There is a very good reason why certain elements of our government keep things secret from us. Very few people fail to understand that things like where we keep our nuclear materials should not be widely known and most understand that certain very patriotic agents do very dangerous work that could get them killed if their identity or their actions became widely known.
This is not a difficult concept. Our CIA and NSA are often required to do things and engage in activities that put their lives and the country in danger. For a long time, we allowed them to do pretty much anything without oversight because we didn’t know what they were doing and, for many years, we allowed them to do things we now know they shouldn’t have been doing. Then, when we found out about that crap, we demanded and received oversight.
The days when the CIA would surreptitiously overthrow governments and assure us that it’s all for good purposes are over, thank God. Now, Republicans do it out in the open and other Republicans praise them for it and defend them when everything turns to shit. And, as long as it’s out in the open and “the troops” are involved, we don’t seem to care how long it lasts or how many people die from it, especially if fewer die than died in Vietnam.
But I ramble.
The main point is, now that they are subject to oversight and they can’t do anything drastic without a warrant or without a judge’s order, the CIA and the NSA are not the “spooks” they used to be. And yet, a lot of people still hang onto that image of people in dark suits and wearing dark-colored trench coats and using exotic weapons strains out of James Bond movies or the Get Smart TV show.
Julian Assange has been arrested and could possibly be extradited to the United States at some point in the future; hopefully, it’ll be by the end of the year, but knowing Assange’s paranoia and his penchant for getting out of trouble by escaping capture, who the hell knows?
And, unfortunately, Assange has his “protectors,” many of whom seem to think everyone at the NSA is a “spook” and is trying to figure out ways to spy on Americans. They should be ashamed of themselves, of course, but people who think that way rarely exhibit shame.
The lies about what Assange has supposedly been charged with are borderline insane. If one more Twitter idiot tells me Julian Assange has been charged with “espionage,” I’m pretty sure I will barf. If one more person, either online or in person, tells me this bodes badly for the journalism community as a whole, I will want to find them and kick them somewhere hurtful.
Assange has not been charged with espionage. He was charged with the following:
The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks. Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.
During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange. The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.” To which Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience.”
In other words, he was charged with a mild version of computer hacking, which brings a maximum charge of five years. However, experts who have studied others who have been charged with the same crime get a year or two, and often less. While I’m sure Assange will whine about this, consider why he spent SEVEN YEARS self-confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid being questioned in a sexual assault case.
Julian Assange is Not a journalist. All he does is conspire with others to get dirt on governments. He has never been trained as a reporter, and no journalist worth their salt would work as closely with Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence as Assange has. It’s also clear that, when he released the Chelsea Manning documents, he had no idea what was in them and what they meant. No real journalist would actually release them without knowing what they were releasing. A real journalist would have to know the entire story of the documents he was releasing.
Assange is also no whistleblower. A whistleblower puts something at risk to protect another, and Julian Assange has never done that. In most cases, when a whistleblower “blows the whistle,” as it were, they are exposing a crime and/or they are trying to get the taxpayers’ monkey back. Assange is only interested in enriching Julian Assange. He doesn’t care that he played a major role in getting Donald Trump into the White House and he doesn’t care that Donald Trump is running the US government in a way that benefits Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs to a greater degree than the American people who just work hard and try to stay on the straight and narrow.
If you think Donald Trump should not be allowed to get a pass because he’s president, and you are also distraught about Julian Assange’s arrest and his impending extradition, please don’t call yourself a patriot, or say you love this country. You don’t.
Also published on Medium.