Congressman Calls for Execution of Wikileaks Whistleblower

A Michigan congressman said this week that if an Army private charged with leaking classified material to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks is found guilty, he should be sentenced to death.

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told a local radio station on Monday that the charges against Pvt. Bradley Manning are worthy of capital punishment.

"We know for a fact that people will likely be killed because of this information being disclosed," he told Michigan-based WHMI. "That's pretty serious. If they don't charge him with treason, they ought to charge him with murder.

"I argue the death penalty clearly should be considered here," he said. "He clearly aided the enemy to what may result in the death of U.S. soldiers . . . If that is not a capital offense, I don't know what is."

Manning is being held at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in northern Virginia, awaiting possible trial on 12 offenses.

He is accused of leaking a helicopter cockpit video from Iraq that WikiLeaks posted in April, and a classified cable from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland, dated Jan. 13, 2010, that also has appeared on WikiLeaks.

Manning also is charged with illegally obtaining more than 150,000 classified State Department cables and leaking more than 50 of them. It's not clear from the charges, though, whether the allegedly diverted documents were those published on the WikiLeaks site.

"He put soldiers at risk who are out there fighting for their country," Rogers said. "And he put people who are cooperating with the United States government clearly at risk -- them forever. Our soldiers will be out of that combat zone one day;  those folks will never be."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have called the release of the documents that WikiLeaks calls its "Afghan War Diary" deeply damaging and potentially life-threatening for Afghan informants or others who have taken risks to help the U.S. and NATO war effort.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has dismissed allegations that innocent people or informants had been put in danger by the publication of the documents.