Trump aide attacks 'double standard' over WikiLeaks dump

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 9 (IANS) White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer slammed the "double standard" in the level of interest over CIA documents purportedly posted by WikiLeaks this week and a batch of emails taken from the inbox of a prominent Democrat and posted last year.

Spicer on Wednesday connected the latest WikiLeaks document dump to surveillance efforts under the Obama administration, days after President Donald Trump levelled his unsubstantiated claim that Obama tapped the GOP candidate's phones during the 2016 campaign, CNN reported.

And then he took to arguing forcefully that there was a "double standard" when it comes to the level of outrage elicited by different leaks.

"It's interesting how there's sort of a double standard with when the leaks occur, how much outrage there is," Spicer said. His comments came as he relayed Trump's "concern" about the leaks and said Americans should be "outraged" by the release of classified information.

"This is the kind of disclosure that undermines our country, our security and our well-being,"Spicer said.

Spicer's claims came as he faced questions about a double standard on the President's part in condemning this leak while he praised WikiLeaks' publication of emails related to his rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

"I love WikiLeaks!" Trump proclaimed on the stump last year as he took to reading before crowds of cheering supporters hacked emails that the site released.

Spicer said that there is a "massive, massive difference" between the two disclosures.

"There is a big difference between disclosing Podesta -- John Podesta's Gmail accounts about a back-and-forth and his undermining of Hillary Clinton and his thoughts on her on a personal nature, and the leaking of classified information," Spicer said.

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly lauded WikiLeaks for releasing emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's email account, several of which portrayed Clinton in an unfavourable light.

The US intelligence community concluded those emails were hacked and released to WikiLeaks by Russian sources as part of a campaign to hurt Clinton.

WikiLeaks posted more than 8,700 documents on Tuesday that it claimed were taken from the CIA's high-security network. The records contained details of the intelligence agency's hacking capabilities.

Spicer declined to confirm or deny that the documents originated in the CIA.

Meanwhile, Senator John McCain raised an alarm about the WikiLeaks' dump.

The Senate Armed Services chairman said the situation is "really serious" and requires a wholesale evaluation of who is allowed to have access to such classified materials, reported Politico.

"You are now looking at ways our intelligence agencies do business being revealed. It has all kind of ramifications. It's going to cause a real fundamental evaluation of everything we do, including FISA," McCain said, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

"The first priority is: Who's getting this information? Who's able to reveal this kind of information?"

McCain said either the CIA has been hacked or a contractor is leaking documents again, reminiscent of when Edward Snowden distributed documents to news organisations revealing the extent of the sweeping National Security Agency data-mining programmes.

The Arizona senator said that either way, the government must tighten access to classified programmes.