The indictment of Julian Assange represents a direct assault on the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press. From Andrew Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:
“Congress shall make no law…
abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press…”
— First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
When James Madison agreed be the scrivener at the Constitutional Convention during the summer of 1787, he could not have known that just three years later he’d be the chair of the House of Representatives committee whose task it was to draft the Bill of Rights.
In doing so, he insisted that the word “the” precede the phrase “freedom of speech” in what was to become the First Amendment, so as to reflect its preexistence; meaning, the freedom of speech preexisted the United States. Madison believed that the pre-political rights, which he enumerated in the Bill of Rights, are natural to our humanity and he articulated as much in the Ninth Amendment, and in his speeches in support of the ratification of what would become the first 10 amendments.
The one count Assange faces in the US is incredibly weak. The case that he colluded with Russia is even weaker. From Andrew McCarthy at nationalreview.com:
Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, May 19, 2017 (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)
The government would have a chance to prove in court that Russia was WikiLeaks’ source.
Prior to the publication of the stolen Democratic-party emails and internal documents, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks exhorted Russian government hackers to send them “new material.”
That is what we are told by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Russian intelligence officers. (I won’t offend anyone by calling them “spies” — after all, they were just doing electronic surveillance authorized by their government, right?) Assange wanted the Russians to rest assured that giving “new material” to WikiLeaks (identified as “Organization 1” in the indictment) would “have a much higher impact than what you are doing” — i.e., hacking and then putting the information out through other channels.
But time was of the essence. It was early 2016. If Hillary Clinton was not stopped right there and then, WikiLeaks warned, proceedings at the imminent Democratic national convention would “solidify bernie supporters behind her.” Of course, “bernie” is Bernie Sanders, the competitor who could still get the nomination. But if Assange and the Russians couldn’t raise Bernie’s prospects, WikiLeaks explained, Mrs. Clinton would be a White House shoo-in: “We think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary . . . so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.”
In a nutshell: Knowing that Russia had the capacity to hack the DNC and perhaps Clinton herself, WikiLeaks urged it to come up with new material and vowed to help bring it maximum public attention. By necessity, this desire to hurt Clinton would inure to Sanders’s benefit. And sure enough, WikiLeaks eventually published tens of thousands of the Democratic emails hacked by Russian intelligence.
So . . . I have a few questions.
The police state vice continues to tighten. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:
Without an unfettered press, without liberty of speech, all of the outward forms and structures of free institutions are a sham, a pretense – the sheerest mockery. If the press is not free; if speech is not independent and untrammeled; if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference under what form of government you live, you are a subject and not a citizen.
– William Edgar Borah
Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization.
– Oscar Wilde
The glimpse of Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London is an emblem of the times. Might against right. Muscle against the law. Indecency against courage. Six policemen manhandled a sick journalist.
– John Pilger: Assange Arrest a Warning from History
I was born 80 years ago in a country called the United States of America, and now I live in a Homeland — an expression we haven’t heard since Hitler.
– Gore Vidal
The only thing I’ve been able to think about for the last few days is the mugging of Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. This post could go in many different directions, but given all the excellent articles already written on the topic, what seems most necessary is an explanation of what this means in the big picture of freedom in the Western world and civilization in general.
Assange’s apprehension on April 11, 2019 and the related indictment and extradition request by the U.S., has led to a level of concern and anger similar to how I felt during the financial crisis and banker bailouts a decade ago. This may seem hyperbolic, but allow me to explain.
The US government wants to arrogate to itself the right to go after anyone, US citizen or not, who reveals truths it does not want revealed. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:
A file photo of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuador Embassy in London. Photo: AFP/Alex McNaughton/Sputnik
The arrest of Julian Assange was an act of revenge by the US government that strikes at the heart of journalism
The date – April 11, 2019 – will live in infamy in the annals of Western “values” and “freedom of expression.” The image is stark. A handcuffed journalist and publisher dragged out by force from the inside of an embassy, clutching a Gore Vidal book on the History of the US National Security State.
The mechanism is brutal. WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested because the United States demanded this from the Tory British government, which for its part meekly claimed it did not pressure Ecuador to revoke Assange’s asylum.
The US magically erases Ecuador’s financial troubles, ordering the IMF to release a providential $4.2-billion loan. Immediately after, Ecuadorian diplomats “invite” the London Metropolitan Police to come inside their embassy to arrest their long-term guest.
Let’s cut to the chase. Julian Assange is not a US citizen, he’s an Australian. WikiLeaks is not a US-based media organization. If the US government gets Assange extradited, prosecuted and incarcerated, it will legitimize its right to go after anyone, anyhow, anywhere, anytime.
Call it The Killing of Journalism.
If Julian Assange is charged and convicted in the US for WikiLeaks’ disclosures, you can throw away the First Amendment. From Matt Taibbi at rollingstone.com:
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since the summer of 2012, is back in the news. Last week, word of a sealed federal indictment involving him leaked out.
The news came out in a strange way, via an unrelated case in Virginia. In arguing to seal a federal child endangerment charge (against someone with no connection to Wikileaks), the government, ironically, mentioned Assange as an example of why sealing is the only surefire way to keep an indictment under wraps.
“Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case,” prosecutors wrote, “no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”
Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack told Rolling Stone he had “not been informed that Mr. Assange has been charged, or the nature of any charges.”
Pollock and other sources could not be sure, but within the Wikileaks camp it’s believed that this charge, if it exists, is not connected to the last election.
Posted in Civil Liberties, Collapse, Crime, Government, Investigations, Law, Media, Politics
Tagged First Amendment, Julian Assange, US indictment, Wikileaks
Not everything the Barack Obama administration did was wrong. From Glenn Greenwald at theintercept.com:
THE TRUMP JUSTICE DEPARTMENT inadvertently revealedin a court filing that it has charged Julian Assange in a sealed indictment. The disclosure occurred through a remarkably amateurish cutting-and-pasting error in which prosecutors unintentionally used secret language from Assange’s sealed charges in a document filed in an unrelated case. Although the document does not specify which charges have been filed against Assange, the Wall Street Journal reported that “they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information.”
Over the last two years, journalists and others have melodramatically claimed that press freedoms were being assaulted by the Trump administration due to trivial acts such as the President spouting adolescent insults on Twitter at Chuck Todd and Wolf Blitzer or banning Jim Acosta from White House press conferences due to his refusal to stop preening for a few minutes so as to allow other journalists to ask questions. Meanwhile, actual and real threats to press freedoms that began with the Obama DOJ and have escalated with the Trump DOJ – such as aggressive attempts to unearth and prosecute sources – have gone largely ignored if not applauded.
Denying Jim Acosta White House access has supposedly deprived him and his employer, CNN, of their First Amendment rights. Of course, CNN hasn’t said a thing about the very real threat Julian Assange faces of a long prison sentence for exercising his First Amendment rights. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
Last week, the White House revoked the press pass of CNN’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, and denied him access to the building.
CNN responded by filing suit in federal court against the president.
Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights had been violated, said CNN. The demand: Acosta’s press pass must be returned immediately and his White House press privileges restored.
“If left unchallenged,” CNN warned, “the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.” A dozen news organizations, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, are filing amicus briefs on CNN’s behalf.
On Thursday, the Trump administration raised the stakes.
Justice Department lawyer James Burnham declared in court: “If the president wants to exclude all reporters from the White House grounds, he clearly has the authority to do that.”
Posted in Business, Civil Liberties, Government, Horseshit, Law, Media, Politics
Tagged CNN, First Amendment, Jim Acosta, President Trump, White House press access