Julian Assange Is About to Become a Journalist

 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen in a police van, after he was arrested by British police, in London, Britain April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted on 17 counts of violating the US Espionage Act, the same act his co-conspirator, Bradley “Call me Chelsea” Manning was convicted of breaking. But in the history of the Act, no third party has ever been successfully tried and convicted. The 52 were either anarchists directly plotting to overthrow the US government or persons who sold or made available American secrets to hostile powers.

Progressives cheered Assange’s arrest in April because they believe him to be an agent of Donald Trump’s, the man who helped disseminate the Hillary Clinton/DNC emails that the mainstream press worked so hard to gloss over. Mrs. Clinton herself chimed in, “The bottom line is he has to answer for what he has done, at least as it’s been charged.” Their mantra has been “Julian Assange is no journalist!” so he is undeserving of First Amendment protection. This is actually been a point of agreement among Progressives and Conservatives. Both National Review and Commentary ran editorials to this effect.

But the cracks are beginning to show. Like a fetus miraculously becomes a baby in the twinkling of an eye, Mr. Assange may be about to become a journalist. In their coverage of the new indictments this was the take of The New York Times:

It’s starting to dawn on them that maybe they should have been more careful in what they wished for. If Assange is convicted for publishing Manning’s treachery or the DNC materials, they, too, are on the thin edge of the wedge. It’s not enough to argue “he’s not a journalist” because technology has made traditional definitions of “journalist” and “publisher” obsolete. It’s also hard to backtrack on all the support they offered both to Manning (who NBC News downgraded from traitor to “whistleblower”) and to former President Barack Obama who commuted Manning’s sentence on his way out the door in 2017.

But the initial desire was for political punishment as Assange was obviously guilty of sabotaging Mrs. Clinton. But their cheerleading just may have handed a president they detest a new weapon in throttling the power of the press. So like a caterpillar, Assange may emerge into a beautiful First Amendment butterfly.

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  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Al Sparks: I’d also like to say that the United States is over-charging Assange.

    Isn’t that SOP now? Overcharge and negotiate downward to get the confession you want?

    • #31
  2. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Al Sparks: I’d also like to say that the United States is over-charging Assange.

    Isn’t that SOP now? Overcharge and negotiate downward to get the confession you want?

    It is.  I find it distasteful.  The threats, the intimidation, all behind the scenes where the public can’t see it often disgusts me.  Look at the Mueller probe, where many innocent people had to lawyer up at great costs to themselves. 

    We used to let the police do that, now we let the lawyers do it (and yes the police do it too, but under the supervision of the lawyers).

    • #32
  3. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Al Sparks: I’d also like to say that the United States is over-charging Assange.

    Isn’t that SOP now? Overcharge and negotiate downward to get the confession you want?

    It is. I find it distasteful. The threats, the intimidation, all behind the scenes where the public can’t see it often disgusts me. Look at the Mueller probe, where many innocent people had to lawyer up at great costs to themselves.

    We used to let the police do that, now we let the lawyers do it (and yes the police do it too, but under the supervision of the lawyers).

    Be on the wrong end of it sometime.  It is amazing how much it changes your perspective of the system and those that run it.

    • #33
  4. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    There are some nuances to be considered. The United States is not only a member of NATO, but the major contributor to NATO. We probably spend more on NATO than all the other countries combined. Assange’s country (Sweden?) depends heavily on the United States for its defense.

    So shouldn’t it be Sweden who charges its citizen with espionage against a vital ally? And if it won’t, shouldn’t that be a violation of the NATO treaty? It could be a reason for us to withdraw even if that’s not in the treaty.

    I had to look it up to be sure, but Sweden isn’t a member of NATO.  They’re technically neutral.

    • #34
  5. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    There are some nuances to be considered. The United States is not only a member of NATO, but the major contributor to NATO. We probably spend more on NATO than all the other countries combined. Assange’s country (Sweden?) depends heavily on the United States for its defense.

    So shouldn’t it be Sweden who charges its citizen with espionage against a vital ally? And if it won’t, shouldn’t that be a violation of the NATO treaty? It could be a reason for us to withdraw even if that’s not in the treaty.

    I had to look it up to be sure, but Sweden isn’t a member of NATO. They’re technically neutral.

    Sweden and the US has a separate military assistance treaty. Putin only has himself to blame for Sweden seeking the mutual assistance agreement.

     

    • #35
  6. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Not to express support for Assange, but who gives a soggy democrat whether he’s a journalist? The First Amendment’s press clause means that our government may not regulate participation in public discourse. It applies equally to plumbers, employees of newspapers, the indigent, …


    Barfly (View Comment)
    :

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Publishers are free to publish leaks, whistleblower info, etc. They just have to be.

    Just have to be? Wish real hard, I guess, and …. nope, nothin’.

    Whether anyone, including publishers, may disseminate information effectively depends on who owns that information. Some information is owned by our government; some of that has been made private (classified) and its owner (us, essentially) says it may not be released. If an individual comes into possession of such information, he is bound to keep it private and return it, by the laws we’ve all agreed to.

    You went to a different law school than I did. I wasn’t stating an opinion. I was explaining the state of the law.

    Cato, I think that you are right about the law on this issue.  I think that the law is wrong, starting with the Pentagon Papers case.

    I haven’t reviewed the Pentagon Papers case lately, nor have I handled a trade secrets case recently.  In the trade secrets area, injunctions against disclosure are generally permissible if the defendant improperly obtained the information, or if the defendant is going to improperly disclose it.  The latter category — improper disclosure — generally applies when the defendant knows that the information was improperly obtained (even if it was a third party that improperly obtained it).  Here’s a quick summary of trade secret law.

     

    • #36
  7. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Does anyone remember the Pentagon Papers?

    I even remember the guy’s name: Daniel Berrigan. It was a big deal when I was growing up.

    Ellsworth?

    I guess I didn’t remember as well as I thought I did.

    Neither did Steve. It’s Ellsberg.

    Touché 

    • #37
  8. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    EJHill: Julian Assange Is About to Become a Journalist

    Does that mean we can take him to the slaughterhouse now? Oh, wait, I thought you said “About to Become a Domesticated Herd Animal.” Never mind.

    • #38
  9. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Not to express support for Assange, but who gives a soggy democrat whether he’s a journalist? The First Amendment’s press clause means that our government may not regulate participation in public discourse. It applies equally to plumbers, employees of newspapers, the indigent, …


    Barfly (View Comment)
    :

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Publishers are free to publish leaks, whistleblower info, etc. They just have to be.

    Just have to be? Wish real hard, I guess, and …. nope, nothin’.

    Whether anyone, including publishers, may disseminate information effectively depends on who owns that information. Some information is owned by our government; some of that has been made private (classified) and its owner (us, essentially) says it may not be released. If an individual comes into possession of such information, he is bound to keep it private and return it, by the laws we’ve all agreed to.

    You went to a different law school than I did. I wasn’t stating an opinion. I was explaining the state of the law.

    You’re right, and I was wishing too hard. I did a little research. Dammit, I really must have thought … Sigh. That, and the state of the law is more corrupted than I thought. It’s hard to discern, in this question, what’s principle vs. principle, and what’s just a power struggle.

    • #39
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I didn’t go to law school, but the dean of our media department was a lawyer and he required all us budding media dweebs to go over to the law building and take his course on First Amendment Law. 

    There he drummed into us that, yes, we would have certain First Amendment rights that the general public did not enjoy. If I’m a reporter or a photographer/videographer, I was told, I can enter into private homes during a police call if the police invite me to follow them in.

    This has since been changed and for the better. In 1999, the SCOTUS ruled that media entering during the execution of a search or arrest warrant violates the 4th Amendment rights of property owners. (Wilson v Layne)

    • #40
  11. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    On the other hand what happens out of country stays out of country.

    You’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.

    • #41
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