Daniel Ellsberg on Julian Assange’s Espionage Charges

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Yves here. While Daniel Ellsberg in this Real News Network interview describes why the Assange prosecution is a threat to journalists generally, this is not the first time the government has gone full bore after a reporter. It’s curious that none of the accounts I have seen so far mention the successful prosecution of New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning reporter James Risen, who was prosecuted successfully for refusing to respond to a subpoena seeking him to reveal his sources. Risen got lucky in that the Obama Administration, apparently having made its point, did’t seek to pursue the matter after the Supreme Court turned down Risen’s appeal of an unfavorable appellate court ruling. It’s also seems to have been forgotten that Judy Miller went to jail for refusing to out a source.

SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

In breaking news, the U.S. Department of Justice just charged Julian Assange on 18 counts of having violated the 1917 Espionage Act. This is a significant escalation of charges against him. Previously he was indicted on a charge of hacking into a Pentagon computer system. Assange is currently in prison in London after Ecuador revoked his political asylum at the London embassy, where he lived for almost seven years.

Joining me now to discuss the Assange indictment is Daniel Ellsberg. Daniel is a former U.S. military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation who became famous in 1971 when he released the Pentagon papers. The papers revealed top secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision making about the Vietnam War. His recent book is The Doomsday Machine, and you’ll find a series of interviews right here at The Real News Network with Daniel Ellsberg about the book. Good to have you here, Daniel.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Glad to be here, though not under these circumstances, Sharmini. Go ahead.

SHARMINI PERIES: Daniel, last time we spoke, which was just after Julian Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, you already expected that this might happen, that Assange might be indicted under the Espionage Act. What is the significance of this move, and why did they do it now and not wait until he was extradited to the U.S.?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: I was sure that the Trump administration would not be content with keeping Julian Assange in prison for five years, which was the sentence for the one charge of conspiracy that he was charged with earlier. So I was sure they would go after him with a much longer sentence under the Espionage Act. I was charged with 12 counts, including one of conspiracy, in 1971, for a possible sentence of 115 years. In this case they brought 17 counts under the Espionage Act, plus the one conspiracy. So they’re facing him with 175 years. That’s, frankly, not that different from 115. It’s a life sentence. And it’ll be enough for them.

They weren’t anxious, I think, to bring it while he was still in Britain because it’s so clearly a political offense, and Britain isn’t compelled to extradite under the treaty for a political offense. And that’s what they’re charging here now, as well as a politically motivated charge. But apparently they had to bring the charges now rather than after he is back in the States, which was what I had expected, because they have to tell Britain, in deciding whether to extradite him to the U.S. or not, the full scale of the charges that he would be facing. In particular, both Sweden and the U.S., I think, are reluctant to extradite people on charges that hold the death penalty. That’s true I think for Sweden in particular, which is also trying to extradite him. They’re not going to charge him with the death penalty. Just a life sentence, as I was facing.

This does, however, complicate somewhat their extradition. And I thought that Trump would hold off on declaring war on the press until the extradition matter had been settled. But no, the declaration of war came today. This is a historic day, and a very challenging one for American democracy.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now, Daniel, Ecuador, at the time they released him or revoked his stay at the embassy, made it a condition that Julian Assange be not extradited to a country where there is the death penalty. Now, you said that there could be a lifelong sentence here in terms of prison. So the fact that there is a death penalty in the United States is insignificant, as far as you’re concerned?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: My understanding is that Sweden, which is trying to extradite him as well, cannot extradite somebody to a country that has a death penalty. But I think they would probably try to get around that if the prosecutors said we’re not seeking the death penalty, and that’s surely the case right now. Actually, the death penalty under the Espionage Act only applies in certain circumstances; probably not the paragraphs of 18 USC 793, paragraphs D and E, which I was charged under, didn’t carry a death penalty. That was essentially for people who were spies in wartime against an enemy country. So they’ll say they’re not seeking the death penalty. But the problem remains that these are very clearly political offenses. And the question whether they should extradite him for that, that will complicate the appeals in the extradition process, and probably make it longer. So I don’t expect him in the U.S. very quickly, unless the U.K., with their special friendship, just ships him off very quickly, instead of to Sweden.

But the challenge is on as of now, right now. Every journalist in the country now knows for the first time that she or he is subject to prosecution for doing their job as journalists. It cuts out the First Amendment, essentially. That eliminates the First Amendment freedom of the press, which is the cornerstone of our American democracy and of this republic. So there’s an immediate focus, there should be an immediate concern not just for journalists over here and publishers, but for everyone who wants this country to remain a democratic republic.

SHARMINI PERIES: As journalists we engage with states all the time. We engage and we ask questions, and we try to assess and ascertain information. How does it actually specifically affect journalists working?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: John Demer for the Department of Justice, I notice just now, is trying to distinguish Julian from journalists. In fact, he’s saying he’s not a journalist, although the New York Times, to whom he gave Chelsea Manning’s information initially, as I did, is saying very frankly that what he does is what The New York Times does. And clearly if he’s prosecuted and convicted, that confronts the New York Times, The Washington Post, and you, and every other journalist, with the possibility of the same charges. A second DOJ is saying he didn’t act like a responsible journalist. Well, people who are responsible journalists often do what Julian criticized, actually, and that is they give their stuff to the Department of Defense, or the Department of Justice, or the White House, before it’s printed. That’s a very questionable practice, really, and he certainly doesn’t do that. And it was not done, for example, in the case of the Pentagon papers, because they knew they would get an injunction before they published instead of an injunction after they had started publishing.

So this shows, in other words, that they’re saying, well, we won’t prosecute responsible journalists. But that assurance is worth nothing, aside from the question of who they’ll consider responsible or not. Remember that President Trump’s unprecedented charge here is that the American press, the mainstream press, is the enemy of the people. That’s a phrase that was used under Stalin, and also under Hitler, to describe people who were to be eliminated. It’s a very, very ominous historical phrase. But he has now declared war on the enemy of the people. And by saying that, for example, that he requested information, classified information, from Chelsea Manning, and that’s what distinguishes him from the press, or the responsible press, well, let me tell you, I can’t count the number of times I have been asked and urged to give classified information to the responsible press. The Times, the Post, AP. Anything you can name.

So that is journalism. And the idea that they’re distinguishing that should not reassure any journalists. I’m sure it won’t, actually. So they’re feeling the chill right now, before the prosecution actually begins. These indictments are unprecedented. And I would say they are blatantly unconstitutional, in my opinion. Which is not worth that much, except it’s a subject I’ve been close to for a long time. This is an impeachable offense, to carry on a prosecution this blatantly in violation of the Constitution, which the president and the attorney general are sworn to uphold. They are not doing that at this moment.

SHARMINI PERIES: Daniel, the 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act, what are they, as far as you know?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: What is most ominous to me, by the way–it’s not obvious–is that they referred to 2010, when he was dealing with Chelsea Manning. Now, I followed those charges, and the material that was released by the Times, Le Monde, the Observer in London, and several, a number of other papers. I followed that fairly closely, including in the Chelsea Manning trial. That clearly was shown to result in no damage, no harm to any individual, which was precisely what they’re charging him now with having risked. And they weren’t able to come up with a single instance in these hundreds of thousands of files which were released in which a person had, in fact, been harmed. Now, I thought they would probably bring charges under his very recent revelations of various kinds, of which I don’t know the substance, entirely, what he had or what he released, and they might have come up with something that looked very questionable. I know that for 2010 we now know that what he released was in not violation of national security, did not harm any individuals, and is indeed what journalists do all the time.

His releasing himself, in contrast to some of the newspapers he gave it to, of unredacted material was questionable at that time, including by me, and raised questions of whether that was the right way to do it. As I say, though, that was tested over a matter of years in terms of not having done any harm, given the sources from which that was drawn, and that reassured me about the judgment of both Chelsea and Julian in having released at that time. But in any case, there’s no question that the 2010 material is is material that should have been protected by the First Amendment. And he is. And if the current court fairly judges the intent and effect of the First Amendment, this case would be dropped. As we all know, we can’t count on that. And a 5-4 decision now by this Supreme Court is probably another reason why Trump has gone further in attacking the First Amendment than any previous president, because he has an unprecedented court.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Daniel. I’ve been speaking with Daniel Ellsberg, former U.S. military analysts employed by RAND Corporation who released the Pentagon papers. I thank you so much for joining us today.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Very good. Thank you.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.

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57 comments

        1. RWood

          old testament:

          Schenck v. United States 1919, which held that the defendant’s speech in opposition to the draft during World War I was not protected free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

          The original wording used in Holmes’s opinion (“falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic”) highlights that speech that is dangerous and false is not protected, as opposed to speech that is dangerous but also true.

          But, see, neither kind is good for US.

          Reply
    1. rob

      another reason why bernie is lacking.
      Between his healthcare plan, and the 1000 aco’s/payers he wants instead of an actual single payer plan like jayapal’s of the house….
      bernie falls flat AGAIN….
      He didn’t say anything when the dccc screwed him in 2015, and his decades of riding the comfortable spot in vermont politics of being a “radical” that didn’t need to actually fight for anything while there…. cause there was no chance of winning,,..
      Just shows this guy isn’t what america needs…. we need someone with a backbone, not just someone whose “schtik” is better than the other idiots running… the best worst….. is that our choice…
      Time to vote green party….. the duopoly of our political choice needs to be shaken to the ground…

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        I think the charges on Assange are the nail in the coffin. It is already the case that the mainstream media no longer reports on critical issues of national security in a way that could embarrass critical institutions and actors in the National Security State. For example, Pentagon corruption which is even more rampant today than it was back in the day of the $500 hammer yet corruption is no longer an issue that is covered in the mainstream because the MSM is no longer independent from the State. Truth-tellers today are criminals and our government whether run by Democrats or Republicans or clowns is now an authoritarian government in practice and Assange or any truth-teller is an enemy of the State. Clearly, we are living in an Orwellian moment–the public is easily manipulated and distracted and cheers as the enemies of the people are sent of to the guillotine.

        Reply
        1. GM

          It is already the case that the mainstream media no longer reports on critical issues of national security in a way that could embarrass critical institutions and actors in the National Security State

          Accurate observation.

          Obama’s prosecutions of whistleblowers and journalists, and Assange being a prisoner in the embassy, plus whatever visits certain agencies paid to the offices of newspapers and TV networks, have had their effects.

          Remember how in the late 2000s/early 2010s there were these constant reports of how some wedding party or other innocent gathering of people got droned in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Yemen/Somalia?

          When was the last time you saw such a report?

          How do we interpret that silence?

          By what little information is available, the drone program has only been expanded in that time.

          Are we to think no such episodes ever happened again? Hard to believe.

          Reply
      2. Pink Prince

        It rules him out as being worthy of my support. Tulsi Gabbard has spoken up about him & will get my vote in the Democratic Primary. In the final election, I’ll vote for a 3rd Party Antiwar Candidate.

        Reply
    2. vidimi

      having a president sanders would be such a tremendous improvement over the current situation, even though he won’t solve all the problems. that he has shortcomings is obvious, but everyone ought to vote for him if such an option ever exists.

      Reply
      1. kimyo

        boycott 2020 is the only reasonable approach. voting on diebold is not actually voting. coin tosses are not voting. provisional ballots are not voting.

        participating in this fraudulent system serves only to propagate the myth that we live in a representational democracy. we don’t.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          “Constructive capital improvement” is one old fashioned method that gets the point across. The ‘moderne’ version is somewhat like “Creative Destruction” meets the “Marketplace of Votes.” (Perhaps that should be “Marketplace of Values.”)
          Mysterious fires, ‘degraded’ functionaries, and civic shunning, to the point of emaciation were established as legitimate methods of political struggle a ways back in the 1770’s. See, “The Sons of Liberty,” and all the outright thuggery they got into.
          America was born out of “Existential Struggle.” H. Rap Brown had it right when he said that; “…violence is as American as apple pie.”
          God help our progeny.

          Reply
    3. m sam

      If speaking out on Assange is the only criteria that gets you to the polls then I guess you won’t be voting for anyone, will you?

      Reply
        1. RWood

          quelle surprise!

          “The Justice Department today, the Trump administration today, just put every journalistic institution in this country on Julian Assange’s side of the ledger. On his side of the fight. Which, I know, is unimaginable. But that is because the government is now trying to assert this brand new right to criminally prosecute people for publishing secret stuff, and newspapers and magazines and investigative journalists and all sorts of different entities publish secret stuff all the time. That is the bread and butter of what we do.”
          Rachael Maddow quoted by Caitlin Johnstone
          https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/05/24/professional-assange-smearers-finally-realize-his-fate-is-tied-to-theirs/

          Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Straw manning. The comment to which you responded was:

              If speaking out on Assange is the only criteria that gets you to the polls then I guess you won’t be voting for anyone, will you?

              And your response appeared to be an affirmation that you are taking an absolutist position. I’m not keen about that. It doesn’t even work in religion, witness how well vows of celibacy work out.

              There is a difference between saying she has merit as a candidate and promoting her point of view being heard, and being realistic about her chances.

              Reply
    4. Michael

      It’s difficult for me to see clearly outside my lefty bubble, but Assange seems to be reviled out there. The residents of Liberalville I’ve spoken with think that he’s at best a sleaze, and at worst a terrorist who personally delivered the White House to (sic) Drumpf.

      Sanders needs their votes as much as he needs anyone’s, and they’ll go from difficult to nearly impossible to obtain if he reopens old #ImWithHer wounds by taking a principled stance. Expect a painfully mealymouthed answer when the Assange Question comes up during the debates.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        I’d be absolutely amazed if it came up in the debates. How would that get in there? If he wants to go for the liberals (and he could if the nominee, they aren’t going to vote for Trump in the general) then Warren is his VP.

        Reply
        1. Michael

          Sanders perceives that publicly supporting Assange is against his interests. Likewise, the DNC could decide that it’s worthwhile to press him on it, even if the topic is a bit embarrassing to them.

          Yes, picking Warren as VP would improve his liberal cred a bit, but it’s very premature to count on that as a possibility for the general election, and unrealistic for the primaries.

          Reply
    5. Pink Prince

      It rules him out as being worthy of my support. Tulsi Gabbard has spoken up about him & will get my vote in the Democratic Primary. In the final election, I’ll vote for a 3rd Party Antiwar Candidate.

      Reply
  1. Marguerite

    A few weeks ago, Chelsea Manning was released from her contempt-of-court incarceration at the conclusion of the grand jury before which she refused to testify. At the time there was an expectation that when the next grand jury session began (soon), she would be called again, would refuse again and would be jailed again. However, I haven’t seen any reports of that happening, yet. Have I missed something? In their report of the new charges against Julian Assange

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48391266

    the BBC say that Chelsea Manning “is [present tense] currently back in jail.”

    Reply
    1. Light a Candle

      You can follow Chelsea on Twitter. She has been unjustly imprisoned again. She is also being fined $1,000 daily for refusing to testify.

      The US is a rogue state.

      Reply
  2. ambrit

    The fact that the government has added charges after having inveigled Ecuador to expel Assange from their London embassy on an initial, less jeopardizing to the subject charge shows the essentially untrustworthy nature of the prosecutors.
    As for blaming it on Trump, well, Assange is a particular sort of whistleblower. We all know just how vehement was Obama’s pursuit of whistleblowers. Trump here is merely following a well established precedent.

    Reply
  3. Brooklin Bridge

    Yves raises good point and it would have been instructive had Sharmini brought up James Risen and Judy Miller if only to contrast what Daniel Ellsberg felt was truly new or unique in Jullian’s case.

    Certainly having a 5 to 4 conservative stacked Supreme Court is new and it would seem that rather than protecting sources, what is potentially at risk of Supreme Court review and precedent here may also be a first in that it would establish that ANY release of any classified documents, harmful to gov. individuals (and thus “the people”) or not and government standards of what is and isn’t classified information are both outside of Constitutional protection in terms of free speech or the rights of Journalists.

    As to Trump in this, I imagine in part at least he goes along to get along; always looking to see if he can get some bone out of any given situation to throw to his base. He has zero ethical or moral convictions (anything even resembling such would in his case be more like a spinning weathervane) and he would thus be incapable of seeing the irony, never mind the hypocrisy in his campaign defenses of Assange vs. his current willingness to throw Assange to what ever elements in the government that want to crucify him. There is another part, however, where Trump hopes to personally profit from this is in so far as he feels it aligns with with his own efforts at intimidating and preventing journalists from printing anything negative about him.

    Reply
  4. Dorian Lucey

    Assange is not a reporter – he is a publisher. Wikileaks is a publication. So Judy Miller was jailed and the NYT was not.

    Obama has been the primary driver on secrecy and use of the Espionage Act.

    Reply
  5. Brooklin Bridge

    Another theme I see in this incident, applicable in Trump and Obama’s, and probably Bush’s terms of office, is that the POTUS has become more than ever a “captured” office, open exclusively to individuals who will, or can be made to, do what they are told (expressing non conforming or thier own views or initiatives ONLY in non critical matters). It’s conceivable this preempts even party ideology or efforts at establishment partisan conformity.

    Reply
  6. DavidP

    On the point of James Risen, Judy Miller and Daniel Ellsberg they are all American citizens who were charged and prosecuted within the physical boundries of the USA. Julian Assange is neither a citizen nor to my knowledge was on American soil when the alleged crime took place. Should this issue not be raised under International Law, if not then the USA has declared that USA law is THE Law governing the whole planet. This looks like the USA is formally declaring we are Empire.

    Reply
    1. DJG

      DavidP: Oddly, this is the first thing that came to my mind, too. How does the U.S. law have applicability outside the United States?

      Any lawyers in the commentariat who’d like to explain how these charges are anything more than some fiction of Empire?

      Reply
      1. rps

        My thoughts too. Add the fact, Assange is an Australian citizen. Not American, nor a United States government employee or assigned by a foreign government contractor or working for a foreign government to access intelligence in the USA. He’s the publisher and owner of a online publication available to all the world.

        Reply
        1. jsn

          Post coup de’etat (Bush vs Gore) at the Federal level, and increasingly at that of the States, U. S. “common law” (law as practiced) defines all contracts and/or treaties as representing the interests of the more powerful party to them. Just try getting your interests heard without an oligarch or corporation behind you, it still happens, but it’s increasingly exceptional and rare.

          Over the last 19 years this has been the operating principal of US policy abroad and of Republican State authorities at home, consistently under Republican and Democrat presidential administrations. Meanwhile, the Democrats in this era have been fully supportive of Republican judicial programs such as but not limited to The Hamilton Project, even as they continue to be under Trump behind the smoke of “RussiaRussiaRussia”. The Democrats are now even defending anti-abortion Democrats against progressive challengers to support this court packing program. The courts are now at the point of “legally” formalizing this through “due process” which will make it all just fine, validating the Democrat Party strategy of courting suburban Republicans to expand their vote share: this is mandarin consolidation and makes perfect sense from that particular class perspective.

          After the largest anti-war protest in history was completely ignored, and the largest financial disaster since 1929 was “remedied” by the public buying out all the losses of the perpetrators of that man made disaster, the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in human history, what will it take for people to realize we are a full bore oligarchic, authoritarian, police state, empire?

          What has happened since 2000 is mostly the fruit of the poison tree and now the tree is so poisonous there is little to be done but uproot it. The Red State teachers strikes were the first systematic withdrawal of the consent of the governed, this seems to me as the only course that could succeed, but as the anti-protest laws cropping up across the nation demonstrate, even this path of peaceful resistance is being shut down.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Resistance is being forced to become non-peaceful. Whether by design or accident, this will greatly increase the odds of any coming political realignment being very sanguinary.
            I know I come across as somewhat strident, but just look at the ‘opposition.’ Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, the Times et. al., all have become braying purveyors of puerility.

            Reply
            1. jsn

              I don’t think you’re being strident. I think its going to be very hard to make the changes coming at us positive.

              But I don’t think its impossible.

              To succeed in making positives of our givens, we need to be as clear about what they are as we can be.

              Reply
      2. Math is Your Friend

        “How does the U.S. law have applicability outside the United States? ”

        US courts and politicians have repeatedly held that US law applies everywhere, and no international law applies to the US or their citizens, unless convenient for them.

        Too many examples to count…, but:

        The US specifically protects their soldiers from war crimes prosecution before international bodies. They also demand an agreement from countries like Iraq and Afghanistan that their soldiers cannot be charged with violations by local police, whatever they do.

        A low level court in the US recently held that a local police department could demand secret access to user data protected by EU law, in Ireland, held by servers controlled by a non-US Microsoft subsidiary, without bothering to go through official channels for police co-operation. IIRC, the court actually said any US police force, or appropriate government agencies could make such demands.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, that’s not how extradition works. Stop making stuff up with respect to Assange, which is the issue at hand. See my comment below.

          Reply
      3. Yves Smith Post author

        The latest charges are under the Espionage Act and the US has extradition treaties with the UK and Sweden. If a crime for which someone has been indicted in Country A is also a crime in the country B where the incited person is now and A has an extradition treaty with B, A can demand that the indicted person be arrested and extradited. But extradition is a judicial process so the accused can fight the extradition from B.

        The upset is that using the Espionage Act to go after a publisher for using material from a source and not engaging in hacking or some other impermissible means to obtain the material (as in if there was any violation of the law, it was by the leaker) is novel and in conflict with the First Amendment.

        Reply
    2. voislav

      Location here is irrelevant. IANAL, but as far as I understand it, the issue that will be raised at the extradition hearing will be if Assange committed a crime according to the local law (so either Swedish or British, depending on the location of the hearing). This is why he was accused of facilitating hacking, which is a crime in most jurisdictions.

      His espionage charges are unlikely to hold up in court, as EU has strong protections for such activity, and British courts are still under the ECJ jurisdiction. The release of additional charges hurts the US case as it strengthens Assange’s assertion that, if extradited, he will face an unfair trial. The court is likely to consider the possibility of life imprisonment for a minor hacking charge an excessive punishment and deny extradition.

      Reply
  7. Fox Blew

    I’m in no way sure about which way the Assange case swings, but I am uncomfortable with conventional wisdom that the five “conservative” justices on the Supreme Court are like-minded on the issue of the First Amendment. I suppose we could review their own respective records on the matter, but my own feeling is that First Amendment stances are highly individualistic and not subject to party line. Even if we grant the party affiliation argument, it seems obvious to me that the “conservative” movement is full of hard-core First Amendment defenders. I have read that Antonin Scalia bragged to his “liberal’ friends about his own (highly favorable) views on the First Amendment – certainly Scalia himself practiced free speech all the time. :-)

    Reply
    1. GM

      It is a big mistake to blindly assume that all deaths of journalists in Russia were somehow ordered by Putin. It is possible that some were, but there is no evidence for that.

      By that logic we should assume Michael Hastings was killed the US intelligence agencies.

      There is the same amount of evidence supporting both theories (though, of course, whoever thinks either side’s national security agencies have never committed acts of murder of that sort is extremely naive).

      In the case of Russia, a much more important factor was that the state fell apart in the 90s and actual power went into the hands of oligarchs and crime syndicates (which were often one and the same). Those were to an extent controlled by the intelligence agencies, but only to an extent, and were not a single entity by any means. And they used violence as a way to impose their power.

      Lots of journalists were killed in the 90s (i.e. before Putin) because of that.

      What Putin did, and this is the reason he has so much support in Russia, is to curtail the power of the oligarchs and place everything under centralized control again. The violence went down dramatically as a result. But it took time, and in the first years of his presidency things were still a lot like in the 90s.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        “By that logic we should assume Michael Hastings was killed the US intelligence agencies.”

        You don’t?

        Reply
        1. GM

          I didn’t say anything about whether I do or I don’t, just that it is seen as a “conspiracy theory” by the mainstream media.

          Reply
  8. Oregoncharles

    There’s an important difference between PUBLISHING and PROTECTING A SOURCE. There is a long-standing, vexed debate over whether the latter is covered by the 1st Amendment; but when it comes to the latter, there’s no real debate at all. That’s why it’s shocking that they would charge him FOR PUBLISHING; it calls their competence into question. It also, as other articles point out, makes it more difficult to extradite him. It’s almost as if the prosecutors are deliberately sabotaging their case – or reacting to pressure from above; or both. Don’t know about Barr, but Trump is quite capable of playing “sic ’em doggy” with a case, forcing the attorneys to come up with something.

    Looking relentlessly on the bright side, this will be a long, highly political process that will thoroughly publicize how bad the Espionage Act is. And make the DOJ look bad. Too bad it’s all at Assange’s expense.

    Reply

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