By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Julian Assange was arrested yesterday by British police, at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had been staying for the last seven years, having been granted political asylum (recently revoked) by the Ecuadorian government. The ostensible reason for his arrest was breaching his bail conditions for a suit brought against him by the Swedish government (subsequently dropped, or not); the real, or at least less ostensible reason was a recently unsealed criminal indictment (here) in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, brought against him in his capacity as founder of Wikileaks, which published a trove of material from Army intelligence analyst Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, including the controversial “Collateral Murder” video:
Collateral Murder: U.S. Apache helicopters killing journalists in Iraq from Jesse Taylor on Vimeo.
(I’ve got to use the Vimeo version, which I hope is authentic, because YouTube requires me to “Sign in to confirm your age,” which I won’t do.) That video made a number of powerful people unhappy, and they shared their unhappiness with Manning, who was jailed for seven years (and is now back in jail for refusing to testify against Assange). The Iraq War Logs, also in the trove, “suggest evidence of torture was ignored, and detail the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians,” so they made a powerful people very unhappy, too.
Patient readers, you can well imagine that there’s already an enormous mass of material on the Assange arrest, and I can’t pretend to have mastered it all. Even the most basic questions — like why? and why now? — are nearly impossible to answer, given the tendentiousness of all the players and the role of the intelligence community and its assets in the press. (We should also remember (1) that, as Sleepwalkers shows before World War I, that determined mediocrities in office, if properly placed, can exert more leverage over events than those ostensibly above them in the chain of command; and (2) the role of accident and error.) For example, when asking “Why now?” we might speculate that the sad dissolution of the Mueller report has deprived the media of a story where they can boost circulation with access journalism from anonymous sources, which is far cheaper than reporting, and that the Assange arrest provides a timely substitute; but we might also consider that prosecuting Assange would provide the intelligence community and the administration generally with more leverage over the press even than they currently have. Who can say?
So, as opposed to a theory of the case, I am going to aggregate material I find especially compelling, and toss it under the numbered headings below. (There are so many explainers out there I’m probably not going to get to them!) This is in no way exhaustive, and I hope readers will contribute their own expertise!
(1) The indictment is for Wikileaks’ 2010 publication of documents provided by Chelsea Manning
(Here again is the indictment.) Bloomberg:
The U.S. charges disclosed Thursday against Assange deal solely with his helping ex-U.S. Army analyst Chelsea Manning hack into classified government files.
The indictment is narrowly tailored (though not, perhaps, in its effects. From the Washington Post:
Analysts said focusing narrowly on that incident is a deft way of fending off criticism that the case puts news organizations in legal jeopardy.
Charging a conspiracy to hack a computer system “definitely gets prosecutors over the First Amendment issue,” said Mary McCord, former acting head of the Justice Department’s national security division.
Oh, definitely! (Well, she would, wouldn’t she?) As we shall see below, actual reporters disagree. And WaPo also draws attention to the timing:
Under the federal law governing computer crimes, prosecutors faced a deadline to file charges within eight years of the 2010 disclosures that put him in their crosshairs. The single-count indictment unsealed in Alexandria federal court Thursday shows they did so just under the deadline.
(Of course, there may be more indictments to come; possibly indictments upon which British authorities might not look so kindly.) So, apparently we have a now, but we still don’t have a why now.
It’s also unclear how long the process of extraditing Assange will take. Lawfare:
It may be years before Assange sees the inside of a U.S. courtroom. The initial Swedish request to extradite Assange from the U.K. came in November 2010. Assange successfully slowed the process until June 2012, when he simply skipped bail and fled to the Ecuadorian embassy. Now, an effort to extradite him to the U.S. on computer-related charges further complicates things.
Two particular cases show the difficulty. In 2013, the U.S. government indicted British citizen Lauri Love for compromising U.S. government computers. It took three years for the court to hear the extradition case, and when it did, Love presented an argument that a long sentence of imprisonment in the United States, combined with his Asperger’s syndrome, would significantly harm him. Two years later, he won on appeal after the court ruled that U.S. prison would be “oppressive to his physical and mental condition.”
There was also Gary McKinnon, who similarly hacked U.S. government systems. After he was indicted in 2002, the extradition proceedings dragged for a decade. Eventually, then-Home Secretary Theresa May withdrew the extradition order because of McKinnon’s diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and depression: “Mr McKinnon’s extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon’s human rights.”
Assange’s appeal against extradition may prove to be a replay of the Love and McKinnon cases, on an even larger scale.
(There are a number of complexities I can only gesture at: Whether a state can revoke either political asylum or citizenship; the possibly that Assange might be tortured once in the United States; a possible change of leadership in the UK.) The indicment also raises a policy issue. From the ACLU:
Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations. Moreover, .
Do we really want to set the precedent that some other power can indict one of our own reporters, remotely, for breaking their laws?
(2) The indictment has nothing to do with the (putative) hack of DNC email, which Wikileaks published in 2016
That March 2018 indictment didn’t address a more recent episode involving Assange’s WikiLeaks — its publication of waves of emails that embarrassed Democrats during the 2016 presidential election, a trove that U.S. prosecutors have said were stolen during a Russian intelligence operation. The matter was a central part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s now-completed investigation into Russian election meddling.
That makes reactions like this especially idiotic:
Now that Julian Assange has been arrested, I hope he will soon be held to account for his meddling in our elections on behalf of Putin and the Russian government.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 11, 2019
I'm seeing the Clintons speak at the Beacon with @maxwellstrachan, who is writing about it for HuffPost.
Paul Begala, moderator, asks HRC to react to Assange's arrest. Before she has a chance to answer, crowd roars w/ applause. As Clinton begins to answer, one yells "justice."
— Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) April 12, 2019
(I know I shouldn’t blame the voters, but when watching the moves Sanders makes, it’s important to take the nature of a large fraction of the Democrat electorate, many of whose voters he must win, in mind.)
(3) The theory of the case seems pretty sketchy
A thread from Ken White (PopeHat):
So, the Assange indictment is weaker than you might expect. It charges that Assange and Manning conspired to access government computers (to hack, in the vernacular). BUT it doesn't say they succeeded.
— 36Popehats (@Popehat) April 11, 2019
Not impressive: “So, basically, the story it tells is (1) Manning gave Wikileaks stuff after she downloaded it, which isn’t a crime by Wikileaks, and (2) Assange encouraged her to go after more files and offered to help by cracking a password to give her broader access, but it didn’t work.”
And a thread from the Intercept’s Dan Froomkin (who is also a genuine old-school blogger):
Julian #Assange has been charged with conspiracy to commit journalism. The free press has not ducked a bullet here; it’s taken one to the chest. 1/7
— Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) April 11, 2019
Key point (caps in original): “THEY FOLLOWED STANDARD INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM PROTOCOLS.” “Definitely gets prosecutors over the First Amendment issue” my Sweet Aunt Fanny.
(4) Calling the indictment “hacking” at all is careless, lazy journalism
An unsucccessful attempt to crack a password hardly rises to the level of hacking. Froomkin once more:
The words “hack” or “hacking” do not appear even ONCE in the text of the Assange indictment or the press release. So why are all the news headlines using it? They’ve been snookered by a press release HEADLINE. pic.twitter.com/CcZ8R04JtB
— Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) April 11, 2019
(5) If you’re a real journalist, you should be concerned
There’s a lot good stuff on this issue (The Nation, Jacobin, even Charles Pierce, bless his heart, who at one time was a real newspaperman) but I like this by Jonathan Turley the best, because USA Today appears at the front door of every (business-class) hotel room in America:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be punished for embarrassing the DC establishment
Exactly. And not just electeds and bureaucrats and intelligence community goons, but the Beltway press, since Assange has broken more real stories than of them will in their crabbed, bitter, sycophantic lives. More:
The key to prosecuting Assange has always been to punish him without again embarrassing the powerful figures made mockeries by his disclosures. That means to keep him from discussing how the U.S. government concealed attacks and huge civilian losses, the type of disclosures that were made in the famous Pentagon Papers case. He cannot discuss how Democratic and Republican members either were complicit or incompetent in their oversight. He cannot discuss how the public was lied to about the program.
A glimpse of that artificial scope was seen within minutes of the arrest. CNN brought on its national security analyst, James Clapper, former director of national intelligence. CNN never mentioned that Clapper was accused of perjury in denying the existence of the National Security Agency surveillance program and was personally implicated in the scandal that WikiLeaks triggered.
Clapper was asked directly before Congress, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.” Later, Clapper said his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make.
That would still make it a lie, of course, but this is Washington and people like Clapper are untouchable. In the view of the establishment, Assange is the problem.
(6) Some especially horrid takes
"In the United Kingdom, no-one is above the law" – UK PM Theresa May on arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange at Ecuadorian embassy in Londonhttps://t.co/zZWNjp4ps8 #Assange pic.twitter.com/ObXhpseJJj
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) April 11, 2019
“No-one is above the law.” Oh, Theresa. Where have you been? Have you been paying attention? At all?
Quelle surprise.https://t.co/sTDfyu7cjM pic.twitter.com/r0UccNuZDf
— Koen (@KoenSwinkels) April 12, 2019
“Personal accountability,” like all the talking heads and Op-Ed writers who got us into the Iraq War. GTFO.
Hillary Clinton: "I do think it’s a little ironic that [Julian Assange] may be the only foreigner that this administration would welcome to the United States." https://t.co/YmcjYK0kym pic.twitter.com/uvtR8Knapm
— The Hill (@thehill) April 12, 2019
Love the Waffen SS jacket! Who’s the stylist?
"It will be really good to get him back on United States soil," says @Sen_JoeManchin on Julian Assange's arrest.
"He is our property and we can get the facts and the truth from him." https://t.co/fLnA1AKrpJ pic.twitter.com/0pKuILT6NP
— New Day (@NewDay) April 11, 2019
In what world are people property? Oh, wait…
And of course Trump: “Trump Goes From ‘I Love WikiLeaks’ to ‘I Know Nothing About WikiLeaks.” Par for the course. At least the way Trump plays golf!
(7) Some entertaining arrest details
Lots of versions of Assange seen through the window of the car taking him away. This “thumbs up” seems most sympathetic:
? #WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at the Westminster Magistrates Court, after he was arrested in London. . Assange took refuge in #Ecuador‘s London embassy in 2012 to avoid being extradited to #Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him… https://t.co/asIvNcM2VZ pic.twitter.com/J6wZHJv87h
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) April 11, 2019
Another damn book to read:
#Assange sits calmly in the dock, reading Gore Vidal’s ‘History it the National Security State’ holding it up obviously to give everyone in court a view @abcnews
— Jack Hawke (@jack_hawke) April 11, 2019
An intriguing question:
Julian Assange arrested. I wonder if he ever set up a dead man’s switch..
* uploads decryption keys on pastebin in the event of inactivity *https://t.co/iRtK23RxWe
— ⚡️ (@037) April 11, 2019
Readers, I’m sure this post doesn’t do the topic justice, but I hope I found at least one factoid that you’ve never read!
 The Vox headline gives an excellent indication of the hatred and contempt the political class bears for Assange.
 It’s not a matter of new information, as Caitlin Johnstone points out; the Obama administration decided against prosecuting Assange, the Trump administration decided for it. Possibly the differentiating factor was their view of the press, or rather their assets within the press. Regardless, we can be sure that the next liberal Democrat administration, if any, will rationalize and consolidate Trump’s gains, as they did with Bush.
The Trump administration is very good at throwing up chaff that the MSM foolishly interacts with. This Assange thing is just another example of this type of distraction.
And if we are honest about this whole thing we would agree that Assange’s real crime was showing that McDonnell Douglas and later Boeing was cutting corners on the Apache attack helicopter by installing a tiny view screen on which pilots could not make the distinction between combatant and non-combatant. I mean, everyone already knows the US kills large numbers of civilians, but not everyone knew how the the defense contractor’s negligence was contributing to the deaths. Go check out how long it took to upgrade the Apache, it is very illuminating.
That’s very interesting on the Apache (and on McDonnell Douglas).
Given that the acting Defense Secretary is from Boeing one has to wonder if they had to eat an unexpected expense arising from the MD merger to do the upgrade on the Apache.
Embarrassing self -important govt types is one thing– Corporate peeps is quite another! Thanks for this.
I wish to speculate as to why the Ecuadorians are kicking Assange out at this particular time. I have no inside information, but the seven billion dollars in loans the IMF recently gave to Ecuador may be playing a part. If it did, I wonder if we should consider it a bribe.
nah, just foaming the runway…
Very annoying when trapped in the car with NPR to hear three so-called journos bringing up Ecuador in the Why Now? portion of the show without mentioning that little fact.
Me thinks you might be on to something! Always good to follow the money. Who is giving and who is getting this bribe? It all circles back to the members of the Council on Foreign Relations.
April 12, 2019 at 6:13 pm
I can’t find the article now, but I read this morning that the US insisted that Ecuador revoke Assange’s asylum as a condition of receiving the IMF loan.
It’s all being treated as comedic comeuppance on shows like Jimmy Kimmel? We can’t HANDLE the truth! Nobody’s taken their place, and after CTR & PropRNot destroyed the lefty blog-agreggators, there’s nowhere to blow a whistle?
April 13, 2019 at 2:43 am
Thanks for the link. Excellent.
no, no it can’t be that, it surely has to be poop on the walls, not 7 billion dollars.
(which he does because he’s a very rude guest, not because confinement, and untreated health problems, and who really knows what else but the foily will speculate, can eventually take a toil on one’s mental health).
> no, no it can’t be that, it surely has to be poop on the walls, not 7 billion dollars.
Thanks to all for this. I hadn’t seen the IMF connection amidst the amazing torrent of mis- and disinformation.
Wouldn’t want to have anything happen to those cute government bonds now would we, they have a way to go till their all grown up …. eh … those guys from the rating agency might make a mistake …
From today’s NC Ellsberg read:
“…they couldn’t really force Ecuador to break the norm of international asylum here by handing him over. They couldn’t force Britain. Obviously both of those were induced by various incentives. My guess would be in the case of Moreno that he’s involved in debt relief.And the U.S., the great creditor nation here–although it’s actually a debtor nation altogether. But they’re able to bring the kind of pressure on Ecuador that caused essentially a lawless action here which threatens everyone in asylum. Everyone in the world … So why exactly this moment is chosen for Ecuador and Britain to truckle to the United States, I’m not sure I notice that the indictment was signed a year ago in March 2018. Maybe they’ve, the price has been haggling between Ecuador and Britain as to what the price would be for handing him over.
Reuters with the official view:
So they’re going to cut gasoline subsidies to increase social assistance. Oh.
Unofficial views here (interesting on dollarization) and from the WSWS:
Fascinating stuff — and not a link to be found… Surely we have one or two readers on the ground in Ecuador? You can always throw a link over the transom…
“optimize public spending to reach a fiscal surplus”?
in Spanish, but your friendly browser will translate …
10+ Billion USD in loans to Ecuador? They have a state-owned oil company (for now), and the USD is their currency. Add a corrupt gov’t from the top down.
No good can come of this. I feel sorry for the good people of Ecuador.
Karma’s a bitch, as they say.
It’s not an excuse for the testastrone ridden, blood thirsty killers in the helicopters. So sad that we train those killers in the armed forces and pay them for assassination of innocent civilians. I’m ashamed of my country.
An intriguing question:
Dead Man’s Switch.
I’d wager they have a trove of the 9/11 material, in fact Cynthia McKinney had suggested they do.
There was a video during the vault 7 releases, where you could see Assange on the phone with someone allegedly at the state department. It nearly looked liked a documentary, and he was telling someone on the phone that “you have a problem, we believe someone is going to release EVERYTHING”, or something along those lines.
Unity4J is livestreaming again on youtube. Lots of good stuff going on there.
Isotope, thank you for posting that YT site. I have been watching it for the past hour and as depressed as I am over the whole thing it was good to hear Daniel Ellsberg interviewed and his thoughts on ways that we can help.
Bernie, nor the other democratic candidates have made a statement regarding the justification or lack thereof for Assange’s arrest I take it?
I could imagine that none would come out against the arrest, even those who consider it a threat to the first amendment. They may have been warned by the intelligence apparatus that if you oppose us on this and you get elected, we will f*** your administration so hard and make it difficult for you to carry out your policies.
Tulsi Gabbard, so far. I didn’t get to the horse race aspect.
Gravel has put out a number of tweets on Assange, I believe he was the first because one of them takes Tulsi (and Bernie) to task for being silent.
I would link but I don’t have a Twitter account.
Tulsi Gabbard has taken a pretty strong stand: https://mobile.twitter.com/tulsigabbard?lang=en Three tweets near the top.
“I wonder if he ever set up a dead man’s switch..”
Wikileaks tweeted the following a few weeks ago when there was some thought that would imminently be rendered to the US: https://mobile.twitter.com/wikileaks/status/1109183075395780612?lang=en
Interesting. Another leak to collect.
Has Bernie put out any sort of statement at all – good, bad or indifferent? I have looked on news and found zip except for a snarky RT story on his silence about 17 hours ago.
I can’t find anything. I expect he’s trying to avoid the feeding frenzy that the liberal media establishment would undoubtedly engage in if he was to say anything that could be construed as defending Assange, who, as we all know, is a Russian asset (/sarc). Accusations of having been used by “the Russians” to undermine the queen have backed Sanders into a corner on this issue IMO. From yesterday:
Inside the Russian effort to target Sanders supporters — and help elect Trump WaPo
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Nothing as yet.
Why? You ought not embarrass those of small mind; they will be vindictive.
I keep worrying that there’s a Jack Ruby out there to make sure there’s never a trial.
or they can just dump his body out of the plane as a gesture of respect to australian traditions.
It’s how they got rid of Prime Minister Harold Holt back in ’67.
Case looks flimsy so US trial could be legitimate/honest with an embarrassing acquittal or a kangaroo court with an embarrassing conviction. Then there’s the “cowardly suicide in his cell” option. JA knew he was in it for his life the minute they were on his tail. If sadly so, bet they make the UK vassal take the PR hit.
As for dead man’s switch – come on, this is just silly hope for Divine Intervention.
Here’s a morale booster Lambert forgot to add, anyone with a kitty on his shoulder’s gotta be righteous.
There might be, but given Assange’s health issues, I would suspect the formula is just the right amount of isolation and bad food, lack of proper medicines, and the dead body will appear.
But first, there is the need to drag this out long enough to make sure it is in the frontal lobe of every media cerebrum (You’ll say they don’t have a brain, but see Lambert on the subject of stupid Republicans, please).
Regarding the intelligence community’s assets in the press please add Ryan Lucas of NPR to the list. At the end of his “reporting” yesterday on the Assange arrest, he let this rip: “It is unclear if Wikileaks new it was colluding with Russia when it released the DNC emails.”
RL’s bio page at NPR states that :He focuses on the national security side of the Justice beat, including counterterrorism, counterintelligence and the investigations into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
I guess old Ry Ry is still in denial.
I’ve never understood his argument.
So what if some Russian offered him a scoop on the emails? How is that any different than a Bulgarian offering the NYTimes a scoop on Macron’s emails? “Colluded with” is just inflammatory rhetoric for what journalists (a few) do on occasion.
That’s why one shouldn’t tune into NPR “news”. I can’t stand to hear the lying voices of the pressitute reporters.
Perhaps for amateur Intelligence Gathering reasons one SHOULD turn in to NPR news. Keeping track of NPR news will help us keep track of what the Totebag Liberals are being instructed to think. It will keep us up-to-date on the “narrative”.
I have read that the way the UK-US extradition treaty is worded Assange can only be extradited to face the charges currently in the extradition warrant. Which means that he cannot face new charges once brought back to the US. I have a difficult time believing that the US doesn’t plan on loading up new charges at that point and only settles for a “paltry” 5 years maximum charge under the present indictment.
I also think that regardless of the treaty the US would go ahead and do what it wants once he’s here.
Does anyone have knowledge of those limitations and conditions in the treaty?
> I have read that the way the UK-US extradition treaty
I’d love a link on that. I just threw up my hands in despair at the international law aspects. (For example, Ecuador “suspended” his citizenship? Is that a translation error, or a real thing?
From the Guardian. Just an excerpt with a discussion of the exceptions following:
“Normal practice is”
Why does that not instill me with confidence?
The following language is found in Article 18 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty of 2003:
Rule of Specialty
1. A person extradited under this Treaty may not be detained, tried, or
punished in the Requesting State except for:
(a) any offense for which extradition was granted, or a differently
denominated offense based on the same facts as the offense on
which extradition was granted, provided such offense is
extraditable, or is a lesser included offense;
Here is a link to the Treaty: https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/187784.pdf
Here is the treaty language on this Article 18:
Rule of Specialty
1. A person extradited under this Treaty may not be detained, tried, or
punished in the Requesting State except for:
(a) any offense for which extradition was granted, or a differently
denominated offense based on the same facts as the offense on
which extradition was granted, provided such offense is
extraditable, or is a lesser included offense;
Link to the Treaty: https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/187784.pdf
But keep on reading.
(c) any offense for which the executive authority of the requested state waives the rule of speciality and thereby consents to the detention, trial or punishment.
And don’t forget the real-world, unwritten (like the UK constitution) clause
(d) any damn thing the requesting state wants because, after all, WTF is the requested state going to do when the extradited person is ultimately in the hands of the requesting state? Try to extradite him back? From the Indispensable Exceptional Empire?
Indispensable Exceptional Empire say, ‘Go away, puny human rights lawyers. Your buzzing annoys my ears.’
Is it normal practice that a country can invite police into their embassy to execute a warrant on what is actually their own sovereign territory at all? Is that a valid arrest? Then again, considering that raid on the North Korean embassy by that US-based group and the seizures of Russian consulates, I would say that a determination has been made that embassies and the like are now fair game and any protections of them “quaint”.
Nice call-out on Hillary’s jacket as Waffen SS. She seems to like to make clothing choices based on the occasion. My first thought was clothing by Gestapo but when you see the lack of insignias and jewelry off-set, I would call this a new statement. Call it “Late Empire”.
Reminds me of a Bond villain, I think he was in black while stroking a white cat.
I think this look has always been her persona.
Cennobite outfit. Gina Haskell is warming up those electrodes and Hillary wants in.
One could call it . . . Black Helicopter Couture.
Thanks Lambert. Greenwald says that Assange got Manning to use a Linux live cd to get the encrypted password file from his shared military Windows computer and they puzzled over it trying to decrypt someone else’s password. All this was to disguise Manning’s access (he lacked administrative privileges).
In other words it was a version of attempted “hacking” so lame that even I could do it (and also fail). Surely this weak sounding indictment is just an excuse to get him on that rendition plane and off to a Guantanamo dog cage. Given our USG history who can prove this isn’t true?
Ok, this is useful, because the reporting about what the conspiracy part was has been unclear.
If this is right, I do think the indictment threads the needle vis a vis criminalizing journalism in a reasonable way. Its pretty well established that a journalist being in receipt of stolen or hacked information is ok, but conspiring/aiding the actual theft isn’t, which makes perfect sense as otherwise you’d be giving journalists license to commit crimes to get information.
What I’ve read is that the weak point of the case is proving they actually did what is alleged. Manning just asking for help, and then Assange being in receipt of the material wouldn’t be enough.
“Behind the Race to Publish the Top-Secret Pentagon Papers“, from the New York Times:
What Assange and Manning did, or discussed doing, was pretty weak compared to photocopying 7,000 pages of a stolen, top secret document.
Why now? The arrest of Assange gives cover for Barr to redact whole sections of the Mueller report.
It does? Why?
And Mueller never notices, gives it all a pass?
You’re assuming that there’s something in his report that’s incriminating, a’int you? I would say that this timing is more to distract the public from things that the Administration is about to push thru.
So many different players and cooks in deep and any administration… probably it’s taken this long to bribe Ecuador to push him out, not at all obvious its timed for some future event. Eventually the push pull was bound to get too strong for a little country, particularly after change of pres.
And Britain is about to be a little country, dependent on us more than at any time since ww2. May help Assange that the brexit can is delayed, likely to year end or later, or until Germany confident of not sliding into recession as a result.
I doubt candidate Bernie will say much… wonder if pres Bernie would change course.
> Eventually the push pull was bound to get too strong for a little country
Particularly a little country not sovereign in its own currency. (Ecuador uses the dollar.)
I think a Pres Bernie would try to change certain domestic things and conditions first. And try to help a deep and strong New Deal Revivalist movement get itself established strongly enough to where it can do more and deeper things than what a President Bernie would dare attempt.
If Trump was playing eleventeen dimensional chess, he’d wait ’til Assange landed in the USA and TPBP were frothing at the mouth, and pardon him.
And immediately afterward award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It would be fun…
I would not be surprised in the least if Trump pardons him. The President is very good at doing the thing that will enrage his enemies so that they act against their own interests.
it would also enrage Trump’s base (and thus would really be acting against Trump’s own political interest, although Trump is rather good at shooting himself in the foot).
Manning’s disclosure is the epitome of everything an authoritarian hates and there are plenty in the R party who would vote for Trump either enthusiastically or reluctantly, but real votes, that would not take a pardon lightly. And why would Trump go all out for Assange when Manafort isn’t even pardoned yet?
Who is Trump’s base exactly ?? Hum ?
Correct call. Trump’s base will not get him re-elected all by itself. He needs the ‘Outrage’ voter’s support as well to win Trump 2.0/2.0.
I’d say that a pardon for Assange would be good from a popular vote point of view, but bad from an “Inside the Beltway” point of view.
As far as the phrase ‘Inside the Beltway’ goes, does it include the Alphabet gang? Is Arlington actually ‘Inside the Beltway,’ or is it analogous to the pistol in the holster hanging just outside the Beltway?
hmmm . . . Is there such a thing as Greater Beltwayvia? And do Greater Beltwayvians remain Greater Beltwayvians no matter where they may be living?
Is there a Greater Beltwayvian diaspora living hundreds or thousands of miles away from Greater Beltwayvia itself?
” O you can take the Beltwayvian out of the Beltway, but you can’t take the Beltway out of the Beltwayvian.”
I think if Trump wants to declare war on the Alphabet gang, he’s got better ways to do it than pardoning Assange; the role of Obama’s “counter-intelligence” operation in the Trump 2016 campaign would be an awfully good start.
Adding: Trump’s 2016 base was wealthy suburbanites, especially not on the coasts. Trump’s margin was volatility voters, mostly working class, also not on the coasts. (The Christian right — key issue, abortion, hence the courts — overlaps both groups*.) That’s not sufficient to re-elect him, but I would make a guess that liberal Democrat yammering solidified his volatile voters, if anything. Pelosi, et al., by moving the liberal Democrat center of gravity toward conservative militarism, are betting against Truman’s old adage that people vote for real Republicans, not fake ones.** If the Democrats nominate (say) Biden/Harris (“safe pair of hands”/”listen to black women”), I think Trump has a strong chance. If the Democrats nominate Sanders, and liberals remained neutral, I think Sanders would win. However, liberals are far more likely to sabotage Sanders, in which case Trump also has a strong chance. (The Democrat party would probably split shortly after***, because Sanders people really do keep track, but I don’t regard such a split as a bad thing.) There is no reason to conceptualize Trump as a weak candidate, particularly given how lucky in his enemies he has been.
NOTE * I don’t know income figures for the Christian right, and should, as a proxy for class composition.
NOTE ** Pelosi throwing Ilhan under the bus jibes perfectly here. “The troops” were whacking people like Ilhan not so long ago, and the officer class the Democrats are pushing into office was giving the orders.
NOTE *** I wonder if DSA National has a scenario like this in mind; hence the electoralism.
Arlington is inside the Beltway.
In both senses.
If Trump pardons Assange, it would be for that reason. To troll the Clinton Voters and the Deep Cabals and the Deep Establishment.
Too bad Trump doesn’t know how to play chess. Checkers, maybe?
Five dimensional checkers is a real cutthroat game. Don’t underestimate a politico who can play that game.
There is a storied and honourable history to playing the “Checkers” card in the Republican Party. Dick Nixon did exactly that in one of his amazing series of ‘Back From the Dead’ political moves.
A half hour on how to do politics, Nixon style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqjwBDH-vhY
> Too bad Trump doesn’t know how to play chess. Checkers, maybe?
One tires of the “Republicans are stupid” trope, still much beloved by liberal Democrats in all its forms. Who sliced through not one but two party establishments like a knife through butter? That’s right, the stupid candidate!
I don’t agree. Why engineer Assange’s turnover at the start of the 2020 campaign in the first place, then? I suspect the Obama administration declined to prosecute Assange since they knew it would cause a split in the Democratic party between free speech advocates and the Clintonist supporters of the security state. Trump, on the other hand, has everything to gain by dragging out Assange’s prosecution through the 2020 elections.
From what I’ve been reading, the most obvious “why now” is a twofer: 1) as you mentioned, the expiring deadline on computer charges, and 2) Moreno being under investigation for laundering money through Panama, and trying to distract attention from his own felonious behavior.
Can’t forget the chance that Corbyn will take over leadership in the UK, and Corbyn is not at all supportive of Assange’s extradition.
Well . . . even if Corbyn becomes Prime Minister some day, even some day soon; if the current Government ships Assange to America before Corbyn gets the PMship, then it won’t matter what Corbyn thinks about already-achieved extradition of Assange.
> Moreno being under investigation for laundering money
I didn’t know that until I read the WSWS link I posted (itself sadly lacking in links, however). One might almost view the IMF has having come through with a timely slush fund, though to be fair, it’s not fair to impute tight coupling to mere synchonicity. Some accidents are happy, after all.
From last week at Automatic Earth
Maddow might be all a quiver.
…this way he -and others- can leave the story, and suspicion, open that there is a link between [Trump], Mr. Assange and the Russians, despite the Mueller report’s no collusion conclusion. And do note: it not only maintains the popular and media suspicion of Mr. Assange, it also leaves suspicion of [Trump] alive.
When you find a good shtick, shtick with it. It’s a business.
Lambert kudos to you sir this is the best write-up I have seen anywhere that is up to right now in real time! It looks like you worked on it all night.
I am curious about possible intelligence connections Assange may have had as a teenage computer criminal back in Australia. In 1994 he got in trouble with the law and I wonder if he had to compromise his independence back then and part of the government animus towards him is intelligence agents that he had to strike deals with when he was in legal trouble think he broke his word.
His best defense against getting extradited is definitely going to be that nobody deserves what the Americans are likely to do to him in terms of water boarding, solitary confinement, &c. The Mackinnon et al results are encouraging but they were not at the very top of the Most Wanted lists.
[lambert blushes modestly]
(3) The theory of the case seems pretty sketchy
It’s not sketchy, it’s just unprecedented, there’s a difference.
It dovetails nicely with Barr’s spying-on-political-campaigns-is-bad-and-must-stop line in redefining unwanted journalism as spying. I’m more impressed with Barr every day, this guy is not some fumbler, he’s sharp and he knows where he wants to go. Sharper than Bork who was just too obvious and didn’t craft cover for himself.
Arguments in the law only have to be consistent, they don’t have to necessarily uphold existing conventions/”norms.” It helps to have precedent, but USAG’s and SCOTUS (like Congress, or the President) don’t actually need precedent for anything they do. Judges fall for this kind of thing all the time. It’s too bad Scalia isn’t around to weigh in, I wonder how he would have parsed this line of reasoning.
And the “Assange is a journalist, therefore…” approach is walking right into the line of fire. Assange is (or was) a publisher with an agenda. He released material that largely spoke for itself, but didn’t do (or publish) research to fill in gaps in the picture he was hoping to present. So yes, the DNC material showed callousness and cynicism, but remained thin on evidence of direct manipulation. To find more traces of such action one would want to examine invoices and financial transactions, who paid whom when and did payment correspond to nominal work performed, and what does “consulting” mean in a particular context and time.
“It dovetails nicely with Barr’s spying-on-political-campaigns-is-bad-and-must-stop line in redefining unwanted journalism as spying”
Hi dk, do you have a link to Barr’s thiinking along this line? I thought he was referring to the FBI’s spying (Strzok, McCabe) and FISA stuff, not journalists.
The inference is mine. We’ll find out how it pans out. I’m guessing and I could be completely wrong.
Maybe someone got paid, but how much use could Assange himself ever have for money hiding out in the embassy? This is the timeline for the DNC material at least.
The average NYTs columnist has more use of being on a payroll than him (and might be, but guess whose). As for merely having a political agenda, I don’t know how you could ever distinguish that from publishing.
I was referring to the DNC material (only as an example). WikiLeaks publishes leaked documents, but doesn’t engage in much further research, it’s primarily a public repository, and can promote journalism; that doesn’t mean it is journalism in and of itself. I think that it’s fine to establish and maintain such a repository, I just think there is more to journalism, as I tried to outline.
Very true. But the existence of a Wikileaks trove that’s accessible to the public makes it very embarrassing for MSM “journalists” to ignore that trove, e.g. the DNC emails. The Hillary-supporting MSM would never have written anything about those emails if they had not been publicly accessible to non-MSM writers and researchers and the public in general.
Wait, so Assange had “an agenda” which is proved by the fact he published material without an editorial bias? He let the material speak for itself, which means he had an axe to grind. Wow, okay, that’s a new one….
First, I don’t think agendas are bad things to have. They can have a range of qualities (beneficial, destructive, self-promoting). Bias and agenda are two different things, even if they produce similar outcomes. I’m not alleging bias, I’m just saying there is/was a specific/specified intention.
This from 2017, I don’t know it it’s editorial bias but it is an active selection:
From 2018, this is taken from private conversation so it’s not strictly on-record, still:
> redefining unwanted journalism as spying
I see the point, but hanging a “hacking” indictment (“hacking” not being a term in law, AFAIK) on a conversation about acts that did not take place is weak, no matter how you slice it. The power making the argument is strong, but the argument itself is weak. Again, how does this compare to Ellsberg stealing a 7,000-page report and then photocopying it?
The power making the argument is strong, but the argument itself is weak.
Okay yes, but the power in combination with a linear argument has been pretty effective. 9/11 + Saddam is evil = Iraq War, that got through while being ridiculous on general examination.
I suppose I’m just quibbling about the use of “weak” by Ken White, I would have preferred “poor,” I feel that would convey more accuracy to cursory reading, “weak” and “not going anywhere” being the correlation to avoid.
Ellsberg’s prosecution under 1917 Espionage Act was thrown out on investigative/prosecutorial(?) misconduct. Ellsberg also had broad support from thought-leading (sorry) media of the time. IMO not a clear vindication, an ambiguous precedent all around. The rule-of-law folks get to duck out by averting their eyes.
Tangentially, this from the Ellsberg Wikipedia page:
Disaffection with Vietnam War
By 1969 Ellsberg began attending anti-war events while still remaining in his position at RAND. He experienced an epiphany attending a War Resisters League conference at Haverford College in August 1969, listening to a speech given by a draft resister named Randy Kehler, who said he was “very excited” that he would soon be able to join his friends in prison.
Ellsberg described his reaction:
Decades later, reflecting on Kehler’s decision, Ellsberg said:
After leaving Rand, Ellsberg went to work for MIT as a senior research fellow.
Also: Ellsberg on Assange’s arrest:
Twitter thread mostly on the Swedish side of l’affaire d’Assange:
They served their purpose and have now been disposed of. Their usefulness was used up when they ran out the statute of limitations Theresa May-style.
There have been a number of articles on Brexit and extradition and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system. If the U.K. Crashes out, supposedly sand gets thrown in the gears.
So I’ve wondered if the timing was actually Brexit driven.
Craig Murray is part of JA’s legal team:
Paul Jay on Real News Network
“Wikileaks released Manning’s leaked documents and exposed multiple crimes committed by the U.S. government and armed forces – Jay says this is getting lost in the corporate media coverage of Assange’s arrest; when he was arrested, Assange carried a copy of TRNN’s book “Gore Vidal on the History of the National Security State” which was based on a series of interviews conducted by Paul Jay between 2005 to 2007; the premise of the book is the American state and its loyal media use patriotism to lie to the American people about U.S. foreign policy and militarism”
It would be easier to use Hooktube to post YouTube videos. It has been mentioned here before on Naked Capitalism, but in addition to bypassing YouTube’s heavily biased search algorithms, it also removes any restrictions on viewing Youtube videos.
France seems open to giving Assange asylum – but only if he asks for it.
Sounds good to me.
Anyone know more about this?
Even if AS asked for asylum while in UK custody, would the UK police turn AS over to France for asylum before it would turn him over to Sweden or the US to face charges? Hard to believe UK would do that. I’m afraid I see this as France engaging in political posturing knowing it will never be called upon to redeem its promise. imo.
Great post, Lambert. Thank you.
That video made a number of powerful people unhappy, and they shared their unhappiness with Manning, who was jailed for seven years (and is now back in jail for refusing to testify against Assange).
Hell hath no fury ….
It was the same with France’s Alfred Dreyfus affair. The establishment did not hate him because he was a Jew or that they thought that he really was a traitor. They hated him because the affair forced the political establishment to undress in public and cause rancor throughout the country-
A cartoon from that time. The first panel is where the family agrees not to bring up the case. The second panel says that they did.
I love that cartoon (and have posted it several times). “They spoke of it!” also works for MAGA, fragile snowflakes, you name it….
Two observations here.
Do we really still believe that the 4th Estate is considered anything other than the town criers or courtiers saying praises for the Rulers and their entourages? The job is to report what they are told to report. It is not to investigate and report the true facts.
Do we really still believe that the ruling class as a whole still has both foresight and the necessary knowledge to make wise decisions?
Yes… I suddenly realized the role of a journalist has changed to what you describe… and that Assange is being prosecuted for being a first class journalist in the formerly defined role.
So I was reading about reactions to his arrest at https://www.rt.com/usa/456292-democrats-republicans-trump-assange-arrest/ when I seemed to detect a trend. This whole thing may be a result of the busted-flush of the Mueller report and could be a way of keeping Russiagate alive through to the 2020 Presidential elections. Imagine it. A chance to interrogate with extreme prejudice the man that has all the answers on how Russia hacked the 2016 elections. He knows everything! Final proof of how Putindidit. Vindication to all those true believers that they were right all along and a way to make sure that Trump does not serve a second time. They can almost taste it and all they have to do is to get him on US soil. Or maybe Cuban. And they are trying to get everybody on board with the same idea. Wello, excuse me. It’s like the msm and the political establishment keep on trying to feed us the same chocolate sandwich when we know very well that it is not chocolate at all.
> He knows everything!
He’d better know something. From LeCarré’s The Honorable Schoolboy:
LeCarré was spot on regarding the actual state of UK subservience to the “cousins”. Too bad most readers took it as fiction when all along it was a spyglass onto the actual running of the “dears”.
Even if he knows secrets from the Mouth of God that will not help as much as we might hope. The Cold War was a serious war with the adults running things trying to maintain a modus vivendi the immediate end of civilization was a real possibility. Today we have psychopathic children like Bloody Gina Haspel running the Forever War with no thought really of the consequences except of how it might hurt or help their career.
Many people want Julian Assange destroyed for the feels, the satisfaction of destroying a troublesome worm, or just as a warning to the rest of the little people; that doing so will irrevocably stain us as a nation as well as violate every legal, moral, and ethical code for no good reason don’t mean a thing to them. To steal from Joseph Stalin, just how many divisions does Assange or his supporters have?
Someone on reddit posted this with a “hmm”.
Tuesday 12 March 2019 – 11:05am — IMF approves $4.2bn loan for Ecuador
I was just watching that collateral murder video and I remember the account by the soldier that found the children in the van. He was shaken and appalled that this had happened and I do wonder where those children are now as they have grown up. These days, it probably would not be a gunship killing those civilians but a drone instead which eliminates the risk of those choppers being shot down by man-pads.
Went looking and I found a 5-minute video of that soldier giving an interview to those interested and he said that he couldn’t stop crying. He was from Wichita, Kansas-
Thank you Lambert! I hadn’t read about the statute of limitations timing angle anywhere else. Asssange’s extradition is terrifying; it portends our demise as a Republic. And the lunatic DeepState/Blob won. And the vengeful, reality denying, faux Dems are all on board. And what percentage of the Blue Wave was ex-military/intel again? They are pushing Buttigeig hard. (My prediction, Hillary steps in soon.)
At least, you remain most excellent.
IMO the us began the transition to a fascist state under reagan, finishing under Clinton.
Is a peaceful revolution possible, as Bernie hopes? Or, at this point, any other kind? Msm and alphabet are working closely on distraction and population control, with the most advanced versions being perfected in China as we speak.
> Assange’s extradition is terrifying; it portends our demise as a Republic. And the lunatic DeepState/Blob won.
‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ has been a meme since before there were memes and while ‘Orwellian’ is a term in common parlance I wonder how many people have actually read the book. It is one of those that I re-read every few years and I am always struck anew at how bloody _scary_ it is. I don’t think the chattering classes (not to mention the general public) really appreciate this. Another, lesser-known, classic is Jack London’s The Iron Heel. Written over 100 years ago, it contains scenes that could almost be verbatim reports of the human-rights, rule-of-law, horror-story abuses of today that are being revealed on NC and other unfiltered sources.
> They are pushing Buttigeig hard
This seems to be boilerplate:
Some hagiography from Indianapolis Monthly:
But Afghanistan is land-locked. Where is there a requirement for naval intelligence? The Office of Naval Intelligence has a thing called the Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center; perhaps that’s where he was. Somebody should ask Buttigieg what he actually did.
Watching Buttigeig in the last month my impression is he is not to be trusted.
The “cute” facade is belying something else underneath. And even if that something is only that he is a tool of the system that is destroying us and not anything else more character driven that’s enough to know he isn’t the leader we need.
He’s awful. Like Obama, great at minimizing and deflecting
valid outrage. Can’t wait until we’re rid of him.
His ‘1,000 homes’ gentrification ‘miracle’ alone should sink him
with any homeowners screwed by the downturn.
I don’t think he will do well in the debates, esp. against Bernie.
He is being pushed by some unknown powers, that seems to be true.
But I think he isn’t the right candidate to capture people for a win in 2020 because he emits a childlike youthful presence , not a strong youthful presence (like say Kennedy did).
Unconsciously, people will reject him as a leader in my opinion which would lead to a massive loss to the Republicans in 2020.
Also, I’m not for his Republican lite policies.
Except that the statute of limitations didn’t start to run. It was tolled during the time Assange was in the Equadorian embassy.
And then, there is this…
“My God, this nightmare is over, what a relief!” said Tony Knight, a financial consultant in his 60s who lives near the embassy, a two-storey apartment just behind the swanky Harrods emporium in the plush Knightsbridge district.
So, this guy is complaining of a “nightmare” and the price of his house allegedly going down, while next-door a man has been isolated from society for 7 years under worse-than-prison conditions and is now dragged off in chains, all for the crime of telling truth to power.
Some days I am ashamed to be part of the human race. This is one of them.
Probably let them install a camera in his window….
The elites were never going to let Asssange go free. They’ve been intent on having him imprisoned and tortured for the rest of his life for his exposure of their secrets and crimes from his first leak.
Pompeo the Rabid is leading this charge with the CIA and the DOD behind him for sure. Trump “I know nothing about Wikileaks” who cited Wikileaks over 140 times is playing his tried and true role: aggressor, then when caught or no longer advantageous to him; liar and dunce.
Both sides of the aisle share a intense hated and revenge wish for him as he exposed them all seemingly without prejudice until the 2016 election when his I’m guessing desire to keep Clinton “can’t we drone him” from the presidency (not the least of which was her death wish for him) seems to have pushed him to choose Trump. A very, very bad mistake on his part. Most likely a mistake that will lead to his imprisonment and torture.
so, John, you’re saying that the correct decision would have been for Assange not to publish the DNC-Podesta emails until after the election was over?
as we all get to watch the indictment of another ham sandwich,
in this post constitutional era of american history
A great champion of freedom is going down in flames…. and all I can do is hope those flames catch to the curtains in front of the great oz…..
Thank you , wikileaks
for all that has been shown by the brave people who chose to expose the lies of the world in this century.
our emperor has no clothes, and the band is playing on.
I doubt, there are any real “legal” rules that have to be followed. There is always “national security”, that must be preserved over all else…
But historically speaking, this could be a useful event. It shows the desperation of a system that has no legitimacy. Sucks for , assange and manning, but their place in the history books yet to be censored by the establishment, is certain.
THere was a story about the cia using a website for its covert operatives to use as a means to connect with each other. One of those agents was a double agent for? china? iran? or somewhere?….. but that person was responsible for the exposure of everyone on that site. This caused the deaths of tens of people in china alone. I think more in iran…. and maybe others….
All this was because the CIA is so stupid collectively as to think it can use a website for communication, and no one would notice….
It happened in 2010/2011 or something…
I just heard about it a year or so ago….
This had nothing to do with wikileaks.. but how long before the news propagandists use those assets ‘ deaths , and try to claim assange and wikileaks actually led to damage of the intelligence system, and cost lives and exposed protocols…. or some such tropes…
I know of no assets outed by wikileaks. Were there any?
I know of no damage done by any of the stories/information exposed by wikileaks to anything actually legal or useful to this country. All wikileaks stories showed was that our government is at the same time acting in illegal ways, full of incompetent self-promoting morons and scalliwags, and abusing the position given to them by the people of this country.
Wikileaks has done a great service to history by allowing whistle-blowers to get out in front of their respective gate-keepers.
There ought to be a a movement to promote the “truth”, as shown by wikileaks…. in contrast to the “lies” of our government and media.
Shame on all the media propagandists who choose the wrong side of history,for a paycheck… and no risk of jail time.
I hope more wikileaks types of platforms get going….
The worst thing you can say about wikileaks, is that for the information that it got out there…. it hasn’t changed ANY of the illegal programs and actions this country uses to this very day. And that isn’t the fault of wikileaks… it is the fault of the average american…. living in their house boats on the river of de- nial..
If you noticed Theresa May Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid all of them used the expression “no one is above the law”.
Hmm, but invading Iraq, Afghanistan, finance ISIS in Syria, steal Venezuealn gold is ok?
As if they had been fed the line from… CIA?
They really are shameless poodles.
The statement by Froomkin (journalism has “taken one to the chest”) is, on its face, aimed at the wrong target, if he is talking about mainstream media. After all, the 5 cousins who run 90% of American media gave up “journalism” quite a while ago to become propaganda mouthpieces for a dictatorship-in-building.
The Wikileaks case, however, may lead to other real journalists (Greenwald is only one of many) who are now exposed to such a process. The US is much like a melting wax figure, whose face is coming off layer by layer, and each nation must line up according to their capacity to swallow what is being exposed.
Exposing the rot of nationalism in late-stage capitalism will be grueling unless, as Lenin often quoted Hegel, quantity goes over into quality with great dispatch.
This is a pretty lame excuse.
The Wikileaks releases are a War Crimes Archive. Julian Assange is being arrested at the same time the ICC investigators are being denied visas and threatened with sanctions for investigating US war crimes. The pressure for war crimes tribunals are rising the world over. 22 million people have been murdered since World War II. Why? Why aren’t those responsible held accountable?
Finally, it is alleged that Julian Assange’s arrest was to exercise revenge on Assange for embarrassing the US establishment. What is not being recognized is that the US Oligarchy wants his sources, especially those that released the Vault 7 leaks. He will be tortured to give up his sources in the CIA and to let potential whistle blowers know that Wikileaks cannot protect them and that the the Oligarchy will stop at nothing to catch and punish them. We are living in a Stalinist state, this is state capitalism where no meaningful opposition will be tolerated.
Note that Apple has just deleted Wikileaks from its App Store ….state capitalism.