The United States government should issue an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Australian who published tens of thousands of classified U.S. military documents on his website, and try him on espionage charges. And if Assange doesn’t face the charges voluntarily, the U.S. should send in a commando team to snatch him anywhere in the world.
That’s what a senior former U.S. counterspy is urging.
In an exclusive interview with BigPeace.com, former Deputy National Counterintelligence Executive Kenneth E. deGraffenreid says that Assange should be arrested and charged as a spy for revealing more than 90,000 secret and top-secret U.S. military documents on his website.
But Assange has made it a point not to enter the United States since he posted a segment of a secret U.S. military combat video last May, in which U.S. troops are purported to be seen firing at civilians in Iraq. The military has detained an Army intelligence analyst, PFC Bradley Manning, whom it believes illegally copied the video and passed it to Assange.
The publishing of tens of thousands of classified military documents so that the enemy can see them is a far more serious crime than the video case currently under investigation, says deGraffenreid. “This is espionage by internet. If we can get Assange on U.S. soil, he should be arrested,” he tells BigPeace. Earlier, deGraffenreid told BigPeace that Manning should be tried on espionage charges instead of the lesser crime of mishandling classified information. Assange says he has another 15,000 documents yet to post online.
And if Assange won’t come to the U.S. voluntarily? “We have a Special Operations Command that can capture Assange anywhere in the world, and bring him to the U.S. where he can be arrested and charged with espionage,” deGraffenreid says.
That’s what the U.S. did to apprehend terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. “Receiving U.S. classified documents, as part of a conspiracy to steal classified information and put them in the public domain where our enemies can see them, is a crime,” according to deGraffenreid, now a professor of intelligence studies at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of national security in Washington, DC.
Assange and his source or sources acted conspiratorially, deGraffenreid notes, citing a report in the Guardian, a leading British newspaper. “Assange was doing intelligence tradecraft. He appeared in different cities, using secret ‘paroles’ or recognition signals so that he and his sources can identify one another, and went to a variety of news outlets to make sure that, once started, the dissemination of the classified information could not be stopped. The conspirators went to different editions so that if publication got stopped in one place it wouldn’t be stopped in another,” says deGraffenreid.
“Illegally giving or receiving 100,000 secret files about our counterterrorism efforts, and making them available to the terrorists to read, is clearly aiding and abetting terrorism,” the former counterspy asserts.
Under the post-9/11 counterterrorism statutes, it would be easy to prosecute Assange as well as his source or sources within the U.S. military. “Our counterterrorism laws are breathtaking in their worldwide applicability,” according to deGraffenreid, who served as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy after the 9/11 attacks. “The United States has asserted that it has the right to go to other countries, capture suspects, bring them back here and arraign them.”