Published on
The Independent/UK

Pack Assange Off to Guantanamo, US Conservatives Tell Obama

David Usborne in New York

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has been described in the US media as a 'threat to national security'. (GETTY IMAGES)

The White House and the Pentagon have failed to
confront and contain the threat to national security posed by WikiLeaks
and its founder Julian Assange who should be arrested as an "enemy
combatant", voices on the US conservative right insisted yesterday.

Frustration with the failure of President Barack
Obama to combat WikiLeaks has grown since the release of almost 400,000
secret documents that exposed the extent of abuse of prisoners in Iraq
by US and Iraqi personnel.

One Fox commentator
went so far as to call for the WikiLeaks figurehead to be treated as a
prisoner of war. Christian Whiton,a former State Department official,
demanded that America seize Mr Assange and deal with him and other
WikiLeaks staff as "enemy combatants". Calling for "non-judicial action"
against them, he implied that they should be in Guantanamo Bay with
Taliban inmates.

Nor was Whiton alone in his stance. "The government
also should be waging war on the WikiLeaks web presence," an editorial
in the conservative Washington Times railed this week. Other infuriated
conservative commentators made similar demands on websites of such
august institutions as the neoconservative thinktank the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI).

However, the right
is not united in its response to the latest paper blizzard. Before the
cries for muscle-flexing began, some on the right thought they saw
snippets in the new documents to stand up the discredited theory at the
centre of the 2003 invasion – that there were weapons of mass
destruction hidden in Iraq. "There were weapons of mass destruction
after all," was a weekend headline in the New York Post, also

Closer inspection of passages
referring to the discovery of equipment by coalition forces in Iraq
reveal they were left over from early efforts by Saddam Hussein to build
a deadly arsenal and do not point to his concealing hardware when the
invasion was ordered.

But it is the inability of
America to silence WikiLeaks that is stirring the greatest passion
among conservatives. On the AEI website, Marc Thiessen, a former
spokesman for the late Senator Jesse Helms, noted a Twitter post from
Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying
that the leaks put lives at risk.

"Mullen is
right – the release of these documents was irresponsible and dangerous.
But, with all respect to the chairman, a Twitter posting is not exactly
the cyber response that these WikiLeaks disclosures warrant," he wrote.

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