Jeff Sessions: I Haven't Seen Clarity from Obama on WikiLeaks, Because "He Comes Out of the Left"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 30 2010 3:31 PM

Jeff Sessions: I Haven't Seen Clarity from Obama on WikiLeaks, Because "He Comes Out of the Left"

I've been asking around as to what the government can or should do to prevent future WikiLeaks-style embarrassments, and in the Senate today I asked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, what could be done legally that wasn't being done already. Session averred that he was re-familiarizing himself with the relevant statutes, but said he was worried that the Obama administration was ideologically hamstrung in how it approached WikiLeaks.

"I believe this ought to be pursued with the greatest intensity," said Sessions. "I think the maximum sentences should be sought whenever anybody is proven to have violated the law and I think it ought to be relentless. The president from on down ought should be crystal clear on this. And I haven't seen that. I mean, he comes out of the left. The anti-war left, they've always glorified people who leak sensitive documents. Now he's the commander-in-chief, so he's got a challenge. I haven't researched the law but I hope that they're working on it. I'm sure that they are."

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Asked whether WikiLeaks was engaged in acts of terrorism or whether, as Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has argued, it should be classified as a terrorist organization, Sessions was keen but undecided.

"If it could be, I would say that ought to be considered," he said. "Absolutely. But whether there's the kind of evidence that would justify that, I just don't know yet."

This concern -- that something else needed to be done to prosecute the leaks -- was not limited to Republicans. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations committee who appears in several leaked cables, told reporters that the leaks had made diplomats' jobs more difficult.

"I think we have to change the law," said Kerry. "The espionage law apparently has some difficulties when applied to this kind of situation. So I think we'll probably have to look at the potential of some kind of... tweaking of what the law says."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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