The White House and Wikileaks: Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 12/10/2010

By Jared

Dec 10, 2010 11:52am

TAPPER:  I’d like ask you a question or two about WikiLeaks for a second, just to deviate from the tax issue, there has been a lot of talk of — of campaigns against WikiLeaks in terms of Mastercard, companies that do business with WikiLeaks stopping their association. Obviously, Mr. Assange is in custody right now. I'm wondering if you can talk at all about what role the administration writ large has played in any of this, in convincing the corporations…

GIBBS:  We have not played a role in any of this.

TAPPER:  In any of it?  Nobody at the State Department or anybody has said to PayPal or anyone else, "You shouldn't be doing business with this company"?

GIBBS:  I would point you to the State Department on if they've had any specific — I know of no — no actions on that.

TAPPER:  And Russian leaders in recent days have made comments about WikiLeaks that seem to suggest that they're not altogether unhappy with the fact that some of this information has come out, and that going after Mr. Assange is against democracy. Is that something you guys have any comment on?

GIBBS:  There are a lot of comments I'd love to say, but I will — I don't have any comment.  

TAPPER:  Do you think that the Russians would make comments like that because this weakens the United States?

GIBBS:  That could be the thought of a Russian or two. I don't — you know, honestly — I don't — I do not think — I think the role that the United States plays in the foreign policy of — of this globe is — is a role that — that has to be played.  It furthers both our domestic interests but also — the role that we play in the peace and prosperity of the entire world is one that can't be replaced.  And it's not going — as I've said before, it is not weakened by one guy with a laptop

TAPPER:  And lastly, do you or the president — did the White House believe that Mr. Assange violated the Espionage Act and is Justice Department going to prosecute him or try to prosecute him…

GIBBS:  I would just say, similar to what I said at the very beginning of these round of stories, and that is that we — we have not ruled out, as best I can tell, any response.  And I think the Justice Department is — is evaluating different responses, as well. I would ask them if they have something more specific, but I wouldn't rule anything out.

TAPPER:  Do you think he's broken the law?

GIBBS:  That's a better question for them.

TAPPER:  OK.

GIBBS:  I will say this:  There's no doubt that there are — there are those in the — in this process that have — I mean, when you take the amount of classified material and remove it from a computer and remove it outside of a — remove it outside of a building and — and — and distribute it to people who are able to do that, that is — that's — that's against the law. I mean, I think you've seen us on foreign trips, you know, if you — if we have anything that's classified or top secret, you have to put it in a bag that locks.  There are very specific rules on handling and all that sort of thing.  And obviously, that may not pertain necessarily to…

TAPPER:  Right, he's the recipient.

GIBBS:  … right.  So, but I would say — and so there's no doubt that there have — have been laws broken in this process.  We are continuing — the Justice Department is continuing to evaluate all of our responses.

–Jake Tapper

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