into your heads. It's not difficult to understand.

    December 1, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  21. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    Mr. Julian Assange, please consider naming me as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy! I could use some quick cash.

    December 1, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Why do you think Barry has done nothing to prevent these leaks?"

    Because there's nothing we CAN do. You clearly don't understand the situation nor the capabilities of the US government. These documents were immediately backed up to servers secreted around the globe. We take one out, and they just start using another. Just like Brett Favre's penis...once it's out there in the ether and on the intertubes, it's there FOREVER. The only thing that can be done at this point is hope we can get international cooperation in catching the people involved and punishing them appropriately in hopes it deters future similar efforts at mass espionage and exposure of state secrets.

    "Too bad the right isn't consistent... they want unemployment benefits funded, but not the tax cuts. Those same cuts added about a trillion to the deficit, something they are supposed to be against."

    Unemployment benefits – $2B. GOP says they absolutely must be paid for if they're to be passed. CBO has issued a report showing that unemployment benefits are the single most effective way of creaeting jobs. Why? Because it's a giant pass-through. The unemployed receive checks for their necessary goods and bills and what do they do? That's right...they spend it all immediately to keep afloat and this helps drive the economy and keep demand from sinking further.

    Tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% – $700B. GOP refuses to accept that they absolutely 100% NEED to be paid for. Reid has, however, suggested that passing them PayGo-style might be palatable to the Dems and should be considered. CBO's study ranked tas cuts last on the list of job creation measures. Why? Because the rich already have all the disposable income they need. They are already spending everything they want to spend into the economy. They horde and consolidate the remainder. Giving them deeper tax cuts merely gives them more to horde and consolidate...or perhaps a little extra to spend on high-end luxury items that are not economy drivers, like a $3M yacht or hiring a helicopter to get to work. They do NOT view tax cuts as a means of creating or growing businesses. These are the same people paying the middle-class just enough to stay right behind the 8-ball, while they crap in golden toilets bought with massive bonus checks and then ride a golden parachute worth tens of millions after they're finally ousted for screwing up the company. Enough is ENOUGH.

    December 1, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. Marko

    I am not in favor of his leaks that put people's lives at stake and our security, but I can't wait for the bank disclosure that is coming. Now he is going after the right stuff.

    December 1, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Peter s

    Before we condemn the monster wikileak lets not forget the New York times and the Guardian were involved in this saga by the way is New York times owned by Murdoch? Guardian by & Observer are owned by the Scott Trust. Just trying some hypothesis here yesterday the far right claimed George solos ayers etc are the sponsors of this lunatic but does solos owns New York times? I don't think so! and why do we need security clearance for those handling sensitive documents?. or is wikileak a social cultural war going on between the far right and the far left! and the war casualties are our friends and enemies a like!!

    December 1, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. wither

    Remember the Pentagon Papers. This is no different. Those who are calling for sanctions of Wikileaks simply grew up in a different country than the rest of us did. Wikileaks is the press just as anyone can be "the press". The angry, shameful, shoot-the-messenger wimps have no self-worth left capable of championing a meaningful American democracy.

    December 1, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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