Are Troops Talking to Assange ‘Communicating With the Enemy’?

Sep 28, 2012 3:43pm

A military document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act identifies Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as an “enemy” — but the Pentagon insists that was not intended as a legal designation of him per se.

Air Force counter-intelligence documents obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald suggest that military personnel who contact Wikileaks could be charged with “communicating with the enemy.”

But George Little, a spokesman for the Pentagon, tells ABC News that the “Department of Defense does not regard Mr. Assange as a member of the ‘enemy,’ a military objective, or someone who should be dealt with by the US military.”

Little says the Pentagon “has warned Mr. Assange and Wikileaks against soliciting service members to break the law by providing classified information to them, and that it is our view that continued possession by Wikileaks of classified information belonging to the United States government represents a continuing violation of law. We regard this as a law enforcement matter.”

The documents were part of a probe of whether an analyst violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, section 904, article 104,  which states that anyone who “without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to, or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly; shall suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial or military commission may direct.”

The analyst reportedly was not charged, though her security clearance was suspended.

A Senior Defense official, asked if the Pentagon would truly seek the death penalty for a service member leaking information to Assange, said “I can’t speak in hypotheticals, but it’s unlikely that it would get to that point-if it were even an option at all. After all, it’s been some time since anyone has been subject to the death penalty for crimes that are roughly analogous, such as espionage.”

Assange is currently in the UK, having sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy there.

-Jake Tapper

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