The death of the First Amendment
The US Department of Justice has brought an 18-charge indictment against Julian Assange. Seventeen of the counts are for violations of the Espionage Act. To much scorn and derision Wikileaks and Assange have been warning for years that this is exactly what the US government would do. They have been vindicated. Obama Justice Department lawyers, examining the exact same evidence as the Trump Justice Department lawyers, declined to press charges against Assange because they believed it would criminalize essential elements of journalism, one of which is disclosure of secrets the government would rather not have disclosed, and obliterate the First Amendment. The Obama lawyers were right.
The Trump administration is attempting to silence a journalist and organization that have acted as a clearinghouse for whistleblowers outside and inside governments who have courageously sought to reveal their governments’ depredations and crimes. In this country, Assange and Wikileaks have embarrassed and infuriated both the left and right, Democrats and Republicans, and so they have no friends or protectors within the powers that be. An important point is that they have done their job mostly with documents and other materials produced by the perpetrators themselves. Telling the truth has indeed become a revolutionary act, which is always a hallmark of tyranny.
Once upon a time some of us hoped that voting for Donald Trump was a revolutionary act, but like most stories that begin with, “Once upon a time,” that has proven a fairy tale. Unless Trump issues a full and unconditional pardon for Assange before he has to undergo years of legal proceedings fighting extradition in Europe and Britain, and then this indictment in the US, never again will I support Donald Trump. Nor will I support any other politician who either supports the indictment or refuses to make his or her opinion known about the matter. At this time, only Tulsi Gabbard has publicly supported Julian Assange, and if she continues to do so she has my vote in 2020, regardless of my complete disagreement with many of her other positions. She would be the first Democrat for whom I’ve ever voted.
That makes me a one-issue voter. I’m a writer and speaker, often writing and speaking about government and politics. I cherish my freedom and the threat to it is the issue most important to me. To all those who regard the First Amendment as subsidiary to other issues—foreign policy, the economy, immigration, the stock market, or the other headline grabbers—or who feel that the US can still be a “great” nation without the First Amendment I say this: you are fools, you fully deserve what’s coming, and don’t you dare bewail your fate or that of your country when what remains of the greatness of America is gone and it has become the tyrannical hellhole that appears to be its destiny.
Your anger, frustration and contempt come through loud and clear. I am in complete agreement.
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the only avenue left is the termination of ALL federal employees (termination=sanction=snuff)
I wonder how the US government can charge someone who is not a US citizen with anything.
My suspicion is this is just a way to get Assange to reveal the corruption and crimes of the DNC and Clinton/Obama crime syndicate.
Which would be wonderful.
And what makes you think Gabbard’s position is anything but posturing?
You’d be a fool to vote for her. She’ll just pull the football away after you try to kick it (vote).
Like Trump has? I’m still waiting for that wall, Obamacare repeal, our withdrawal from all those Middle Eastern wars, deficit reduction, and a swamp draining. In fact, the only promises he appears to have kept is to launch trade wars and increase military spending, both of which I’m against. I retain my full skepticism about Gabbard and every other politician, but of the announced and potential candidates for president in 2020, she’s the only one who has publicly supported Julian Assange. Of course, she may turn out to be like Trump and back away from that once she’s elected. Then, like I’m doing with Trump, I would not vote for her a second time.
I’m glad he’s been unable to achieve these things; it means we still live in somewhat of a Republic.
Blame Congress, where the power is and should be.
Ever since I moved to this country, I have been confused as to why the President gets blamed for everything he tries to do and can’t, because he cannot get the support on those issues in Congress. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?
Or would you rather live under a dictatorship?
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I respect your opinion about this issue, and agree completely.
However, choosing to vote for someone that opposes everything you believe in except for this one issue makes no sense.
You could write in a vote for someone you actually respect, or vote for someone who is not an obvious part of the machine that you rightfully despise, or do what I advise producers to do. Withdraw your consent for the system that loots from you and all other producers.
I agree with Ms. Gabbard on other issues, especially her critique of US foreign policy. My perspective on the First Amendment is that it is foundational. Take away the First Amendment and the whole structure collapses, regardless of whatever design decisions and construction that has gone on in the structure above. I certainly have thought about withdrawing–not voting–and that’s the other option under consideration.
I agree with you on all points except the voting. This system is broken, as in FUBAR. I don’t see any way to fix the mass corruption (from the top down) except to cleanse it all with fire. People aren’t going to suddenly be nice, or honest when threatened with punishment, they have to suffer it first before they learn, or die.
Good article Robert!
Linked at: https://nothingnewunderthesun2016.com/
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It’s amazing to me that so many are unable to see that if we lose the First Amendment that the country is truly lost…not that there’s all that much to lose at this point, but I digress. I can’t help but remember the quote by Mark Twain: If voting mattered, they wouldn’t let us do it.
It was a great article, Bob, and I agree with every single word except I might not even bother voting in the next election. After all, what difference does it make? I can’t see enough difference between the two parties to shake a stick at.
I understand that position, and not voting is my other option for the next election.
You can’t have it both ways. The DOJ does not act at the behest of the POTUS. Case in point, the timing of the arrest of Huawei’s executive and founders daughter during POTUS dinner with Chinese leaders was curious.
It’s all about 2020. Since the end of the Mueller investigation, everything has to be viewed through the lens of campaigning. Let the justice process proceed, and if there aren’t criminal indictments of Obama administration officials, I’m with you. The other concern is, just as the infamous “by the book” memo written by Lynch the last of of Obama’s administration, criminal prosecution of those same officials can’t be seen as politically motivated.
If it’s all swept under the rug, and so far, it has been, how has justice been served? Are we really a nation of laws, as our rulers continually remind us, or is the justice system merely another extension of control. I fear the latter.
We can’t hang our collective hats on a single issue, when there is much more at stake.
After reading Kunstler’s piece titled, Golem strikes back, it may be an economic collapse provides the cover for non-application of justice for Obama era criminal activity. After all, how can the POTUS be concerned about 2 year old crimes when there are much more pressing matters. A hot war could provide the same cover.
I remain convinced North America must become self sufficient and self sustaining. While there are bad actors on the world stage, the current emphasis has been the hollowing out of middle america, and continues in the form of pipelines being constructed to sell shale oil overseas while potentially destroying the environment in the pursuit of short term profit.
Who is the real enemy, if it isn’t these corporate shysters, politicians, and pundits?
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having just completed reading ‘the golden pinnacle’, i find myself in this moment saddened by having to close the covers and say goodby to daniel durand with his eleanor. and this at a time when nostalgia for the best aspects of the gilded age must be at an all time low.
but in reading what is clearly this work of love of yours, i am reminded that tyranny extends to the vanishing point in the past, and will no doubt be part of the future. we may see mr. assange, his travails and our seeming powerlessness as a new transgression, but it’s the same as it ever was.
men of action grind their teeth in frustration, wishing they themselves could hoist the black flag and slit throats so our kids don’t have to, but when has a man young enough to have the impulse but wise enough to know when ever lived? alexander the great perhaps?
what cannot continue will not, and i pray i might have a hand in righting the wrongs that have been a plague to me since i was a boy living kennedy’s assassination and vietnam, and watching it all trouble my family’s honorable service and confuse this world.
thank you so much for shining a light on our generation’s cross.
Thank you bryanb for your comments, and for reading my book. I’m glad you liked it.
When the Left had some semblance of ideology draped over their collectivist underpinnings, they were staunch defenders of free speech. Not any more. The ACLU has backed away from the defense of free speech because free speech is routinely used to advance an ideology contrary to their own. Politics over principles. American universities were traditionally bastions of free speech but that’s completely gone now. College students demand safe spaces to protect them from other’s free speech. They conflate other’s opinions with violence, as if any different opinion is tantamount to assault.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why Trump would want to see Assange prosecuted, or would allow the Justice Department to do it. After all, due to Wikileaks, in 2016 voters were able to read for themselves in the HRC emails just what a vicious pit viper she really is, and just how corrupt her campaign and the DNC really were. We’re it not for Assange and Wikileaks, HRC may have still eked out a win in 2016. Trump himself even referred to the revelations by Wikileaks during some of his mega-rallies.
Some have said that Trump is allowing this to proceed so that Assange can reveal in open court that his source was Seth Rich, and not Russians, leading to the conclusion that the DNC and the Clinton campaign had Seth Rich murdered. But that sounds a bit too convoluted to me, like the oft-quoted three dimensional chess.
Maybe I am just dense, but I do not see how Assange being prosecuted benefits Trump or his re-election prospects. Quite the opposite, in my opinion. On the other hand, if Trump defended Assange as a courageous whistleblower, that would cement Trump’s image as a true defender of free speech, and would garner him votes from all points along the political spectrum. To me, that is the no-brainer position he should take.
It would seem, that man, man alone can not fix this problem.
Why? Has this array of problems happened in the past, and did it affect the world as it also is now?
Read up on Babylon, why were the languages confused? Who really is in control?Is this also a way to “even up things.” Put everyone back to square one?
I choose to be patient. If we have learned anything it is that misdirection is Trump’s MO and I’m inclined to believe he’s just as likely to bring Assange here to make a deal that helps him root out the deep state as he is to prosecute. Sure, I wish he could accomplish the wall, fully repeal Obamacare etc., but with the forces arrayed against him, including his own party that refused to move on the wall and repeal Obamacare despite campaigning on doing exactly those things, his own law enforcement and intelligence agencies trying to take him down in a frame job and with all these damn Marxist traitor Obama judges issuing nationwide injunctions I’m amazed anything has gotten done. Heck, I’m grateful he hasn’t been JFK’d already.
As much as I may like Rand and Tulsi, neither is the force of nature that Trump is, love or hate him. IMO either would be co-opted or simply overcome by the shadow government he is finally poised to counterattack in a way I believe and hope will be devastating. And while Tulsi seems to be no fan of the 2nd A, which is as foundational as the 1st, neither she nor Rand has ever polled out of the single digits that I recall so it seems academic.
I’m fascinated by the rumblings that wholesale domestic political spying is soon to be unearthed, such as with HAMR and the like. Only thing I’m pretty sure of is that the world will look very different in a year than it does today, so I’ll decide about how to vote then. If voting’s still a thing.
We both know, or should that this is no longer the nation or even community we were born into. Bush’s admin finished off the Constitution on 9/11, a project begin in earnest at the turn of the 20th Century. Some 40% of younger people now believe the country should be Socialist. We can fight it and many of us probably will, but I fear the awakening comes too late. We can blame only ourselves.
I couldn’t agree with you more.
Go and vote, just put one big X thru it. That is all that is left to do, before it gets sporty , my friends.
Go and vote, just put one big X thru the ballot. That is all that is left to do, before it gets sporty , my friends.
Tulsi Gabbard is just making the same noises Trump used to make, and if elected will end up doing the same sorts of things Trump now does. Sorry, any solution that involves voting is fake.
Non-cooperation, disobedience, nullification, revolution, secession, Panarchy. Forget about voting.
I was under the assumption that this issue had been decided by SCOTUS back in the Pentagon Papers case. They stated the publisher of stolen govt info is not liable…or am I mistaken?
The government will argue in this case that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are not journalists, that they are intelligence operators. The Pentagon Papers case applied to journalists. It’s a bullshit argument, but it’s all the government has.
330 million people are not going to get along as a nation, country or whatever else you’d like to label it. The whole problem is rooted in the belief in an institution that is not voluntary and is based on force, coercion and violence. Personally government has been the worst invention humanity has come up with as a way to organize human affairs.
Secession down to the smallest possible political unit and based on voluntary and mutually beneficial transactions for goods and all services is the only hope left.
After all, since Lincoln waged his bloody war to prevent the Southern States from peacefully seceding the Federal leviathan has metastasized and become a violent and corrupt entity.
Unfortunately I don’t see much hope in that becoming a reality. Eventually any number of financial and geopolitical black swans will roost and most certainly bring the whole rotten edifice down.