UPDATE: Rep.-elect Allen West said media is ‘clearly misled’ on his ‘censorship’ comment
Florida’s Rep.-elect Allen West denied on his Facebook page Tuesday that he said the media should be censored for reporting on the documents released by WikiLeaks. The tea party-backed Republican claims he said the media should be “censured” – not “censored.”
“It has never been my intent to quiet or censor the press or anyone for that matter utilizing their right of freedom of speech granted to them under this country’s great American Constitution,” he wrote. “The confusion comes with the word censor…when I meant censure — in context that the media should be harshly criticized for printing the damaging documents Assange has released which so clearly puts our soldiers and country at risk.”
Original story continues below…
The government should censor news agencies that report on US documents leaked by websites like WikiLeaks, according to a tea party-backed Republican who will soon represent the 22th district congressional of Florida.
Speaking with an online radio station, Rep.-elect Allen West said that attacks on the US were not limited to “a bomb or an airplane flying into a building,” but could occur “through cyber attacks” or “through leaking of very sensitive classified information.”
“Regardless of whether you think it causes any harm, the fact that here is an individual that is not an American citizen first and foremost, for whatever reason gotten his hands on classified American material and put it out there in the public domain,” West continued. “And I think that we also should be censoring the American news agencies which enabled him to do this and also supported him and applauding him for the efforts. So that’s kind of aiding and abetting of a serious crime.”
Rep.-elect West is not the first to compare the release of confidential US documents by WikiLeaks to a terrorist attack. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) have made similar comparisons. Even CNN bought into the analogy, wondering if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a “journalist or terrorist” during its coverage of the secrets outlet.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said the person who gave WikiLeaks 250,000 secret diplomatic cables deserves the death penalty.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said the New York Times, who published documents released by WikiLeaks, “committed at least an act of bad citizenship” and said the news agency deserves “very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department.”
In sharp contrast to lawmakers like Rep.-elect West and Sen. Lieberman, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has suggested the world needs “more WikiLeaks.”
“In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth,” Rep. Paul said. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) has also supported the secrets outlet, saying that “if the public doesn’t know what’s going on, then they can’t vote intelligently.”
London Metropolitan police arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last week for a warrant out of Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in a sexual assault case. He was granted bail by a British judge on Tuesday afternoon but is expected to remain in prison while Swedish authorities appealed the decision.