What Is An Assange? My Interview With John Cusack

turley_jonathan220px-John_Cusack_Comic-Con_2011John Cusack and I had a dialogue last year about civil liberties and other issues. John has now run a second interview (actually half of a second interview) on Huffington Post. This interview focuses on the case of Julian Assange.

For full disclosure, John and I grew up together — spending countless hours at the kitchen tables of our houses debating politics and philosophy through the years. The two families remain close and we still have the same houses where we grew up.

Huffington Post will run the second half of the interview this week.

36 thoughts on “What Is An Assange? My Interview With John Cusack

  1. “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” (Thomas Pynchon)

    Well done, Michael (Jan. 2 @3:20pm)

  2. It seems pretty apparent to me at least that Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and William Mark Felt, Sr if they did their whistleblowing today would probably also be persecuted as well.

  3. Sorry Gene H and others. Mr Assange did receive stolen US Government property and he did distribute this stolen material. He had no right to receive or possess it and no right to distribute it regardless of what it was.

    As much as you and others like to bend the truth as you do, that is exactly what happened.

    If you think you have a right to receive and distribute stolen US Government property then I suggest you might study the law and quote some of the statutes and case law that indicate that such activity is perfectly legal. Best of luck with that.


  4. Cameron,

    The one bending the truth here is you and for an obvious agenda: you apparently think not reporting crimes because they are committed by a government is okay. Technically speaking, theft is a crime and so is receiving stolen property, however, a whistleblower by definition is the disclosure by a person, usually an employee in a government agency or private enterprise, to the public or to those in authority, of mismanagement, corruption, illegality, or some other wrongdoing. Such “thefts” are generally overlooked or the circumstances are considered mitigating and whistleblowers granted protection for the service they provide to the greater good (at least until the last two criminal Presidential administrations got involved) as evidence of greater crimes.

    You might want to look at 5 U.S.C.A. §§ 2302(b)(8), 2302(b)(9), and the many various state laws protecting whistleblowers if you need some clarification. 5 U.S.C.A. § 2302 applies to Federal civil service, but there is precedent for granting whistleblower status to those who inform on crimes by the military in the form of the Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg who was a civilian military contractor working for the RAND Corporation. Manning may face valid theft or other charges under the UCMJ, but Assange won’t. He’s not a government employee. He’s analogous to the reporters at the New York Times that Ellsberg shared his “stolen” report with. In truth, Manning’s charges should be dropped for he is a whistleblower as well. He, like Assange, is the victim of a political vendetta by the very criminals in government that they exposed in the form of malicious prosecution.

    And my law degree is from a prestigious private Catholic law school that is fully accredited. Where’s yours from, Cam? Good luck with that.

  5. All those crimes committed by the US government that were uncovered by Julian Assange?

    All of them were committed using my tax dollars. I have a right to know what the heck they are doing with my money and the big pools of collective assets of all Americans.

    When 5 million people working for the government have access to this supposedly ‘secret’ information, but the people who PAID for this can be kept entirely in the dark, we have another sort of class system in the US.

  6. Wikileaks didn’t steal anything, they published it, much like the NYTimes published the Pentagon Papers. Manning is the whistle blower and should be receiving government protection, not persecution. Obama’s administration has punished more whistle blowers than any other and ignored all the real criminals

  7. Maybe the next round of releases by Wikileaks will reveal the truth about
    what’s going on in the U.S.


    What Country Do We Want to Keep?
    November 27, 2011

    On Nov. 21, former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake was honored for his courage in blowing the whistle on the U.S. government’s abuse of its secrecy powers. In his acceptance speech, Drake explained the larger and more frightening context – the loss of American liberty.

    Excerpt of acceptance speech:

    Jesselyn and I now stand before you alongside the other whistleblowers before us – like Dan Ellsberg, Coleen Rowley (who also nominated me for the Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize), as well as Larry Wilkerson, an Integrity in Intelligence award recipient.

    We did not take an oath to see secrecy and subterfuge used as cover for subverting the Constitution and violating the law. Our oath to support and defend the Constitution took primacy. I fear for the Republic.

    “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” – Benjamin Franklin

    So what expired on 9/11 – the Constitution?

    “Those who give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

    Jesselyn and I became whistleblowers and our whistleblowing was both a warning and an alert to those in government and eventually the public about serious wrongdoings, and danger and malfeasance created and concealed within the government. Our whistleblowing also occurred because there was profound institutional failure – a multi-layered breakdown in accountability.

    Today we have a frightening lack of responsibility and accountability within the national security complex and it poses a direct threat to all our personal freedoms, as well as a clear and present danger to our Constitutional Republic. Both cannot co-exist – as the social and legal contract is being broken. Our government has profoundly lost its constitutional compass and has been tainted to its core. And our enshrined liberties ARE our national security.

    What country do we want to keep?

    Jesselyn and I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution versus an oath of loyalty to the organization and false secrecy used to bypass and break the law.

    But what is meant by personal integrity and by loyalty? Our personal integrity meant that we held consistently firm and true to the ideals and values centered on upholding and defending the Constitution! By loyalty we were steadfast in our allegiance to the Law of the Land. However, loyalty when blind or misplaced ceases to be a virtue and turns into a corrupting mechanism to hide and obfuscate wrongdoing, embarrassment and cover-up.

    We blew the whistle because we saw grave injustice and wrongdoing occurring within our respective organizations. At the core of our whistleblowing lies accountability by exposing and disclosing government wrongdoing.

    In my recently and successfully concluded case that ended decisively in my favor, the government wanted to put me away in prison for many, many years (I was actually threatened with 35 years) for simply telling the truth as a whistleblower and exposing government wrongdoing and illegalities.

    The government found out everything they could about me and turned me into an Enemy of the State. Having the secret ability to collect and analyze data with few if any substantial constraints – especially on people, is seductively powerful and when particularly done without the person’s permission and in secret – is the ultimate form of control.

    In fact, the government, with its monopoly on certain powers, sometimes has a darker side than even the most cutthroat corporate environments. So it chose to sell out national security to big business and also violate the Constitution. All was SO unnecessary.

    American ingenuity and the Constitution were quite sufficient to protect and defend the country with the best and under the Law. There was NO, I repeat, NO need to go to the dark side.

    Those who have served in the military know what it means when the flag is flown upside down. It is a sign of distress. When a government hides behind its veil of secrecy, when it professes openness and transparency while practicing opaqueness and deceit, that’s when its citizens need to become very wary of what the future might hold – regarding what liberties they believe they possess that are then eroded and even taken away in the name of national security.

    Modern governments today increasingly perform mass surveillance of their citizens, explaining that they believe that it is necessary to protect them from dangerous groups such as terrorists, criminals, or political subversives, dissenters – in order to track the citizenry and maintain social control.

    We are fast approaching a genuine surveillance society in the United States – a dark Orwellian future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication, and our every contact is recorded, compiled, and stored away – ready to be examined and used against us by the authorities whenever they want at any time.

    What country do we want to keep?

    Mass surveillance will erode our privacy. Yet privacy is an absolutely essential prerequisite to the exercise of our precious individual freedoms – the inalienable rights we have as human beings to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And yet the erosion of privacy also weakens the very constitutional foundations and boundaries of our democracy.

    Five centuries ago, Machiavelli explained how to undertake a revolution from above without most people even noticing. In his Discourses on Livy, he wrote that one “must at least retain the semblance of the old forms; so that it may seem to the people that there has been no change in the institutions, even though in fact they are entirely different from the old ones.”

    In other words, keep the old government structures, even while you make profound changes to the actual system, because the appearances are all that most people will notice. So today, instead of seeing the mere corpse of the Republic in which we supposedly live, we only see the clothing – and those clothes would appear to look the same as before, even if increasingly worn and threadbare.

    We have had a revolution from within that has not eliminated our elected representatives – it has simply made them largely irrelevant — especially since Congress is largely occupied by Wall Street – err, preoccupied by Wall Street!

    It’s been a long journey to our current state of affairs — and wars and conflicts have been a major catalyst in that journey, especially since WWII. Most wars fought by the United States have added power to the Executive Branch, while taking away power from the Legislature.

    I consider the immediate aftermath of WWII as the real turning point when the American Dream began to go south at the very moment when the U.S. sat astride the world at the pinnacle of power. Consider all the centralizing legislation for a national security state that was passed either by Congress or put into play by the Executive Branch. And therein lies the problem.

    For this is when the American Republic began its transformation into a national security state and then this transformation was exponentially accelerated as a result of 9/11 into a Top Secret America – an increasingly ‘off the books’ secret government operating within our Constitutional form of government that hides behind unitary executive privilege and the invocation of state secrets when questioned or held to account.

    President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the rise in this kind of a complex in his Farewell Address. Sen. Frank Church feared the future, and that given the right circumstances turning back might not be possible, if the national surveillance complex turned its enormous capabilities on the U.S. from within, with even more advanced technology.

    We now live in post-9/11 America, only to suddenly discover that we are not doing the driving and the brakes are failing and others are in the front and backseat and also following us.

    What country do we want to keep? We increasingly no longer govern ourselves – as in of, for and by the people.

    Consider the “nonstop” number of U.S. military actions around the world these days. And when did Congress last issue a formal declaration of war? Think about it! Consider the ramming through of the Patriot Act a bare month after 9/11 (an Act I would add that NSA was already violating with even more secret programs), when it was obvious that not a single member of Congress read it thoroughly?

    And have you wondered what is really in the secret interpretation by the Executive Branch of Section 215 in the Patriot Act? And what about Section 1031 of the National Defense Authorization Act bill that would authorize the indefinite detention of American citizens?

    Or how habeas corpus was gutted on Oct. 14, 2011, when Janice Rogers Brown of the Appeals Court for the District of Columbia held that in habeas suits, judges must grant official government records the presumption of regularity – defined as simply accepting that an “official act” has been done, and that it will be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that the said act “complied with any necessary formalities” and that the person who did it was “duly appointed”?

    With such a massively expanded ability by the government to spy into your personal life, we might as well bid adieu to the Fourth Amendment – the foundation of a citizen’s integrity as an individual person and in their personal effects in this country as well as their ability to speak and associate freely with others – under the First Amendment.

    Have we become the proverbial boiling frogs? What country do we want to keep?

    Consider the conviction held by this country’s Founding Fathers that a functioning Constitutional Republic and democracy requires an informed citizenry.

    And in the case of an uninformed citizenry? The experiment in “government by the people” is doomed to failure, and would inevitably transform into what we increasingly see today. Is this the day of bread and circuses – like in the twilight years of the Roman Empire?

    Is our exceptionalism an excuse to end run the very foundational precepts and principles of this Republic and used to violate certain human values that must never be transgressed – like torture is never an acceptable human value and eroding away the First and Fourth Amendments removes the very heart of our experiment’s exceptionalism?

    Machiavelli had it right, and as the old song goes, “something’s gotta give.” What else are we willing to give up? Are we becoming the National Security State – Under Surveillance Always – the NSS/USA? Is secret government the new fig leaf for a quaint and outmoded Constitution?

    Orwell’s 1984 is real and now already screamingly relevant. Only the government can create a police state, and our technology can now make that happen. There is a long list of both private industry and government actions that are ripping away our privacy and our Fourth Amendment rights and our ability to speak freely about it!

    I challenge you all to demand accountability, to update our protections in the Internet Age, and to insist upon adherence to the Constitution — conservative and liberal and independent alike. Even in the open press, we know enough about what both the industry and government are doing. Do you care? What will you do about it?

    What country do we really want to keep? Do we want to continue to have a burgeoning military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-surveillance-cybersecurity-and-media complex? Whom does it benefit? Do we want to concede the eroding of basic human rights? Why?

    Because we fear enemies, that creates the need for security, and we are then persuaded that human rights are ignored because of the primacy of the national security state – beyond legitimate protections and the identifying of those who would actually do us harm, both abroad and domestically – as a unifying cause for obsessing over national security and the use of fear by the government to control the public and private agenda?

    What country do we want to keep?

    On Aug. 3, 1857, Frederick Douglass delivered a “West India Emancipation” speech at Canandaigua, New York, on the 23rd anniversary of the event. He said:

    “The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing.

    “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”

    Power and those in control concede nothing without a demand – they never have and they never will. Every one of us – each and every one of us – must keep demanding, must keep fighting, must keep thundering, must keep plowing, must keep on keeping things struggling, must speak out and must speak up until “justice” is served because where there is no justice there can be no peace!

    What country do we want to truly keep?

    Consider what actions you will take when you leave this evening. After all, it is OUR country! So take the necessary action to conserve the very best of who we are and can be – for this generation as well as future generations yet to come – and keep us free. Our future depends on it.

  8. Freedom of the Press Foundation Publishes Leaked Audio of Bradley Manning’s Statement

    March 11, 2013

    By Trevor Timmm and Rainey Reitman

    “Today, Freedom of the Press Foundation is publishing the full, previously unreleased audio recording of Private First Class Bradley Manning’s speech to the military court in Ft. Meade about his motivations for leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks. In addition, we have published highlights from Manning’s statement to the court.

    While unofficial transcripts of this statement are available, this marks the first time the American public has heard the actual voice of Manning.”


  9. A Salute to Bradley Manning, Whistleblower, As We Hear His Words for the First Time

    by Daniel Ellsberg

    Posted: 03/12/2013 9:13 am

    “Today, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization that I co-founded and of which I’m on the board, has published an audio recording of Bradley Manning’s speech to a military court from two weeks ago, in which he gives his reasons and motivations behind leaking over 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks.

    Whoever made this recording, and I don’t know who the person is, has done the American public a great service. This marks the first time the American public can hear Bradley Manning, in his own voice explain what he did and how he did it.

    After listening to this recording and reading his testimony, I believe Bradley Manning is the personification of the word whistleblower.”


    (John Cusack on Freedom of the Press Foundation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-cusack/why-im-donating-to-fund-t_b_2632389.html )

  10. John Cusack bashes Obama and Holder via Twitter, calls them the “virtual president and AG”


    Actor John Cusack isn’t too thrilled with the American commander-in-chief or his top attorney this week.

    The “High Fidelity” actor ripped President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder via Twitter Wednesday over their lack of accountability over the controversy surrounding the seizure of phone records belonging to several Associated Press reporters and editors. Cusack’s tweets were part of a conversation between the actor and Jesselyn Radack, the National Secretary and Human Rights Director at the Government Accountability Project.

    Holder announced earlier this week that he’s not sure how the Justice Department seized the phone records of Associated Press journalists occurred because he had previously recused himself from the investigation. He instead delegated Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole to be in charge of the decision to subpoena records from the press.

    Tweets (5/16) (visible via above link):


    Jesselyn Radack @JesselynRadack

    “Finally, media waking up 2 reality that Obama’s war on #whistleblowers is not separate f/ threats 2 #FreePress.” http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/05/15/holders-gutless-recusal-the-justice-departments-seizure-of-ap-records/

    John Cusack ✔ @johncusack

    @JesselynRadack I think we should accept we have a virtual president and AG – no accountability -recuse themselves? It’s a joke.. The only

    11:26 PM – 15 May 2013


    John Cusack ✔ @johncusack

    @JesselynRadack I think we should accept we have a virtual president and AG – no accountability -recuse themselves? It’s a joke.. The only

    Jesselyn Radack @JesselynRadack

    .@johncusack Holder #recused himself f/ #leak probe, but he’s not recused f/ defending 1st Amend. http://m.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-eric-holders-abdication/2013/05/15/61a42d12-bdaf-11e2-97d4-a479289a31f9_story.html … #Recusal=Abdication

    6:36 AM – 16 May 2013

  11. I forgot to count… It has three and seemed to post… or did it go to moderation first? Sorry for the trouble. 😉

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