(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.