Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo delivered said Thursday that the U.S. will stop WikiLeaks from using “free speech values against us.”
Pompeo was speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he focused on the threat of leaks. He mentioned the case of Philip Agee, a former CIA officer who exposed CIA secrets through a magazine.
The CIA director said that now leakers need merely “a smart phone and internet access.” He added that the CIA finds “the celebration of entities like WikiLeaks to be both perplexing and deeply troubling.”
In recent weeks, WikiLeaks has been publishing documents which purport to reveal the inner workings of CIA cyber operations.
“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is — a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Pompeo said.
He later added: “We have to recognize that we can no longer allow [WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange] and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.”
While Pompeo slammed WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service,” he in fact tweeted out a link last July to a story about the Democratic National Committee email leak. (RELATED: CIA Director: WikiLeaks Is A ‘Non-State, Hostile Intelligence Service’)
During a question-and-answer after his speech, Pompeo was asked about his remark that the U.S. has to stop Assange from using “free speech values against us.” (RELATED: Senator Supports Idea Of Government-Backed Fact Checker)
“Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms. He’s sitting in an embassy in London. He’s not a U.S. citizen. So I wasn’t speaking to our Constitution. What I was speaking to is an understanding that these are not reporters doing good work to try to keep you — the American government honest,” Pompeo replied. “These are people who are actively recruiting agents to steal American secrets with the sole intent of destroying the American way of life. That is fundamentally different than a First Amendment activity, as I understand them, and I think as most Americans understand them.”
He added: “We’ve had administrations before that have been squeamish about going after these folks under some concept of this right-to-publish. No one has the right to actively engage in the theft of secrets from America with the intent to do harm to it.”