Candice Miller for Congress, Michigan

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Time to Shut Down WikiLeaks

by Candice Miller on December 6, 2010

by Jonathan Oosting |

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller this week joined a small group of lawmakers calling on the federal government to treat WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization and shut down the website that has released thousands of government records, most recently a series of classified State Department cables.
“It is time that the Obama Administration treats WikiLeaks for what it is – A terrorist organization whose continued operation threatens our security,” Miller said Wednesday on the House floor. “Shut it down. Shut it down. It is time to shut this terrorist organization, this terrorist website WikiLeaks.”
Miller, a Harrison Township Republican and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, noted that the federal government on Monday shut down 82 websites suspected of selling counterfeit goods and music. She urged Attorney General Eric Holder to take similar action against Wikileaks, which “represents a far greater threat to our national security than the sale of fake Louis Vuitton purses.”
Holder said this week he is conducting an “active, ongoing, criminal investigation” into WikiLeaks for releasing documents he said jeopardized national security, diplomatic efforts and U.S. relationships around the world. Officials reportedly are considering charging WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act.
But supporters say the website provides a public service by releasing information that numerous media organizations have deemed fit to print. Experts also say the Obama administration would face a daunting task if they attempted to shut down the site.
Dec. 2, Politico: “The reason the government hasn’t acted to take down WikiLeaks is it knows, as does every First Amendment scholar, that would run afoul of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Pentagon Papers case,” said Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was referring to the landmark 1971 Supreme Court ruling that rejected the Nixon administration’s attempt to stop the New York Times from printing leaked, high-level military reports on the Vietnam War.
“Under the First Amendment, the legal presumption is strongly in favor of free speech and against prior restraint,” Bankston said. “The government would have the burden of demonstrating serious, really imminent harm, and would have to do so for each document it wants to enjoin.”
Several well-respected media outlets have been collaborating with WikiLeaks, according to the Associated Press.  WikiLeaks turned the classified cables over to The Guardian in Britain, which in turn shared the materials with the New York Times and worked with the newspaper to plan the timing of their reports.
Despite that collaboration, Holder said this week he does not view WikiLeaks as a traditional news organization. “I think one can compare the way in which the various news organizations that have been involved in this have acted, as opposed to the way in which WikiLeaks has,” he said, declining to elaborate on the distinction.
Whether or not the federal government steps in, WikiLeaks is already having trouble staying online. Amazon dumped WikiLeaks from its web hosting service this week after a series of DNS attacks crippled the site and Sen. Joe Lieberman called the company to ask about their relationship.  
The Associated Press contributed to this report

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