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

Three months after the original publication of this article, the New York Times published a very similar article on Sept. 10, 2019. Taylor Hudak contacted the New York Times and has not received a response.

Behind what appears to be the height of political tensions in the United States is a singular political party—a class of individuals who not only share a distinct and lenient set of rules and regulations exclusive to only them, but a great disdain for anyone willing to expose it.

Too often those who exist in this elite class infiltrate the election cycles—and sometimes, even rig them.

It is said that the correlation of a candidate’s campaign promises and his or her voting record and policy implementation can indicate his or her true intentions. But once the public becomes aware, it is too late.

Much can be revealed about a candidate’s intent based upon his or her perspective on how to treat the ultimate check on power or perhaps how to treat the world’s most persecuted journalist. They both are the same, and his name is Julian Assange.


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.


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.”

ANALYSIS

For Julian Assange to be considered a high-tech terrorist, his activities and publications would have to induce wide-spread terror and fear. Instead, WikiLeaks’ releases informed the public of truthful information so voters could make better informed decisions that would result in a more moral and just society.


SENATOR COREY BOOKER 

(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.”


GOVERNOR STEVE BULLOCK

(No information available)


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 stares blankly in the direction of Rouleau as he poses the question. One of the women seated to his left displays a wide smile.

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.

ANALYSIS

Buttigieg fails to directly answer Rouleau’s question,= and instead issues a broad statement addressing his unwillingness to commit to issuing presidential pardons prior to his term as president, should he win the general election.

In addition, Buttigieg fails to address Dack’s subsequent questions. He never provides the audience with a more general response as to how he will address Assange’s case should he become president.

His body language indicates he is uncomfortable with the question being asked. Buttigieg’s blank face and stoic stance suggest he is feeling caught off guard. Additionally, he steps backwards– away from Rouleau– further suggesting he is feeling vulnerable in this moment.

The Applause

This is very telling. From the audience reaction to the phony grin displayed by one of the women, the entire clip is disturbing and reveals the superficiality of American politics. Considering the extremely poor conditions that Assange is subjected to paired with his deteriorating mental state, as made evident in court on Oct. 21, the applause to Buttigieg’s response speaks to the mentality of many Americans.

The applause and approval of Buttigieg’s assertion to not commit to a presidential pardon prior to taking office should he win the general election, is to outwardly support the ongoing torture of a journalist and publisher. One may only wonder who was present in that audience.

(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.”

ANALYSIS

There is no evidence to suggest that anyone was harmed due to the material leaked by Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden or any of the information published on WikiLeaks as Mayor Buttigieg suggested.


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.”

ANALYSIS

Former HUD Secretary Castro was more than likely not expecting to have to answer a question concerning the WikiLeaks founder. Instead, Castro physically turns away from Rouleau and nervously laughs suggesting he was unprepared to engage with a journalist on this issue. Additionally, his response is indicative of a greater problem– America’s politicians have for far too long ignored Julian Assange.

It is troubling that a presidential candidate would not have a response to a case that may restrict first amendment rights. One must ask why as an American, Castro would not be concerned about this very real threat. Additionally, it is fair to be concerned about Castro’s stance on the importance of preserving human rights.


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.”

ANALYSIS

Mayor de Blasio’s claim that there is no privacy because of the existence of WikiLeaks is unfounded. WikiLeaks publishes information that is in the public’s interest spanning topics from the intelligence communities to war and military.


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.”


REPRESENTATIVE TULSI GABBARD

(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.”

(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.”

(Published on July 10, 2019) In an interview with 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.”

ANALYSIS

Rep. Gabbard’s anti-war and anti-interventionist stance coupled with her outward support for Julian Assange has allowed her to stand out among her opponents. As a result, Gabbard garnered a unique base of supporters many of whom are free Assange and first amendment activists.

Moreover, Gabbard’s consistent respect for a free press and support for WikiLeaks publishing activities is an indicator of what America would look like under the leadership of a President Gabbard. Unlike the majority of her opponents, who support the prosecution of Julian Assange, Gabbard values and understands the importance of the existence of a check on power.

Additionally, Gabbard did not have to issue a video in strong support of Julian Assange. In fact, his case, Chelsea Manning’s and Edward Snowden’s are not among the priority talking points in the mainstream media’s 2020 presidential election coverage. There was no alternative motive for her to release the video, therefore suggesting her authenticity to be the only true reason.


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 KAMALA HARRIS

(No information available)


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.”

ANALYSIS

Candidate Hawkins’ statements are a strong condemnation of the DOJ’s decision to charge a publisher. However, Hawkins fails to specify which action he would take to free Assange of these charges.

(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.”

ANALYSIS

Candidate Hawkins’ spoken word in comparison to his statements published on his campaign website are moderately contradictory. For instance, Hawkins provides the generic Green Party stance on whistleblowing and a free press, which is to support the journalists and the whistleblowers and prosecute the war criminals. However, this sentiment is not mirrored in his response to the reporter’s question.

Instead, Hawkins begins with a smear against Julian Assange when responding to the reporter. Hawkins suggests that because Assange may have interacted with Donald Jr., he shares the same political views as he. However, Hawkins fails to address Assange’s criticism of then-candidate Trump. Moreover, he conveniently forgot that Assange once famously compared the choice between Clinton and Trump as a choice between cholera and gonorrhea. Hawkins then proceeds to condemn the DOJ’s decision to prosecute Assange for publishing the leaks provided by Chelsea Manning, perhaps in an attempt to stick with Green Party talking points because he then circles back to his communication with Trump Jr.

What is similar between his written word on the website and his spoken word in the interview, is that Hawkins fails to confirm if he would drop the case against Julian Assange. Furthermore, Hawkins is adhering to the false Russian narrative that Assange may have worked with the Russian government to benefit then-candidate Trump.

The reporter follows up and asks Hawkins if he considers it a crime to expose the DNC emails which revealed the primary elections were rigged against then-candidate Bernie Sanders.

(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.”

ANALYSIS

Candidate Hawkins is more supportive of WikiLeaks and Assange than the average establishment candidate, however his support may not be genuine. Hawkins responses indicate he most-likely receives the majority of his news from the mainstream media. This is apparent in his reciting of the Russia-gate talking points. Perhaps candidate Hawkins is attempting to appease the Green Party by appearing to be pro-Assange, while unconsciously interjecting his dislike and lack of support for the WikiLeaks founder.


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?”


GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE

(No information available)


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: (demeanor drastically shifts as she turns from Rouleau) “Uh-uh.”

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

Klobuchar: (disengages eye contact with the camera and/or Rouleau) “Uh, no (inaudible) I would not, sorry.”

Rouleau: “You would not?”

ANALYSIS

Klobuchar, similar to many of her opponents, namely former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Sen. Bernie Sanders, demonstrates a lack of willingness to answer Rouleau’s question.

When Klobuchar and Rouleau first engage and prior to Rouleau questioning Klobuchar, she is warm and cordial. One can see Klobuchar smiling at Rouleau, and the two shake hands as he expresses a friendly “nice to meet you.”

Once Rouleau poses the question about Assange, Klobuchar’s facial expression turns stern, and she becomes short and disengaging. Klobuchar physically turns away from Rouleau, revealing her own discomfort and/or dislike for the question– both similar behaviors demonstrated by Sanders and Castro.

Recognizing reoccurring patterns in the candidates’ responses to questions regarding Julian Assange should be documented– as they are here. However, it raises an additional issue as to why it is acceptable for candidates to welcome some questions from some reporters and not others.

Of course, Klobuchar was expected to continue greeting the line of attendees at the political event, but her abrupt shift in demeanor is suggestive of her attitude toward journalistic freedom and the freedom of Julian Assange.

(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.”


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.”


MAYOR WAYNE MESSAM

(No information available)


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.”

ANALYSIS

Any politician who tells you he or she appreciates your question is resentful you asked it. But what’s more troubling about O’Rourke’s words is his faithful allegiance to the Russian conspiracy. A conspiracy that has been debunked by not only award-winning journalist Aaron Mate, but by Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself when he testified on the House floor.

President Trump notoriously referred to the media as an enemy of the people. This phrase has stuck with many Americans and O’Rourke uses this to his advantage in his well-crafted response to Rouleau. Using a portion of that phrase in his response in an effort to separate himself from President Trump was most-likely O’Rourke’s intention.

(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.”

ANALYSIS

Former Rep. O’Rourke’s careful word choice and effort to avoid addressing Julian Assange’s case suggests he would most-likely do nothing to liberate Assange. Instead, O’Rourke is fixated on running an establishment-friendly campaign that would lead to a presidency that would allow the justice department and intelligence agencies to continue their abuses of power.

His statement is contradictory. He claims to support a journalist’s ability to hold the powerful to account, yet he chooses to remain silent on the one case that will directly impede on that ability.


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.)”

ANALYSIS

Despite the Mueller report not providing any evidence for the Russian conspiracy, Rep. Ryan continues to push this over exhausted mainstream media talking point similar to former Rep. O’Rourke.

Interestingly, when Ryan was asked a similar question by Charlie Savage of the New York Times, Ryan provided Savage with a slightly different answer. Ryan said that charging Julian Assange with espionage was unconstitutional, and he would refer to his Attorney General on the case.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS

(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.”

ANALYSIS

When Sen. Sanders is graciously confronted by Dack Rouleau, Sanders fails to provide a definitive yes or no response to Rouleau’s question. However, his lack of response is a response.

One can only speculate, but Sanders’ saying “can’t say it just yet,” indicates he is pressured by a higher authority and is succumbing to that pressure. Why is it that Sanders cannot answer that question? Is there potential political consequences for doing so? Does Sanders realize that as Julian Assange’s health deteriorates in Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London, that waiting to provide a response to a valid question while on the campaign trail is nothing short of unacceptable to his family, friends and supporters who all care for him?

If any candidate were to support Julian Assange for principles beyond just the fact that all people should, it is Sanders. Considering it was Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks staff who revealed that the 2016 democratic primary was rigged against Sanders, he owes Assange a very special thank you and the promise of a presidential pardon would be an ideal start.

(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.”

ANALYSIS

Sen. Sanders failure to strongly support Julian Assange and acknowledge his name has become a real irritant to his supporters, many of whom strongly support WikiLeaks and its founder.

Days following Julian’s arrest in the Ecuadorian embassy, Sanders held a planned rally in Michigan where he spoke about justice and equal rights. However, when speaking about LGBTQ rights he failed to address Chelsea Manning. Additionally, when speaking about justice he failed to address the war crimes that Julian Assange exposed.

In an article by Steve Poikonen, he writes the Sanders campaign staff is comprised of individuals who have endured censorship and media suppression. Journalists, including David Sirota and Biahna Gray, who work for the Sanders campaign, at one time held positive views toward the existence of WikiLeaks. It is the duty of these journalists to ensure that Julian Assange’s case is an issue addressed by Sanders to the greatest extent– in every interview and at every rally.


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.”


FORMER CONGRESSMAN JOE SESTAK

(No information available)


TOM STEYER

(No information available)


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.”

ANALYSIS

During the interview, Rep. Swalwell mentioned that the people want to know if Assange met with Paul Manafort in the Ecuadorian embassy. However, this story published in The Guardian by Luke Harding has been proven false. The Guardian never retracted the story.

Swalwell also claims that Assange is not a journalist, which is an irrelevant argument. Not only does the United States government not issue a licensure for one to practice journalism, but a journalist is not granted any additional protections under the First Amendment.


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.”

ANALYSIS

It is under the leadership of President Trump that the Department of Justice charged Julian Assange with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in addition to 17 other counts related to espionage.

President Trump is claiming to not know anything about WikiLeaks and is assuring the reporters that his Attorney General will handle the case. Therefore, he is distancing himself from the case and the decision to charge and prosecute Assange.

(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.”


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.

ANALYSIS

The United States government, nor any individual, has the authority to determine who is and is not a journalist.


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.”

ANALYSIS

There is no evidence to suggest that WikiLeaks publications destabilized the national security. Such a comment was a tactic adopted by the mainstream media to discredit the organization and downplay the significance of its journalistic work.

Warren refers to Assange as a bad actor, which is misleading because WikiLeaks has a 100% accuracy rate. To be a bad actor, it would imply that WikiLeaks was manipulating reports for some intended outcome, or that its staff was working with adversarial governments, for which there is not evidence.

Furthermore, Warren contradicts herself when she argues that Assange should but held accountable yet President Trump should not use this case to hinder the state of the free press.


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.


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.”

ANALYSIS

The mainstream media, most notably CNN, MSNBC, The Guardian and The NY Times, are responsible for disseminating false information regarding Assange’s personality in an attempt to discredit him and destroy his character. Williamson has never met nor spoken with Assange, therefore her aversion toward his personality being a factor in her lack of support for him is a result of effective mainstream media propaganda.

Alternatively, her ability to slightly evolve her stance on Assange is a result of accountability journalism. Comedian Jimmy Dore effectively takes Williamson’s responses, rephrases them, follows up and even corrects her falsehoods. Throughout the interview, the viewer can see Williamson gradually begin to realize she may need to re-examine her position on Assange.


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.”

ANALYSIS

There is no evidence to support Yang’s claim that WikiLeaks’ publications have or may have damaged infrastructure.


Readers are encouraged to view the original source material.

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

Chicago Weekend of Action

Tags: Social

We are proud to announce a weekend of #Action4Assange. We will be in Chicago on Sat. July 13th and Sun. July 14th. We aim to spread a message of press freedom while providing supporters with information and resources on how to hold their own personal protests. We will also host a #Candles4Assange vigil in honor of journalist Julian Assange.

If you are unable to attend in person, please consider holding your own personal protest. Papering your local community with signs or distributing flyers is an effective way to become involved locally.

Printable Flyers may be found here.

Printable Signs may be found here.

Act, even if you act alone.

Sat. July 13th

11a.m. #Action4Assange Meet Up
Dvorak (Anton) Park
1119 W Cullerton St, Chicago, IL 60608
If possible please bring a staple gun/staples and signs or flyers.
These things will be available/provided on site if you cannot get them prior to this time.

3p.m. #Action4Assange Meet Up
Throop Park
1811 S Throop St, Chicago, IL 60608
If possible, please bring a staple gun/staples and signs or flyers.
These items will be available/provided on site if you cannot get them in advance.

6p.m. Table Outside of The Jimmy Dore Show
Thalia Hall
1807 S Allport Street Chicago, IL 60608
We will be passing out water bottles and taking donations for Chelsea and Julian’s legal defense.

11p.m. #Candles4Assange Vigil
Sidewalk corner in front of McDonald’s
1664 S Blue Island Ave, Chicago, IL 60608
Please bring a candle. Some candles will also be available.

Sun. July 14th

Noon #Action4Assange Meet Up
Seward Park
375 W Elm St, Chicago, IL 60610
If possible, please bring a staple gun/staples and signs or flyers.
These items will be available/provided on site if you cannot get them in advance.

3p.m. #Action4Assange Meet Up
Outside of the Chicago History Museum
1811 S Throop St, Chicago, IL 60608
If possible, please bring a staple gun/staples and signs or flyers.
These items will be available/provided on site if you cannot get them in advance.

6:30p.m. Table Outside of The Jimmy Dore Show
Zanies Comedy Club
1548 N Wells St Chicago, IL 60610
We will be passing out waters and taking donations for Chelsea Manning and Julian’s legal defense.

9p.m. Table Outside of The Jimmy Dore Show
Zanies Comedy Club
1548 N Wells St Chicago, IL 60610
We will be passing out waters and taking donations for Manning and Julian’s legal defense.

Please contact @action_4assange, @AndrewZigmund or @TaylorM_Hudak if you have questions.

by Taylor Hudak

Wednesday, July 3, 2019, became a day of international unification—a day where nearly 60 cities across six continents lit candles in honor of award-winning journalist, Julian Assange.

According to a Candles For Assange media release, birthday celebrations taking place in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand, on July 3rd, Julian’s 48th birthday, have initiated a global movement — #Candles4Assange.

The roots of the movement date back to July 3, 2018, on Julian’s 47th birthday, when #FreeAssangeNZ configured a candle display reading “Free Julian.” The candles were placed on NZ Parliament lawn and an image of the display captured the attention of activists and Assange supporters world-wide.

Those involved in #FreeAssangeNZ chose to hold a similar event for Julian’s 48th birthday taking place this year. However, #FreeAssangeNZ invited other cities to organize vigils and join in on the #Candles4Assange global celebration.

Day after day, the hashtag-Candles4Assange was reaching dozens of cities, and soon the movement became viral within the free speech and free Julian Assange community.

According to the release, “Free Assange NZ supports the principle of press freedom, especially for a media whose mission is ‘to hold power to account.’”

A MESSAGE TO STAND FOR, AN IDEA TO DEFEND

Julian Assange is a man of and for the people. In addition, he is the embodiment of good journalism, making those in power feel uncomfortable. Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff, through their work, have inadvertently forced the mainstream media to re-examine how good journalism presents itself.

Candles For Assange strongly advocates for these ideals — a free press and for the protection of free speech. Millions of people around the world align with the movement. And because of that, Free Assange NZ is challenging the New Zealand media to condemn the UK and US efforts to persecute and torture Julian Assange.

We too, at Action For Assange are calling upon the American media to condemn the behavior of its government toward journalist Julian Assange.

This sentiment is stronger than those within the powerful elite would like to believe. We exist, and we are here.

A DAY OF ACTION

Candles For Assange co-founder, Alex Hills asked organizers to take photos and/or video footage of their actions on July 3rd and send them and/or link them to @Candles4Assange, @GreenweaverArch or the Facebook group, #Candles4Assange.

“Many are singing Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder on film for a compilation video of the final actions throughout the world made into a moral boosting singalong supporter video,” Hills said. “We are happy for anything no matter how big or small a gesture.”

Candles For Assange has also made extensive efforts to connect with Antarctica to ensure Julian’s day of birth is celebrated on all seven continents.

The promotional video for Candles For Assange may be found here. We strongly recommend watching this video.

We are stronger when we work together.

The fight to free Julian Assange does not attract the weak or faint of heart but rather the determined and the fearless.

And we are ready.

Happy birthday Julian – from your brothers and sisters around the world.

by Taylor Hudak

(Oberlin, Ohio) – A free Julian Assange activist is facing a misdemeanor charge for hanging signs on public utility poles in support of the WikiLeaks founder.

Andrew Smith, 28, of Elyria was cited on Saturday afternoon June 29 for hanging signs reading “Free Julian Assange,” “Free Speech Free Press” and others with similar messages.

As Smith was stapling a free Julian sign to a utility pole in front of a convenient store, a police officer driving by slowed down and shouted at Smith to stop what he was doing.

With staple gun in hand, the 28-year-old turns to look at the officer and then continues to staple the poster.

The officer proceeds into the convenient store parking lot and orders Smith to empty his pockets. Meanwhile, two additional police cars arrive at the scene.

After a brief exchange concerning the law, the officer orders Smith to get into the back of the vehicle.

Meanwhile, a woman accompanying Smith, Taylor Hudak, 26, of Kent was told she may leave. However, Hudak remained at the site and took photographs on her cell phone as the incident unfolded.

While Smith was in the police vehicle, he continued to speak with the officer explaining to her his political ideology and reason for posting signs. The officer responded to him saying she did not understand.

After several minutes sitting in the police vehicle, Smith was issued a citation for violating Oberlin City Ordinance 503.02 Advertising on Public Property.

Smith appeared in Oberlin Municipal Court on Friday July 5 at 8:30 a.m. and plead not guilty. He will return to court for a pretrial hearing on Aug. 18.