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IssaLeaks: More fallout from the Benghazi killings

Was it a good idea to release a lot of un-redacted State Department memos from Libya? Probably not.

By Staff writer / October 22, 2012

Well, if the US ever does try to extradite Julian Assange, Congressman Darrell Issa has just given some ammunition for his defense.

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Staff writer

Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.

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There is no evidence that the US is interested in extraditing Mr. Assange, of course, and it's unclear what he could be charged with if they ever did. But when Assange's WikiLeaks started dumping US diplomatic cables all over the Internet two years ago, frequently without redacting the names of people who could be put in harm’s way by the releases, a number of American politicians figuratively called for his head.

Among them was Darrell Issa (R) of California. In Jan. 2011, as he took the reins of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the congressman told Fox News that the US should immediately prosecute Assange, that “the world is laughing at this paper tiger we've become," and that the release of private diplomatic cables severely damages the ability of US diplomats to operate.

Mr. Issa called for new laws to make it easier to prosecute leaks of State Department information "so the diplomats can do their job with confidence and people can talk to our government with confidence."

Well, that was then: Issa, whose committee has wide-ranging powers to oversee the US government, decided on Friday to release more than 160 pages of State Department memos and diplomatic cables from Libya  .  It was part of his effort to prove Obama administration malfeasance leading up to the murder of the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi in September.

None of the released information was strictly "classified," but it all would typically have been kept private for years. Much the same could be said for most of the hundreds of thousands of cables released by Assange, which Issa so ardently opposed.


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