Join the DC Protests!

Tags: Social

Action 4 Assange is holding a series of peaceful protests and demonstrations in the nation’s capital during part one of Julian Assange’s full extradition hearing beginning Monday Feb. 24, 2020 through Friday Feb. 28, 2020. This initiative is sponsored by Code Pink, Veterans For Peace, Woman Against Military Madness, Green Party of Ohio and Popular Resistance.

Sign up here!


Schedule:

Monday: 12pm EST meet at the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500)

Tuesday: 12pm EST Corporate Media Engagement Day (locations to be determined)

Wednesday: 12pm EST meet at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center 2011 Mill Road Alexandria, VA, 22314

Thursday: 12 pm EST meet at 1 First St. NE, Washington, DC 20543

Friday: 12pm EST meet at the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500)

Show your support for Julian Assange!

Tags: Social

Show your support for Australian award-winning journalist Julian Assange by contributing to our Support for Julian Assange Awareness project.

On Monday Feb. 24, the first day of the full extradition hearing, a compilation video will be posted including a mash-up of video statements of support for this brave journalist and publisher.

We are asking indie media journalists and production to join us by submitting a video clip expressing your support for Julian Assange.

Instructions:

PART 1

  • Film a 30-40 second video clip at your typical filming location or where you work.
  • (For on-camera talent and writers) Follow this script: “I’m (your name) of the/with the (show name) and I support Julian Assange because ________.”
  • (For tech and production crew) Follow this script: “I’m (your name) a/an/the (your position) of the/with the (show name) and I support Julian Assange because _________.”
  • Please submit the video file as an mp4 by Wednesday Feb. 19, 2020 8pm EST/ 5pm PST.

PART 2

  • (Optional, but strongly encouraged) Take a photo holding a sign that reads a message of support for Julian Assange. Your photo will be placed in a collage with other journalists and Assange supporters through ScotsDefendAssange.
  • Please submit photo as a jpeg or pdf by Wednesday Feb. 19, 2020 8pm EST/ 5pm PST.
Graphic by Somerset Bean

by Dack Rouleau

Christy Dopf contributed to this essay.

Only the incurably masochistic would turn to the Washington Post, one of the Democratic National Committee’s most luxurious vessels in publishing, to search for reasonable analysis of WikiLeaks, but surely one should expect something more dignified than the latest dollop of pablum carelessly tossed out by Craig Timberg. I have never heard of Timberg before, this mouthpiece of government who presents himself as an authority on technology in the news, but in fewer than twenty words, he proves himself to be no more respectable than Charlie Savage, another stenographer of the state, one whom Timberg appears to admire, and one whose failings I have noticed before.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/russian-hackers-who-stole-dnc-emails-failed-at-social-media-wikileaks-helped/2019/11/12/751690ae-0580-11ea-a5e2-fccc16fa3576_story.html

On the 12th of November 2019, the Post published Timberg’s essay: “Russian Hackers Who Stole DNC Emails Failed at Social Media. WikiLeaks Helped.” Without commenting on the ugly informality of the title, we should note its unwarranted and unsettling confidence in the American government’s official narrative; namely, its baseless claim that agents of the Russian government accessed the DNC’s computer system, obtained proof of intra-institutional collusion against Bernie Sanders, and forwarded the material to WikiLeaks in the summer of 2016. Certainly, I would love to know who is responsible for my personal favorite of the WikiLeaks releases, I’m afraid we still have no proof, more than three years later, that Moscow deserves this overdue credit.

Nevertheless, Timberg is convinced that Russia is the hero—but in his inverted moral scope, taking exceptional risk in pursuit of enlightenment is the cardinal sin. “The Russian military hackers who stole tens of thousands of sensitive Democratic Party documents in 2016 struggled to disseminate their bounty online, at least until anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks joined the effort,” he writes, as if it is no longer necessary, or even advisable, for journalists to hide their shameless plunge into the viscid propaganda of the state. Thousands of pieces of indisputable evidence of a plot to sabotage a presidential campaign, of a conspiracy to thwart the will of the people, are “sensitive Democratic Party documents”? The organization that alerts Democratic Party voters and donors that they have been conned and defrauded is an untrustworthy “anti-secrecy group”? If this is the case, then what does Timberg, in moral-intellectual contrast, believe himself to be?

Let us hope, for his sake, he does not believe himself to be scholarly or conscientious. In the second paragraph of his essay, he seeks to prove that Moscow purloined the “sensitive … documents” by observing that DC Leaks, allegedly a Russian publisher, advertised “restricted documents leaked from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign” on the 14th of June 2016, more than a month before the infamous WikiLeaks release. However, Timberg neglects to mention—or does not know, more likely—that the documents released by DC Leaks were completely different from those published by WikiLeaks. Julian Assange explained this on multiple occasions, including in an interview that was distributed on the Internet prior to the publishing performed by DC Leaks.

https://www.itv.com/news/update/2016-06-12/assange-on-peston-on-sunday-more-clinton-leaks-to-come/

The issue resurfaced during an interview with Afshin Rattansi of RT, released to YouTube on the 2nd of August 2016, several weeks after WikiLeaks published its own collection of emails. At the 4:45 mark, Assange says: “What [Hillary Clinton] is attempting to do is to conflate our publication of pristine emails … [with] whatever hacking has occurred of the DNC … by a range of actors. In the middle, we have something, which is the publication by other media organizations of information purportedly from the DNC—and that seems to be the case. So, that’s a series of Word documents and PDFs published by The Hill, by Gawker, and by the Smoking Gun. This is a completely separate batch of documents, compared to the twenty thousand pristine emails we have released.”

Assange goes on to say: “In this batch of documents released by these other media organizations, there are claims that, in the metadata, someone’s done a document-to-PDF conversion, and in some cases … the language of the computer that was used for that conversion was Russian. So, that’s the circumstantial evidence that some Russian was involved, or someone who wanted to make it look like a Russian was involved, with these other media organizations.”


Presumably, Timberg is ignorant of all of this, for he mentions none of it, and he neglects to revisit the connection of the material released by DC Leaks to the emails published by WikiLeaks. He is conspicuously impatient to abandon this subject, for he knows that no such connection exists, and he recognizes the dishonesty and fragility of his own argument. Rather than linger here and expose himself to further questioning, he proceeds to a description, sustained through six paragraphs, of a “Russian military agency known as the GRU”. He explains how this organization allegedly posted misinformation on American social media platforms, and although he has no evidence of such an operation occurring—none save for the nebulous suggestions of Robert Mueller, a notorious liar—he concludes that this Russian mission was not only executed, but narrowly directed at “disrupting the [2016 U.S. presidential] election” to favor Donald Trump.

Timberg’s sprawling analysis continues for another thirteen paragraphs, only three of which make any mention of WikiLeaks or Assange, and none of which explains how the Russian government coordinated with either entity. Even if we want to accept his description of the terroristic function of the GRU, as articulated by undeniably prejudiced American officials, still we have no evidence of the GRU having hacked into the DNC’s computer systems, nor do we find proof that the GRU collected this particular material, nor is there even the most indirect indication that it was passed from the GRU to WikiLeaks. Timberg hasn’t failed to connect the dots; he has failed to prove that the dots even exist.

He fails from the beginning, when he complains of WikiLeaks’s unfair ability to deliver content to a sizeable audience. He notes, with more than incidental envy, that WikiLeaks’s Twitter account has millions of followers, and suggests this “social media outreach can generate outsize results” [sic]. Timberg disqualifies himself as a journalist when he implies that it is possible for the public to overreact, and so to deliver outsized results, when the DNC is proven to have employed fascistic measures to undermine Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. He disqualifies himself as a public intellectual in the same sentence, for only the irredeemably childish would suggest that WikiLeaks has the same influential reach as the Washington Post. He may, however, prove himself correct in the long run, for his disastrous essay just might convince some people to abandon the Post for the Leaks.

Dack Rouleau is an independent journalist living in New Hampshire. He was previously a columnist for The Citizen of Laconia and has appeared on the MCSC Network. You can read his work at https://overwritten.org/

Passage from NYT article

by Dack Rouleau

This article was originally published on overwritten.org.

Throughout this article, I will reference Taylor Hudak’s article, “2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Position on Julian Assange”, published originally on www.action4assange.com on 06/28/2019. You can, and should, read the full article at the link below. It is far more helpful and accurate than the similar article published by The New York Times earlier today.

1st edition
2nd edition

You should also visit the YouTube page for Action 4 Assange, linked below:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCasTaU6X3yCRyItNB83hnGg

There are only two reasons anyone has ever heard of my website. The first is a series of essays and articles I’ve written in support of Tulsi Gabbard. The second is a collection of videos I’ve uploaded to YouTube, wherein I ask the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates, “Do you support Julian Assange?” As you are likely—or, at least, ought to be—aware, the two are not disparate: although I agree with Gabbard on almost every political question, it is only because of her vocal, consistent, and unambiguous condemnation of Assange’s prosecution—imminent, but inevitable—that I have written so extensively in praise of her candidacy. I was delighted, even tickled, when she referred to Donald Trump as “Saudi Arabia’s bitch”, but only when I learned of her thoughts on Assange, disclosed in an interview with Primo Nutmeg in April, that I felt political enthusiasm for the first time in eight miserable years.

After listening to that interview, and after the British police kidnapped and imprisoned Assange, I decided to take a look at what Gabbard’s competitors for the nomination of the Democratic Party felt about Assange, and what, upon their inauguration, they would do to protect him. To my great surprise, there was almost no information available on this question, even though there were more than twenty people jockeying for the nomination. Surely a statement on Assange, particularly after his arrest, would help to differentiate a candidate from the rest of the pack? Alas, I found nothing, not even a comment from Bernie Sanders, who was supposedly the most progressive of them all.

The conspicuous and nearly universal silence of the Democratic candidates might have been even more disturbing than Assange’s arrest. At least we could make sense of the latter: we recognized it as a malicious, aggressive, threatening act of authoritarian overreach. But why was only one of the presidential candidates commenting on it? Were they too scared to comment—either to express their disfavor or to express their favor? Perhaps their inexplicable reticence was best articulated by Donald Trump when he lied: “I know nothing about WikiLeaks.”

Finally, after more than a month, and when the Department of Justice revealed that it had, in fact, been preparing to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act, a couple of presidential candidates offered comment. Elizabeth Warren released one of the most infuriating comments I’ve ever read, declaring: “Assange is a bad actor who has harmed U.S. national security—and he should be held accountable. But Trump should not be using this case as a pretext to wage war on the First Amendment and go after the free press who hold the powerful accountable every day.” It angered me because, when I met her in January of this year, she had told me that she supported WikiLeaks, or so she implied. Now, in May, she was against the organization and its founder—yet, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to scold Trump for possibly using “this case” to perpetuate realabuses in the future.

The only other comment was from Bernie Sanders, who condemned a “disturbing attack on the First Amendment” without ever mentioning Assange by name. He didn’t express support for him, either, but at the time, I was still gullible—or, perhaps, inattentive—enough to think that Sanders’s statement was equivalent to a direct defense of Assange. I have since learned better, and this lesson would become quintessential to my quest to learn where, specifically, these candidates stand on this issue.

Two months after the United Kingdom manacled Assange, the politicians were still silent, and the news media had demonstrated no interest in compelling them to speak on this issue. Apparently, if I wanted to hear these people talk about Assange, then I would have to raise the subject myself, and, if possible, videotape their statements. My first assignment was Andrew Yang, who, in June, was still a bottom-tier candidate, meaning that he would likely have no real security, and therefore, I could easily stick the microphone in his face. I had no trouble getting him on the record vis-à-vis Assange, and his response generated far more controversy than I would have imagined. Every time he tweets, Assange’s defenders voice their disgust with his belief that the man “should stand trial” and that he “did publish some information that really had no useful purpose”.

This information, this video of Yang explaining the slightness of his respect for Assange, proved to be quite useful indeed to Taylor Hudak, a woman who just so happened to be assembling an index of every presidential candidate’s position on Assange at the same time that yours truly was speaking with Yang. In a single article, Hudak quoted and sourced the statements, however scarce, that each candidate had offered on Assange, and named the many who had said nothing at all. Such a comprehensive resource is especially helpful, even indispensable, in the day of the smartphone, when information is ubiquitous, but clarity is almost mythological.

Hudak had performed far more research than I had, and despite the dearth of direct statements by most of the candidates, she had unearthed several tangential or contextual statements that exposed their hostility to whistleblowing generally, and which demonstrated, to all but the most hapless of milquetoasts, that they would make no charitable exception in Assange’s case. She had found some truly hideous gems in her travels; for example, I had no idea that Jeanne Shaheen, the senator from my home state, had cosigned a letter to Mike Pence, wherein she implored him to place pressure on the Ecuadorian government to violate international law and revoke Assange’s claim to asylum. Thanks to Hudak, I can promise Shaheen that, when she faces voters in next year’s election, she will not receive my vote, not under any circumstances.

In the three months since Hudak published her article, she has revised and expanded upon it several times. Her commitment to this project, which is reflected in the many other articles she has written and in her YouTube channel, sets an example for anyone who is serious about defending Assange. I admit, I take some pride in having contributed to her research by getting a handful of presidential candidates on the record, but there is no question that her work towards defending Assange dwarfs mine. Might I suggest that everyone watch this video of hers, released the other day, wherein she describes the sexist accusations endured by all too many of the women who support Assange?

Having crafted such an impressive body of work, Hudak was shocked to discover that, earlier this morning, The New York Times published a feature wherein twenty different presidential candidates were asked to state their positions on the ongoing and inchoate governmental prosecution of Julian Assange. Apparently, a writer named Charlie Savage sent the candidates an email on this matter in June, but for reasons unknown, he has published it only now. Hudak believes this is plagiarism, or an uncommonly comparable offense. Now, although it is entirely possible, even probable, that Savage sent his email to the candidates before Hudak published her piece, she published her article more than two months before Savage published his. This wouldn’t be an issue if he had polled the candidates on a more quotidian topic, such as climate change or gun control, but a simple Google search would have revealed that Hudak’s article was the onlyindex of these candidates’ positions on Assange. At the very least, it’s disheartening to see a vessel of the corporate media, which should have been questioning these candidates on this issue for the last five months, enter the game at so late an hour and, simply through the strength of its financial resources, command readership and precedent over Hudak, who is actually performing studious, principled, journalistic work.

You see, there are problems with the Times piece, entirely apart from the question of plagiarism. Ironically, the most efficient way, if not the only way, of proving these faults is by contrasting the statements made in the Times piece with those listed in Hudak’s article. So, without further ado, let’s crack this rotten egg wide open, shall we?

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/us/politics/press-freedoms-executive-power.html

As is invariably the case when reading news produced by the corporate media, we must exercise the severest caution, lest we be beguiled by insidious propaganda. Fortunately, Savage’s piece for the Times makes its mendacity clear from the beginning, as the introduction—laughably labelled “The Context”—notes that the questions asked of the candidates are “separate from the question of whether Assange counts as a ‘journalist’”. I’m not sure why the term journalist was enclosed in quotation marks, but in any event, why on earth would Savage, a self-described journalist, everquestion Assange’s designation as such? Shouldn’t he automatically, as a man of his profession, see Assange as a contemporary? It is embarrassing, even heartbreaking, to watch a writer for the Times so much as entertain the notion that Assange may not be a journalist, but such is the political climate in which we live, here in the land of the free.

For the record, the questions Savage does ask are as follows: “Are these charges [pertaining to the Espionage Act] constitutional? Would your administration continue the Espionage Act part of the case against Assange?” These are questions of casuistry, as worthless as they are ambiguous. When I ask candidates if they support Assange, I am asking if they believe that what he did is right. This is not what Savage asks; Savage asks if the candidates would seek to prosecute Assange pursuant to the Espionage Act, which, as he clumsily explains, is but a single “part”, or indictment, in “the case against Assange”. It is perfectly possible to prosecute Assange through other laws or statutes, as is currently occurring. In other words, a candidate who declines to prosecute Assange through the Espionage Act is not necessarily a candidate who supports him.

Of course, the subtlety employed in such a snakelike wording of the question is much too elusive to be noticed by the inattentive and uneducated American people, but for a professional politician, it is so broad and shapeless as to be an irresistible softball. The glut of misinformation on Assange and WikiLeaks has rendered the Trump Administration’s prosecution of the former to be a non-issue politically: a right-wing conservative will have no sympathy for a man who exposes the tragic reality of American foreign policy, and a liberal will have nothing but contempt for the man who exposed the institutional corruption of the Democratic National Committee, which may or may not have redounded to Trump in the general election of 2016. No Republican will swap allegiances and vote for the Democratic nominee simply because he/she promises to pardon Assange, and no Democrat will vote third party simply because the nominee refuses to pardon him. In other words, the candidates can answer Savage’s question however they please, and the polling will change not a bit.

You won’t be surprised to learn that Tulsi Gabbard was the only candidate to address both of these concerns of mine, however implicitly, by stating that the prosecution of Assange “is a violation of freedom of speech” and that “[her] administration would drop this case”. She would drop this case,not decline to prosecute Assange on the basis of the Espionage Act. Meanwhile, Joe Sestak plays right into Savage’s hand—and quite knowingly, too—by declaring that “this is a very slippery slope, with regard to the use of the Espionage Act. We must not criminalize standard journalistic techniques and activities, though journalists have a duty to behave in a responsible manner …” His only objection is to the reliance upon the Espionage Act to prosecute Assange when, as stated previously, there are plenty of other legal avenues, any one of which would prove to be much less controversial. The last portion of the quote, reminding journalists of their “duty to behave in a responsible manner”, is obviously intended as a slur against Assange, who, in Sestak’s sagacious judgment, did not behave responsibly—although, of course, Sestak declines to explain why he feels Assange behaved irresponsibly.

Several other candidates issue the same immodestly veiled criticisms of Assange. Michael Bennet, who joined Shaheen in penning the fascistic letter mentioned above, defames Assange as a man “who [published] classified information without regard to whether it may put American forces in danger”. He does not define “American forces”, nor does he explain how the information released by Assange endangered anyone, including these nebulous “forces”, presumably because still, after all of these years, there is no evidence that any of the information released by WikiLeaks has ever brought harm to a single person. Of course, the contextual information—that Bennet was pushing for Assange’s prosecution long before the Ecuadorians expelled him—is missing from this piece, probably because Savage, unlike Hudak, has performed no research on this subject whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden, in a circumlocutory piece that is far more coherent than anything that we have heard from him on the campaign trail, begins by declaring that he is “not assuming in any way that Assange is in fact a journalist”, and then goes on to differentiate WikiLeaks from “responsible journalists [who] historically have declined to publish information when publication would put lives in danger or threaten harm to the national interest”. Perhaps if I had a more cynical sense of humor, I could chuckle at the shocking irony and lack of self-awareness exhibited by this man, a genocidal war profiteer who, after facilitating the obliteration of the Libyan state, criticizes WikiLeaks for having somehow endangered people, but you probably picked up on that yourself. We should probably proceed to the end of his statement, when he scolds “Trump’s vilification of reporters” and compares Trump to Nixon, who unsuccessfully sought to prohibit the release of the Pentagon Papers.

Several of the candidates approach the question with a similar intent: to take a shot at Trump while issuing no direct or explicit criticism of his policy as specifically pertains to this case. Cory Booker, for example, insists that he would govern “in sharp contrast to President Trump, who was targeted and vilified the press at every turn”, though he goes on to admit that “it would not be appropriate for the President to direct prosecution or non-prosecution of any specific case”. In other words, he would not complain about the media, as Trump does on a daily basis, but nor would he reach out to defend Assange, whose name he doesn’t even mention in his meandering statement. Beto O’Rourke also prefers to move forward “without commenting on any specifics of any case”, but he assures us that his administration would not penalize “legitimate journalistic activities”, which is to say: only those journalistic activities which the government recognizes and arbitrarily defines as “legitimate” would be tolerated under the O’Rourke Administration.

For the record, Beto O’Rourke told me less than a week ago that he has “concerns” about Assange’s alleged (and completely unproven) interactions with the Russian government, which is at very visible odds with the sweeter-sounding statement he provided to Savage. Of course, you won’t learn about that in his article, any more than you would learn about Bennet’s collaboration with Shaheen.

Hudak is aware of my conversation with O’Rourke, and she is also aware that, in 2010, Senator Amy Klobuchar recommended imprisoning Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange’s alleged source for the Collateral Murder video, for the rest of her life. Such a sentence “would be appropriate”, she said, and she went on to envision a beautiful future in which WikiLeaks would be prohibited by law from publishing documents if such documents were acquired illegally. In Klobuchar’s view, “If there’s any way we can push that to say that you can’t put illegally obtained documents up on your website … I think that’s worth it.” Curiously, she said something very different to Savage: “As the daughter of a newspaper man, I have always believed the role of journalists is critical to our nation’s democracy. As part of my plan for the first 100 days of my presidency, I have already committed to restore former Attorney General Eric Holder’s guidance on protections for journalists so that they are not jailed for doing their jobs.”

The obvious counterargument will be that Klobuchar’s views have evolved through the years. The same counterargument probably won’t hold for O’Rourke, but even if we assume that it does, there is a very serious problem of ideological inconsistency on the part of these candidates, not the least of which is their unwillingness to acknowledge the inconsistency. I suspect that the inconsistency follows the variations of register: if they need to appeal to the intelligence agencies, then they will condemn Assange, but if they want to distinguish themselves from Trump, then they will release a bland statement affirming the First Amendment, as if anything could be less controversial than to voice support for the notion of freedom of expression without having to stand by its particular manifestations. As I mentioned in my article on Andrew Yang, saying that you are “generally” in favor of something means that you are not in favor of it at all.

Pete Buttigieg wants to have his cake and eat it, too. I don’t want you to miss any portion of his inanity, so it might be best for us to quote it directly:

“The freedom of the press is one of the most important principles protected by the Constitution. By criminalizing behavior that closely resembles common journalistic practices, the most recent indictment of Julian Assange on Espionage Act charges (as opposed to the original computer hacking charges) comes dangerously close to compromising this principle. Even if these charges ultimately withstand constitutional scrutiny—an outcome that will depend in substantial part on how the Justice Department articulates and limits its theory in the case—the prosecution could chill legitimate journalism. It is no defense of Julian Assange to question the legal theories being advanced by the current administration on this.”

Credit him for proving my warning, expressed earlier in this piece: when these candidates object to the prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act, they are not declaring that they would not prosecute him under different statutes. Buttigieg is especially conscious of this point, advising the Department of Justice to carefully “articulat[e] and limi[t] its theory” so as not to incite a panic. He will make a fine and respectable despot, although he will have to take certain measures to hide his disapproval, stated publicly, of President Obama’s decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Of course, the only reason I am even aware of this disapproval of Buttigieg’s is because Taylor Hudak revealed it in her article. That statement is far more illuminating than the cheesy press release that Buttigieg offered to Savage, which raises questions about why, at this point, we should even continue bothering with his article.

Tim Ryan makes perhaps the most puzzling statement when he declares—shockingly, considering his hawkish foreign policy positions—that the charges against Assange are unconstitutional, but that, in addition, he will “rely on the Attorney General serving in [his] cabinet [to make a] recommendation on this matter”. Does this mean that he would not stop his Attorney General from pressing unconstitutional charges? If so, then what kind of authority would President Ryan even possess? Why should we vote for a man who would not stop wrongdoing when he sees it, especially when he sees it in his own presidential cabinet? Look, there is no more reason for Ryan to remain in the debate. He has humiliated himself in both of his presidential debates, and with this latest demonstration of political impotence, he resembles less a president than a kid getting his underpants exposed in a show on Cartoon Network. I would go on to describe his failings further, but I’m afraid I’m not so cruel. I will, however, note that Kamala Harris, who constantly declares her dream of “prosecuting the case against four more years of Donald Trump”, insists to Savage that she “would not dictate or direct prosecutions” as President of the United States.

Is there any more to be said? Charlie Savage is a writer for The New York Times, and under the auspices of such an influential organization, he secured nothing more than tasteless platitudes and sound bites from the people competing for the presidency. Meanwhile, Taylor Hudak, who unfairly described herself as “no one from Ohio” in a tweet earlier today, had no resources other than an Internet connection, and still, she dominated Savage in every category, facet, and respect. There is no reason to read Savage’s piece, other than as a supplementary—and strictly voluntary—appendix to Hudak’s carefully researched article and reference. Charlie Savage’s failure serves only to illustrate the necessity of independent journalists in these difficult times, and where he stumbles and stutters, Taylor Hudak thrives.

Dack Rouleau is an independent journalist living in New Hampshire. He was previously a columnist for The Citizen of Laconia and has appeared on the MCSC Network. You can read his work at https://overwritten.org/

by Dack Rouleau

Countless lies are told of Julian Assange, but none more perplexing or infuriating than the lie told by his defenders alone: “He is imprisoned because he revealed American war crimes!” It’s a lovely lie, a graceful lie, a lie that seduced me into writing it today! This lie ensnares us because it stands much too close to the truth and persuades us with its good company. Alas, it is time we collected ourselves and recognized Assange’s bluest blasphemy. It was not the release of Collateral Murder: if that footage had been broadcast as soon as it was filmed, when the Democrats could have played it to their advantage; or, if WikiLeaks had published nothing after that, then the empire would have already quit its chase and Assange would be a pundit on MSNBC.

Assange committed one unforgivable offense, and it was indisputably the gravest transgression in our nation’s political history: he disproved the theory of American democracy. Many intellectuals before him had written to discredit this absurd theory, but none achieved complete falsification. It wasn’t until Assange, who wrote nothing, proffered proof of the Democratic National Committee’s intraparty campaign against Bernie Sanders that we had the long sought-after formula. Where all of his predecessors had been mere critics, Assange emerged as the philosopher.

The difference between the two approaches is conceptual: does one write about the failures of the system or the system itself? Critics, including some of the most respectable writers you could ever read, focus on the malfunctioning of the system; philosophers, like Assange, understand the system is to blame, and respect their responsibility, and our responsibility, to create anew. The DNC leaks debunked the enduring superstition of democratic patriotism—namely, that democracy could yield meaningful change, if only enough citizens were to participate in the electoral process. We already knew, thanks to the critics’ research, that unchecked financial power posed incredible obstacles to effective participation, but only when Assange demonstrated Hillary Clinton’s choice to hijack her party’s nomination, beyond her ability to do so, that the malignant fiction of American democracy was finally confirmed.

Nor does here the confirmation cease: in negating the theory of American democracy, he negated the theory of America itself. Like a depressive drunk, America never tires of telling us her stories of glorious success, her most satisfying being the establishment of a democratic system. No matter that her narcissistic reminiscences only distract her from her present dysfunction, dysfunction that will doom her—if it hasn’t already. Like Tralala before her, America can’t help but open herself up to the grubbiest lowlife in her vicinity, and to all the abuse he will visit upon her. She has been sick for a very long time, ravaged by every scoundrel around her, bruised and gashed and rent in the soul. Assange is guiltless in this defiling, but he did make the indecency known when he stood in the midst of this squalor and said, “The lady is gone. The lady has died.”

Suddenly, the cheerful entertainment ended, and if only for an instant, the grotesque reality of the ritual became undeniable. What happened after that instant elapsed would define the fragmentated psychological character of the Trumpish Age, as only three responses were possible: the shameless persistence of the Trumpeters, the indignant denial of the Good Democrats, and the heartbroken herald of those who were awakened, those who were stirred. The people belonging to the first two groups have been arguing moral semantics ever since, while we the lattermost are the quietest of the three—but that doesn’t mean we make the least noise.

On the contrary, there is nothing more disruptive than the acknowledgement of horror where there is thought to be beauty. To interrupt the reverie of the poor deluded, to inform them that the stream into which they stare adoringly is made of flowing sewage; this inflames every kind of distemper, inspiring doubt, embarrassment, and fear—all of which, incidentally, are deleterious to pride, and when pride is wounded, we compensate with wrath. This irrational response is equally predictable in the human beast and in the monstrosity of state, and both will defend their fragile egos fiercely—against those who see the horror and the man who opened their eyes.

The horror to which he opened our eyes is neither the horror of war nor the horror of war crimes—the latter being a comically redundant term. What kind of madman looks upon war and expects to see beauty, but is shocked and repulsed to see horror instead? The Empire couldn’t pursue Assange across the Atlantic because he exposed these “war crimes”, as you call them; how could he expose that which does not and cannot exist? The Empire chased him, cornered him, and finally purchased him because he exposed the American system, the system that promotes a beautiful democracy so it never has to wage horrible wars. In revealing this system as its antithesis, as an antidemocracy predicted uponmachtgelüst, Assange negated the American myth. He negated America.

In the aftermath of this great negation, there are those who wish to punish him for profaning their god and those who would reward him as the liberator. The outcome of the battle between the two factions shall depend on the relative strength of the anti- and democratic forces. If “we the people” do not rise up to defend Assange, then his enemies will kill him, and he will be proven right. If we exercise our democratic powers, then we will save him, and he will be proven wrong.

Let us contradict.

Dack Rouleau is an independent journalist living in New Hampshire. He previously wrote for The Citizen of Laconia. To date, he has asked eleven presidential candidates to declare their stance on Julian Assange. You can read his work at overwritten.org.

by Steve Poikonen

Sen. Bernie Sanders has amassed more volunteers than any other 2020 presidential candidate, he noted to 7,000 volunteers on a conference call Aug. 27. He has more small and individual donors, and the most diverse base in the democratic 2020 field, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. Sen. Sanders has built this army of supporters by championing labor, LGTBQ+ rights, going after Wall St., big Pharma, CEOs, banks and most recently, the corporate media bias. Bernie, to the casual observer, is THE candidate for the average American who has long suffered under unfettered capitalism and a media complicit in perpetuating false narratives in support of the status quo. 

So why the hell won’t Sanders say Julian Assange’s name out loud? 

Action 4 Assange’s own Taylor Hudak published the first and only complete list of presidential candidate statements on Julian Assange. The totality of Bernie’s remarks are contained within this tweet, written 44 days after Julian was dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The Sanders campaign is marketed as a worker collective. It has a union. Independent journalists work for Team Sanders. David Sirota and Brie Gray know how important it is to stop, as journalist Chris Hedges puts it, the slow motion crucifixion of Julian Assange. They have not said a damn word.
There is an axiom among US progressives that goes, “Bernie Sanders listens to his base, and we can move him to the left.” I would challenge and plead with those progressives to make the case to Team Sanders for the life of Julian Assange and the future of press freedom. 

I hold no deep convictions that Sanders will make it through another openly rigged primary and into a general election to challenge Trump. Should that happen, due to his silence on this issue, I cannot begin to speculate how a President Sanders would treat the case of Julian Assange. The current administration has filed a request for extradition, taking the previous administration’s desires and turning them into a possible reality. There are no candidates polling above 5% who have provided written or verbal support for Julian, Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning or whistleblowers in general. 

Bernie Sanders has made Medicare For All a cornerstone of his campaign. His apparent refusal to comment on Assange leaves a deeply concerning question to fill that silent space. Are you willing to trade press freedom for health care? 

Steve Poikonen hosts Slow News Day on YouTube, co-hosts the Free Assange Vigil Series, occasionally writes and lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

by Taylor Hudak

As the United States approaches its 59th presidential election, candidates on both sides of the political spectrum have been debating issues including job creation, education, climate change and health care, among others. However, what has largely been absent from the debate stage is the state of the free press in America and around the world.

In 2019, the world witnessed the United States government, for the first time ever, use the Espionage Act of 1917 against a journalist. To understand a candidate’s perspective on the free press, it is worth understanding the candidate’s perception of this unprecedented use of the Espionage Act. Additionally, there is no better test of a candidate’s dedication to preserving a free press than by his or her perspective on the world’s most persecuted journalist, Julian Assange.

Who is Julian Assange?

Julian Assange is a politically persecuted Australian journalist facing 175 years in a US prison for multi-award winning journalism exposing US war crimes and corruption.

Assange created the non-profit organization WikiLeaks in 2006, which became the first ever media entity to withhold a 100% accuracy rate in reporting.

Throughout the years, Assange has been the recipient of numerous awards and has received recognition from some of the world’s most esteemed intellectuals.

In 2011, former US Colonel Ann Wright wrote an article titled “Instead of attacking WikiLeaks, fix what it exposed,” which provides critical insight to WikiLeaks’ revelations through the perspective of a veteran.

“These revelations are not merely embarrassing. They also contain evidence of government actions and policies that are an abuse of power and that violate international human-rights standards to which we as Americans are committed,” wrote Ann Wright.

In 2010, the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence was unanimously given to Assange by a panel of senior retired intelligence, military, diplomatic officers, including CIA officers for publishing military whistleblower documents on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The documents which contained evidence of US war crimes and information revealing that the US government misled the public about the wars, are the very same documents for a which he is charged on 17 counts of Espionage and facing a 175 year sentence in a US maximum security prison.

Samuel A. Adams was a CIA analyst and whistleblower who helped reveal during the mid-1960s that the American military intelligence had underestimated the amount of North Vietnamese Army soldiers. Adams was challenged yet he persisted. Since 2002 an award in his name has been given to an individual exhibiting integrity and morality. In 2010, that individual was Julian Assange.

Julian Assange

A journalist being charged with espionage poses serious threats to the US Constitution’s First Amendment, which guarantees the right to a free press. If tried and convicted, Assange’s case will set a damaging legal precedent for all journalists.

What do the presidential candidates say?

Since WikiLeaks gained national recognition, many of the 2020 presidential candidates have provided their perspectives on WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and/or his pending case throughout their careers. A compilation of their statements is provided below.


REPRESENTATIVE TULSI GABBARD

(May 15, 2019) In an interview with Joe Rogan (addressed in a Newsweek article), Rogan asked Rep. Gabbard how she would address Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Rep. Gabbard said she would drop the charges against Assange and pardon Snowden.

Gabbard: “There is not an actual channel for whistleblowers like them to bring forward information that exposes egregious abuses of our constitutional rights and liberties period.”

(June 5, 2019) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard posted a video on Twitter in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as part of her campaign message.

Gabbard: “Charging Assange under the Espionage Act will have a serious chilling effect on our most fundamental rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Every American, certainly every journalist, must strongly condemn this anti-Democratic act by the Trump Administration.”

(Published on July 10, 2019) In an interview with New Hampshire journalist Dack Rouleau of overwritten.org, Rouleau asks Rep. Gabbard why it is important to defend Assange.

Gabbard: “What we’re really defending is freedom of speech and freedom of the press… if we don’t stand up for those freedoms and in this case, the freedom of the press, when they are under attack and when they are at peril, then each of us whether as journalists or as everyday Americans, are also facing that threat of having our own personal freedom undermined because really what’s happening with Julian Assange, as well as Chelsea Manning, Snowden and others is the government taking a position that if you are pushing transparency, if you’re putting out information that the government deems will make them look bad or that they don’t like, then they will use the force of law to come after you and make an example of you. And try to prevent anyone else from doing the same. And whether you agree or disagree with what Julian Assange has done or if he’s a good guy or bad guy or whatever these are all irrelevant points because really what we’re talking about is freedom of the press and what’s happening to Julian Assange will very well happen to any other journalist, whether with new media or with main stream media or with any American for that matter who speaks up and speaks out on the truth, our government is showing that if you do that there will be consequences and that’s very dangerous.”

(Dec. 2019) At an event, Gabbard took questions from the audience. Via video link Rouleau addresses with Rep. Gabbard the human rights violations on Julian Assange and how that should be to put to an end.

Rouleau: “Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, recently said that Assange is quote– suffering extreme depression, extreme anxiety and extreme levels of stress (end quote) and there’s question about whether or not he’s going to survive long enough to be extradited to this country. So my question is, what can be done to stop this assault on human rights before it’s too late and he goes down as another victim of the same authoritarian practices that you are talking about?”

Gabbard: “Well thanks Dack, you’ve been a very strong advocate and continuing to raise his plight and this issue. And I think it’s important for us as we’re talking about these Afghanistan papers that have just been released showing lies, fraud and deceit within our own government and what it has cost us– the American people through lives and tax payer dollars. We see see how Julian Assange is being punished and treated so inhumanely for revealing and releasing information that has brought shame and embarrassment to people in our government. That’s really what it comes down to. (inaudible) I’ve been outspoken about this both with you directly Dack throughout the last several months in how dangerous it is so see the freedom of the press so threatened that what is happening to Julian Assange could happen to anybody. We now have journalist like yourself and others who are using different platforms to be able to share and reveal information to report on different events and facts. Anyone could be scooped up and charged and challenged in the way that Julian Assange is. I don’t know off hand the legal remedies available to him. I know he’s got attorneys that are working really hard for him. But I think it’s doing exactly what you’re doing along with so many others continuing to push this issue to the forefront to get more leaders within the world as you mentioned and quoted speaking out on his behalf so that his situation can improve and ultimately those charges should be dropped.”

(Dec. 2019) During a town hall event Salem, NH, student Nour Hijazi asked Rep. Gabbard her opinion on Assange.

Hijazi: “I would like to get your opinion on what’s going on with Julian Assange right now, and how you would handle whistleblowers in a Gabbard administration.”

Gabbard: “Thank you. What’s your name?”

Hijazi: “Nour.”

Gabbard: “Nour, thanks for being here.”

Hijazi: “Thank you.”

Gabbard: “What we have seen in the arrest and the charges against Julian Assange should be of concern to everyone because what this really is threatening is freedom of the press– not a small thing. That because he released information that was embarrassing to our government, these charges occurred. Now we looked and he’s now being incarcerated because of it. Going back and looking at the previous administration, the Obama administration, they were initially looking at filing charges, and I think former Atty. General Eric Holder spoke about this, that they were looking at filing charges, but didn’t because of their concern about the precedents it would set in threatening freedom of the press. Whether you are a self-starting journalist and blogger or you’re working for a major media corporation, to have this cloud cast over you, to have to think about whether or not the release of information would result in charges and incarceration because it’s embarrassing to our government is something that threatens the core of our constitutional foundation and this precedents cannot be set. So if I were president today I would drop those charges against Julian Assange and anyone else who is being threatened under these same circumstances. (applause) Thank you (inaudible). It’s an important question, and we can’t forget what, again, we started this conversation here tonight about our constitution– the bedrock of this country. Our democracy is far from perfect.”


JACOB HORNBERGER

Libertarian presidential candidate Jacob Hornberger is the founder and president of Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF), a non-profit organization established in 1989. According to the organization’s website, the purpose of FFF “is to advance freedom by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government.”

Being that the organization is a non-profit, FFF remains separate from Hornberger’s campaign. However, on the website, Hornberger does reveal his stance on Julian Assange and whistleblowers in an article he published in late 2019 titled “Pardon Assange and Snowden.”

(Dec. 19, 2019) At the introduction of the article, Hornberger addresses a piece published in the Washington Post, which revealed that the United States lied and deceived its way into war with Afghanistan. Hornberger then transitions to Assange and Edward Snowden by first acknowledging that Assange revealed truths just as the Washington Post did in its article titled “At War With the Truth.”

“They simply published records that revealed the truth about the deep state. That’s why the deep state has condemned and vilified them as bad people, even as traitors — because they revealed the truth, just like the Washington Post has,” Hornberger wrote in reference to Assange and Snowden.

Hornberger continues to praise Assange’s work through WikiLeaks while strongly condemning the prosecution of whistleblowers and journalists.

“Assange and Snowden deserve immediate pardons, which would enable them to be released from prison and exile and to begin resuming their normal lives,” Hornberger wrote.

Twitter activity

(Dec. 28, 2019) The official campaign Twitter account for Jacob Hornberger, @JacobforLiberty, retweeted Christine Assange, mother of Julian Assange. The retweet includes a comment asking for Assange’s release from Belmarsh Prison and advocating for him to not be extradited to the US.

(Dec. 28, 2019) Hornberger’s official campaign Twitter account tweeted Christine Assange’s latest interview with the Australian newspaper, Herald Sun.

(Dec. 29, 2019) The official campaign Twitter account retweeted the Washington Examiner with a comment using the #FreeAssange tag.


IAN SCHLACKMAN


According to his 2020 presidential campaign website, Ian Schlackman supports whistleblowers—a stance shared universally among members of the Green Party.

On the website, Schlackman wrote: “We’re on a dangerous path. Not only have we criminalized whistleblowers exposing illegal acts of the US Government, such as Edward Snowden. We’re also criminalizing journalists & their sources. Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning & Reality Winner all imprisoned and all representing various parts of our nation criminalizing journalists. Human Rights Watch is warning Assange’s case will have dire consequences for press freedoms worldwide. All of these cases should be ended immediately & fully pardoned.”

(Aug. 7, 2019) Ian Schlackman appeared on the Free Assange Vigil Series and was asked if and how he would address Julian Assange on day one of his presidency.

Schlackman: “I think that you absolutely need to close the case with Julian Assange immediately and whatever the hell is going on with the grand jury and Chelsea and of course, I would pardon Reality Winner as well. Going back to Assange though, the case against him is so wildly dangerous because they’re not just charging him as a whistleblower… but first of all, he’s not even a US citizen and second of all, they’re charging him as a journalist. So where will this end? Will we be able to abduct journalists around the globe the US disagrees with and extradite them and basically Guantanamo them? I mean that’s why this precedent is so unbelievably dangerous.”


DARIO HUNTER

(Nov. 2019) Green Party presidential candidate Dario Hunter was a guest on the Free Assange Vigil series and was asked if he would pardon Julian Assange.

Free Assange Vigil host: “One of the main platforms of the Green Party, which is pretty much unique to then Green Party, is the outward support for whistleblowers and whistleblowers rights. And that also relates to journalists as well. So how would a Hunter administration treat Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning?”

Hunter: “First of all, I just want to talk about the deplorable circumstances that Julian Assange has been subject to. I want to name them and shame the actors involved. The things he’s been subjected to are nothing short of torture– we have to say it because it’s not being described as such in the mainstream media. But it has been described as such by the UN. It has been described as such by multiple sources because he’s been subjected to arbitrary detention with the involvement and the engagement of multiple nations many water-carriers on behalf of this government– this US government effort. And Chelsea Manning as well, of course, has been subjected to all manner of inhuman treatment and we have to acknowledge the fact that this is an international effort motivated by the United States in a way that deprives the basic human rights related to journalistic freedom. That’s what we are talking about here. Many defamatory things have been said about Assange– that he’s a hacker, all sorts of things. He’s a publisher. He’s a journalist. He’s a whistleblower. He’s a hero. The information that he’s made available is information that has lifted the veil, for many people, on all of the nefarious things being done by governments. It’s necessary. It’s a necessary part of human freedom to be able to have freedom of the press. And all of the things that have been done to him, that he has suffered through, have been done in order to squash that.”

Free Assange Vigil host: “Would you pardon Julian Assange?”

Hunter: “Absolutely. Absolutely. No brainer. No brainer. And more than that, to me, the question strikes me as that’s the least that you can do because so much more needs to take place. Yes, pardon, of course. But then you need to dig into all of the things that have been done to him, who’s been involved in them, and we need to hold the people involved responsible. The things that have been done to him are criminal. So we would move from pardoning to dealing with the criminal prosecution of who was involved in the torture of this man and the deprivation of this man from his rights in so many ways. One of the things that stands out to me that was so galling that isn’t really even talked about as much as it should be in some free Assange circles is the fact that he was a citizen of Ecuador. He was extended citizenship, and they yanked that citizenship back and then left him prey to all of these bodies subjecting him to torture motivated by the US. Well, that is a complete violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 15 — everyone has a right to nationality but also they have a right to not be arbitrarily deprived of it. And, to me, that’s one of the many ways it just shows all of the things that this system, this international system, this international cabal is willing to do in order to ensure that it gets its way and that it keeps these secrets under wrap.”

ADAM KOKESH

(Aug. 7, 2019) Adam Kokesh, member of the Libertarian Party, appeared on the Free Assange Vigil Series and was asked if and how he would address Julian Assange on day one of his presidency if he were elected.

Kokesh: “As for my campaign and Julian Assange, pardon on day one no question. In fact, a big part of this platform is that everybody in the United States who has ever been charged with a victimless crime will be immediately pardoned.”


MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

(April 25, 2019) In an interview with comedian Jimmy Dore of The Jimmy Dore Show, Williamson is questioned about her stance on Julian Assange.

Williamson: “I go back and forth. I have a lot of ambivalence on the Julian Assange issue. Early on I saw him as any whistleblower and that he’s very important and the role he was playing and the function he was serving and I was very much aware of the fact that the system suppresses the whistleblower… In this last election it’s not as clear to me. Like who are you working for Julian? You’re just going down on that campaign and not the other campaign so I don’t know I see both sides (inaudible).”

Williamson: “The Julian Assange thing for many of us is a little not as black and white as you see it to be.”

Dore: “Well the Obama Administration’s Justice Department declined to prosecute him and The Washington Post editorial just a few years ago said the same thing—so what would you say the difference between Julian Assange publishing war crimes by the United States released by Chelsea Manning and the difference between Daniel Ellsberg and The Washington Post printing the pentagon papers—they’re both publishers, correct?”

Williamson: “I didn’t think there was any difference until this last thing happened with the election. Now that you’re saying that about the election and that’s where I’m still in process. Before this election, I saw no difference. Until this election and what happened with the election with Hillary Clinton I saw it exactly the same as Daniel Ellsberg.”

(Aug. 25, 2019) During a campaign event in New Market, NH, journalist Dack Rouleau asks Williamson to clarify her position on Julian Assange.

Williamson: “I’m tilting in the direction of if you’re going to stand for whistleblowers, you stand for whistleblowers. And I have to within myself, I have to discern, where is it Marianne that you just don’t like his personality, you know, because his personality is not an issue here. So there is a dangerous shutting down, and this was even true during the Obama Administration, there’s a dangerous shutting down of the whistleblowers. I realize that. And he’s a whistleblower.”


TOM STEYER

(Jan. 2020) At a campaign event in New Hampshire, Rouleau approaches Tom Steyer to ask him if he supports Julian Assange.

Rouleau: (Shakes Steyer’s hand) “Hey, do you support Julian Assange?”

Steyer: “Don’t know enough to have an educated opinion (inaudible).”

(Rouleau and Steyer pose for a photo. Video cuts to Steyer continuing his response.)

Steyer: “I believe that the government has been spying on us, yeah. I know they have. Do I think that’s ok? No. Do I believe the privacy of Americans is being systematically infringed on. (Nods his head.) Do I know enough about this to have an opinion (inaudible) no. I’ll have to do the work, and if you send me stuff, I will.”

Rouleau: “Ok.”

Steyer: “Deal?”

Rouleau: “Have a great night. Thank you very much.”


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS

(Published Feb. 9, 2020) Primo Nutmeg interviews National Press Secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders Briahna Gray. He asks her for Sanders’ stance on Julian Assange.

Primo Nutmeg: “I just wanted to get to a few patron questions if that’s alright. Dan wanted to let you know that he thinks you’re doing a great job, and he wanted to know what Sen. Sanders position is on Julian Assange.”

Gray: “I’m not sure. That’s not something that– for the reasons that I kind of go into in my last question. Um, look, the senator has spoken out frequently about the kind of threats to the press that exist and the kind of lack of appreciation for the risks involved when whistleblowers bring important information to the floor. And to that end, Bernie Sanders is, I believe still the only candidate that has put forward a policy that protects the rights of journalists. But I can’t speak to that particular issue because it’s just not something that the campaign has made a statement on at this point.”

(Published Oct. 3, 2019) Independent journalist Dack Rouleau presses Sen. Bernie Sanders about Julian Assange at a campaign rally.

Rouleau: “Hey, do you support Julian Assange?”

Sanders: “Do I support Julian Assange?”

Rouleau: “Will you pardon him?”

Sanders: (points at the camera) “That’s the wrong… can’t say it just yet. It’s the wrong (inaudible).

Rouleau: “Please, please, please sir. Please.”

Sanders: “I am aware of the issue.”

Rouleau: “Will you pardon him? Commute his sentence? Please.”

(May 24, 2019) An article published in The Intercept examines Sen. Bernie Sanders tweets addressing Julian Assange.

Sanders: “Let me be clear: it is a disturbing attack on the First Amendment for the Trump administration to decide who is or is not a reporter for the purposes of a criminal prosecution.”


GOVERNOR DEVAL PATRICK

At a campaign event in Concord, NH, Unity4J spokeswoman and Free Assange Vigil co-host Christy Dopf questioned former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Julian Assange.

Dopf: “I’m very personally concerned about the Trump Administration’s war on journalism, in particular the persecution of journalist and publisher Julian Assange, who just said recently that he is slowly dying in prison. So what actions, specifically, would you take as president to defend this journalist?”

Patrick: “Well, I don’t know enough about him to offer a point of view. Hello Julian (waves at cameras). But I think that the persecution of journalism and the twisting of the First Amendment so that it justifies propaganda is wrong. And I think what I can do is model a different behavior. Believe me, journalists made my life hard when I was governor but that was their job. And the accountability necessary for successful democracy is a big part of what journalism is supposed to be (inaudible). So I totally get that part, and if that is consistent with what Mr. Assange is about, I hear that. But I am not well enough informed about him to offer a solution for him or a promise for him.”


GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER

(2019) Sirius XM’s Olivier Knox interviews Gov. John Hickenlooper. During the interview, Julian Assange and the First Amendment were addressed.

Hickenlooper: “Well the first amendment is one of the most sacred rights we have in the country. But that being said we have clear laws that are designed to protect the employees of our government when they’re working in foreign countries. Oftentimes they are in very dangerous situations that can be compromised easily if information is leaked… But I think the country needs to see you know someone like Mr. Assange… let’s get the facts and see exactly what the decisions he made and what were the sacrifices, and what was he trying to get done? And what were the sacrifices made on that behalf?”


HOWIE HAWKINS

(April 11, 2019) Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins published a statement on his campaign website providing his stance on Julian Assange following Assange’s arrest in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Hawkins wrote: “The freedom of all of the press is threatened by the US indictment of Julian Assange in connection with the publication of U.S. government documents. We must oppose Assange’s extradition to the U.S. because he is unlikely to receive a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, where the intelligence and defense industries are based. We must oppose Assange’s extradition to the U.S because he is likely to face cruel and inhumane treatment… Rather than prosecuting a publisher for reporting the truth, the war crimes and human rights violations exposed by Wikileaks should be prosecuted by US and international courts. Those who committed crimes should be prosecuted, not the journalist who reported them.”

(Published June 1, 2019) In an interview with Primo Nutmeg, a reporter asks Hawkins if he believes WikiLeaks is involved in a Russian plot.

Hawkins: “I don’t know if they’re (WikiLeaks) working for Russia. Assange is working for himself. And I have to tell you, him giving the advise to Donald Jr.– you should protest the election if you lose– I mean he’s dealing with the son of a clansman to become our president, an out and out racist who’s encouraging the right-wing, who’s armed to come out and cause mayhem. I mean those politics are really bad. So you know, if he goes to trial we may find out more. I don’t think he should on this 2010 charge– that’s a whistleblower thing. And he was a publisher, and he should be defended. But his politics in 2010, trying to give advice to Donald Jr. for the campaign, you know working with, you know, that’s bad. I don’t support that at all… so that remains to be seen if he’s working with the Russians or if he’s biased with them. But he should not be prosecuted for publishing the leaks provided by Private Manning.”

(Published June 1, 2019) In an interview with Primo Nutmeg, continued…

Hawkins: “No, not for WikiLeaks. The crime is hacking. That’s a crime. Assange said he didn’t get it from the Russians. The intelligence community said the Russians did it.”


SENATOR COREY BOOKER 

(Published Jan. 3, 2020) Journalist Dack Rouleau voices his concerns to Sen. Corey Booker about press freedoms and Julian Assange.

Rouleau: “I’m very concerned about the Trump Administration’s war on journalism, and I’m really disturbed about what’s happening to Julian Assange who’s being locked in solitary confinement and faces extradition to this country. So I’m wondering, as president, what are you going to do to defend this man who has done quite a bit to inform us about what our government is doing in our name.”

Booker: “This is one legal case I don’t know as much clearly as you do, so I’m to going to comment on that because I just don’t know all the facts of his case. I know if people have broken our laws that they should be held accountable. And if he has broken our laws, he should be afforded everything that people in my community, (inaudible), is fair trials, due process and the like. We have a country, as Brian Stevenson says, that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent. So this individual, I’m going to make sure that we do justice by him… (diverts conversation to fake news and Obamacare) And so sir, I am going to do everything I can, of course, for due process. The media plays a very important role. But this is a little larger context within our society where we have to start addressing the erosion of our institutions, the erosion of trust, and the lurching we’re doing toward sensationalism, toward half-truths, toward misinformation is now polluting our public spheres and our most sacred spaces which are that civic discourse that is essential for a thriving democracy.”

(2016) In a video posted by Press for Truth, reporter Dan Dicks asks Sen. Corey Booker what he thought of the WikiLeaks revelations suggesting that the 2016 primary election was rigged in favor of then-candidate Hillary Clinton.

Booker: “Well, the WikiLeaks are awful and it was unfortunate and I’m glad that the DNC chair (inaudible) stepped aside.”


FORMER GOVERNOR BILL WELD

(April 16, 2019) According to an article published in the Boston Globe, former Gov. Weld spoke with voters while campaigning, and during an exchange with voters, Weld claimed he would pardon Edward Snowden but is undecided on how to address the Julian Assange case.


FORMER CONGRESSMAN BETO O’ROURKE

(Published Sept. 7, 2019) Journalist Dack Rouleau approached former Rep. Beto O’Rourke at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention and questions him on Julian Assange.

Rouleau: “Would you support Julian Assange? Would you differ from the Trump Administration in his prosecution of him?”

O’Rourke: “Look, I just make sure that we do not treat the press as the enemy of the people but that we also protect our elections, you know, our democracy from attacks (inaudible). I’m really concerned about the complicity not just between the Trump Administration and Vladimir Putin but the close connection between WikiLeaks and the Russian security services so those are my feelings on the issue. I appreciate the question.”

(May 30, 2019) In an interview with a reporter from Citizen Source published on Medium, the reporter asks former Rep. Beto O’Rourke about his stance on Julian Assange.

O’Rourke: “I want to make sure that we don’t do anything that chills the ability to hold people in positions of public trust accountable to make sure that the public and the press have the facts to make informed decisions. Those are my values without commenting on a specific case.”


SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN

(2019) In an article published in The Washington Times, Sen. Elizabeth Warren provided her perspective on Julian Assange.

Warren: “Assange is a bad actor who has harmed U.S. national security—and he should be held accountable… But Trump should not be using this case as a pretext to wage war on the First Amendment and go after the free press who hold the powerful accountable every day.”


ANDREW YANG

(June 18, 2019) In a video published by journalist Dack Rouleau, Rouleau confronts Andrew Yang at a campaign event in Concord to question his perspective on Julian Assange.

Yang: “I think Julian Assange should stand trial. I’m generally pro-whistleblower and like pro-people trying to call out bad behaviors. But in that particular case he did disclose information that had really no useful purpose except for potential damage to our infrastructure (inaudible). So ya I think he should stand trial.”


SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET 

(2018) In an article published on the World Socialist Web Site, it was revealed that Michael Bennet was one of 10 Democratic senators who signed a letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence demanding that the Trump Administration call upon the Ecuadorian government to revoke Julian Assange’s asylum and expel him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The letter was sent prior to Vice President Pence’s visit to Ecuador in 2018. The contents of the letter indicate that the 10 senators viewed the Vice President’s visit as a unique opportunity to encourage Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno to further persecute Assange in exchange for restored US-Ecuador relations.

Near the conclusion of the letter, the 10 senators ask Pence to please relay their condolences to President Moreno for the deaths of two El Comerico journalists who were abducted in Northern Ecuador by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) a few months prior.

(Dec. 2019) Independent journalist Dack Rouleau of overwritten.org from New Hampshire, who is referenced numerous times throughout this article, confronted Bennet about his signing of this letter addressed to Mike Pence and his overall position on Julian Assange and press freedoms.

Rouleau: “You mentioned Donald Trump’s attack on freedom of the press. Now there’s no more disturbing illustration of this, for me, than the persecution of Julian Assange. You, last year, were one of 10 United States senators who wrote a letter to Vice President Pence imploring him to put pressure on the Ecuadorian government to expel Assange from the embassy in Britain. And now that we see how Assange is being tortured in Belmarsh, and knowing how he’s going to be tortured here, I’m wondering how as president you are going to make amends for this?”

Bennet: “Well, I can actually think of a more egregious example by far, which was the assassination of Khashoggi by the Saudi Arabians, who is a journalist living in the United States of America who was lured to his death in Turkey by the Saudis, whom our intelligence agencies all said was killed by the Saudi Prince. And then Donald Trump just turned his back on it– not standing up for his values. So I disagree on which was more egregious, but I think the latter, and I appreciate your asking the question.”


FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

(2010) In an interview with ABC News (Australia), then-Vice President Joe Biden was asked on Meet The Press if the United States should take any measures to stop Assange.

Biden: “We’re looking at that right now. The Justice Department is taking a look at that, and I’m not going to comment on that process.”

The then-Vice President was asked if Assange is a criminal.

Biden: “If he conspired to get these classified documents with a member of the US military, that’s fundamentally different than if somebody drops on your lap—here David, you’re a press person, here is classified material.”

The anchor asks Biden if this case is more like the pentagon papers or a high-tech terrorist.

Biden: “I would argue that it’s closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the pentagon papers.”


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG

(Oct. 24, 2019) Journalist Dack Rouelau of overwritten.org questions Mayor Buttigieg during a campaign event in Bow, NH. This is the first candidate to be asked about Assange following his in-person court appearance that took place Oct. 21 in London.

Rouealu: “I’m concerned about the Trump’s administration’s war on journalism, as president will you pardon Julian Assange? Will you commute his sentence? He is dying in prison, and he badly needs support in our government. He is a prosecuted Nobel prize-nominated journalist. What will you do to help him?”

Buttigieg is standing on stage with three women seated to his left and a handful of what one may assume is supporters behind him.

Buttigieg: (takes a few steps up stage while continuing to face the audience) “Uh, I’m not going to make any commitment as a candidate to issue a pardon to any individual.”

The crowd applauds Buttigieg’s response.

(2019) In an interview with CBS radio, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked about Chelsea Manning being imprisoned for a second time for her refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

Buttigieg: “As somebody who was tasked with handling sensitive information, information that could get people killed I took an oath and made promises that I would handle it responsibly. And when you’re involved in divulging classified information that can harm American troops overseas that is not something to be taken lightly.”

CBS News Radio asked about former President Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence.

Buttigieg: “I’m troubled by that.”

CBS News Radio asked if NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is a hero or a villain in his (Buttigieg’s) perspective.

Buttigieg: “When you are trusted with classified information you have made a promise, and if you are not comfortable safe-guarding information that could get Americans killed, then you shouldn’t be in that profession. I certainly agree that we have learned things about abuses and one way or another that needed to come out. But in my view, the way for that to come out is through congressional oversight not through a breach of classified information.”


FORMER HUD SECRETARY JULIAN CASTRO

(Published Sept. 7, 2019) At the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention, journalist Dack Rouleau approaches former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and asks him his stance on Julian Assange.

Castro: (laughs) “That’s a good question.”


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO

(Published Aug. 17, 2019) Journalist Dack Rouleau confronted Mayor de Blasio and asked if he supported Julian Assange.

de Blasio: “No I don’t honestly… because I believe very much that we have to address the issues that have been covered up, but I don’t think he did it the right way.”

Rouleau: “What do you think he could have done more effectively?”

de Blasio: “When it’s issues where people’s lives may be in danger or national security may be in danger, there has to be some kind of limit. So based on what I know, the impulse to get information out to the public that oftentimes that the government should provide but doesn’t– that’s a good impulse, but I think the way he did it is the wrong way. That’s my feeling.”

(Oct. 13, 2016) Politico published an article concerning WikiLeaks’ release of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.

Mayor Bill de Blasio provided his insight and perspective on the publications.

According to the article, Mayor de Blasio says to reporters: “I think all of us have private lives. All of us have things that are not, historically, subject to public review… And I think it creates a very, very troubling dynamic where there is no privacy of any kind anymore.”


FORMER REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DELANEY

(April 11, 2019) In a press release found on former Rep. John Delaney’s campaign website, his team includes the following:

“Julian Assange should be extradited to the United States and tried for the charge that he allegedly assisted in hacking into government systems. Journalists are free to publish information that they receive but they are not free to participate in obtaining information illegally.  This is the central question in the Assange case. The U.S. government has alleged that Assange assisted in hacking critical and confidential government information and in doing so, endangered the national security interests of the U.S. citizens and the identity of U.S. intelligence assets.”


SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

(Dec. 12, 2010) According to Sen. Gillibrand’s government website, she urged then-President Obama in an open letter to crack down on “cyber-criminals” following a cyber-attack on MasterCard, Visa and PayPal. 

MasterCard, Visa and PayPal unlawfully prevented WikiLeaks supporters from donating to the organization in late 2010. In retaliation, Anonymous launched Operation Payback, which consisted of distributed denial-of-service (DDos) attacks on PayPal following its decision to discontinue the processing of donations to the whistleblowing website, according to a report from RT.


SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR

(Oct. 17, 2019) Journalist Dack Rouleau greets a smiling candidate Amy Klobuchar after a political event in Plymouth, NH. The two shake hands and Klobuchar appears cordial and warm until Rouelau asks the inevitable– if she supports Julian Assange.

Klobuchar: (smiling) “Hi.”

Rouleau: “Nice to meet you.”

The two shake hands.

Klobuchar: (still smiling) “Thank you.”

Rouleau: “Hey, do you support Julian Assange?”

Klobuchar: “Uh-uh.”

Rouleau: “Will you pardon Julian Assange if you’re president?”

Klobuchar: “Uh, no (inaudible) I would not, sorry.”

Rouleau: “You would not?”

(Nov. 29, 2010) In a radio interview with WCCO’s Chad Hartman, Sen. Klobuchar encourages a tough punishment on WikiLeaks following the release of the State Department Cables.

In reference to the leak and its subsequent publication, Klobuchar said: “I think it’s an enormous story and it’s more than a story it’s actually an enormous security risk… It really undermines our efforts to work with other countries Secretary of State Clinton just went on noting that, and that it really tears at the fabric of our government when this kind of thing happens. And that’s what I’m concerned about, and that we have to make sure that the person who appears to be the original leaker here– this Private Manning who’s down the food chain here. First of all, why did she have access to all this information first of all I think that’s something we’re going to have to push but then obviously holding her responsible.”

In reference to Manning, Klobuchar said: “A lot of people believe she could get a prison term for the rest of her life, and I think that would be appropriate.”

Klobuchar: “The other piece of this is what responsibility, legal responsibility, WikiLeaks has with their website. If there’s any way we can push that to say that you can’t put illegally obtained documents up on your website, and I think that’s worth it… If we can show that the material on there was stolen that website can actually be taken down. What you do with something like WikiLeaks which has vast amount of material that’s legal and then they put on things that are illegal I mean that’s where were going to have to strike the balance and make sure that security isn’t jeopardized but this is devastating to our national security.”


CONGRESSMAN TIM RYAN

(Published on Sept. 12, 2019) Journalist Dack Rouleau asks Rep. Tim Ryan for his stance on Julian Assange, and if he would pardon or commute his sentence if he were to win the presidency.

Rep. Ryan: “Yeah, I would not. Releasing important state secrets or information that you’ve gotten inappropriately is wrong, and I would not. Although, let me be clear with my position with Donald Trump, my position with Russia is very, very clear. I believe that, you know, Russia did or was involved in the elections. I think they were trying to tip the scales for Donald Trump. I think there was some level of connection between the campaign and what was happening. I’m not sure we know exactly how coordinated that was (inaudible.)”


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC SWALWELL

(2019) In an interview with CNN that was later published on Breitbart, Representative Eric Swalwell provided his stance on Julian Assange.

Swalwell: “It will be heartening to see Mr. Assange be brought to justice, and I also want to respect the role of journalists and distinguish him from a journalist. He works with state actors to obtain our country and other countries intelligence information and interfere in elections. So I have no sympathy for Mr. Assange with respect to what he did.”

Swalwell: “He (Trump) doesn’t commend the British for working with us to extradite Mr. Assange.”


FORMER CONGRESSMAN JOE WALSH

(2019) The day following Assange’s arrest, former Rep. Walsh went to Twitter to post his perspectives on the week’s events.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

(2016) During the 2016 US presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump famously said, “I love WikiLeaks” while on the campaign trail. 

(April 11, 2019) When the president was asked if he still held the same amount of admiration for the anti-secrecy website, he adopted a much different tone than what was portrayed two years earlier.

Trump: “I know nothing about WikiLeaks, it’s not my thing. I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange. I’ve been seeing what’s happened with Assange and that will be a determination I would imagine mostly by the Attorney General who’s doing an excellent job so he will be making a determination. I know nothing really about him. It’s not my deal in life.”

(June 2013) In an appearance on Fox & Friends, which was later published in the Huffington Post, Donald Trump revealed his thoughts on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Trump: “You know there is still a thing called execution.”


GOVERNOR STEVE BULLOCK

(No information available)


FORMER CONGRESSMAN JOE SESTAK

(No information available)


SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS

(No information available)


MAYOR WAYNE MESSAM

(No information available)


GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE

(No information available)

Press freedom and freedom of speech in under attack in the United States and throughout the world. Just last year, nearly 100 journalists were killed while on the job or because of the subject of their reporting. We cannot allow our local press organizations to publicly promote themselves as defenders of the first amendment all while not issuing statements in support of the most persecuted journalist in the world, Julian Assange.

Press freedom and freedom of speech is in under attack in the United States and throughout the world. Just last year, nearly 100 journalists were killed while on the job or because of the subject of their reporting. We cannot allow our local press organizations to publicly promote themselves as defenders of the first amendment all while not issuing statements in support of the most persecuted journalist in the world, Julian Assange.

Please join the initiative to write your local press organizations and clubs asking them to issue a formal statement in support of Julian Assange and in condemnation of the United States government’s decision to charge him with espionage and conspiracy. 

TIPS/SUGGESTIONS:

  • Prior to writing your letter, study the organization’s website. Read their goals, vision and mission statement.
  • At the introduction of the letter address the points of similarity you share with your local press organization. (For example– promoting excellence in journalism, building a fellowship among journalists, etc.)
  • Use their own statements on their website to cite why they should issue a statement in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
  • Example: On the Press Club of Cleveland’s website, it reads “The Press Club’s vision is that Northeast Ohio always supports… professionals, products and platforms that defend and further the public’s right to have access to information.” Then explain to them that because they are an organization thatsupports professionals who defend and further the public’s right to know, they should issue a statement to support Julian Assange.
  • Provide thoughtful evidence to support your claims.
  • Make it short and get to the point. Avoid exceeding one full page.
  • Remember, you are trying to politely convince an organization to act in a certain way.
  • Explain to them why it is in their best interest to do what you are requesting them to do.
  • Do not assume they will not accept your request.
  • Conclude the letter by acknowledging that you look forward to hearing a response.
  • For questions contact taylorhudak@protonmail.com.

SAMPLE LETTER