THE BLOG
01/14/2011 04:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Finally A Line Obama Won't Cross On WikiLeaks

It seemed there was nothing the Obama administration wouldn't do to shut down WikiLeaks and shut up Julian Assange.

Today we found out there is. In a somewhat curious move, the Treasury Department declined a right-wing congressman's request to blacklist WikiLeaks.

There already is a grand jury investigating Assange and the government has put pressure on financial institutions and Internet providers not to do business with the whistleblowers. A U.S. Army private has been held in solitary for seven months in a bid critics say is to force him to implicate Assange in the leak of military documents alleged to show war crimes.

"We do not have evidence at this time to Julian Assange or Wikileaks meeting criteria under which (Treasury) may designate persons and place them on the" sanctions list," Treasury said in statement.

If it had blacklisted Assange, as U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York requested, it would have been a major blow to WikiLeaks. It would have permitted the Justice Department, if it so chose, to prosecute anyone deemed to be doing business with WikiLeaks.

For example, it likely would have stopped the publishing company Knopf from paying Assange $1 million for his memoirs. Buying the book could have theoretically become a crime.

If Treasury had decided to go ahead with blacklisting Assange it would not have had to explain why.

King said he wanted to "strangle (WikiLeaks) viability."

Under a law passed in 1977 the President and Treasury wide powers to blacklist groups and individuals deemed to be supporting terrorists. Their assets also could be freezed.