computer hacking

McCain Takes Aim At Assange For Putting ‘Lives In Danger’


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was an ocean away Thursday as the Senate Armed Services convened a hearing on cybersecurity risks.

But that did not stop him from being a prime target as lawmakers and intelligence experts vented their anger and decried what they interpreted as President-elect Donald Trump’s support of Assange.

WikiLeaks and Assange factored significantly in the 2016 presidential election by publishing email documents from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta. American intelligence agencies have said Russian hackers penetrated the DNC’s system, and have said Russia sought to play a role in the election.

Assange has insisted that none of the documents he leaked came from Russia.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., brought up Assange as he was questioning National Intelligence Director James Clapper.

“General Clapper, I just have to mention the name, Mr. Assange has popped up,” McCain said. “And I believe he is the one who is responsible for publishing names of individuals that work for us that put their lives in direct danger. Is that correct?

“Yes, he has,” Clapper said.

“Do you think there’s any credibility we should attach to this individual, given his record of …”

“Not in my view,” Clapper interjected.

“I would second those comments,” added National Security Agency director Admiral Mike Rogers.

Some at the hearing were irked that Trump, on Wednesday, noted comments made by Assange that aligned with Trump’s skepticism that the Russians played a major role in the election.

“The notion that the soon-elected leader of this country would put Julian Assange on a pedestal compared to the men and women of the intelligence community and the military, there should be howls,”said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri. “If the role were reversed, there would be howls.”

Trump on Thursday tweeted out further details of his position.

On Friday, Trump is scheduled to be briefed about Russian hacking into American political organizations.

McCain has long been a critic of Assange. In 2011, after WikiLeaks published 250,000 diplomatic cables leaked by an American soldier, McCain called the incident “the greatest, most damaging security breach in the history of this country.”

He said the 2011 leak put individuals at risk in Iraq and Afghanistan who were cooperating with U.S. intelligence services.

“It literally puts their lives in danger,” he said.

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