First a video report from RT’s Laura Smith:
Next, Feinstein’s call, reported by Philip Dorling of the Sydney Morning Herald:
The head of the US Senate’s powerful intelligence oversight committee has renewed calls for Julian Assange to be prosecuted for espionage.
The US Justice Department has also confirmed WikiLeaks remains the target of an ongoing criminal investigation, calling into question Australian government claims that the US has no interest in extraditing Mr Assange.
”I believe Mr Assange has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States,” the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein, said in a written statement provided to the Herald. ”He has caused serious harm to US national security, and he should be prosecuted accordingly.”
Senator Feinstein’s call for the Obama administration to move ahead with plans to prosecute Mr Assange came as a US Justice Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, publicly confirmed that ”there continues to be an investigation into the WikiLeaks matter”.
So what are the implications?
No statements have implicated Assange in the actual theft of the diplomatic cables or the devastating helicopter attack video sequence WikiLeaks posted as “Collateral Murder.”
WikiLeaks was the recipient of the documents, and writing at Salon, Glenn Greenwald nails the implications of prosecuting the publisher of classified leaks:
The supreme Senate defender of state secrecy and the Surveillance State, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, yesterday issued a statement to Australia’s largest newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, demanding (once again) the prosecution of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. To see how hostile Feinstein is to basic press freedoms, permit me to change “Assange” each time it appears in her statement to “The New York Times“:
The head of the US Senate’s powerful intelligence oversight committee has renewed calls for [The New York Times] to be prosecuted for espionage. . . .
”I believe [The New York Times] has knowingly obtained and disseminated classified information which could cause injury to the United States,” the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dianne Feinstein, said in a written statement provided to the Herald. ”[It] has caused serious harm to US national security, and  should be prosecuted accordingly.”
As EFF’s Trevor Timm noted, there is no sense in which Feinstein’s denunciation applies to WikiLeaks but not to The New York Times (and, for that matter, senior Obama officials). Indeed, unlike WikiLeaks, which has never done so, The New York Times has repeatedly published Top Secret information. That’s why the prosecution that Feinstein demands for WikiLeaks would be the gravest threat to press freedom and basic transparency in decades. Feinstein’s decades-long record in the Senate strongly suggest that she would perceive these severe threats to press freedom as a benefit rather than drawback to her prosecution designs.
Greenwald is precisely correct. The same standard under which Feinstein demands the prosecution of Julian Assange would apply to an American medium that dares publish a classified leak.
Needless to say, we doubt the extremely wealthy Democrat [whose husband stands to make a profit off the sale of Berkeley’s post office, since he owns the real estate company with the contract to sell the national landmark] would dare dream of prosecuting the Times.
After all, even Richard Nixon didn’t try to jail the Times reporters who published the Pentagon Papers — though he did try to stop publication.
But prosecuting Assange would set a very dangerous precedent, firing a shot across the bow of a press so barely alive that it’s hard to distinguish the last twitches of independence from cadaveric spasms.
Feinstein’s call will strike fear into the hearts of others in the alternative media that have sprung up in the Internet age, and we have to assume that’s her intent.
But, hey, at least she isn’t calling for a drone strike.