WikiLeaks Not a Whistleblower, Assange Not a Journalist?

“Julian Assange and his cronies, in their effort to hinder our war efforts, are creating a hit list for our enemies by publishing the names of our human intelligence sources…. I simply will not stand idly by as they become death targets because of Julian Assange. Let me be very clear, WikiLeaks is not a whistleblower website and Assange is not a journalist.”

— Sen. John Ensign (R.-Nevada) introducing an anti-WikiLeaks bill that would forbid the disclosure of the names of intelligence agents and informants

Funny, I thought our legal traditions generally frowned on the notion that powerful government officials, particularly members of Congress, get to declare who is and isn’t a journalist?

Funnier still, I don’t recall similar umbrage from Ensign and his GOP colleagues when White House staffers on a political vendetta repeatedly disclosed the identity of a covert CIA official.

Oh, but here’s something (Gannett News Service, 7/15/05): Following the Bush White House’s Valerie Plame scandal, Ensign and most of his GOP colleagues voted against Harry Reid’s bill that would have revoked the security clearance of any federal employee who disclosed classified information.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.