The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Monday expressed doubts about designating WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) questioned a proposal from House counterpart Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) that the U.S. should label the website a terrorist group to ease the government's ability to go after the group following its release of classified diplomatic cables that revealed sensitive conversations about foreign governments and the war on terror.
"Normally, we reserve that designation for groups that fit the traditional definition of terrorism, which is that they are using violence to achieve a political end," Lieberman said on the "Imus in the Morning" radio show. "While it's true that what WikiLeaks did may result in damage to some people ... it's not al Qaeda."
The Connecticut senator also would not rule out supporting King's proposal, saying "I want to talk to Pete and figure out what he's got in mind."
Lieberman lost his 2006 Democratic primary race partly because of opposition from liberals upset with his support of the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's anti-terror policies. The senator has continued to align himself with Republicans on matters of foreign relations and national security.
Designating WikiLeaks as a foreign terrorist organization would allow the U.S. government to cut off their funding and prosecute individuals or groups who assist it, King said. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has the authority to make such a decision.
So far, the Obama administration has condemned the document dumps but has not taken legal action against WikiLeaks, even though lawmakers have called for the group's leadership to be prosecuted.
Whether or not WikiLeaks is designated as a terrorist organization, the site should still be shut down, Lieberman said.
"It's a terrible thing that they — that WikiLeaks did," he said. "I hope we are doing everything we can to take down their website."