After WikiLeaks' unauthorized release of a quarter of a million State Department documents Sunday, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) called for the Swedish website to be designated a "foreign terrorist organization" and its founder Julian Assange to be charged under U.S. espionage laws.
The White House and members of Congresscondemned Sunday's leak of the sensitive and often embarrassing documents that followed two earlier leaks of Pentagon records onAfghanistan and Iraq.
But only King, a Seaford Republican and incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who so far has urged such aggressive action as branding WikiLeaks as a foreign terrorist organization, or FTO, putting it on par with al-Qaida and violent terror groups.
"WikiLeaks presents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States," King wrote Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a letter released Sunday.
"I strongly urge you to work within the administration to use every offensive capability of the U.S. government to prevent further damaging releases by WikiLeaks."
The FTO designation would create a heavy penalty for anyone who might send stolen secret documents to WikiLeaks since it would criminalize knowingly aiding the group and freeze its bank accounts.
The State Department could not be reached for comment.
The State Department has designated 47 groups as FTOs, and all are associated with terrorist acts or advocacy, something neither Assange nor WikiLeaks has done.
But King said WikiLeaks "appears to meet the legal criteria for FTO designation."
As required by the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, he said, WikiLeaks is a foreign organization engaged in "a terrorist activity" that "threatens the national security of the United States" because the leaked documents "afford material support" for terrorists who the Pentagon says are mining the documents for information.
King also wrote Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to prosecute Assange under the U.S. Espionage Act for WikiLeaks' unauthorized posting of secret U.S. records.
"By the sheer volume of the classified materials released, rendering harm to the United States seems inevitable and perhaps irreversible," King wrote.
He added that the repeated releases of stolen documents "manifests Mr. Assange's purposeful intent to damage not only our national interests in fighting the war on terror, but also undermines the very safety of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The Justice Department declined to talk about any active investigation under way, or to comment on King's letter.
But it has been assisting the Pentagon in its "investigation relating to the disclosure of documents by WikiLeaks," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler.
The Pentagon has charged alleged leaker to WikiLeaks, Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, with unauthorized access and transmission of classified materials under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Schmaler added the department condemns "in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified information." She added, "We will continue to aggressively pursue anyone found to be violating the law."