Julian Assange, the founder and zombie-like brains behind WikiLeaks continues to dominate the headlines. This time on two counts.
First up is his extradition to Sweden for rape and other sex-crimes from his summertime frolic through the blonde-scape of the Nordic world. Richard Pendlebury of the Daily Mail has a darn good update on that score, well worth reading. I tend to agree with his take on the situation. It will be interesting to see if the Swedish courts concur. Gut feeling is yes, Assange will be acquitted of everything except for being what the first three letters of his last name is, an Ass. Seriously, give Pendlebury's piece a full read. It's really good.
Second up (and the last one I plan on covering today) is John Bolton's take on Obama's response to the WikiLeaks document dump. In a word - pathetic. Although I am appaled by the leak of the thousands of classified documents released by WikiLeaks, and allegedly (being careful to presume innocent until proven guilty here) provided by the PFC Bradley Manning was very serious, and Manning is likely, if convicted, to spend a LONG time in a federal penitentiary. I am fairly confident that they do have the goods on Manning sufficient to achieve a conviction on just about anything short of treason. Our Constitution rightfully sets the bar for treason awfully high.
Although I agree with Bolton's assessment that Assange that anyone connected with WikiLeaks should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of U.S. law, I don't believe there are sufficient grounds to try Assange or anyone directly connected with WikiLeaks on espionage charges, and I consider the calls to brand WikiLeaks a terrorist organization to be not only be inappropriate, but to be unjustified and overkill in a major way. And I don't say this because I believe they have First Amendment protections (they don't - they are not the press, but a document dump, and what they are doing does not qualify as Free Speech, and they are doing it from abroad, anyway). But Assange could be, as pointed out in a previous post, prosecuted for blackmail due to his plans to release even more ill-gotten documents should he be arrested or WikiLeaks is permanently shut down. Of course I think Assange and all of those directly involved with WikiLeaks may be opened to civil suit
for damages for releasing private information. Of course collecting damages may be similar to extracting good Single malt Scotch from a turnip…dream on!
Julian Assange has now opened himself up to arrest in a big way. He has made it clear that he has set up numerous "poison-pill" document drops that will be released if A) he is arrested and B) Wikileaks is completely booted off of the Internet. If his demands are not met (in other words, he is arrested or Wikileaks is permanently shut down), he will release volumes of documents, including more classified U.S. documents, as well as documents relating to BP and Bank of America. All of these documents were gained through illegal document snatches. What Assange is doing by making the threat of releasing these documents should he be arrested (or Wikileaks is shut down) is BLACKMAIL.
From the NYPost:
Assange warns that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.
That is a textbook definition of an act of blackmail.
I don't know what is in these document dumps that Assange has released - they are encrypted and he has not released the encryption key. Quite frankly I don't want to know.
However, if Assange (the gutless wonder) is ever arrested and he delivers on his threat to have these document dumps released, then he should be prosecuted for blackmail. I owuldn't stop there - anyone directly involved with Wikileaks should also be prosecuted. I would take it further - if anyone has private information that is compromised by these document dumps, including businesses, then they should SUE Assange and anyone directly associated with Wikileaks and the document dumps for damages in civil court.
Before anyone gets on their First Amendment/Free Speech" horse, keep in mind that the Freedom of Speech is about POLITICAL speech, and what Assange is doing has nothing to do with POLITICAL speech. Free speech does not protect you from yelling "fire!" in a movie theater, or talking about guns in an airport. Nor does it protect you from stealing classified information and dumping it on the Internet (despite the fact that the courts, out of stupidity, have deemed pornography to be free speech. They have gotten other ruling wrong in the past - see Dred Scott for an example). Freedom of speech also does not protect people from making slanderous/libelous statements. Unless you are a politician, you cannot stand up on a stage and lie about someone.
Up until this threat by Assange, I had doubts about the U.S. being able to find grounds to prosecute Assange; Sweden may have a case on the alleged sex crimes Assange is accused of there. Now, with this clear-cut case of blackmail, the U.S. has a serious case against Assange and Wikileaks. My message to the Feds: Go get him!
Julian Assange is reported to have said:
WikiLeaks fired back with a message on its Twitter feed. "Amazon's press release does not accord with the facts on public record. It is one thing to be cowardly. Another to lie about it," it said.
Meanwhile, Assange continues to avoid travel to the U.S. on fears of being arrested and tried for a variety of crimes in regards to the posting on hundreds of thousands of classified documents as well as fighting extradition to Sweden where he would face a variety of charges related sex-related crimes.
Now really, who is the coward: Amazon for giving WikiLeaks (an organization cloaked in secrecy) the boot for violating Terms of Service agreements, or Assange, who doesn't want to face prosecution for crimes he claims he did not commit? I think you know my answer to that question.