Assange in the Grasp of U.S. Empire
Close Allies Hold Journalist While U.S. Comes Up With Charges and Plans Extradition
People Organizing and Acting to Support WikiLeaks
Julian Assange has entered the firm embrace of the U.S. Empire after publishing diplomatic cables that embarrassed the United States and many countries around the world. Great Britain and Sweden are close U.S. allies who have started a Kabuki False Justice Dance that will deliver him to the U.S. war on terror courts which will treat him like an enemy combatant who committed espionage, when in fact he is an independent journalist and what he did was done by newspapers around the world.
The diplomatic cables and Afghan and Iraq war diaries show Assange is dealing with countries that use threats and blackmail to get their way, look the other way or participate in torture, routinely violate laws and lie to their people. Assange knew that but did not run and hide. As soon as a valid arrest warrant existed his lawyers arranged his voluntary arrest. He demonstrated he wanted to face the charges rather than flee. Yet, in a seemingly pre-determined result, the magistrate held him without bond despite more then 100,000 GBP offered for bail saying the “turn yourself in Assange” was a threat to flee. How can they say such absurdities with a straight face?
But, it is likely this mock process will embarrass the justice systems of Great Britain, Sweden and the United States. The choreography will become more and more evident as Assange goes through the system. Sweden’s on-again-off-again prosecution dismissed by three different Swedish prosecutors, sometimes including rape, sometimes not, sometimes being dropped all together is already raising questions and was so flawed they had a hard time getting a legitimate arrest warrant.. It does not help that one of the woman had CIA connections and bragged about her relationship with Assange in tweets she tried to erase and held a party with him the day after, among other incidents that are inconsistent with rape. She even published a 7 step program for legal revenge against lovers. What we know of the story so far seems to be two one night stands of consensual sex gone badly but perhaps more will be unveiled in court.
Now, that Attorney General Holder has brought the little-used Espionage Act into play, the world will see the U.S. justice system on display. When I graduated law school in 1980, the United States had a justice system of which Americans could be proud. Now after decades of erosion, it is sadly, embarrassing. Assange is likely to be held in solitary, have very limited access to evidence against him and his conversations with lawyers will be recorded – American justice is not what it used to be.
The Espionage Act should be infamous. Passed in 1917 to stifle dissent against World War I, it was used against Eugene Debs, a union organizer and four-time presidential candidate, for making a speech against the war and criticizing the Espionage Act. He was sentenced to ten years and ran for president from prison. One group critical of the U.S. war effort was charged under the Espionage Act for writing against the war. One member of the group was beaten so badly by U.S. police that he died; another was sentenced to 15 years, and three others 20. Another writer, Rose Pastor Stokes, worked in opposition to World War I and was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison for saying, in a letter to the Kansas City Star, that "no government which is for the profiteers can also be for the people, and I am for the people while the government is for the profiteers."
The Espionage Act has not recently been used against journalists since its failed use in stopping the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Its use against Assange would create a conflict between freedom of the press and espionage. Perhaps because of this frailty the Department of Justice is looking at various conspiracy charges. Conspiracy is known as the “prosecutor’s darling” because it is so broad and less difficult to prove than the underlying offense. The desperation of the U.S. government to muzzle Assange shows how insecure the U.S. Empire is – they do not want their citizens or other countries to know the truth.
It is no surprise that Great Britain and Sweden are the client states of the U.S. assisting in the incarceration of Assange. Great Britain is the closest participant in U.S. wars. The WikiLeaks cables show that the new Conservative government was promising to buy even more weapons from the United States than the Labor government. While Tony Blair was seen by many as Bush’s lap dog, the Conservative Party promised to run a “pro-American regime” and the cables describe current government members as fawning over the USA. Sweden has a long-term, annual trade surplus with the United States of billions of dollars. The U.S. is currently the third largest Swedish export trade partner and U.S. companies are the most represented foreign companies in Sweden.
The Los Angles Times reported that the U.S. was considering extradition of Assange to the United States, even though he has not been charged with anything here yet. Even before extradition to Sweden, the U.S. is in talks with Sweden about extradition to the United States. Former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey indicated that the Swedish charge may just be a holding charge, a minor offense, to get Assange in custody. Assange could be extradited from either Great Britain or Sweden to the U.S.
Concerned citizens of all these countries will have to wait for a future Wikileak-esque disclosure for proof that these countries are colluding to hold Assange. But the actions are consistent with a DoD plan on how to deal with WikiLeaks. As attorney and writer Scott Horton wrote in “WikiLeaks: The National-Security State Strikes Back,” a highly classified Army Counterintelligence Center 32-page memorandum said that the threat presented by WikiLeaks can only be eliminated by striking WikiLeaks not only in cyber attacks, but against the individuals, particularly Julian Assange, who were critical to the operation of WikiLeaks.
A prosecution of Assange, if the U.S. terror war courts allow the case to come to trial, could be the John Peter Zenger case of the digital age. It will define government transparency and free speech for the initial decades of the 21st Century and therefore is of great import to all Americans and, in particular, to the media.
WikiLeaks sharpens the battle between corporate-government and the people. The United States enlisted Visa, MasterCard, Pay Pal (eBay which owns it) and Amazon to help prevent WikiLeaks from having the funds needed to fight back. Big corporations are joining with the United States to prevent the exposure of the misdeeds of U.S. foreign policy. Julian Assange said that among its next disclosures will be abuses by the big banks.
Citizens are getting organized. Hacktivists working under the name Anonymous and others are attacking financial institutions that refuse to take WikiLeak donations as well as the prosecutor’s office in Sweden and Sarah Palin through cyber attacks. The attack on WikiLeaks is going to create more on-line cyper resistance and cyper disobedience that will present new challenges for government.
Prominent academics, lawyers, writers, whistleblower activists and others are joining together under WikiLeaks is Democracy to urge that charges not be filed against Assange for releasing documents and to stop his extradition to the United States. “This is the first step in an ongoing campaign to support Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and to re-assert the concept that the U.S. government is accountable to its citizens,” said Linda Schade the initiator of the project. “We will not accept the manipulation of our legal system to criminalize a journalist; a free and independent press is non-negotiable.”
All citizens concerned about free speech and transparency of government should join the effort to defend and support WikiLeaks which is engaged in a dramatic confrontation with the American Empire. Sign up at www.WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org.
Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters for Peace (www.VotersForPeace.US).