WASHINGTON (AP) -- The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee said Monday that the disclosure of thousands of classified State Department documents undermines U.S. credibility with the rest of the world.
Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra said he believes "there's a whole number of time bombs" in the documents made public by the online whistle-blower group Wikileaks. And the man in position to be the next chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee urged the Obama administration to declare the Wikileaks organization a terrorist operation.
"The catastrophic issue here is just a breakdown in trust," said Hoekstra, adding that other countries -- America's allies and possibly adversaries as well -- are going to ask, 'Can the United States be trusted? Can the United States keep a secret?' "
Hoekstra said the disclosure of previously secret diplomatic cables, documents and e-mails secrets puts America's diplomats in "a very awkward position." He said some of the material in the roughly 250,000 released documents is "gossip," but added that there's also material on supersensitive negotiations between the United States and Pakistan on a deal aimed at controlling nuclear proliferation.
"I haven't seen it in any of the tactical information.
On indications in the documents that U.S. diplomats based at the United Nations were asked to gather information on the secretary general, Hoekstra said such a disclosure will make life more difficult for America's public officials, saying it "potentially compromises their position and their relationship with the people that they work with."
Hoekstra, in line to lead the Intelligence panel when the new Congress convenes in January, called the incident "a massive failure within the intelligence (community) to create this kind of database with this much information in it. I think the real surprise here is that it never happened before."
New York's Rep. Peter King, the ranking Republican on Homeland Security, said that if the lives of some Americans are endangered by the illegal release of classified information by the Wikileaks website, then the government should "go after" the people who control WikiLeaks for violating the espionage act."
King maintained that WikiLeaks is "engaged in terrorist activity." He said that by releasing secret documents, the organization is "enabling terrorists to kill Americans."
Hoekstra appeared Monday on CBS's "The Early Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America," and King was interviewed on NBC's "Today" show.