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ARREST OF ASSANGE AN EGREGIOUS ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM, BASIC LIBERTIES

BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION APRIL 12-14, 2019) — A shocking assault on freedom or a stalwart action for justice?

THE PLANET says the first.

Ecuador’s decision to hand over Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to British authorities violates precious First Amendment freedoms. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo justified the move, calling Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” that interfered with the internal affairs of various governments. Of course, by Pompeo’s totalitarian definition, we could brand every investigative media outlet the same way.

That includes THE PLANET, since lifting the veil of secrecy behind government at any level, including municipal, is always seen by government as somehow “traitorous.” How dare journalists in an open society exercise the audacity of making known what often-corrupt officials wish to keep secret? We expect such an official response from closed regimes such as the PDRNK, banana republics, and African-style military dictatorships. We had better not expect that, or even support that, in and from the United States of Amnesia.

Pompeo’s characterization of Wikileaks as a “hostile intelligence service” stands as pure nonsense. Wikileaks is a journal, a media outlet, a member of the press. Assange is, before all else in his professional life, a writer, journalist, editor, and publisher. For the United States to support the British government’s invitational invasion of the Ecuadorian embassy in London stains everything for which this republic allegedly stands.

This move has been in the making for seven years. Lenin Moreno, Ecuador’s president, had to be nervous when Wikileaks began uncovering evidence suggesting an offshore corruption scandal involving him and key associates. Moreno, concurrently, began courting favor with Washington. Sensible, since we are Ecuador’s biggest trade partner. Amid this intrigue of a perfect storm, you could sense authorities straining for any excuse to purge Assange. It apparently came in January 2019 after Wikileaks published Vatican-related documents. The Pope showers with Irish Spring on a Rope, or some such.

Will Assange be extradited to the United States? Moreno said and the British government confirmed they had reached a deal where Assange could not be extradited to any country that supports torture or the death penalty. The two countries said their written agreement specifically includes the United States. How well that pact holds up in face of what is to be certain and enormous U.S. diplomatic pressure remains to be seen. THE PLANET hopes the two countries live up to their word.

———- ooo ———-

Wikileaks landed on the Big Time map when in 2010 it published 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables that embarrassed the government and roiled relations with key allies. It also released hundreds of thousands of military documents from the war with Iraq. The documents revealed the truth behind administration lies used by the Bush II and Obama regimes to prop up this country’s involvement in the fetid swamps of Iraq and Afghanistan from which we have still not extricated. Countless trillions of dollars and nearly 17 years later, our soldiers die and companies and officials go on making fortunes.

Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency and current fugitive from justice for his own role in standing for transparency in the face of official dissolution, called the arrest of Assange “a dark moment for press freedom.” Through a spokesperson for its foreign ministry, Russia chided the U.S. for its support of the move: “The hand of ‘democracy’ is strangling freedom.” Putin must live for days like this.

Assange’s legal team said “Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.” We are. Who’s next? Where does it end?

Speaking of secrecy, one of the most interesting and revealing aspects of this story involves the admission of the U.S. government that it did, in fact, have a secret extradition warrant prepared for Assange all along. Assange claimed this to be true in the face of vehement U.S. denials. So who was telling the truth? Who was lying?

Forgive THE PLANET‘s naiveté for believing that “God bless America” should be better than this. For believing that we should be the exemplar for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” For holding fast to the ideals that bid the Founding Fathers to throw off the yoke of colonialism, turn their back on a monarchy and dare invent a new form of government that would allow the freedom than can come only then the governed give their consent.

God help Julian Assange. We stand with him.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

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“Social media is the sewer of the internet”Lady Gaga

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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121 Responses to “ARREST OF ASSANGE AN EGREGIOUS ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM, BASIC LIBERTIES”

  1. Reignbow
    April 14, 2019 at 8:27 am #

    Remember the boating incident where the cop said she thought the victim was the most fearful victim she’d ever seen? That incident though witnessed and judged by the officer,was thrown out along with all the other evidence,because they had none. So were you going to convict someone with corroborating evidence or just on what she had seen and basically guessed at?

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