The Assange Case Could Prove The Most Important Press Case In 300 Years

Below is my column for BBC on the Assange espionage charges. As I have written, I believe that Attorney General Bill Barr is dead wrong on these charges — a view apparently shared by at least two of the prosecutors on the team. Until now, President Donald Trump’s disturbing rhetoric against the media has been disconnected from actual moves against the media with the exception of suspending press passes or changing rules for the White House press corp. This is a quantum leap in the wrong direction. Indeed, this prosecution could easily become the most important press case since John Peter Zenger.

Here is the column:

For over a decade, there has been a raging debate over precisely what Julian Assange is – whistleblower, journalist, or spy. 

Now that question will have to be answered after the United States hit him with 17 new counts under the Espionage Act for receiving and publishing information from Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

The Trump administration has now crossed the line that many counselled it to avoid – and may have triggered the most important press freedom case in the US in 300 years.

While the status of Assange has long been hotly debated, his actions in publishing classified information on Wikileaks is a common component of journalism. Indeed, the most celebrated cases in history – such as the failed attempts to stop the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 – were based on the publications of classified evidence.

Assange’s supporters note that his publications revealed alleged war crimes in places like Afghanistan and Iraq that were unlikely to have been exposed otherwise. If it was a crime for Assange to receive and publish such information, much of the journalism in the US would become a de facto criminal enterprise.

In April, the government avoided this threshold question by charging Assange with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The charge related to helping Manning obtain access to defence department computers in 2010. In doing so, the justice department stayed clear of charging him as a publisher as opposed to an intruder. That is until Thursday.

The charges were brought under the controversial Espionage Act of 1917. Passed after World War One, it was used to target anti-war activists and political dissidents. 

The government charged figures ranging from German-American Socialist congressman (and newspaper editor) Victor Berger to anarchist and author Emma Goldman to five-time Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene Debs.

The law has long been denounced as unconstitutional in its criminalising of receiving and publishing classified information. It is no surprise that the justice department had to use this much-ridiculed law to achieve this ignoble goal. 

Counts nine through 17 against Assange concern the publications of “national defence information.” The justice department takes pains to try to argue that Assange is not a journalist and that the publication counts concern the disclosure of not just classified information but the actual names of intelligence sources. That however may establish that Assange is a poor journalist, but a journalist all the same.

If successful, the justice department would have not only the ability to prosecute but to investigate a wide array of journalists. This danger is made all the more acute in an administration headed by a president who routinely calls the press “the enemy of the people”.

However, the danger did not begin with President Trump. The Obama administration used this law to conduct surveillance on mainstream journalists, including a well-regarded Fox News reporter. 

The Obama administration reportedly rejected the option of a criminal charge against Assange under the Espionage Act, in recognition of the danger to press freedom. Mr Trump and Attorney General William Barr have now crossed that Rubicon.

This also comes at a particularly precarious time for journalists around the world. Reporters are being arrested and killed in increasing numbers. Some countries like China and Russia have even taken up the Trump trope of “fake news” to crack down on the press. Most vividly, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is accused of ordering the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – yet has suffered few consequences from the Trump administration.

It is not just the “usual suspects” attacking the free press. Just this week, the French government put three journalists under criminal investigation for disclosing alleged lies by French officials on the country’s role in the war in Yemen.

A couple days later a senior reporter, Ariane Chemin, at the renowned French Le Monde, was called in for questioning after revealing embarrassing details about a former bodyguard to President Emmanuel Macron.

Now the US, once the bastion of free press, is trying to establish that any journalist can be prosecuted for receiving or publishing classified information. Since the government routinely over-classifies a wide array of information, it would leave every journalist at constant risk of surveillance and prosecution.

In the past, government officials have distinguished between those who leak or steal classified information and those who cover it. The person responsible for stealing the information in this case was not only punished but punished severely. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 – the longest sentence for a leak case in American history – but former President Barack Obama commuted most of the remainder of her sentence in January 2017. 

Now however, the Trump administration has used the grand jury system to repeatedly jail Manning for refusing to testify against Assange. As soon as one grand jury was disbanded, and Manning released, the justice department simply called another and arrested her again. 

Adding to this raw coercion, US District Judge Anthony Trenga imposed a daily fine of $500 (£395) for every day that she is in custody after 30 days, and $1,000 every day in custody after 60 days. So Manning will be left in jail and bankrupted until she is prepared to testify against Assange.

All of this can be rightfully considered by the UK court in deciding whether Assange will be extradited to the US. For example, in 2002 British hacker Gary McKinnon argued that he would be denied basic protections if extradited to the US. The case went all the way to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.

In 2012, his extradition was denied by the home secretary at that time, Theresa May, on the basis that extradition “would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon’s human rights.”

With the new charges, any extradition decision may have to follow an identification decision of what Assange was doing when he published these stories. If he is a journalist, his case could prove a defining moment for both the UK and the US.

Ironically, Britain has never had as many protections for journalists in a system with Official Secrets laws that give sweeping investigatory and prosecutorial powers to government officials. Yet, it will now be the US that is presented as more hostile to the free press.

Assange has few friends in Washington. The Democrats have been relatively muted in responding to the charges. After presenting Wikileaks as a tool used by Russia to try to help Mr Trump win the presidency, that narrative breaks down if they recognise Assange as a journalist. 

The Republicans have their own narrative of journalists as deep-state co-conspirators. Even mainstream reporters have long kept Assange at arm’s length. For them, he is the symbol of reckless figures emerging in the “new media” of the internet. 

Assange is not the rallying figure advocates for press freedom would choose, but he is the one they have been given. Assange may be the first modern journalist to be prosecuted under this law. However, if successful, he will certainly not be the last.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and BBC legal analyst. He has argued both leading free speech and national security cases in the federal courts.

226 thoughts on “The Assange Case Could Prove The Most Important Press Case In 300 Years”

  1. Reporters are being arrested and killed in increasing numbers

    People who hold religious beliefs are slaughtered by the thousands and yet here you shedding a tear about “reporters”.

    Youre such an empty suit Turley.

    1. EStovir, People who hold religious beliefs are being slaughtered (usually by other religious people). You know about this because someone reported it. This isn’t a case of caring about one group and not caring about another group. This is an examination of what this particular prosecution will mean in the US and other societies. Once you prosecute reporters/publishers for putting out information you may cease to learn of religious persecutions. You must remember that it is often a govt. itself which is doing the religious persecution. They will not want that information known to the public. This case gives them the tools to suppress exactly what you are writing about–genocide based on religious beliefs.

      1. Jill, your support of the press is admirable but lacks considerable factual data that needs to be included. Where are most of the Religious killings occurring? Certainly not in the US but all over the Middle East (and elsewhere) where Christians are being slaughtered. Does the mainstream media in the US, without any potential for arrest in the US, provide adequate coverage? Absolutley not so your complaints attack a relatively small problem while having nothing to do with the massive problem that exists.

        We have a bigger problem of a news media that doesn’t report or reports opinion mixed into the news so if you are interested in a free press you would be very concerned with the press we see today.

      2. Jill I received this after my discussion with you: Think of GENOCIDE.

        Genocide of Christians Reaches “Alarming Stage”
        by Raymond Ibrahim 26, 2019 at 5:0May0 am

        Many of the world’s most persecuted Christians have nothing whatsoever to do with colonialism or missionaries. Those most faced with the threat of genocide — including Syria’s and Iraq’s Assyrians or Egypt’s Copts — were Christian several centuries before the ancestors of Europe’s colonizers became Christian and went missionizing

        The BBC report highlights “political correctness” as being especially responsible for the West’s indifference….

        Among the worst persecutors are those that rule according to Islamic law, or Sharia — which academics such as Georgetown University’s John Esposito insist is equitable and just. In Afghanistan (ranked #2), “Christianity is not permitted to exist.”

        UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) commissioned an “Independent Review into the global persecution of Christians,” which was recently published. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
        “Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels,'” the title of a May 3 BBC report, cites a lengthy interim study ordered by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and led by Rev. Philip Mounstephen, the Bishop of Truro.

        According to the BBC report, one in three people around the world suffer from religious persecution, with Christians being “the most persecuted religious group”. “Religion ‘is at risk of disappearing’ in some parts of the world,” it noted, and “In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”

        British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also quoted on why Western governments have been “asleep” — his word — concerning this growing epidemic:

        “I think there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion [Christianity] that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonisers. That has perhaps created an awkwardness in talking about this issue—the role of missionaries was always a controversial one and that has, I think, also led some people to shy away from this topic.”

        Whatever the merits of such thinking, the fact is that many of the world’s most persecuted Christians have nothing whatsoever to do with colonialism or missionaries. Those most faced with the threat of genocide — including Syria’s and Iraq’s Assyrians or Egypt’s Copts — were Christian several centuries before the ancestors of Europe’s colonizers became Christian and went missionizing.

        The BBC report highlights “political correctness” as being especially responsible for the West’s indifference, and quotes Hunt again in this regard: “What we have forgotten in that atmosphere of political correctness is actually the Christians that are being persecuted are some of the poorest people on the planet.”

        Although the BBC report has an entire heading titled and devoted to the impact of “political correctness,” ironically, it too succumbs to this contemporary Western malady. For while it did a fair job in highlighting the problem, it said nothing about its causes — not one word about who is persecuting Christians, or why.

        The overwhelming majority of Christian persecution, however, evidently occurs in Muslim majority nations. According to Open Doors’ World Watch List 2019 [WWL], which surveys the 50 nations where Christians are most persecuted, “Islamic oppression continues to impact millions of Christians.” In seven of the absolute worst ten nations, “Islamic oppression” is the cause of persecution. “This means, for millions of Christians—particularly those who grew up Muslim or were born into Muslim families—openly following Jesus can have painful consequences,” including death.

        Among the worst persecutors are those that rule according to Islamic law, or Sharia — which academics such as Georgetown University’s John Esposito insist is equitable and just. In Afghanistan (ranked #2) , “Christianity is not permitted to exist,” says the WWL 2019, because it “is an Islamic state by constitution, which means government officials, ethnic group leaders, religious officials and citizens are hostile toward” Christians. Similarly, in Somalia, (#3), “The Christian community is small and under constant threat of attack. Sharia law and Islam are enshrined in the country’s constitution, and the persecution of Christians almost always involves violence.” In Iran (#9), “society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.”

        Equally telling is that 38 of the 50 nations making the WWL 2019 are Muslim majority.

        Perhaps the BBC succumbed to silence concerning the sources of Christian persecution — that is, succumbed to “the atmosphere of political correctness” which it ironically highlighted — because in its own report, it did not rely on the WWL. The problem with this interpretation is that the study the BBC did rely on, the Bishop of Truro’s, is saturated with talk concerning the actual sources of Christian persecution. In this regard, the words “Islam” and “Islamist” appear 61 times; “Muslim” appears 56 times in this review on persecuted Christians.

        Here are a few of the more significant quotes from the Bishop of Truro’s report:

        “The persecution of Christians is perhaps at its most virulent in the region of the birthplace of Christianity—the Middle East & North Africa.”

        “In countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia the situation of Christians and other minorities has reached an alarming stage.”

        “The eradication of Christians and other minorities on pain of ‘the sword’ or other violent means was revealed to be the specific and stated objective of [Islamic] extremist groups in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, north-east Nigeria and the Philippines.”

        “[T]here is mass violence which regularly expresses itself through the bombing of churches, as has been the case in countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia.”

        “The single-greatest threat to Christians [in Nigeria] … came from Islamist militant group Boko Haram, with US intelligence reports in 2015 suggesting that 200,000 Christians were at risk of being killed… Those worst affected included Christian women and girls ‘abducted, and forced to convert, enter forced marriages, sexual abuse and torture.'”

        “An intent to erase all evidence of the Christian presence [in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, north-east Nigeria and the Philippines] was made plain by the removal of crosses, the destruction of Church buildings and other Church symbols. The killing and abduction of clergy represented a direct attack on the Church’s structure and leadership.”

        “Christianity now faces the possibility of being wiped-out in parts of the Middle East where its roots go back furthest. In Palestine, Christian numbers are below 1.5 percent; in Syria the Christian population has declined from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 and in Iraq, Christian numbers have slumped from 1.5 million before 2003 to below 120,000 today. Christianity is at risk of disappearing, representing a massive setback for plurality in the region.”

        The BBC should be commended for (finally) reporting on this urgent issue — even if it is three years behind the times. As the Truro report correctly observes, “In 2016 various political bodies including the UK parliament, the European Parliament and the US House of Representatives, declared that ISIS atrocities against Christians and other religious minority groups such as Yazidis and Shi’a Muslims met the tests of genocide.”

        At the very least, it appears that the BBC has stopped trying to minimize the specter of Christian persecution as it did in 2013, when this situation was just starting to reach the boiling point.

        Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

    2. Reporters are the reason you know about those murders! You should show more respect!

  2. “The Assange Truth Could Prove The Most Important Exposition Of Corruption In 2400 Years”

    To Save The Republic, Assange must be given immunity, “secrets” revealed and the facts and truth obtained

    “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    “Disciples of philosophy … have tasted how sweet and blessed a possession philosophy is, and have also seen and been satisfied of the madness of the multitude, and known that there is no one who ever acts honestly in the administration of States, nor any helper who will save any one who maintains the cause of the just. Such a savior would be like a man who has fallen among wild beasts—unable to join in the wickedness of his fellows, neither would he be able alone to resist all their fierce natures, and therefore he would be of no use to the State or to his friends, and would have to throw away his life before he had done any good to himself or others. And he reflects upon all this, and holds his peace, and does his own business. He is like one who retires under the shelter of a wall in the storm of dust and sleet which the driving wind hurries along; and when he sees the rest of mankind full of wickedness, he is content if only he can live his own life and be pure from evil or unrighteousness, and depart in peace and good will, with bright hopes.”

    – Plato, The Republic

  3. We should endeavor to improve the whistleblower system, which offers some degree of privacy protection for national security and diplomatic exchanges. We have to figure out a means of continuous improvement of our government while affording it reasonable privacy to deliberate and plan.

    Wikileaks is in service of anarchy and can be co-opted by infowarriors (some nation state actors). It is NOT willing to subordinate itself to national law concerning privacy rights. Prosecute.

  4. Warmongers: the truth hurts.

    I stand with the warning of POTUS/retired US Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhauer against the “Military Industrial Complex,” and US Marine Major General Smedley Butler (then the all time most decorated Marine) who said,”…I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism…”

    Send your spare funds to support Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HA) for POTUS, who promised to drop all charges against Assange and Manning.

    Independent evidence released last week indicates Bashir Assad is NOT responsible for one of the gas attacks for which the West blamed him, and used as justification to attack Assad.

    The USA’s current war mongering (military bases in over 800 foreign nations) is a direct analog to Great Britain prior to WW2. If you don’t know what is the difference between GB pre and post WW2, read Buchanan’s epic Churchill, Hitler and The Avoidable War.” Churchill was booted off the world stage to die in shame because his war ushered the end of GB’s dominance on the world stage.

    If we stay on our current path, and you think the US has some magical method to avoid the future bad end we deserve (just read your history), you are naïve, lying (war for profit), or both. All of Churchill’s arrogance and mendacity is front center on the US stage at this very moment.

    1. “The Avoidable War.” Churchill was booted off the world stage ”

      “Neville – who has been a second time deceived by the Dictator in whom he particularly trusts, & invites us to trust…There is a great danger in refusing to believe things you do not like.”

      1933, Churchill warned in the House of Commons, “Those Germans are not looking for equal status. They are looking for weapons.”

      Churchill didn’t become Prime Minister until 1939, September

      1938 German Anschluss with Austria? Hitler went ahead with his plans to unify all German-speaking people. He annexed Austria then demanded the liberation of German people in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. Neville Chamberlain flew to Germany to attempt a settlement before war broke out.
      30 Sept 1938 Treaty of Munich Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier of France and Mussolini of Italy met in Munich and agreed that Hitler should have the Sudetanland of Czechoslovakia. The Czechs were not represented at the meeting and realising that no country would come to their aid were forced to surrender the Sudetenland to Germany. Hitler assured those at the meeting that this was the extent of his ambitions for expansion. Chamberlain returned to England with a piece of paper signed by Hitler, proclaiming ‘peace in our time.’?
      March 1939 Hitler invades Czechoslovakia Despite the assurances given by Hitler in the Treaty of Munich (Sept 1938), he marched into Czechoslovakia and occupied the country.

      March /April 1939 Britain rearms and reassures Poland Britain had begun re-arming and a highly secret radar early warning system was installed along the east coast. Conscription was introduced and assurances were given to Poland, who was being threatened by the Fuhrer.
      late Aug 1939 Russia and Germany sign pact? Hitler and Stalin signed a non-aggression pact which included secret clauses for the division of Poland.
      1 Sept 1939 Hitler invades Poland Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.
      3 Sept 1939 Britain and France declare war on Britain and France declared war on Germany. Neville Chamberlain broadcast the announcement that the country was at war.

        1. He also was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain and again served in that position for 4-5 years in the 1950s. Contrary to the claim made above by a revisionist historrian,, Churchill was not “booted off the world stage to die in shame”

          1. Third Churchill ministry – Wikipedia


            Winston Churchill formed the third Churchill ministry in the United Kingdom after the 1951 general election. He was reappointed as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom by King ….. British ministries · History of the Conservative Party (UK) · 1950s in the United Kingdom · 1951 establishments in the United Kingdom · 1955 …

        2. He was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in September of 1939 and became part of Chamberlain’s cabinet. That is when war was declared on Germany so the timeline is such that Churchill didn’t have that much influence in the years preceding the war.

          1. L4D says–Shaking my head at the newly discovered “element,” Allanumbium.

            Read “The Gathering Storm,” by Winston Spencer Churchill. And re-access you opinion about Churchill’s pre-war influence.

            1. Diane, it is nice that you have a bibliography but it is better for you to have actually read the books in that bibliogranphy then just talk about them.

              Tell us what Chruchill’s influence was. Yes, he advocated his position for years but he didn’t become First Lord of the Admiralty and a cabinet member before the war.. Read about his Wilderness Years. They ended with the outbreak of WW2..

  5. Free speech is a right for all Americans.

    To argue whether Mr. Assange is a journalist ignores our rights as Americans.

  6. “…Once Manning started sharing such material, Assange, it said, encouraged her “to continue her theft of classified documents and agreed to help her crack a password hash to a military computer”.
    Assange “revealed the names of human sources and created a grave and imminent risk to human life” – including the names of local Afghans, Iraqis, Chinese and Iranians.”

    I don’t think the professor provides enough commentarty about the distressing features of the Assange case. If Assange assisted, IMO he is guity and if that assistance led directly to the deaths of “human sources” he sounds guilty in that regard as well. Neither is an appropriopriate part of “freedom of the press”.

    1. Another distressing issue that was mentioned is that our government overclassifies information and there is a legitimate fear that such overclassification can lead and has led to imapairing freedom of the press but that is something that has to be handled by all three branches of government something that has not been adequately performed.

      If Assange is found not guilty that by iteslf can accelerate the release of sensitive material. If Assange is found guilty that encourages government to hide more information under the cover of secrecy. The solution to the underlying problem doesn’t reside in the courts, it resides in good government.

    2. Allan,

      First, JT is incorrect about what the govt. alleged. You need to read the indictment to see what is actually alleged (which is available to the public).

      Secondly, no lives, according to the USG itself, were lost because of these publications. The govt. was forced to admit this fact publicly, in a court of law during Manning’s trial. What you do see in these publications is USG killing innocent civilians, to include journalists. You see war crimes against detainees in Gitmo and other black sites.

      These documents show US war crimes and you can believe the US does not want that information in the public domain, not any of it, not ever again. Bolton actually revoked the visas of the ICC judges because they were even thinking of charging USG with war crimes based on available evidence. Think about that! That’s an extreme reaction, just as what has happened to Assange has involved multiple nations breaking their own rule of law to imprison and silence him. It seems clear that governments around the world see the Assange case as a way to silence both knowledge of their own crimes and dissent/accountability for the same.

      1. Your series of facts, Turley’s series of facts and everyone else’s series of facts have to be presented together and argued.

        Jill, that is the point of my statement which starts off with the word *IF*. I do not have reasonable certainty of the facts and neither do you or anything you quote. Your hypothesis is valid but in the end US security must be assured. Think of the following that potentially could happen in the near future: You live in a major city and Amazon is now sending its purchases by drone. What happens when a bunch of drones are loaded up with Fentanyl where a tiny amout can kill you. Suddenly all these packages blow up all over your city and others? That could potentially kill alot of people and is a realistic scenario. Now assume that Assange or whomever, released information that made that scenario possible. How does that change your feelings?

    3. This is a worthy concern. However, the initial indictment, as opposed to the Barr indictments, was narrow. The initial indictment dealt with actual assistance in hacking a computer. In other words, Assange became a participant. Not just a receiver of information. I don’t believe Turley has said otherwise. I also don’t know of any Wikileaks document dumps that have hurt anybody, other than some politicians egos along with the lazy Washing, D.C. press corps.

      1. “The initial indictment dealt with actual assistance in hacking a computer. In other words, Assange became a participant.”

        Steve, IMO, prove that and you have proven criminality.

        ” I also don’t know of any Wikileaks document dumps that have hurt anybody, other than …”

        That is the problem. The dumps could have hurt people and the proof has to be kept silent to prevent other people from being hurt as well.

    4. By your logic and Trump’s, I fear a reporter buying lunch for his source may then legally be charged as an accomplice to the felon violating The Espionage Act.

      I am frankly sick of Trump’s 180 degree on foreign military excursions, and his preference for MIC profits favoring our alleged “ally” the most evil and blood thirsty military dictatorship on earth, a nation that annually beheads more than ISIS, the Al Saud crime syndicate. Trump rewarded SA with military weapons for dismembering and melting in acid a journalist unfriendly to the regime.

      How evil is human love for filthy lucre? Apparently SA even purchased silence from the journalists surviving children. Ted Kennedy murdered Mary Jo Kopechne. One day her parents cried out for Ted’s head. The day after Kennedy’s representatives appeared with sacks of cash at the parent’s home, they decided it was time to let her RIP and put it all behind them.

      1. “By your logic and Trump’s, I fear a reporter buying lunch for his source may then legally be charged as an accomplice to the felon violating The Espionage Act.”

        By your logic, buying somebody lunch is the same as breaking into a room with your source and taking documents out of a filing cabinet.

        It looks like Assange went too far with Manning. As to why Barr inserted himself into this matter with these additional indictments, I’m trying to figure out that one.

      2. “By your logic…”

        Nonsense. Your claim is ridiculous. ONe has to prove the elments of a crime and lunch is not an element unless perhaps in the sandwich the reporter receives a flashdrive.

        “I am frankly sick of Trump’s 180 degree on foreign military excursions,”

        Your being sick has nothing to do with Trump being right or wrong. We have seen how your type of being sick led to WW2 which may not have had to happen if Germany realized what it faced and recognized it early. Your being sick didn’t stop the Japanese advance long before the US became involved. Foolishness resides in most of your comments that have truth and falsehood mixed together. You are no different than a Peter Shill or an anon though many of your ideas might be the opposite of both.

      3. the most evil and blood thirsty military dictatorship on earth, a nation that annually beheads more than ISIS, the Al Saud crime syndicate.

        Over the period since 1985, capital sentences have been applied at a mean annual rate of 0.33 per 100,000 in Saudi Arabia. The homicide rate in Saudi Arabia is 0.8 per 100,000.

        I take it you were really cheesed when it was reported in the media that the Crown Prince told Mahmoud Abbas that they should have taken the deal the last time it was offered.

  7. “Daniel Ellsberg Speaks Out on the Arrest of Julian Assange”

    ‘“Without whistleblowers we would not have a democracy. And there have to be people to distribute work and publish it.”’

    Ellsberg says he is both outraged and deeply concerned about the impact this case might have on the free press. “Without whistleblowers,” Ellsberg tells me in the following interview, “we would not have a democracy.”

  8. Let me guess. The left wants to crucify Assange but didn’t give a tinker’s damn about the Pentagon Papers. Never mind 1719 i’ve seen nothing since 1992 to convince me Assange should go on trial for anything But seen mountains of reasons why their shouldn’t be trials in the Dirty Politiican, Dirt cop Dirty DNC and Dirty Media of the last three years never mind last 300.

    Where was the press, media, what evers when at least three maybe four politicians were illegally seated after refusing to take the Constitutionally required Oath of Office? Not to mention those that openly and publicly violate thee oath of office when they do take it or worse give it from a leadership position?

    Are there any real journalists left to claim any rights under Freedom of the Press? Are there any schools left that teach journalism?

    Is the US Military still, I presume, willing to uphold their Oath of Office – all that remains?

    Harp all you want about looking for ways to require citizens and strong arm citizens to convict themselves on phony charges.without changing the laws they themselves hid and hide behind.

    Physician heal thyself starting with the legal profession who profess to be ‘guardians’ of OUR Constitutional Republic and can’t even guard our ‘civil liberties’ and yet claim the name ‘american.’

  9. Is it my imagination, or is the dead-headed Washington Press Corps rather nonchalant to the point of cheerleading for Assange indictments? Yeah, I realize they don’t think he’s one of them. After all, his organization actually does some work at disseminating information as opposed to regurgitating some talking points from some hack so you can get out to the bar by 4:00 in the afternoon. But you’d think they’d still see at least some press issues here.

  10. You gotta love all the Johnny-come-latelys suddenly defending Assange after eight years of persecution…this includes JT and the Dems. Where have you been all these years? I don’t think you’re genuine in your “sudden concern.”

  11. Reporters and editors have long conflated the freedom to publish with the internal mechanics of the news business, demanding privileges which would amount to a sort of journalistic licensing. Michael Kinsley was the odd critic of press shield laws for that reason.

    The question at hand is whether your freedom to publish truly and properly allows you to misappropriate someone else’s confidential information (and whether a public agency can have claims against you). It might be something more properly dealt with in civil proceedings (provided you could extradite foreign actors).

    Assange I suspect is a Loki figure who enjoys a certain vandalism. His activities might benefit or damage the commonweal, depending.

    1. Actually, freedom to publish isn’t a privileged. It’s a guaranteed right of our Constituting. Wikileaks has a 100% accuracy rate in their publications. Their work is considered so pristine that is has been used in courts of law as evidence.

      Here you are upset because wikileaks has revealed “personal information” (what does that mean concerning a govt.’s action???) called war crimes! I understand that many people do not wish to know what the govt. is doing but as a citizen, you should want to know that. When your government is breaking the law, you need to know it! Otherwise, there really isn’t any sense of having a Constitution or a Democratic Republic. A dictatorship should work out just fine for you!

      Oh, I forgot, the US is allowed to have a dictatorship but if we decide other countries have one, and we don’t like them, the only answer is regime change!, preferably by military force because that makes more money for war contractors.

      1. Actually, freedom to publish isn’t a privileged.

        Nobody said it was.

        It was the standard position offered by the news media ca. 1985 that they should be excused from testifying in front of grand juries and that they couldn’t be compelled to produce information of interest in criminal cases. This is what Kinsley and others critiqued.

  12. Quite apart from the facts of this case – many of us who truly value freedom of the press have also noticed a deterioration of the Fourth Estate. It makes me wonder how the major universities that offer degrees in journalism – Columbia, Northwestern, and Syracuse – are structuring their curricula to incorporate the tenets of professional responsibility.

  13. The military industrial complex does not take kindly to anyone who exposes their war crimes. Barr and Trump are deep state shills who are just following orders.

  14. Holmes, absent new information (new to me that is) and maybe questions about the charges, I favor the prosecution of Assange and I do care about the law, democracy, free speech, world peace, etc. Beyond aiding and abetting Russian interference in our election, he has actively and indiscriminately published information which revealed and endangered innocent private people as well as government agents – yes, this is a necessary function of national security. Was some of the information he published something we should know as free citizens of a democracy? Yes, but the key word is indiscriminate, if not malicious.

    1. The complaint partisan Democrats have is that he traded in information inconvenient to the Democratic Party.

    2. anon,

      Even USGinc. admitted at Manning’s trial that not one person has been injured as a result of these publications.
      Further, it may interest you to know that it was the Guardian who released a classified password which in turn,
      enabled the release of names. So if you want to really get someone, you need to go after reporters at the Guardian!

      If you would like to look up information concerning the supposed connection between Russia and wikileaks I would refer you to Bill Binney and info at Elizabeth Lea Voss’s twitter. There has been extensive research done on the matter and these leaks did not come from Russia. It appears they were an on- site downloads, possibly from Seth Rich?. You may want to check out Craig Murry as well as he hand carried documents in order to get them to wikileaks.

      If you want to hang someone for interference the 2016 election I believe you will need to start with Hillary Clinton who demonstrably, fixed the Democratic primaries in her favor, preventing Bernie Sanders, who lead Trump in the polls, from running in the general election.

      Now on to why, evidently for the sake of personal animus, you are willing to jettison the First Amendment–I would say that a true citizen supports the Constitution for people they hate (even if they don’t really understand why they hate the person). This ruling will enable injustice across the world and will effect the rights of our own citizens to speak up. Honestly, if this was John Bolton instead of Julian Assange, I would hope you would oppose all efforts to stifle his free speech or his right to act as a journalist.

      Finally, FYI, Assange has won more journalism awards than most MSM organizations.

      1. Jill, I was just starting to think I’d look into your sources until the nonsense about Hillary fixing the primaries which tends to discredit the rest of your post. No, she did not fix any primaries – she kicked Bernie’s ass and worse than Trump’s. Nothing in the Podesta emails shows anything like that, I read them. If you think it does, copy it here. Good luck.

        1. Hillary didn’t cheat Bernie? It’s best you stay anonymous spewing such obvious bull. The entire DNC leadership was forced to resign because it was shown that Hillary made a funding deal with the DNC that gave her complete control over the DNC during the primaries. You are full of it.

        2. Anon,

          None of this is conjecturer, including Hillary fixing the elections. A case was brought in court on this very matter. The Democratic party openly stated in court that they had the right to fix the election for whomever they wanted. Don’t be so terrified to read about information which undermines your own misinformation! You can look it all up. It just takes some courage and a willingness to look into facts.

          1. Jill, I asked you to provide a quote – a paraphrase with link would do as well – to substantiate your false claim that the stolen Podesta emails proved “Hillary rigged the primaries”. You haven’t done so.

            I have read those emails as well as coverage in real time and now. There is nothing there except a revolting suggestion by a DNC official – who left the campaign – that Bernie’s religion and atheism be brought up. No one seconded him or took him up on the idea.

            Wasserman Schultz resigned because the Democratic convention started in one day and and as the biggest PR event of the campaign, the DNC and Hillary and WS wanted the news focused on it.

            As to legal arguments in court, parties do have a right to set up their contests as they want within the laws and limits of state primaries. Arguing that point does not mean the primaries were fixed.

            Again Jill, if you have specific evidence for your claim, present it. Otherwise, you are spreading a lie which the Bernie Bros and Trumpsters find convenient. BTW, I voted for Bernie. I knew him on a personal basis 40+ years ago and his best and longest friend is also one of mine..

            1. Jan F says: February 24, 2019 at 2:20 PM
              I voted for Bernie because he was a personal friend 40+ years ago and I felt that in a sense I owed him that. I didn’t want him to win and favored Hillary who I thought the much stronger candidate, which she was. In fact she won the vote by a margin greater than 11 past presidents.

              1. It’s an amazing coincidence that both ”’Jan F.” and “Anon” have know Bernie Sanders for about 40 years.The “Jan F.” claim was made a few months ago.

                1. Who knew Bernie (who didn’t have a pot to piss in prior to 1981, bless his heart) spent so much time chatting it up with contractors in Georgia.

        3. Anon — I’d say it’s shocking how misinformed and brainwashed you are, but it’s not shocking, so I won’t bother to say it. 😉

            1. L4D says–FWIW. Brazile and Warren have both retracted their previous claims. The Joint Fund Raising Agreement provided substantial debt relief to The Democratic National Committee, which is not the same thing as The Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is, amongst other things, a large group of fund raisers and their contributors who consolidated backing for Clinton’s candidacy long before the Iowa Caucuses. That, in turn, dried up fund-raising opportunities for other candidates also long before any votes were cast in the primaries. Bernie Sanders actually benefitted from the unwillingness of other candidates to challenge Clinton’s candidacy.

              But such arguments will remain forever lost upon Pavlonian Pigeons who have been operantly conditioned to the mantra–

              “The system was rigged. She never should’ve been allowed to run. Crooked H; lock her up.”

              And Trump wasn’t even talking about The Primaries. He was talking about the FBI investigation of Hillary’s emails. But that doesn’t matter, either. All that matters to the Pigeons is the mindless repetition of the word “rigged, rigged, rigged, rigged, rigged.”

              Was the Democratic primary rigged? – Vox


              Nov 14, 2017 … There were five candidates onstage at the first Democratic primary debate of 2015: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Maryland Gov.

  15. Of course Manning and Assange had to know the potential consequences of publishing this material. USG and other governments would like nothing better than to operate without fear of having their activities exposed, legal or illegal. So wouldn’t the indictments and subsequent trial also put the Espionage Act on trial as well? Let’s say this administration isn’t as interested in convicting Assange as they are to convict the corrupt practices Wikileaks exposed. This trial should bring about a lot of discovery and may strengthen press freedoms, not weaken them.

    1. Olly, governments have a legitimate interest in keeping some of their legal activities secret, and that should be the deciding factor in any case.

      1. Of course they do. We’ve nipped around the edges of legitimate and legal for far too long. A trial may go a long way toward resetting how all governments should expect their activities to be monitored for abuse.

        1. Yes, bring it. A weaponized DOJ going after it’s own in service to a self serving narcissist President. What a great precedent! Like stealing a SC seat, stealing the Congresses power of the purse, and of course lying so much every day that it isn’t news anymore, I’m sure Olly that you won’t have to fear this kind of crap being turned against your team by a Democratic president of the future.

          1. You seem oblivious to the fact that a weaponized DOJ was just used by the narcissist Obama to go after Trump.

            1. Well gee, Ivan, you seem oblivious to the fact that Obama forgot to have Comey reveal the investigation into Trump’s campaign at the same time – 2 weeks before the vote – that he revealed the renewal of Hillary’s.

              I see the movie coming – “The Deep State That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” – starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Should be a riot!

          2. Anon says: Obama good. Trump bad. Because the news media told me so. Goo goo ga ga dum dum. The Democrats have told us over and over — they rely on the “stupidity of the American people” in order to ram their bullsh*t down our throats. Anon is Exhibit A.

          3. A weaponized DOJ going after it’s own in service to a self serving narcissist President.

            Yes, it was detestable how Obama weaponized so many agencies against our own citizens. It’s good to see you recognizing that truth.

  16. All I want to know is who gave him the Podesta emails. That’s what we really need to know as Mueller said they were hacked by Russia and I don’t believe Mueller. Where’s the proof? I think they know it was an inside job and Obama told Mueller to stand down. And Manning had a personal agenda. He shouldn’t have been commuted by Obama.

    1. Our intelligence agencies and the FBI said Russia hacked Podesta’s email. Putting aside your gullibility in service to Trump, what would be the point of an “inside job”?

      1. Our intelligence agencies and the FBI said Russia hacked Podesta’s email.

        And who is your gullibility in service to?

        1. Quite a clever phrase there Olly, but you’re not nimble enough to use it.

          Do you really think there is a competition for truth between several federal agencies and a proven and obvious lying, self serving scumbag. The former have provided specific evidence, and if lying would require a conspiracy of scores, if not hundreds, of career employees of both political parties – the leadership of one at least being GOP – while the latter’s lame story depends on everyone forgetting that the alleged conspirators shot the wrong candidate in October 2016 while protecting the lying scumbag.

          What kind of idiot goes for that nonsense? No not deserved offense intended.

          1. What kind of idiot goes for that nonsense?

            You’ve staked out your position to defend a political party and I’ve staked out a position to defend our republic. I can’t lose if the truth comes out. Huber, Horowitz and an Assange trial should provide the truth we need and when the dust settles, we’ll be better off for it.

            1. Olly, if you a FF about our Republic instead of the petty small cult figure you have pledged allegiance to, you’d be ticked about many of his actions which are in complete disregard for it, including those I recounted above.

              Much of the truth has come out and your still blind, and in denial.

              1. Multiply your comment by your name and it adds up to a minus sum gain.

                1. Getting denser by the post; sometimes Russian proverbs don’t translate well, comrade. Ask your master for advanced training in idioms.

      2. mmm question…… have you had much experience putting aside gullibility?

    2. The Podesta e-mails are actually irrelevant to this case. This case involves the revelations of USG war crimes back in 2010, as does Manning’s case. There exposed in the deliberate killing of civilians and journalists (See the video named Collateral Murder) and torture occurring in Gitmo and other black sites (among other things). Consortium News goes over some of the things we learned from wikileaks publications.

      1. The term ‘war crime’ does not mean what you fancy it means.

        1. L4D says–Manning’s leak of the Crazy Horse 8 gun-sight video to Assange–who then doctored it to remove the exculpatory images and make it appear more incriminating–was deemed to be so highly prejudicial to the ongoing investigation of the Baghdad airstrikes of 2010 that the Army was unable to bring any charges against the pilots or their controller. IOW, Manning and Assange’s actions of interfering with the investigation prevented any chance of justice being done for what may or may not have been a war crime.

          We can investigate alleged war crimes within the justice system or we can plaster doctored evidence all over the internet and take a poll of all of the cracked pots, trolls, and Russian, Chinese, North Korean or Iranian bots deployed to render a social-media verdict on the question. Kind of like the way we run election campaigns for President of the United States, nowadays. Which method do you prefer?

      2. JIll, want to give us a link to this new red herring, since the Podesta e-mail one has gone bad?

  17. The new indictment is no threat against the free press. Why do people want to see some functional equivalency between Wikileaks and the press? Wikileaks is an outlaw organization that openly threatens the security of sovereign nations. It defines itself by that role. It has about as much protection from the first amendment as the Barbary pirates had. Well, Jefferson took care of that bunch and the first amendment survived. The “free press” should be ashamed of not distancing itself from scumbag Assange long ago.

    1. Had that rant been applied to the NYT or CNN it would have gained you nuttin but net. Instead the score is ‘nothing.’

  18. I have 2 quibbles with Mr. Turley. The first is his lack of distinction in today’s media between journalists as the traditional definition would define and the extensive propagandist that inhabit much of the media today. I would say that propagandist working with an agenda should not receive neither support nor defense for what they are doing.

    Secondly, bradley manning is a male in all genetic senses and to refer to him as a she only weakens whatever discussion that follows since it implies an ability on your part to reject science for a politically correct expediency to pacify your larger audience of left leaning readers.

    1. L4d asks–But do you really want The Justice Dep’t to decide who is or is not a propagandist?

      Also, did you know that, in the original age of yellow journalism, it was all propaganda? All of it–without exception. We’ve been down this road before. And this, too, shall pass.

      1. Good point; it’s far better to have a screwed up man/ woman Pfc making those decisions, not the Justice Department.

        1. L4D says–Good morning, Ptom. If only you could follow the whole thread, then you would have seen that I found fault with Manning for interfering in the investigation of the Baghdad Airstrikes of 2010 and having prejudiced whatever case the Army might otherwise have made against Crazy Horse 8 & 9 and their controller.

          BTW, Chelsea Manning lacks the power to bring indictments against anyone whosever. Count your blessings before you convert them into false accusations against your adversaries.

          1. It is correct that Manning did not have to power to bring indictments.
            I didn’t see anyone trying to make that point.
            He/she didd, however, have the ability to leak thousand of pages of highly classified documents.
            But your observation that Manning could not indict anyone is a truly brilliant piece of legal analysis..

            1. L4D says–Geez, Gnash. Follow the thread, already. Start just upstream from here with the comment from Alma Carman to which I replied. See if you can figure out the complete and total non-sequitur of your reply to my reply to Ms. Carman’s comment from actually reading what Ms. Carman wrote. Once you’ve come up to speed . . . imagine the completion of the foregoing ellipsis that Smith would certainly delete to protect his darling [expletive deleted].

              1. Anonymous/ L4D can forget or deny what A/L4D wrote twice”. That Manning could not indict anyone.
                Short term memory loss is a sign of Alzheimer’s, so it may be that A/L4D had something on the ball before A/ L4D list all of his/ her marbles
                There’s not much point in going over the claim made that Manning could not indict anyone, when Anonymous/ L4 DD denies making it in the first place.

                1. L4D says–Above, in which The Irritable Male Syndrome Patient refuses to monitor his blood glucose level–again.

                  1. When you don’t even remember what you yourself wrote, L4D, you don’t have any business speculating about someone’s glucose levels.

  19. The individuals who are pushing for the prosecution of Assange don’t care about the law, our democracy, free speach or a free press. Trump has already made it clear that a “press” that doesn’t agree with him will be harried, excluded and threatened. I beleive this is the first in a long line of prosecutions. Unfortunately for Mr. Assange, his worked uncovered the truths about both Republicans and Democrats. His work informed the citizens of the US just what was going on in Iraq in our name and a boat load of other disturbing information about our leaders. The Republicans have hated him for a very long time and Hillary and the corporatist don’t like him either. As a result, when there should be a great wave of disgust against these charges, there isn’t.

    I fear for Mr. Assange and many others if this trial serves the purposes of Barr and Trump.

    1. Holmes, absent new information (new to me that is) and maybe questions about the charges, I favor the prosecution of Assange and I do care about the law, democracy, free speech, world peace, etc. Beyond aiding and abetting Russian interference in our election, he has actively and indiscriminately published information which revealed and endangered innocent private people as well as government agents – yes, this is a necessary function of national security. Was some of the information he published something we should know as free citizens of a democracy? Yes, but the key word is indiscriminate, if not malicious.

      1. Nice for your ‘democracy’ but what’s that go to do witht our Constitutional Republic. Absolutely nothing since there is no democracy in the United States of America, never has been and when offered the opportunity in writing and voting 100% of all 13 nation states for a Constitutional Republic rejected democracy. nine times.

        Just the difference in our names gives the most compelling reason.

        1. L4D says–Michael, on February 4th, 2008, Wikileaks published the Rules of Engagement of our troops in Iraq. While there’s still know way of knowing for sure exactly how much nor how effectively the enemy in Iraq used that information against our troops, it is probable that that leak endangered the lives of our troops as well as the lives of Iraqi civilians. It is also, IMO, the worst thing that Assange has done to date. Even worse than the Vault 7 and Vault 8 leaks. Since, so far, Assange has not leaked the actual CIA custom hacking tools. He’s simply holding them as a bargaining chip for leverage against the United States.

Comments are closed.