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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/12/19

The Julian Assange Case: Revealing War Crimes Is Not a Crime

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A screengrab from 'Collateral Murder' video of a 2007 attack in Baghdad, released by WikiLeaks.
A screengrab from 'Collateral Murder' video of a 2007 attack in Baghdad, released by WikiLeaks.
(Image by (photo: WikiLeaks))
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The US government's case against Julian Assange is now before the American public. It was revamped in 2017 to avoid a skirmish with the corporate media over the breadth of the "reporter's privilege" to receive classified materials from a source. Assange is facing a charge of conspiracy with former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to "break a password" to gain access to classified information.

What we are facing is an all-out assault against one of the most significant acts of civil resistance in the history of the United States. Specifically, the civil resistance of Chelsea Manning, her whistleblowing that helped end the US combat role in Iraq in 2011, and the courage of Julian Assange in ensuring that Manning's resistance was effective.

The daily leaks to the media from the "reliable sources" inside the Trump administration are portrayed as a rational tool used to prevent the president and other high officials from abusing their power. These Washington journalists are rewarded with the sign of the dollar.

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The all-too-infrequent leaks to the media about US government war crimes are portrayed as criminal conduct. Assange and his journalist colleagues are rewarded with attacks on their integrity and threats to their freedom.

This hypocrisy must end. American citizens and civil society must lead the effort to provide a whistleblower defense in military cases and, for that matter, in every case that involves the release of classified material or that abused term "national security."

To end this hypocrisy, it will ultimately take a statute that will somehow make it through Congress. Only then will Edward Snowden be willing to come home and have a fair trial.

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A practical first step is a call to the European Court of Human Rights to bar the extradition of Assange. Without a whistleblower defense protected by law, the courts of the United States are unable to provide Assange with a fair trial.

Until this hypocrisy ends, we are all complicit.

Nine years ago, Julian Assange collaborated with Chelsea Manning with a sweeping set of revelations depicting US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and the factual background underlying these events.

After many years, a horrified American public saw in April 2010 a graphic video of hardened soldiers gloating about "dead bastards" while innocent Iraqi civilians died in an Apache helicopter assault.

A 22-minute documentary based on this footage was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award. Ethan McCord, an Army specialist, picked up a wounded child and ran to a US military vehicle. His superiors refused to take the child to a US military hospital, and McCord was reprimanded for his response. When McCord sought psychological assistance, he was told by his staff sergeant to "get the sand out of your vagina."

McCord and fellow Army specialist Josh Stieber wrote a public apology to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, emphasizing that the Wikileaks footage depicted not an aberration, but "everyday occurrences" in Iraq. McCord's address to a 2010 antiwar conference can be seen here in a YouTube clip.

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Ethan McCord and Josh Stieber offer an example of the nation that we could be.

What Wikileaks entitled the "Collateral Murder" video helped bring the US phase of the Iraq war to an end in 2011.

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Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney and an antiwar activist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments  Post Comment


Eddy Schmid

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I'd like someone, anyone, to explain to me, where we've ever seen any Fairness or complying with legalities in anything to do with Assange. Because from where I sit, there has been NONE, and expecting all of a sudden the protagonists to change their skins and suddenly adhere to Laws and Fairness, is IMHO, not going to happen, ever.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 14, 2019 at 7:50:14 AM

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Kitty Antonik

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Verbalizing in person or in writing one's disgust with the orders of Government Leaders to arrest, extradite and (soon) put on trial Julian Assange is not enough.

As long as the majority of USers support "the troops" and domestic policing agents, the harm-doing activities by US Government via their Enforcers will continue, and likely worsen. The numbers of USers willing to be Enforcers for the US Government will not diminish - and US Leaders' ability to have harm committed wherever in the world - until at least very much of the US population rejects voluntary association with GovEnforcers, making those jobs very unpopular.

When the numbers of GovEnforcers is few, Gov Leaders are impotent and their words ignorable. This need not result in chaos, as those who promote centralized control with Enforcers characterize with fear-provoking tales. A mutually voluntary interaction only society is quite possible in the Internet age of instant communication worldwide, enabling sharing of information for voluntary association - or not - between individuals. See See Tom Knapp's writings here at Op-Ed on Negative Social Preferencing. His first was in Aug 2017: Click here
Then there's the ICE version: Click here
Each individual can do hir own part in continuing or stopping the harm-doing by Governments, all of them but especially the US version.

To continue including among one's "friends" those who initiate harm, whether or not it is authorized by Gov/State, is to condone that harm-doing and enable its continuation.

Don't be a Gov/State Harm-Doing Enabler!

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 14, 2019 at 11:05:36 PM

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