Assange in crosshairs of Congress

Ewen MacAskill

January 5, 2011

Julian Assange ... in southern England last month.
Julian Assange … in southern England last month. Photo: Reuters

The Republican Party in the USA is planning a congressional inquiry into WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

The party, which was due to wrest control of the house today, has included WikiLeaks in a list of high priorities for investigation.

The move is partly political, aimed at the Attorney-General, Eric Holder, who the Republicans claim has been too slow and too lethargic in reacting to the leaks. Last month he said the Justice Department was looking at what action could be taken against Mr Assange but that lawyers were struggling to find applicable legislation under which the Australian national could be prosecuted.

Darrell Issa, who will take over as chairman of the House of Representatives oversight committee and is calling for Mr Holder’s resignation, said of Mr Assange in an interview on Sunday: ”If the President says, ‘I can’t deal with this guy as a terrorist,’ then he has to be able to deal with him as a criminal. Otherwise the world is laughing at this ineffective paper tiger we’ve become.”

On Monday the Politico website published areas Mr Issa’s committee intends to investigate, including WikiLeaks.

The committee, whose remit covers fraud and waste, can subpoena witnesses from the highest reaches of political life. Hearings could begin in the next few weeks.

Mr Issa said his committee would investigate WikiLeaks ”so the diplomats can do their job with confidence and people can talk to & interact with our government in confidence”.

The new Congress would have to introduve legislature to try to prevent similar acts of whistleblowing.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha