Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Choices We Have On Assange And Wikileaks

By now, most of you know that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London over charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault in Sweden, that he’s been denied bail and is fighting extradition.

The charges themselves have some questionable (and unintentionally comic) aspects, especially when one looks at what seems to have actually happened and the background of the women involved.

At that, a nice Swedish jail for a few months might end up being the safest place for Assange at the moment.

But what I found most curious is some of the inane suggestions here in America on how to handle Assange.

For instance, Senator Dianne Feinstein(D-CA), normally pretty level headed for a Democrat proposes that we prosecute Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act.

She’s by no means alone in suggesting that.

But not only does she somehow conveniently forget that Assange is an Australian citizen and thus not subject to this law but that the law itself is a tool grown rusty from disuse, even if Assange were subject to it.

We haven’t prosecuted anyone seriously under the Act since WWI, although there are a number of people who certainly could and should have been tried and even convicted under the statute. Even if he were somehow to be tried under the Espionage Act, Assange’s lawyers could make the case that using the law in his situation constituted special and unreasonable prosecution, especially since the Act specifies that it applies “when the United States is at war” and we’re officially not at war with anyone right now.

That last factoid aside, one thing Senator Feinstein lacks the intellectual honesty to mention is that while Assange may not be subject to it there are US citizens who could be prosecuted under the law. Feinstein asserts the Act makes it a felony for an unauthorized person to possess or transmit “information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”

If that’s true, then is there any reason the editor, publisher and responsible parties working at the New York Times haven’t been arrested and charged? After all, CNN was offered the same material that the merry souls over at Pravda-on-the-Hudson published and declined it.

Of course, that’s not exactly a place people on the Left like Feinstein want to go, although Senator Joe Leiberman was courageous enough to suggest it. And that kind of treatment for the seditious souls at the Times is long overdue,in my opinion. It’s far from the first time they’ve endangered the lives of far better men and women simply to push their political agenda.

Now, when it comes to Assange and his friends, it seems we really have two choices. One is simply to terminate them with extreme prejudice, as the saying goes. The other is to pull an Eichmann…kidnap them, bring them to US jurisdiction and try them under our laws.

When the Mossad kidnapped Adolf Eichmann from Argentina and brought him to Israel for trial, both Argentina and Germany made token protests but moved on to other matters when the Israelis simply ignored them and pursued long overdue justice.

Julian Assange is not Adolf Eichmann, and it would remain to be seen how this would affect our relations with Australia and other naations, which might weigh in consideration on how we handle him and his friends at Wikileaks.

But I think those two choices are the choices we have.

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Independent Patriot said...

They could prosecute Assange under the same law that they are prosecuting Gary McKinnon. The autistic man who hacked into the Pentagon's computer looking for evidence of UFOs and is awaiting extradition to the US from Britain to be tried on espionage charges. While Assnge didn't hack into the computers himself he knew that he was breaching US security and the law could apply. If the US government can harass and imprison an autistic man they should find a way to go after Assange.

Actually the last people to be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act were the AIPAC employees who received info from the Pentagon passed to them by the Pentagon employee Franklin. I believe he did commit suicide.However, charges were dropped against the AIPAC employees for numerous reasons, one speculative one happens to be the challenge to the Constitutionality of the law itself.The DOJ did not want to defend this law in the Supreme Court.The irony is that this law was passed to actually imprison the suffragettes who were protesting against Wilson, during WW1, because of his opposition to the 19th amendment.

There is a direct issue of Freedom of Speech inherent in this law. It is bad law, it should go and should be replaced with a more modern law that acknowledges modern technological advances.

B.Poster said...

If those are the two choices, then we really have none. This is truly a depressing state of affairs.

Terminating him is not an option. This would require our operatives to get close enough to him to actually do the deed. Unlike America, Israel has competent human intellegence operatives who can carry this out. The US does not. As such, what worked for Israel won't work for us.

Kidnapping him won't work for much the same reason that terminating him won't work. Its unlikely the people guarding him will simply step aside and allow that to happen and without undercover/intellegence operatives who have the necessary skills to circumvent the security where he is being held its simply not an option for America.

I am curious though as to just what the Swedish and British authorities are up to. Mr. Assange will have the top legal talent in the world available to him. Based upon information presented to date any mediocre attorney would be able to easily beat these charges. This applies even if there were no wikileaks saga.

With the ongoing wikileaks saga the timing is suspect. His legal team will argue that his arrest is due to political pressure from the US. This will make the charges even easier for them to beat!!

As to how our kidnapping him or terminating him would affect our relations with Australia and Sweden, the short answer is it would be devestaing!! They would likely brak off diplomatic, intellegence, and military cooperation with the US in any area of concern to us.

You're point about not technically being at war with anyone is valid. This is a result of not getting a formal declaration of war from Congress against either Afghanistan or Iraq.

In court, the fact that the Islamic Terrorist enemy poses a greater threat to us than Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan ever did or likely ever could have won't matter. What will matter is the constitution was not followed to the letter. What I do find interesting is the "left" and many on the "right" want a stricly literal interpretation of the constitution when it suits there interest and they want it to be a "living document" not subject to literal interpretations when it serves their interest.

Finally, our biggest problem with regards to international relations is we are almost universally despised and the US government is the most hated and least trusted government on the planet right now. Whatever we do, in this matter, we will have to do it with this fact in mind and with an eye towards how we can restore our standing in the world.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello IP,

The McKinnon case has some major differences with Assange's situation.

First the UK enacted the Extradition Act which implemented the 2003 extradition treaty with the US wherein the US does not need to provide contestable evidence. I'm not aware of a similar treaty with Australia, although we have a basic extradition treaty that covers Australian nationals who commit crimes while in the US, and vice versa for Americans who commit crimes in OZ.

And I might point out McKinnon has NOT been extradited yet and there is considerable opposition to it in the UK.

As for the AIPAC case,it was extremely weak, involved a clear case of entrapment and would likely have resulted in acquittal..which is why the government chose not to prosecute it, IMO.

Hi Poster,
How are you?

Do you really think our CIA and NSA lack people capable of getting close to Assange and his friends? I beg to differ. The capabilities they have are more amazing than you can imagine. However, when they're handcuffed and led by a political hack instead of an intel professional, their capabilities do indeed suffer.

As for relations with Australia, they might or might not be affected, as I mentioned. Sweden would only be marginally affected since Assange is not a Swedish citizen, so their only beef would be our extraditing him to face the charges in Sweden, which would not be a problem.countries with extradition treaties and multiple charges in different jurisdictions do it all the time.


Anonymous said...

I have written a review about the film "The Specialist" about the Eichmann trial:

Freedom Fighter said...

And an excellent review I might add, Herr Moser.

I'm sure you read this, but for interested parties, I would also recommend "Judgment in Jerusalem", a thorough and well written examination of Eichmann, his crimes and the trial itself by Gideon Hausner, the Israeli who acted as prosecutor at Eichmann's trial.

Hans Frank, the Nazi governor of Poland who was hanged at Nuremberg said that in 1,000 years the crimes of Germany would not be erased.

Wie schnell wir vergessen.... oder zumindest viel zu viele von uns.

Rob Miller