The Founder of Leaking Practice, Julian Assange and His Fight with United States
In this age of technological advancement, according to Julian Assange, “Stopping leaks is a new form of censorship,” (Greenberg). Julian Assange is the man who founded Wikileaks, an international non-profit organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media provided by anonymous sources, in 2006. His vindictive adversary, the United States government, has tried to silence whistleblowers for decades now, however, the United States did not prosecute those who published their information; since 2010, the United States has been doing its best to hunt down Assange and his media organization, Wikileaks. The uncompromising nature of the United States could potentially cause new precedence to be set allowing the prosecution of the media for publishing true information. Julian Assange should not be prosecuted, nor should his media organization and its viewers. The conflict between the United States and Julian Assange started back in 2010, as has been noted, Wikileaks was brought recognition from the Collateral Murder video, the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs, and CableGate leak, the whistleblower of these leaks being United States Army Soldier Chelsea Manning.
Thereafter, the United States government proceeded to open an investigation into Julian Assange for Espionage. The following year an email was sent by Fred Burton at Stratfor, a global intelligence company, that stated that they “have a sealed indictment on Assange,” ([email protected]) this turned out to be a fabricated statement, however, upon examination of the email’s subject line, Assange-Manning Link Not Key to WikiLeaks Case, it became clear that the fabricated statement was likely made in hopes that an indictment would happen, rather than this being a simple fluke. In the year 2014, the United States National Security Agency was revealed, by Edward Snowden, to have placed Wikileaks, its supporters, and those who visit its website, wikileaks.org, onto the “MANHUNT” list, a list indicating people who are under surveillance; the list contained other individuals such as suspected Al-Qaeda members. The United States National Security Agency did not care whether or not the people they were surveilling were United States citizens, an unconstitutional and illegal act at that time; one should keep in mind that this isn’t the first time that the United States National Security Agency has done such a thing. Looking further ahead, in 2017 the United States Central Intelligence Agency Director, Mike Pompeo, publicly condemned Wikileaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” which, in essence, is a blatant attack and show of bias (Director Pompeo). This attack on Wikileaks came around the same time that the investigation into Assange’s publishing of leaked information was reopened by a special prosecutor, this does not seem like a coincidence as the words Pompeo spoke were that of slander and deceitful distortion of the truth. For example, Director Pompeo follows up the line above by speaking more of how the Russians had helped Assange.
Whilst his words were true he failed to give context and reason for the actions he spoke of. He clearly states that Russian military intelligence had used Wikileaks to leak information about the Democratic National Committee (Director Pompeo), what he fails to mention is that Wikileaks vets its information just as any noteworthy publisher would, so, as a publisher dedicated to informing the people with the truth about what really goes on in the government, Wikileaks published this information despite the source being Russian military intelligence. Another non-coincidental event took place around the same time as well, it was a statement by the United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In Attorney General Sessions statement he said “So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,” in reference to his previous statement that arresting Assange had become a priority for them (Smith). It is clear, solely from this statement, that our government contains those who do not use their powers in a just manner, however, it is also clear from the pattern of evidence provided above that the United States government does not seek justice, instead, it panders to its own interests rather than the people and it seeks to exercise its power against those that would oppose it and its use of power, most especially when the United States government knows it has done wrong as per situations including but not limited to Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and, if left to their own devices, Julian Assange. These situations all speak to the collective conflict between Assange and the United States government.Furthermore, there can be no compromise, any agreement in which the United States government attempts to prosecute Julian Assange to any extent cannot simultaneously avoid the underlying issue of prosecuting the press, however, it would seem that Assange had done nothing but exercise his right of freedom of the press, therefore, why should he compromise? He shouldn’t, one may view both parties as uncompromising but when compared side-by-side with the conflict one can determine that the United States government is acting only out of malice and spite towards Assange. This can be easily observed by comparing his, and his company’s, work to that of the New York Times. Wikileaks publishes factual information and on occasion assists his sources in obtaining the information that will be leaked, the New York Times has done the same. The United States government prosecuting Assange for being a publisher of factual, albeit classified, information is an act of aggression and exercise of authority.
The United States government should be compromising entirely in favor of Assange, due to its current digression from the law and constitution that has led to a faulty case against Assange. The best case that one may currently find that Assange should be prosecuted is that he and his company’s acts are illegal due to a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917, however, the Espionage Act does not allow for censorship of the press. Looking back at the creation of the Espionage Act, the original draft both houses debated on included a provision giving the government the ability to censor the press. This censorship provision was voted out of the act by a one-vote margin, thirty-nine to thirty-eight, in the United States Senate (Moynihan), thus proving that the right to censor the press is not reserved within the Espionage Act and consequently stopping the United States government from having any reason to prosecute Julian Assange, except revenge, and voiding the United States National Security Agency’s reasons for surveilling supporters of Wikileaks, viewers of Wikileaks’ website, and Julian Assange himself. Although, it is likely that the United States government will continue to attempt to find a reason that it should and can prosecute Assange. The extension of the United State’s uncompromising capabilities is not only seen within the scope of Assange, or even whistleblowing for that matter. Oftentimes it is seen that the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, has condemned a group or person for a specific action without compromising his view on the actual situation or without even viewing the facts; one example is National Football League players protesting police brutality and racial inequality, which Trump tried to make about disrespect.
Another person that shows a great deal of stubborn and uncompromising nature is United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he constantly perpetuates a stereotype against cannabinoids, or more specifically tetrahydrocannabinol which is more commonly referred to as marijuana, by saying things such as “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” at a Senate hearing, and saying that the Ku Klux Klan was “Okay until I found out they smoked pot,” essentially saying that THC is worse than white supremacy. In those examples, Sessions never backed up his ideas with current information but, rather, he chose not to compromise his ideals and used the antiquated ideas that have been debunked by science. Wherever you look in the United States government there is someone that is unwilling to compromise their ideas and ideals at the expense of others, but what are the ramifications of such behaviour.In the words of Julian Assange, “The media helps keep government honest.” Without the media akin to Wikileaks and the freedom of press, the government is left to run rampant as can be seen in situations such as the United States National Security Agency wiretapping its own citizens without any warrant in spite of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Coupled with this, if the United States government continues to be unwilling to compromise and prosecutes Assange, causing precedence to be set that essentially voids the first amendment, then it has only one fate, to fade into a state all too similar to that of North Korea. North Korea contains freedom of speech nominally due to the North Korean constitution, if Assange was prosecuted that would leave the rest of the press in the United States without the freedom of press, bar nominally in the United States Constitution, and, therefore, would be in a state where the government would be able to prosecute any person of the media for publishing information to their disliking due to the precedence set when Assange was prosecuted, or perhaps someone else. Alternatively, if the United States government did not allow itself to censor to the extent of North Korean censorship then it may end up in a similar manner to Russia.
This time around, the United States government may pursue the media through the Espionage Act of 1917 singularly and thus would be able to keep the people from discovering its non-law abiding acts and, in parallel with Russia, force the citizens into a form of self-censorship. Equally important, this would all be occurring amidst Donald Trump’s media witch-hunt, in which he has been making false accusations that reputable news sources that are reporting factual information are contradicting “fake news”, essentially giving his platform the ability better persecute and prosecute the media of which he is opposed, which is the kind of media that does not support his lies about his policies and whimsical capricious views on national issues. Another consequence that would be potentially caused by Assange’s prosecution is civil chaos, there is already great global unrest about the United States government’s current actions and this would be the tipping point for global condemnation of the United States government. Given these issues, it would seem that the consequence of loss of freedom and the chaos that would ensue far outweighs the United States government’s need to exact revenge on Julian Assange.In brief, the long history in the United States government of whistleblower suppression has been nothing but expected, prosecution of the media, however, would devastate our freedom leaving the United States in a state of chaos and oppression. Unyielding as the United States government moves forward it should be wary as to who it prosecutes lest it becomes an authoritarian regime and, for the same reasons, should avoid abusing its power to attack people due to personal vendettas.
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