Some of the rhetoric against Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organization has taken on an extreme tone since they began leaking the first of hundreds of thousands of stolen U.S. diplomatic cables.
Among the prominent critics of Assange's and WikiLeaks' actions are former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who described the leaks as terrorism and treason, respectively.
In a recent interview with MSNBC, Assange dismissed the charges that he is a digital terrorist, and called what he interpreted as cries for his head from people like Huckabee and Palin as nothing more than "another idiot trying to make a name for himself."
"If we are to have a civil society, you cannot have senior people making calls on national TV to go around the judiciary and illegally murder people," he said. "That is incitement to commit murder."In an interview at the Reagan Presidential library shortly after news of the leaks hit the airwaves, Huckabee said: "Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty."
Palin, just three weeks after saying on her Facebook page that the U.S. should hunt Assange down like al Qaeda, used a leaked cable from WikiLeaks in a USA Today Op-Ed as crucial evidence in her argument against Iran's nuclear program.
Among the many charges leveled against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange - charges that he is a terrorist, a sex offender, an anarchist - the one he battles back against most fervently in interviews is the charge that he is not a journalist.
Assange defends his right to the limited protection journalists get by pointing to his longtime membership in the Australian journalists' union, as well as numerous letters of support from groups like Reporters Without Borders and Columbia Journalism School.
In his MSNBC interview, Assange equated the attempts to paint him as a non-journalist to "a new kind of digital McCarthyism being pushed from Washington."
"(The general public) don't like (government attempts to prosecute me) in the United States because of these good revolutionary First Amendment traditions about the right of all people to criticize their government," Assange said.
In the interview, Assange warned other media outlets that if a conspiracy charge could be levied against him, then it could be levied against any reporter who works with confidential sources to get sensitive information.
"That's going to take out all of good government journalism as it occurs in the United States," he said.