In this clip, National Center general counsel Justin Danhof debates veteran diplomat and author Peter Van Buren on the issue of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the expectations of our government to be able to keep secrets on the 8/23/12 edition of “The Heat” — a program airing on the Chinese CCTV television network.
Justin notes there is bipartisan agreement in Washington that the WikiLeaks document releases likely violate the 1917 Espionage Act and that people such as WikiLeaks mastermind Julian Assange — who was recently granted asylum by Ecuadorian government but remains in the country’s embassy in London, England — are helping the enemies of America.
Van Buren suggests the release of secret documents creates an informed democracy and the American people “deserve” to see classified materials such as what was released by Assange and co-conspirators such as now incarcerated American serviceman Bradley Manning. Justin, while noting that Ecuador is far from a free nation along the lines of the United States, also counters Van Buren with the fact that Assange appears to be motived more out of a hatred of the West than a desire for transparency.
Citing the national security risks of the leaks and how they are liable to deprive servicemembers in particular and the public in general of their freedoms of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Justin notes that “when you’re giving aid and comfort to the Taliban, you’ve crossed over… past free press into espionage against the United States of America.”