Friday, December 17, 2010

Ros-Lehtinen demands copies of leaked U.S. embassy cables

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Dec. 15 introduced a bill ordering the Secretary of State to give the House of Representatives copies of all classified documents that the department believes were unlawfully disclosed to Wikileaks and press organizations.
Her resolution moved on to the House Foreign Relations Committee, which Lehtinen now chairs.
The State Department's deadline: One week, from the time the resolution is adopted.
Lehtinen's bill refers to a Nov. 27 letter that State Department lawyer Harold Hongju Koh wrote to Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer Julian Assange, creator of Wikileaks. The letter says:
It is our understanding from conversations with representatives from The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Speigel, that WikiLeaks also has provided approximately 250,000 documents to each of them for publication, furthering the illegal dissemination of classified documents.
The letter demands that Assange stop publishing the State Department cables and asks Wikileaks to destroy the leaked records. It says:
As you know, if any of the materials you intend to publish were provided by any government officials, or any intermediary without proper authorization, they were provided in violation of U.S. law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action. As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing.
Despite your stated desire to protect those lives, you have done the opposite and endangered the lives of countless individuals. You have undermined your stated objective by disseminating this material widely, without redaction, and without regard to the security and sanctity of the lives your actions endanger. We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials. If you are genuinely interested in seeking to stop the damage from your actions, you should: 1) ensure WikiLeaks ceases publishing any and all such materials; 2) ensure WikiLeaks returns any and all classified U.S. Government material in its possession; and 3) remove and destroy all records of this material from WikiLeaks’ databases.
So why is Ros-Lehtinen asking the State Department to give the House all the leaked documents? If disclosure of the documents poses security risks, does turning them over to the House somehow improve the situation? Is Ros-Lehtinen worried the documents will be destroyed and she wants to make sure the House has copies of them first? What's going on here?

The text of the bill, House Resolution 1763, is below:
Dec 15, 2010 - Introduced in House. This is the original text of the bill as it was written by its sponsor and submitted to the House for consideration. This is the latest version of the bill currently available on GovTrack.

111th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. RES. 1763

Directing the Secretary of State to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of all classified Department of State documents assessed by the Department to have been unlawfully disclosed and provided to WikiLeaks and public press outlets.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
December 15, 2010

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

RESOLUTION

Directing the Secretary of State to transmit to the House of Representatives copies of all classified Department of State documents assessed by the Department to have been unlawfully disclosed and provided to WikiLeaks and public press outlets.

Resolved, That the Secretary of State is directed to transmit to the House of Representatives, not later than 7 days after the date of the adoption of this resolution, copies of all classified Department of State documents assessed by the Department as of the date of the adoption of this resolution to have been unlawfully disclosed and provided to WikiLeaks and select public press outlets, as referenced in the November 27, 2010, letter by the Department of State Legal Adviser, Harold Hongju Koh, to Ms. Jennifer Robinson, attorney for Mr. Julian Assange, which notes the approximately 250,000 documents that have been provided to select press outlets by WikiLeaks.

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