(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY JUNE 3, 2019) — The rest of the world might have moved on from him, but for THE PLANET, the Passion of Julian Assange gets more troubling.

Assange was arrested by British authorities and sentenced to a year for jumping bail, a set-up serving as the pretext for the Trump Administration to prosecute the Wikileaks publisher under 1917’s Espionage Act. Justice Department officials want to extradite Assange from his cell in London to stand trial in the U.S. for “publishing a narrow set of classified documents in which Assange also allegedly published the un-redacted names of innocent people who risked their safety and freedom to provide information to the United States and its allies.”

Bully for the Justice Department.

It’s telling that Justice charged Assange under the Espionage Act when it had at its disposal a mountain of draconian national security laws enacted after 9-11, including the Patriot Act. The barristers at Justice, however, evidently concluded they couldn’t make Patriot charges stick and so turned to the more amorphous EA, which has a “one size fits all” provision falling under “national security.” The Espionage Act criminalizes possession, retention, and/or publishing secrets determined to be essential for national security.

Fair enough, but who decides what “secrets” must be retained because of alleged “national security?” Presidential administrations have made profitable game of “national security” to hide a host of sins. The Justice Department’s pursuit of Assange does a similar thing, using “national security” as an excuse for a chilling attack on press freedom and the First Amendment. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has labeled Wikileaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service.” THE PLANET calls it a publisher.

Federal prosecutors say Assange tried to help Chelsea Manning steal classified documents. They claim Assange broke the law by ‘solici[ting]’ and ‘encourage[ing] sources’ to hand over classified material. Yes, and the point is? That’s what good journalists do. They cultivate and work with sources. America’s Constitutional freedoms protect them in their pursuit of information. Without those protections, you have a police state.

As the Wall Street Journal put it in an editorial (May 25, 2019), “The trouble is distinguishing [Assange’s activities] from what journalists do every day. Honorable reoprters … do urge sources to shed light on government misdeeds, which may include asking for classified material and publishing it. So how does the Justice Department draw a line between Mr. Assange and the Associated Press?” The day journalists stop encouraging sources and whistle blowers from spilling what they know will be the death of a free press and with it, the death of the United States of America.

Some argue that day is already upon us. The Trump Administration would love that to be the case. And it’s not just Trump. The Obama Administration, the WSJ says, sought and “obtained call logs for AP phone lines, including home phones of its editors.” Obama also tried to subpoena the New York Times, the Washington Post, and ABC News in an effort to stop press leaks.

“Julian Assange is no journalist,” said first assistant AG John Demers. “This is made plain by the totality of his conduct. … No responsible actor — journalist or otherwise — would purposely publish the names of individuals he or she knew to be confidential human sources in war zones, exposing them to the gravest of dangers.”

Yet it’s the very “totality of Wikileaks‘ conduct” that makes Assange a journalist.

“The danger, in the Assange case, is that it becomes precedent for governments on the right or left to prosecute journalists they don’t like for reporting secrets,” the WSJ concludes. “The Espionage Act is too broad, and where is the limiting principle? … [C]ourts — and the public — need to make sure prosecutors aren’t abusing the law for political purposes.”


“The world is charged with the grandeur of God”Gerard Manley Hopkins, from his poem “God’s Grandeur.”



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  1. Jonathan Melle
    June 2, 2019 at 8:37 pm #

    If he receives a fair trial by jury, then Julian Assange can play the journalist card versus Trump’s national security card. I would like to know who Julian Assange is really working for? What are his motives? Is he really a spy?

    The “4th Estate” or “Press” or “news media”: it is all ran by corporate interests. It is all about propaganda to manipulate the masses!

    The U.S.A. has a huge military industrial complex. The U.S.’s number one non-farm export is military weapons and related technologies. The U.S.A. is the World’s Military Superpower.

    War is good for business, and the U.S.A. has the largest market share!

    – Jonathan Melle

  2. Johnny99
    June 3, 2019 at 12:21 am #

    The feds have their “it’s classified” line. In Pittsfield, “it’s a personnel matter”.

    • doomiedodger
      June 3, 2019 at 6:02 am #

      Exactly. I remember when the mayor and most of the city council, with huge backing of the Berkshire Eagle were trying to shove the CIVIC AJUTHORITY on the people. In an effort to try to hamper the citizenry, City hall decided to charge outrageous prices for copies of city records to anyone who was trying to find out what the hell was going on.

      City Hall is supposed to be, by, of and for the people but in actuality it is in many ways a closed secretive self protective entity. Most people who have been around Pittsfield a while know that and are quite wary of their true motives as to governance. And the mayor wonders why everyone does not just jump on board every time she comes up with these highly questionable projects.

      • tripwire
        June 3, 2019 at 8:28 am #

        DOOMIE The berk rag controls everything thaat is going on in this city by admission or ommission

      • danvalenti
        June 3, 2019 at 8:31 am #

        The CA was the last show of vitality for We The People in Pittsfield. THE PLANET remembers it well, because we were the ones who broke the wall of secrecy they put around it, wrote and talked about the scam on the air, and gave it to the grassroots, who took it from there. Give The Suits credit, though. They learned from the lesson and these subsequent 20 years have installed an impenetrable Doomsday Device to keep intact their stranglehold. The civic life of the city is as dead as the power of the people.

    • danvalenti
      June 3, 2019 at 8:35 am #

      Love it, J-99. Same difference!

  3. JoePesci
    June 3, 2019 at 12:43 am #

    Dan, the case law, or court decisions, would be particularly instructive in this case. Knowledge (known or should have known) and intent and actual grave threat to national security, because just because something is labeled Top Secret doesn’t mean it really is. On the other hand you can’t have people publishing the recipe for a nuke, esteemed reporter or not. Who determines what to classify a Document? And if the labeling is removed, or the state secrets are removed from the labeled documents, how is the reporter to know if something is a state secret? How do you distinguish between a reporter and a guy sitting home in his underwear posting on his computer, as Trump once alluded to? Interesting, thought provoking column. Let’s hope for a trial with some real legal arguments and intelligent reasoning.

    • danvalenti
      June 3, 2019 at 8:34 am #

      Interesting and astute comments here. Case law can be instructive, but it is (and would be … will be?) notoriously selective in the Assange case. If the matter is argued dispassionately on the merits, the First Amendment will win. I don’t see that forthcoming, however. If it gets to trial in the U.S., I don’t see how Assange can get a fair trial. If the U.S. succeeds in extraditing him, it might as well be considered a death sentence.

      • shakes
        June 3, 2019 at 10:05 am #

        No way the conservative courts rule the espionage act unconstitutional.

        The Constitution is not a law.

    • ProxyDate
      June 3, 2019 at 11:55 am #

      Very untrue. If something is labeled Top Secret it is absolutely Top Secret until declassified.

      • JoePesci
        June 4, 2019 at 1:49 pm #

        But is everything marked Top Secret really top
        Secret information? That is my point. Who determines what is actually top secret? What is the standard? Who reviews these decisions? I am suggesting there is information classified top secret that really isn’t that secret and it’s done so to keep it from the regular folk.

  4. The school committee
    June 3, 2019 at 3:20 am #

    I agree with Dan.

  5. The school committee
    June 3, 2019 at 3:20 am #

    As anyone can see watching the news whos job it is to aggitate Power our presidents low self esteem sees the press as an enemy of the people which of course is his personal view as he really sees them as a problem standing in the way of his power to dictate his will on the people of America.The fear is that Trump has convinced 45 million base supporters that the press is the enemy of them.That is an army 20 times bigger than our military.He is so dangerous I don’t see him giving up power to ever face what has been redacted in Muellars blocked report to the people’s house.Wealth and power did by the press to controll the message but still the info is out there but you have to pursue it.Its getting harder and harder and you have to turn the channel and it starts with the car radio.

    • Joe Blow
      June 4, 2019 at 9:03 am #

      I was just thinking how ‘Churchillian’ and comfortable President TRUMP has become in his presidential skin. Such a CONTRAST to the poser Barry Soetoro who came across always as such a contrived in-over-his-head phony.

  6. Brian C. Maruqis
    June 3, 2019 at 4:57 am #

    I wonder how Portugal would address such issues; perhaps decriminalize like behaviours?

    Let’s seek feedback from “Andrew”.

    Can “Andrew” tell us now whether or not our district courts hear certain felonies (after her trip oversees)?

    You really can’t make this stupid stuff up!!

    • truthsayer
      June 3, 2019 at 8:55 am #

      A conversation with a local officer/detective indicates massive frustration with our new DA. Consider the two drug mules from NA that it took months to track down to a motel in Williamstown. They got arrested, released on personal recognizance and didn’t show up in court. I was also told that all the problem drug users that shoplift and steal to fund their habit are out of control because they now know there’s no need to worry about “getting locked up.” Officers are asking to step away from these special teams. As her ladyship said, “I decide who to prosecute.” The voice of a woman with the mind of a 4-year-old who apparently hasn’t seen the Boston Globe’s article on the duties of a Massachusetts District Attorney.

      I’ll tell you, the only Progressives I want are the lenses in my glasses.

      • Ben Dover
        June 3, 2019 at 7:34 pm #

        Lady nitwit was on the radio this morning. Did anyone hear her?

  7. CC The Maze Sun
    June 3, 2019 at 10:03 am #

    The Clues are spread across all media. Both far and wide. Assange is just a small piece of a much bigger puzzle.

  8. The school committee
    June 3, 2019 at 11:16 am #

    We do know that the threat of prison time does nothing to stop the cravings of addiction.We do know that crimes are committed to get those cravings to stop.Give the drugs to the addict and stop crime and the family problems associated with it.Drugs are the business of powerful wealthy people.Jail time is not the answer.

    • James
      June 4, 2019 at 6:44 am #

      Yup, that’s the type of painfully stupid thought process that got our ridiculous DA elected. “Give the drugs to the addicts and stop the crime.” Did you know that at present involvement in the criminal justice system provides one of the only opportunities to diagnose and treat these addicts? That is because we still refuse to fund treatment. Our DA had to go all the way to Portugal to learn this. WE WILL NOT FUND TREATMENT. Ask your legislator why.

    • shaun
      June 4, 2019 at 10:17 am #

      “The school committee” your logic seems flawed. While I do agree that big pharma is the lead dog in this mess we call an opioid crisis, the broken windows theory does work. It improves the quality of life for those who choose to follow the laws, and holds those accountable that don’t. I agree the system has some holes but letting everyone out of jail is not the answer, no matter how under qualified the new DA is at her job. Vote her out in the next election.

  9. ProxyDate
    June 3, 2019 at 12:26 pm #

    The General Dynamics gravy train is at an end.
    Remember the 500 jobs that were promised that ended up being 75 jobs with 50plus being people they flew in for the week?
    Well the LTS was and is a complete failure and is being canceled.
    Three of the original four ships delivered are back in for maintenance and may be declared unfit for service due to a myriad of problems.
    One of the major problems highlighted in a report recommending discontinuation of the program included specific reports about the group at GD Pittsfield and how their work was way below standard.

    “These problems include: a concerning deficit in combat system elements (namely radar systems), limited anti-ship missile self-defense capabilities, and a lack of redundancies for vital systems necessary to reduce the chance that “a single hit will result in loss of propulsion, combat capability, and the ability to control damage and restore system operation.”

    The Navy is now preparing a letter to GD to inform them they seek to void the contract based on performance deficits. As part of the contract failure GD will not be allowed to bid on new contracts for up to 5 years. This well probably get negotiated away during the shakeout of the contract exit negotiation but certain units within GD are singled out in the report for their substandard work.
    Discussions with GD, where GD suggested doing upgrades to the LCS to the FFG(X) standard were immediately shot down.

    • Pat
      June 4, 2019 at 4:42 am #

      The hiring process at General Dynamics here in Pittsfield has always seemed flawed. Their hiring process has been tainted by the same virus that infects Pittsfield which is hiring friends and relatives of people who already work there and NOT the most qualified. It’s not shocking that entire ships are not of high quality work.

    • Johnny99
      June 4, 2019 at 1:50 pm #

      Source please

      • ProxyDate
        June 6, 2019 at 10:25 am #


  10. Mad Trapper
    June 3, 2019 at 1:06 pm #

    Assange pizzed off the Clinton Crime Cartel, the DNC, and the Deep State.

  11. The school committee
    June 3, 2019 at 2:15 pm #

    ex Mayor candidate Mazzeo will be spending all the cash she can tax just as Tyer does.Where is a Pittsfield leader on budgets.They are all addicted to spending. Pittsfield people cant do math and that includes Mccandless

    • Pat
      June 4, 2019 at 4:36 am #

      When will you understand that the Progressive philosophy is all about high taxation? These candidates are interchangeable since they all believe in high taxation. It’s the political philosophy that is the problem. We need independent candidates and Republican candidates for political office in this area and we need them badly.

      • Mr. Fritz
        June 4, 2019 at 4:42 am #

        Where IS the Republican party?? The time is right! Float a candidate for Mayor!

        • Johnny Absurdo
          June 4, 2019 at 10:43 am #

          Great point. I think Kerwood is a republican but if he ran she would can his ass in two short seconds. And he be liking where he sits right now.

        • Johnny99
          June 4, 2019 at 1:53 pm #

          Surely a republican can run but the city races are non partisan- primaries based on number of candidates overall, not individual parties, I believe.

  12. The school committee
    June 3, 2019 at 4:26 pm #

    No president has done more harm to the press than Trump.Trump fears the press.

    • Trump Train
      June 4, 2019 at 3:32 pm #

      Wrong. The press has harmed the press with their lies and partisan left wing propaganda.
      President Trump is the first Republican to challenge them and not shrink into oblivion like many spineless others.

      That is what they cannot stand. He calls them out for their lies and hypocrisy. They can’t handle it!

      Go Trump, go !

  13. The school committee
    June 3, 2019 at 4:28 pm #

    How about Boeing will 300 failed planes .

  14. ProxyDate
    June 3, 2019 at 6:49 pm #

    Notice the local DA had no hand in the investigation? That was purposeful.

    • Pat
      June 4, 2019 at 4:38 am #

      True. Our DA would be coddling them all with drug rehab.

      • ProxyDate
        June 4, 2019 at 9:34 am #

        It’s that her office is not trusted. She has people working for her who’s families are full of the drug criminals she refuses to prosecute.

  15. The school committee
    June 4, 2019 at 3:02 am #

    Ex Mayor candidate Mazzeo needs a plan to control spending.Right now she is as responsible as Tyer for record foreclosures in Pittsfield Ma.Its hard to understand why she announced without giving voters a reason to vote for her.Every person in Pittsfield who retired on SS is being pushed out of our community by politicians.Our reps at the state love high electric rates they gave Eversourse 5 years ago more than doubling your bill.No leaders for the poor in Pittsfield Ma

  16. The school committee
    June 4, 2019 at 3:04 am #

    McCandless always spends poor peoples tax dollars saying he does it to keep them out of prison.

  17. Buffster
    June 4, 2019 at 5:37 am #

    As I was putting WTBR on my radio I heard Chris Connell say a campaign speech type line,always there for those who can’t speak,which is fine, but is that even legal to go on certain shows during election time,campaigning? Wouldn’t the election or F C C laws prohibit that? I’ve noticed that there are some programs that have politicians and school types on the same show,week after week. Where is the fairness?

  18. Hither and Yon
    June 4, 2019 at 7:14 am #

    On topic I think of the warnings of Gore Vidal about the direction America was heading. Surveillance state. We are there not all the way perhaps but there. Worse to come. Free Assange!!

  19. The school committee
    June 4, 2019 at 7:26 am #

    The people’s press whos job it is to aggitate power has aggitate Trump and his attack is to call them fake and liars.Trump is the reason we have a press and they are doing great.They are in danger for the truth they tell.Trump wants to turn off the lights on his power.

    • Mad Trapper
      June 4, 2019 at 9:38 am #

      The “press” is owned by special interests that have no journalistic integrity. Mr Valenti is an exception.

      President Trump, yes OUR President, at least has the balls to call them out.

      Evidence?; the Left Winged Parrot, a.k.a. The Berkshire Eagle.

      Don Henly summed it up 30 years ago with his song “Dirty Laundry”.

  20. tripwire
    June 4, 2019 at 9:01 am #

    TSC put a bag over the heads of Tyer and Mazzeo and you have the same person. Niether is the candidte that the kapanskis can count on. I will vote for anyone runing against them even a dead person and i am serious abiut this. Out with all the incumbents they can hurt you the dead cant

  21. Johnny Absurdo
    June 4, 2019 at 10:50 am #

    Speaking of the press I have been trying to fill out my list of Pittsfield business s that are getting tax breaks. Does anybody know if the Berkshire Eagle was given tax breaks when the new owner took over and if so how big a break might they have gotten. Are they on the lost no one can find?

    Pretty sure it is a millionaires only list and waiting for the mayor to publicize it unless she is embarrassed by it. Or tell us why she can’t make it public.

  22. Reignbow
    June 4, 2019 at 1:55 pm #

    I’d like to know what city councilors are taking the city insurance. Also,if a city worker or politicians sends their kid out of town should they even have city insurance?

  23. It Most
    June 4, 2019 at 5:48 pm #

    I didn’t know Jodie Phillips was back with the City,no one else applied?