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.