Assange Only Did What a Good Journalist Is Supposed to Do

By Philip Giraldi

Source

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The United States prides itself on its rule of law, a legacy from British colonial times, but there is increasing evidence that equal justice under law has been replaced by something that is sometimes called “lawfare,” an Israeli invention which consists of using the legal system to punish dissent and silence critics. Three examples, all quite different, illustrate exactly how a quasi-legal process has been used against individuals that are perceived to be, rightly or wrongly, critics of America’s so-called “global war on terror,” which is still being conducted worldwide even though no one uses the expression anymore.

The global war on terror is being fought based on legislation that is unique to the United States, which, under the various editions of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), authorizes the United States to go after any group anywhere that has been identified by the Department of State as “terrorist.” This authority has meant in practice that even American citizens can be killed or captured by U.S. special forces in any country, which of course includes nations with which the United States is not at war—not surprisingly, as Washington is not technically at war with anyone. The AUMF has also been interpreted to permit going after entire countries or political groups designated state sponsors of terrorism.

Once presumed terrorists are captured they can be held indefinitely in special prisons, Guantanamo being the one that is best known. That is precisely the case of Pakistani citizen Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the alleged mastermind of 9/11, who was captured in March 2002 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. But are the claims about his involvement really true? KSM has been tortured and eventually confessed to many crimes, but he has never been tried even though rumors frequently surface in Washington that his day in court will be coming up soon. Recently, military judges asserted that he would finally be tried in January 2021 but warned that a number of conditions would have to be met first.

That KSM has never appeared in court is generally believed to be because the actual evidence against him is so thin and was obtained under torture. So he has been held in prison under orders from presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump with no end in sight, and without providing his testimony regarding events on the September day, one more piece of the 9/11 puzzle will never be revealed to the public.

As the federal government is wedded to its standard account of 9/11, it is likely that KSM will remain in prison until the day he dies, setting an example for all those who choose to question the sanctity of the 9/11 Commission Report.

Julian Assange is another notable example of how revenge against those who question standard narratives is meted out through the legal system. Assange, to be sure, has been guilty of publishing material that the United States government would prefer not to have been made public. His website, WikiLeaks, was conceived as a whistleblower site, with information provided to it by individuals who had uncovered illegal activity on the part of various governments. WikiLeaks exposed, for example, Chelsea Manning’s Iraq war crimes material and the Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails.

In Assange’s defense, he has stated repeatedly that he is a journalist who exposes government wrongdoing, which used to be referred to as a “muckraker.” He never engaged in personally stealing government secrets and only published material that was given to him by others. In some cases, he refused to publish material that would hurt or endanger individuals.

Assange became a target of U.S. and British law enforcement in 2010. Living in London at the time, he was accused by several Swedish women of sexual assault, leading to a request from Stockholm for extradition. At the time, many believed that the accusations were without merit, and, indeed, they were eventually dropped, but Assange was about to be arrested by the British authorities after he failed to make a bail hearing set to contest the Swedish extradition request. To avoid arrest, he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 and was granted asylum, where he eventually spent seven years, eventually confined to a small room. His health suffered.

Forced to leave by the Ecuadorean withdrawal of his asylum under U.S. pressure, he was arrested in 2019 by the British and is currently in prison, where his health continues to deteriorate. He will eventually be sent to the United States upon release in early 2020, where he will undoubtedly be convicted under the Espionage Act of 1918, a rarely invoked law that can be brought out whenever the federal government is desperate to convict someone. It was recently used in May 2015 to imprison ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling even though there was no evidence that he had actually revealed classified information. The prosecution claimed that he “must have done it,” which was apparently enough for the judge and jury.

There is also a back story to Assange. He has always insisted that the information he received on the DNC emails did not come from a Russian source, one of the basic claims made that launched the years-long investigation of what became known as Russiagate. Many suspect that a DNC staffer named Seth Rich might have been the actual source, but the government and the Democratic Party have resisted any serious investigation into that possibility. If Assange is ever actually tried he might reveal the truth, but one must consider that folks who have secrets damaging to the government are either somehow silenced or even wind up dead. So Assange, who only did what a good journalist is supposed to do, will, like KSM, likely die in prison after the U.S. gets its hands on him.

And finally, there is the case of Edward Snowden, a government contractor who discovered that the NSA was spying illegally on literally millions of Americans. He went through channels to complain about what was being done, was ignored, and eventually sent his information over to several journalists, who published his claims.

Snowden knew that even though he was a whistleblower and was allegedly protected by special whistleblower legislation there was no chance that he would ever receive a fair trial in the U.S., so he fled first to China and then wound up in Russia, where he is today. He has stated that he would return to the United States to tell his story if he is guaranteed a fair trial that will enable him to use a “public interest” whistleblower defense, but no one is taking the bait. Many in Congress and even some in the media have called for his execution as a traitor. Some of us, however, regard him as a hero.

Truly the land of the free and the home of the brave has become something like a prison camp for those who fall outside the limits of acceptable behavior as defined by the government. Law is the weapon and it is wielded equally by Democrats and Republicans. Do KSM, Assange, and Snowden all have interesting tales to tell? Indeed, they do, but we the public will likely never hear them.

Killing Julian Assange: Justice Denied When Exposing Official Wrongdoing

By Philip Giraldi

Source

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The hideous treatment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange continues and many observers are citing his case as being symptomatic of developing “police state” tendencies in both the United States and in Europe, where rule of law is being subordinated to political expediency.

Julian Assange was the founder and editor-in-chief of the controversial news and information site WikiLeaks. As the name implies, after 2006 the site became famous, or perhaps notorious, for its publication of materials that have been leaked to it by government officials and other sources who consider the information to be of value to the public but unlikely to be accepted by the mainstream media, which has become increasingly corporatized and timid.

WikiLeaks became known to a global audience back in 2010 when it obtained from US Army enlisted soldier Bradley Manning a large quantity of classified documents relating to the various wars that the United States was fighting in Asia. Some of the material included what might be regarded as war crimes.

WikiLeaks again became front-page news over the 2016 presidential election, when the website released the emails of candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John Podesta. The emails revealed how Clinton and her team collaborated with the Democratic National Committee to ensure that she would be nominated rather than Bernie Sanders. It should be noted that the material released by WikiLeaks was largely documentary and factual in nature, i.e. it was not “fake news.”

Because he is a journalist ostensibly protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, the handling of the “threat” posed by journalist Assange is inevitably somewhat different than a leak by a government official, referred to as a whistleblower. Assange has been vilified as an “enemy of the state,” likely even a Russian agent, and was initially pursued by the Swedish authorities after claims of a rape, later withdrawn, were made against him. To avoid arrest, he was given asylum by a friendly Ecuadorean government seven years ago in London. The British police had an active warrant to arrest him immediately as he had failed to make a bail hearing after he obtained asylum, which is indeed what took place when Quito revoked his protected status in April.

As it turned out, Julian Assange was not exactly alone when he was in the Ecuadorean Embassy. All of his communications, including with his lawyers, were being intercepted by a Spanish security company hired for the purpose allegedly by the CIA. There apparently was also a CIA plan to kidnap Assange. In a normal court in a normal country, the government case would have been thrown out on constitutional and legal grounds, but that was not so in this instance. The United States has persisted in its demands to obtain the extradition of Assange from Britain and London seems to be more than willing to play along. Assange is undeniably hated by the American political Establishment and even much of the media in a bipartisan fashion, with the Democrats blaming him for Hillary Clinton’s loss while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has labeled him a “fraud, a coward and an enemy.” WikiLeaks itself is regarded by the White House as a “hostile non-government intelligence service.” Sending Julian Assange to prison for the rest of his life may be called justice, but it is really revenge against someone who has exposed government lies. Some American politicians have even asserted that jail is too good for Assange, insisting that he should instead be executed.

The actual charges laid out in the US indictment are for alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to publish the “Iraq War Logs,” the “Afghan War Logs” and the US State Department cables. On May 23rd, the United States government further charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917, which criminalizes any exposure of classified US government information anywhere in the world by anyone. Its use would create a precedent: any investigative journalist who exposes US government malfeasance could be similarly charged.

Assange is currently incarcerated in solitary confinement at high-security Belmarsh prison. It is possible that the Justice Department, after it obtains Assange through extradition, will attempt to make the case that Assange actively colluded with the Russian government, a conspiracy to “defraud the United States” to put it in legalese. Assange is unlikely to receive anything approaching a fair trial no matter what the charges are.

Assange’s prison term ended on September 22nd, but an earlier procedural hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court had already decided that a full hearing on extradition to the US would not begin until February 25th, 2020. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange would not be released even though the prison term had ended, because he was a flight risk. His status in the prison system was duly changed from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition and his final hearing would be at the high-security Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court rather than in a normal civil court. Belmarsh is where terrorists are routinely tried and the proceedings there permit only minimal public and media scrutiny.

Most recently, on October 21st, 2019, Assange was again in Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a “case management hearing” regarding his possible extradition to the US Judge Baraitser denied a defense team request for a three-month delay so that they could gather evidence in light of the fact that Assange had been denied access to his own papers and documents in order to prepare his defense. British government prosecutor James Lewis QC and the five US “representatives” present opposed any delay in the extradition proceedings and were supported by Judge Baraitser, denying any delay in the proceedings.

Another procedural hearing will take place on December 19th followed by the full extradition hearing in February, at which time Assange will presumably be turned over to US Marshalls for transportation to the Federal prison in Virginia to await trial. That is, of course, assuming that he lives that long as his health has visibly deteriorated and there have been claims that he has been tortured by the British authorities.

Former British Ambassador Craig Murray, who knows Julian Assange well, was present when he appeared in court on the 21st. Murray was shocked by Assange’s appearance, noting that he had lost weight and looked like he had aged considerably. He was walking with a pronounced limp and when the judge asked him questions, to include his name and date of birth, he had trouble responding. Murray described him as a “shambling, incoherent wreck” and also concluded that “one of the greatest journalists and most important dissidents of our times is being tortured to death by the state, before our eyes.”

The British court was oblivious to Assange’s poor condition, with Judge Baraitser telling the clearly struggling prisoner that if he were incapable of following proceedings, then his lawyers could explain what had happened to him later. Objections to what was happening made by both Assange and his lawyers were dismissed by the Crown’s legal representatives, often after discussions with the American officials present, a process described in full by Murray, who, after describing the miscarriage of justice he had just witnessed observed that Julian Assange is being “slowly killed in public sight and arraigned on a charge of publishing the truth about government wrongdoing.” He concluded that “Unless Julian is released shortly he will be destroyed. If the state can do this, then who is next?” Indeed.

Trump Regime Targets Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s New Book

By Stephen Lendman

Source

The Trump Regime sued Edward Snowden and publishers of his new memoir titled “Permanent Record.” More on this below.

Exposing government wrongdoing is a noble act. Like dissent, it’s a high form of patriotism, warranting praise, not persecution and condemnation.

The 1989 US Whistleblower Protection Act protects federal employees who report misconduct.

Federal agencies are prohibited from retaliating against individuals who do the right thing. Yet it happens time and again. 

Whistleblowers may report law or regulatory violations, gross mismanagement, waste, fraud and/or abuse, or acts endangering public health or safety.

The FBI is exempt from WPA provisions. Instead of protecting the rights of whistleblowers, the agency targets them.

Since WPA’s 1994 revisions, it ruled on over 200 cases — only three times in favor of whistleblowers, the deck stacked against them. US law fails to protect them, circumvented by its police state apparatus.

The 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) failed to protect government employees from reprisal for disclosing official misconduct, revealing it to co-workers or supervisors, or disclosing policy decision consequences — any or all of the above in relation to their jobs or duties.

The Obama regime prosecuted more whistleblowers and leakers involved in exposing US wrongdoing than all his predecessors combined, nine targeted individuals, Trump following the same repressive practice, wanting US dirty linen concealed.

The US is a surveillance state. Big Brother watches everyone, privacy virtually nonexistent, including our health and financial records, cellphone and email communications, everything posted on social media, along with workplace and other public areas surveilled.

Exposing government wrongdoing is hazardous to personal safety and welfare. Julian Assange is imprisoned in London at the behest of the Trump regime — for the “high crime” of truth-telling journalism the way it should be universally.

Courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning spent years in prison for revealing US high crimes of war and against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq — imprisoned again indefinitely for refusing to aid the Trump regime’s lynching of Assange.

Granted asylum in Russia, a noble gesture, Edward Snowden was luckier. He followed in the footsteps of Daniel Ellsberg and likeminded others, connecting the dots for countless millions to know how they’re illegally and repressively spied on.

Earlier he said “I really want the focus to be on (documents revealed) which I hope will trigger among citizens around the globe what kind of world we want to live in.”

Enactment of the USA Freedom Act (the renamed Patriot Act) did little to change things. US spy agencies continue trampling on Bill of Rights protections.

They compromise due process, habeas rights, free expression, assembly and association, as well as protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube, Apple, and major telecommunications companies are complicit in spying on their customers for US dark forces.

US intelligence community spying targets friends and foes alike. It’s for total control, political and economic advantage, to be one up on foreign competitors —information used advantageously in trade, geopolitical, and military relations.

Domestic spying is longstanding. It has nothing to do with protecting national security. America’s only foreign, domestic, or terrorists threats are invented.

The Trump regimes Justice Department sued Snowden and three publishers of his memoir — MacMillan Publishers, Henry Holt and Co., and Holtzbrinck Publishers.

The repressive suit aims to freeze assets from book sales. US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger said the following:

“Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit (sic). This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him (sic).”

The lawsuit is the latest example of Washington’s assault on speech, media and academic freedoms, targeting what diverges from the official narrative on major issues.

It accused Snowden and his publishers of going to press “without submitting (the book for) pre-publication review.”

The notion that US approval is required of current or former federal employees to write or speak publicly on issues related to their work flies in the face of their constitutional rights.

In response to the suit, Snowden tweeted: “The government of the United States has just announced a lawsuit over my memoir, which was just released today worldwide. This is the book the government does not want you to read…”

Already a bestseller, Snowden said in his preface “I used to work for the government, but now I work for the public,” adding:

“It took me nearly three decades to (understand the) distinction…I now spend my time trying to protect the public from the” US intelligence community — working against ordinary people .

Separately, he tweeted: “It is hard to think of a greater stamp of authenticity than the US government filing a lawsuit claiming your book is so truthful that it was literally against the law to write.” 

It reveals no state secrets, nothing not already in the public domain, including from establishment media reports.

The ACLU and Knight First Amendment Institute are challenging the so-called pre-publication review process, attorney Max Kaufman, saying:

“(I)ts current form is broken and unconstitutional, and it needs to go.”

“It’s one thing to censor the nuclear codes, but it’s another to censor the same information high schoolers are pulling from Wikipedia.” 

“Prepublication review gives the government far too much power to suppress speech that the public has a right to hear.”

Snowden hopes the DOJ lawsuit will promote his memoir, enabling it to attract greater readership worldwide.

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