If the US government prosecutes Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, it will mark a point of no return.
We’ll never know what “average” Germans thought on November 11, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht. Perhaps a few recognized it for what it was: a turning point, an acceleration of Germany’s descent into hell. America’s Crystal Night looms, and if it occurs, only a few will recognize it for what it is.
The fate of Julian Assange is the fate of one man, but it is also the fate of one of our most important freedoms. There won’t be shattered plate glass from vandalized businesses littering the streets, synagogues smashed, graves unearthed, or people herded onto trains. But his prosecution by the US government would destroy an inestimable value, one enshrined in the First Amendment, for which generations of Americans have fought and died: the right of the people and its press to inform the people and to hold their government to account.
Aside from armed resistance and revolution, the one defense individuals have against governments is intellectual: the concept of individual rights. There is an argument as to whether those rights come from our Creator (Thomas Jefferson) or from our basic nature as humans and the requirements of our survival (Ayn Rand). Despite starting from different premises, both arguments lead to the same conclusion: individuals have inherent, inalienable, inviolable rights, and the only legitimate function of government is to protect those rights.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were explicit attempts to delineate a set of principles that recognized individual rights and tried to restrain government power. Though real-world implementation has fallen short, often far short, they were towering conceptual achievements.
In 1933, the year Hitler assumed power, the government began enacting laws that restricted Jews’ rights to earn a living, gain an education, or work in the civil service. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws stripped German Jews of their citizenship and forbade them from marrying non-Jewish Germans.
Kristallnacht’s hooliganism was encouraged by the German authorities, and none of the perpetrators bore any legal consequences. More than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and deported to concentration camps. The government would not protect Jews from the depredations of thugs and the government itself was a thug. Kristallnacht was a point of no return: Jews no longer had any legally enforceable rights. Soon enough no German would.
In America, there is no one villain or group that one can point to as responsible for the erosion of rights. Begun the day the Constitution was ratified, it’s been a gradual process. We’ve reached the point where only a few of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights still receive any measure of government solicitude.
Property and contract rights are out the window; the government routinely abridges them. You have no right to your own income, or to conduct your legitimate business or trade free from government regulation and interference. Much of the Bill of Rights is either irrelevant now or has been rendered a dead letter. In terms of individual rights, only the Second Amendment’s much infringed right to bear arms, and the First Amendment—the prohibition against the government establishing a religion, free speech, press, and assembly, and the right to petition the government—are still hanging by a thread.
Which is why the fate of Julian Assange takes on such significance. While the government has prosecuted those like Chelsea (formerly Brad) Manning who have stolen government secrets and classified information, it has not prosecuted the press individuals and organizations who have published them. That is WikiLeaks’ business model: it receives, vets, and publishes stolen information, often from governments.
The government has not gone after publishers because it would be a frontal assault on the First Amendment that it would probably lose. Any exception would swallow the general rule of press freedom. Say the Supreme Court recognized an exception: classified information whose publication would constitute an imminent and grave threat to the security of the United States. Who decides what’s an imminent and grave threat? The government would have the power to classify whatever information it pleases under that exception and put those who publish it at risk of prosecution, their only recourse years of costly litigation spent arguing that the information didn’t fit the exception.
Many Trump admirers resist the notion that their man is interested in the acquisition and use of power, but his and members of his administration’s hostility to individual civil liberties belies that resistance. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a gung-ho supporter of the civil-liberties-eviscerating-government-power-expanding War on Drugs and civil asset forfeiture.
In the latter, a government seizes assets it claims were involved with crimes and makes their owners jump through myriad legal hoops—including proving the negative that their assets weren’t involved in a crime—even if the owners themselves were never convicted, or even charged, with a crime. Assets that are not “acquitted”—cars, cash, boats, houses, etc.—are kept and used by the government. President Trump has endorsed civil asset forfeiture, and has extended it outside America’s borders via an executive order (see “By Imperial Decree,” SLL, 1/2/18).
Trump’s Secretary of State and former director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo has fashioned a legal approach the administration might use, in a case against WikiLeaks and Assange, to slither around the First Amendment. In April, still director of the CIA, he delivered a speech in which several passages demanded, but never received, careful parsing from the mainstream media. They are still obsessing over a February Trump tweet in which he declared the US media an “enemy of the people.” This is considered a threat to the First Amendment, but Pompeo’s speech was mostly ignored.
Pompeo called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Most press organizations, and almost all that consistently challenge the state, are non-state. WikiLeaks has published state secrets, undoubtedly considered hostile acts by those states, but how is it an intelligence service? Pompeo is arguing that WikiLeaks cannot be considered part of the press, consequently it’s not protected by the First Amendment.
As for the “abetted by state actors like Russia,” WikiLeaks has consistently denied it received the DNC emails from Russia, and nobody has proven otherwise. The best technical evidence indicates those DNC emails were directly downloaded to a portable storage device, indicating an inside job, and not remotely hacked, by Russians or anyone else.
Pompeo argued that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” This is straight from Orwell: you are free to say what you want, as long as you don’t say anything against the government. He claimed that WikiLeaks “pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice,” and, “they may have believed that, but they are wrong.” Now where would WikiLeaks get such a crazy idea? How about the plain language of the First Amendment?
Finally, Pompeo threatened: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.” Any government “secrets” the press publishes with the full approval of the government probably aren’t going to be terribly revealing. It’s the secrets the government doesn’t want revealed, the ones that are generally “misappropriated,” that reveal the most important secrets, which an informed and free people must know if they are to call their government to account.
From the excerpts quoted above, and the video of the relevant part of speech below, make up your own mind as to who’s perverting the Constitution.
Freedom of the press protects the rights of the press, but more importantly protects the right of all of us to be informed, especially about what was once considered “our” government. It amplifies the freedom of speech. Even a small newspaper reaches more people than someone shouting from a street corner.
If Assange and WikiLeaks are tried and convicted in a US court as “a non-state hostile intelligence service,” the government can slap that label on any person or organization publishing or otherwise disclosing its secrets. The case would probably make its way to the Supreme Court. If the court accepted the Pompeo exception to the First Amendment, freedom of the press and speech would become two more of the Constitution’s dead letters.
Just the prosecution of Assange and WikiLeaks would have a chilling effect. Not that most of the US’s supine mainstream and social media would be chilled. The mainstream media that have spoken out about Assange and WikiLeaks have come down on the side of the government. The social media companies, de facto arms of the government, are shutting down politically incorrect voices. Neither mainstream or social media have anything to lose from the termination of First Amendment freedoms because they don’t say, or allow anyone else to say, anything the powers that be don’t want heard.
Trump is a wild card on WikiLeaks and Assange. WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the DNC emails helped his campaign. He praised it back then, but now appears ready to prosecute. Trump administration officials and Trump himself often say one thing while Trump does another. It is not a given that Assange will be either extradited by the British government or prosecuted in the US.
Few totalitarian regimes take their people’s rights away all at once. It’s done gradually to reduce dissent, until that Kristallnacht moment where it’s impossible to evade the reality: there are no rights left. If the Trump administration prosecutes Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, that sinking feeling in your stomach will be the realization that the last remnant of your rights are gone, that the government and Trump are your enemies.
If Assange and WikiLeaks are prosecuted, who will dare tell the truth about the government? Trump will have destroyed one of the last vestiges of individual rights—and the freedom that goes with it—that once made America great.
Pingback: Nothing New Under The Sun 2016
Pingback: America’s Kristallnacht? – Olduvai.ca
Pingback: SLL: America’s Kristallnacht? | Western Rifle Shooters Association
Pingback: America’s Kristallnacht? - The Daily Coin
Pingback: Jim's Mailbox :: Jim Sinclair's Mineset
Big Internet kicked Alex Jones out, to effectively silence him, but he can be found now at Real.Video. Not really a fan of him, too much shouting and emotional outbursts. But Big Internet got the signal from Deep State and now he’s gone from the most popular places. It’s starting, slowly, but it’s starting. And you’re right as usual, Robert, they’re doing this so gently, so as to NOT arouse the people, and get them stirred up to do something. The street thugs will probably tip the violent hand though, and upset Deep States plan to narcotize the public. You are right about Assange, prosecuting him will be a very big blow to the 1st Amendment. But I think with the Patriot Act, and EEs’, the Bill of Rights is pretty much a dead letter already. The leftists are still in power, grasping for more, and this time they are not going back into hibernation. What, Robert, do you advise? I have a pretty good idea what to do with this latest, I just want your advice as well.
Prepare and resist, with everything you’ve got. Never shut up or be silenced or cowed. The truth has a power of its own. There are lots of people who have their fingers crossed, hoping nothing “really bad” will happen until after they’re gone. You, and most SLL readers, are not among them. The consequences of speaking up may be dire for some, but the consequences of not speaking up will be dire for everyone. Keep fighting.
was that a reply? this is how easy it is as many refuse to post the truth!
Council On Foreign Relations –
In theory, America’s government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, for the people.” While this concept rang true in early America, and many individuals still trust in it, the last century has seen the reality of power increasingly shift from the people to an establishment rooted in banking, Wall Street, and powerful multinational corporations. Syndicated columnist Edith Kermit Roosevelt, granddaughter of Teddy Roosevelt, explained:
Donald Trumps Administration is loaded with CFR/CNP people who hate borders!!
Talkng about that.
Those who tolerate the most ignominous racism when it’s directed against white people.
Here is the email address of the the New York Times new hire,
the anti white far left ultra racist Sarah Jeong :
Here is a website that pretend to be her as well: https://sarahjeong.net/
Don’t hesitate to let her know what the people think about her racist slur.
No one villain or group? Who are you kidding?
There’s enough blame to go around, but certainly some groups and politicians have been at the forefront. That’s another article.
> The government has not gone after publishers because it would be a frontal assault on the First Amendment that it would probably lose.
That’s not true. The Nixon administration attacked the New York Times when they began publishing The Pentagon Papers that proved that the federal government’s own study had revealed years earlier that the Vietnam War could not be won. When the New York Times gave in to the federal government’s thuggery, the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the Washington Post and they chose to publish, fully aware that the New York Times had been prohibited by a federal injunction. It was only when dozens of papers across the country began publishing and the stories were broadcast on all the major TV news programs that the federal government was forced to back off, apparently realizing that they could bully one or two newspapers, even large ones, but picking a blatantly unconstitutional fight with the entire news media was a losing proposition. Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.
Sadly, that is not the case today. The Pentagon Papers may have been the last example of an independent press. The deep state lost that battle but began their secret campaign to ensure that they wouldn’t lose any similar battles in the future. What passes for the mainstream news media today are almost entirely pro-government propagandists.
The situation has become so bad that CNN tells Americans that it’s illegal for us to read Wikileaks, and we must wait for CNN to decide if it’s real news or fake news.
(23 second video)
Mika Brzezinski tells MSNBC viewers that she’s appalled that Trump is tweeting directly to the public and telling them exactly what to think, because “that’s our job.”
(30 second video)
The mainstream media has made itself irrelevant by failing to be the watchdog of government and the servant of the people. We fled to social media for uncensored news and information as newspapers, news magazines and televised news programs all dwindled to near obscurity. Now, social media is quickly being absorbed and controlled until it too allows only the official Pravda message, but it’s going to be much more difficult to control online content. The major social media platforms are now censoring alternative views but that will only result in the rise of other online sources of information that become popular because they aren’t censored propaganda. Information wants to be free, and that’s particularly true of information in electronic form.
Pompeo is a zealot. His demands of Iran were ludicrous.
Pingback: They are Coming for YOU |
Reblogged this on libertyguyblog.