Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was on Meet The Press today where he managed to take the rhetoric on Wikileaks and Julian Assanage to whole new level, by labeling Assange a terrorist. McConnell said, “I think the man is a high-tech terrorist. He’s done an enormous damage to our country.”
Here is the video from NBC:
When asked about the Wikileaks controversy by host David Gregory, McConnell said, “I think the man is a high-tech terrorist. He’s done an enormous… He’s done an enormous damage to our country, and I think he needs to be prosecuted to the, the fullest extent of the law; and if that becomes a problem, we need to change the law. I think it’s done enormous damage to our country and, and to our relationships with our allies around the world.”
McConnell’s language should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who believes in government transparency, or the right of the people to know what their government is doing. Assange is no terrorist. Dumping documents is not an act of terrorism. The American people are not terrified because some State Department cables were released to the public. Quite honestly, the information that was released was not all that earth shaking. Most of the info in those cables was already out there, or it confirmed much of what was already suspected.
In post-9/11 America, the word terrorist invokes the images of Osama Bin Laden and planes flying into buildings. No matter how hard the right tries they can’t transform Julian Assange into Osama Bin Laden. George W. Bush may be gone, but his exploitation of the fear invoking buzzword “terrorist” is alive and well. Assange committed no crime. Bradley Manning, the soldier who provided the documents to Wikileaks, is in custody and has been charged with the unauthorized use and disclosure of US classified information.
The definition of the term terrorist that Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Sarah Palin subscribe to is a bigger threat to freedom in the United States than Julian Asssange could ever be. Painting Assange as the villain is an attempt to shift responsibility for this leak away from where it really belongs. Bradley Manning and the United States government itself are the parties truly responsible for the leak. If the government wants to prevent these leaks then they need to reassess their information collection system and their criteria for access to the information.
By blaming Assange, the US government is sweeping a security problem under the rug. If Assange could get classified documents, how hard do you think it for other governments to acquire information? When disseminating information becomes an act of terrorism, our freedoms are truly in peril. While I think the latest leak was more of an irresponsible publicity stunt than attempt to inform the public, releasing the information does not make Julian Assange a terrorist.