Rep. Pete Hoekstra says the death penalty should be considered for those responsible for the WikiLeaks publication of more than 250,000 classified documents. The focus must be on those who leaked the information to the website, says Hoekstra, the ranking Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee.
The legal penalties for the WikiLeaks website, which posted the trove of State Department documents, are limited, Hoekstra said in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview.
“Clearly the person that leaked the information or hacked into our systems we can go after and we can probably go after them for espionage and maybe treason,” Hoekstra said. “If we go after them and are able to convict them on treason then the death penalty comes into play.
“I think it is much more difficult under our laws to go after WikiLeaks and to prosecute them perhaps for facilitating the release of classified documents but not nearly on the same kinds of serious charges we can get on the people who stole this information in the first place.”
The disclosures sent shock waves through the diplomatic world and have been roundly condemned by a host of administration and government officials as reckless and dangerous. Government officials have suggested that in addition to putting diplomatic initiatives in danger, the release of the information could put lives at risk.
WikiLeaks also created a stir in July and October with the release documents concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican who chose not to run for re-election to his House seat and instead unsuccessfully sought the governorship, said it would take years for the United States to rebuild trust and credibility with its allies.
When asked by Newsmax why the president was not more out front in personally condemning the leaks, Hoekstra said there is plenty of blame to go around.
“Clearly this is an embarrassment to the administration,” he said, “but these systems were put in place during the Bush administration so there’s a shared responsibility between the Bush and Obama administrations for the mess we are in right now.”
Hoekstras apparently wa referring to changes in the sharing of intelligence between various government agencies that were enacted after 9/11 criticisms that information that might have prevented the attacks was not shared.
Nonetheless, Hoekstra said the GOP will challenge the administration “across the board” for its policies on the war on terrorism and hat he called the president’s refusal to stand up to terrorism.
“The threat is real, it is dangerous, it’s here in the homeland, its on the Arabian Peninsula, it’s in Afghanistan, Pakistan, we need to confront it, contain it and ultimately defeat it,” he said.
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