Bush and Obama Have Put Americans at Greater Risk Than Julian Assange and Wikileaks, Says Ralph Nader
(CNSNews.com) – Consumer activist Ralph Nader says both the Bush and Obama administrations have put the American people at greater risk with their military and foreign policies than Julian Assange has done with his WikiLeaks Web site, where thousands of U.S. classified documents have been posted in recent months.
At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Nader said an overreaction to Assange could lead to another “Patriot Act debacle.” The Obama administration, he said, already is showing signs of caving to the political pressure that he said led to passage of the Patriot Act after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
“I’m very disturbed by the reaction of the Attorney General [Eric] Holder,” Nader said. “I think he’s reacting to political pressure and he’s starting to fix the law to meet the enforcement policy. And that’s very dangerous.”
“[Holder] said the other day, quote: ‘The national security of the United States has been put at risk, the lives of people who work for the American people have been put at risk, the American people themselves have been put at risk by these actions that I believe are arrogant, misguided and ultimately misguided and not helpful in any way’ end quote,” said Nader in reference to the WikiLeaks disclosures as reported in The New York Times, The Guardian and other newspapers.
“Those very words could apply to the Bush administration and the Obama administration’s military and foreign policy,” Nader said. “They’ve put us at greater risk.”
A panel of seven witnesses from academia, law firms, and a think tank joined Nader in testifying about a range of legal and constitutional issues in the wake of the WikiLeaks document dump. Most of the panelists agreed that security breaches need to be addressed and that the individuals responsible for the Wikileaks breach should be held accountable.
Witnesses and members of the committee, both Republicans and Democrats, also questioned the process by which documents become classified and the need to address that issue in the next Congress.
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who will step down as chairman of the committee when the Republicans take over the House of Representatives in January, said the “handwringing” over whether Assange violated the Espionage Act of 1917 shows that the case is not just about breaking U.S. law.
“Whatever one thinks about this controversy, it’s clear that prosecuting WikiLeaks would raise the most fundamental questions about freedom of speech, about who is a journalist, and about what the public can know about the actions of their own government,” Conyers said in his opening remarks at the hearing.
The other witnesses at the hearing were law professors Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School and Steve Vladeck of American University; attorneys Kenneth Wainstein and Abbe Lowell; Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at The Hudson Institute, and Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University.