Tag Archives: First Amendment

You have the right to always remain silent, by Pepe Escobar

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:

You have the right to always remain silent

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.

 

Why You Should Care About the Julian Assange Case, by Matt Taibbi

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.

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As the Obama DOJ Concluded, Prosecution of Julian Assange for Publishing Documents Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedom, by Glenn Greenwald

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 thatthey 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.

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Trump Raises the Stakes With CNN, by Patrick J. Buchanan

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.”

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Social Media vs the Constitution, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Are social media companies that are in bed with the government actually public utilities that should be regulated as such? From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

An ancient Latin saying goes: “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi” (what is permissible for Jupiter, is not for an ox). It feels very much on topic when social media are concerned. And as the heat over their censorship is turned up, it may well be the decisive factor.

Reuters reiterates today that on May 23, Manhattan US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that Donald Trump’ Twitter account is a public forum and blocking Twitter users for their views violates their right to free speech under the First Amendment. The same, says the ruling, applies to other government officials’ accounts.

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Former MI6 spy v WikiLeaks editor: Who really deserves 1st Amendment protection? by Annie Machon

Christopher Steele, a British citizen, is protected in the US by the First Amendment, but Julian Assange, a citizen of Ecuador and Australia, is probably not. From Annie Machon at rt.com:

If ‘Dirty Dossier’ author Christopher Steele deserves protection under the 1st Amendment but WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange doesn’t, then the concept of a free press is merely a distant memory.

While it is all too easy to become frustrated and annoyed by what passes for news in the legacy media these days, thisarticle in the Daily Mail did arouse my particular ire earlier this week – and in this instance no particular blame attaches to the newspaper, it is simply reporting some unpalatable facts.

The gist of it is that former British MI6 intelligence officer and current mercenary spy-for-hire, Christopher Steele, author of the discredited ‘Dirty Dossier’ about Donald Trump, has been accorded First Amendment rights in a court case in the USA.

You might wonder why this article caused me so much spluttering annoyance over my breakfast? Steele’s treatment is in marked contrast to that accorded to WikiLeaks Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Julian Assange, and the hypocrisy is breathtaking. Allow me to expound.

Steele is a British intelligence officer of pretty much my vintage. According to what is available publicly, he worked for MI6, the British overseas intelligence gathering agency, for 22 years, serving in Russia in the early ’90s and in Paris at the end of that decade – around the time that MI5 whistleblower, David Shayler, wasimprisoned in that city pending a failed extradition case to the UK. It is probable that Steele would have been monitoring us then.

After being outed as an MI6 officer in 1999 by his former colleague, Richard Tomlinson, he was pretty much desk-bound in London until he resigned in 2009 to set up, in the inimitable way of so many former spooks, a private consultancy that can provide plausibly deniable services to corporations and perhaps their former employers.

Steele established just such a mercenary spy outfit, Orbis Business Intelligence, with another ex-colleague Chris Burrows in 2009. Orbis made its name in exposing corruption at the heart of FIFA in 2015 and was thereafter approached as an out-sourced partner by Fusion GPS – the company initially hired to dig dirt on presidential candidate Trump in 2016 by one of his Republican rivals and which then went on to dig up dirt on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s DNC.

To continue reading: Former MI6 spy v WikiLeaks editor: Who really deserves 1st Amendment protection?

Ann Coulter is Wrong on Controlling Facebook, Twitter and Google, by Michael S. Rozeff

Foes of the social media companies and their censors are using pretzel logic to try to justify the imposition of the First Amendment on them. However, ties to the government don’t make a private company part of the government, and the First Amendment applies to the federal government and no other entity. From Michael S. Rozoff at lewrockwell.com:

Ann Coulter says

“We need to apply the First Amendment to social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google, because it is a public square, and there is precedent for that and it’s gotta be done…”

I present arguments against her suggestion. I realize fully that these companies have important connections to government including contracts, data sharing and products being developed that further the surveillance state. My argument against Coulter’s suggestion is pertinent to speech, which was her concern, not these other links.

Coulter is speaking out of emotion, confusion, needless desperation and ignorance. The First Amendment restricts Congress. It cannot be “applied” to speech on social media company platforms or to these companies themselves. They are not government. They are private associations. A corporation is a nexus of contracts accomplished by private persons. Her suggestion is impractical, unconstitutional and anti-freedom.

Coulter is actually calling for the government to enforce diversity of speech within these companies. Her diversity agenda is directed to speech, not other matters like hiring; but it’s no different in kind than the government controls that leftists demand when they advocate diversity or extend the idea of non-discrimination into areas where it doesn’t belong.

What Coulter wants is actually not free speech but its opposite, which is “fair” access to speech on social media platforms or “equal opportunity” to speak on these platforms. She wants non-discrimination by these media among those proffering speech. This is not free speech as exercised by the companies. A media platform or site or operation would not be allowed to shape a social communications product adhering to a given non-diverse or exclusive viewpoint. Coulter’s suggestion rules out companies devoted on political matters to particular audiences. There could not be companies devoted to conspiracy theories, fascist ideas, communist ideas, conservative ideas, progressive ideas, socialist ideas, etc. Diversity in speech enforced by government is not free speech at all, whether based upon the First Amendment or any other amendment or provision.

To continue reading: Ann Coulter is Wrong on Controlling Facebook, Twitter and Google