1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

The possible extradition of Julian Assange and journalism

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by pcarl, May 23, 2019.

  1. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Messages:
    3,702
    Ratings:
    +1,501
    Religion:
    Catholic
    On the face of it this indictment covers a lot of practices that are standard to investigative journalism: appealing for information, encouraging a source to provide documents that are not publicly available, reporting classified information you believe is in the public interest and the public has a right to know.
    The Obama administration decided not to cross this Rubicon by bringing espionage charges against Assange. Either they would lose, or by winning they risked setting a dangerous precedent that could be used to crack down on one of democracy’s necessary moving parts.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/the-stakes-in-the-case-of-julian-assange-just-got-much-much-higher-20190524-p51qp7.html
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
  2. Amanaki

    Amanaki Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2018
    Messages:
    5,232
    Ratings:
    +2,963
    Religion:
    Cultivator of Buddha Dhamma
    Assange is not criminal. What he did was to expose a corrupt system within the military and politics
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
  3. Ellen Brown

    Ellen Brown Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2018
    Messages:
    4,217
    Ratings:
    +2,039
    One of the things he did was bring to light the lack of oversight on the operation of airborne weapons on ground based targets. The film of one of them gunning down a network film crew is still out there, look for it.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    8,669
    Ratings:
    +4,218
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    This is an interesting point about setting a dangerous precedent. And Trump already seems to have a grudge against various media outlets and journalists. I wonder if this precedent could be used to go after others in the press corps.
     
  5. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Messages:
    3,702
    Ratings:
    +1,501
    Religion:
    Catholic
    That's the problem. We take our American free press for granted but depending on how this administration defines espionage and what material it wants off limits, what to them defines national security etc. What's next, the states follow with their own clamp down on what info is allowed to be public. In Massachusetts the press uncovered hundreds of thousands of false overtime claims in the State Police leading to resignations, firings etc.
     
  6. Notanumber

    Notanumber A Free Man

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2016
    Messages:
    6,180
    Ratings:
    +1,349
    Religion:
    Literal liberalism
  7. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Messages:
    3,503
    Ratings:
    +1,876
    Religion:
    None
    I think there is a key difference between WikiLeaks and investigative journalists, that being between reporting about specific evidence of defined wrongdoing you have received and trawling for as much raw data as you can gather and dumping it all on the internet, regardless of whether any or all of it is relevant or not and, significantly, regardless of the potential harm making that data public might cause. I also see a conflict between the purported principles of WikiLeaks to publish anything regardless of who it involves and where it comes from (which I disagree with but can respect the principles) and the clear political motivations behind Assange’s specific and focused attacks on the US government.

    If Assange had only published news articles about the specific crimes and misdemeanours identified in the data he received, I don’t believe he’d be in the mess that he is now. Of course, he would have also probably been all but forgotten by now too. That doesn’t mean I think he should be facing any charges in the US (if only due to technicalities of jurisdiction) but I don’t think he should be presented as a heroic journalist fighting for the people either. He’s just a guy, with some admirable characteristics and some negative ones who has done some good things and some bad things. I think he’s been manipulated and used by some people but he’s also been a victim of his own desire for attention.
     
  8. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Messages:
    3,702
    Ratings:
    +1,501
    Religion:
    Catholic
    I have no respect for Assange or his motives. He presented himself as a coward when they dragged him from the embassy. It is the present atmosphere within the powers that be towards the press that concerns me. I don't think we realize the reality that we could loose much of what we as Americans take for granted.
     
  9. averageJOE

    averageJOE zombie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,392
    Ratings:
    +577
    This is a direct attack on the first amendment. You know we live in a police state when exposing a crime is treated as a crime.
     
  10. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    151,322
    Ratings:
    +42,894
    Religion:
    Bokononism
    It isn't just Trump. It all began under Obama, who also waged war on whistle
    blowers, not just Assange. Our problem is our government, regardless of
    which President or party is in power. Among the problems is government's
    intent to decide who is & who isn't a journalist. And those deemed otherwise
    lose protections afforded those who are, ie, part of their controlled system.
     
  11. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Messages:
    14,291
    Ratings:
    +3,214
    Religion:
    Theological noncognitivist
    It is a lose/lose for government. If they go after Assange they end up validating sources which will be used against him in court. Government ends up looking like the corrupt institution many already believe it is. If they decline to press charges it makes government look weak, it's security is sub-par while emboldening more leakers.
     
  12. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Messages:
    14,291
    Ratings:
    +3,214
    Religion:
    Theological noncognitivist
    This precedent existed as far back as WW2 and is/was completely acceptable in certain circumstances. The only question is if the same rationale which was applied in WW2 is applicable to electronic and internet warfare of the modern era.
     
  13. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    8,669
    Ratings:
    +4,218
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    I don't know if he's really getting that much attention, but I can see your point. The authorities might have been better off ignoring him, just as they do with other conspiracy theorists.

    There are all kinds of accusations made against the US government, from the JFK assassination to all the antics of the intel community (CIA, NSA, FBI) to Area 51 to Moon Landing hoaxes to the 9/11 Truthers - all of which seems to pass by without so much as a belch from the government. As if they're not worried about the ramifications of what they're being accused of.

    But in the case of Wikileaks, they seem really upset about it, as if it somehow struck a nerve.
     
  14. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Messages:
    3,503
    Ratings:
    +1,876
    Religion:
    None
    Assange and WikiLeaks aren’t part of “the press” by any conventional definition though. Remember that a number of actual news organisations published various articles based on some of the data WikiLeaks released but they’re not facing any comeback from the US authorities. Again, if Assange had limited himself to reporting on the specifically identified misdeeds, we wouldn’t be talking about him now.
     
  15. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    8,669
    Ratings:
    +4,218
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    Yes, although it may have begun even before Obama. The interesting thing about this is that, while much hay is made about Trump's war with the press, it seems the governments of the UK and Sweden are aiding and abetting certain US political factions which routinely run up against the press.
     
  16. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    8,669
    Ratings:
    +4,218
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    Well, I suppose it goes back even further with the Espionage Act of 1917
     
  17. Shad

    Shad Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Messages:
    14,291
    Ratings:
    +3,214
    Religion:
    Theological noncognitivist
    True. I was not sure about WW1 as the USA entered in 17. Some of the ground work probably goes back to the Civil War. Lincoln went after Copperhead newspapers for example. News from the front and armies was censored and released upon government approval. I have no doubt an argument could be made about leaking information to adversaries even if not in open war like Russia, Iran and China is a major risk. Toss in the internet one could argue general public releases provides information to terrorist groups that do not have national intelligence organizations. Various systems have become so complex yet with an simple resource for communication (internet) creates a security vs freedom conflict. I side with the latter due to my existing views of government.

    Abraham Lincoln
     
  18. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Messages:
    3,503
    Ratings:
    +1,876
    Religion:
    None
    I think the authorities largely did. The US weren’t publicly pursuing him at all, Sweden dropped their case and the UK only ever had a simple outstanding warrant for jumping bail. The attention was in the UK media, with Assange and WikiLeaks throwing another random statement or allegation at the trash tabloids whenever things got quiet for them. I’m sure it all helped keep the donations rolling in.

    Again, I think the difference is between reporting specific claims (even embarrassing of false ones) and promoting the mass theft and publication of any and all government data they can get their hands on (and maybe not with as balanced and neutral a basis as they claim).
     
  19. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    8,669
    Ratings:
    +4,218
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    A key difference here is that, in the case of Assange, all of it happened on foreign soil. Lincoln didn't have the power to censor newspapers in Europe during the Civil War, and it's doubtful that they could have extradited anyone for saying negative things about the US government.

    Another key difference is that, despite all the heated rhetoric and saber-rattling, there is no war going on - at least not between the US, Russia, Iran, and/or China. Even in the event of war, it would be one thing to reveal secret battle plans or technology for new weapons. But to reveal information about government atrocities or wrongdoing would be yet a different matter.

    The question is: Should a free and unfettered press be favored as a further check and balance on government? Is that the true purpose of the Fourth Estate? Is that the only way to "keep government honest," as it were?

    Moreover, if the government turns out to be incompetent, corrupt, ineffective, and/or unduly secretive or oppressive, does that indicate a failure of government or a failure of the Fourth Estate to act in their proper role as watchdog for the government?

    The reason for that last question is that I find it interesting that people are seeking out "workarounds" such as Wikileaks and other sites which are outside of the conventional mainstream media. It would indicate that the mainstream media have somehow failed the people and have become part of the corrupt political machines which are part of the problem.
     
  20. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    8,669
    Ratings:
    +4,218
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    I thought Sweden reopened their case against Assange. Aren't they requesting extradition as well?

    I think WikiLeaks will still go on, with or without Assange. No doubt there will be plenty of those who would want to continue to do that kind of crusade against excessive governmental secrecy. I don't think that punishing Assange would thwart or discourage very many people from doing what he did.

    The fact that he gets donations and is thought of as a hero in various circles is actually a sad commentary on the culture of government (mainly in the US, although it seems to be similar in other Western countries). This has very little to do with Assange; he may very well be a bad person with a hidden agenda.

    But the fact that anyone can capitalize on the widespread cynicism and mistrust regarding the US and other Western governments is an indication that government and its media supporters have been doing a poor job at fostering trust and goodwill among the body politic.

    It's too late to cry foul if someone gets hold of their dirty laundry and airs it out in public, because it's still their dirty laundry. The whole focus on Assange is to distract people and turn their attention away from their dirty laundry and make the messenger into a scapegoat (or martyr, depending on one's point of view).

    If it was like that, then I guess they could be criticized for not organizing their data in any coherent way. But that's more a matter of form and presentation.

    But I would also say that it depends on what is actually being released and under what circumstances. I mentioned in an earlier post that the US is not currently at war with any nation - at least not any official, declared war with another sovereign country. If it's during a war and someone publishes secret battle plans of an impending attack, then I could see why they would try to stop that. We don't want the enemy to know our battle plans or any secret weapons or laboratories. In some cases, we don't even want our friends to find out about these things.

    But if it's involving government atrocities, malfeasance, corruption, black ops, or any attempts to cover things up and hide the truth from the public, then that's a different kettle of fish.
     
Loading...