ED (evildevil) wrote in talk_politics,

The US Government Vs Wikileaks

Over the days there has been a lot of outcry against Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Many are calling him a traitor that should be prosecuted or executed. The problem with this issue is that Julian Assange cannot be considered a traitor if he is not an US citizen. That would be like North Korea calling President Obama a traitor for releasing nude pictures of Kim Jon Il on the internet (great, now I am going to have nightmares).

The problem is that there are issues regarding the prosecution of Julian Assange for his actions and he is outside the reach of US law. Even if we wanted him dead (and I do not support this idea) it would only result in an International backlash. After all who wants to read "US Government Authorizes Assassination of Foreign Citizen on Foreign Soil" on the headlines? (Besides the fact that it will probably violate international treaties, lets face it, he will become a martyr) Not to mention the last thing President Obama wants is to be tied to an Assassination Squad (probably inherited it from Dick Cheney) that can kill anyone who disrespects him; the last thing he needs is to add more fuel to the fire of conspiracy theories against him. Of course, I am taking these cries of Julian Assange's assassination as more bark than bite.

Joe Lieberman is attempting to introduce a new legislation to be used against Wikileaks, the problem with this move is that it wont punish Wikileaks' past crimes, to do so would be unconstitutional. New laws cant penalize past criminal conducts, the Constitution clearly bans ex post facto laws. This move is either a political attempt to look good (after looking at his poll numbers this shouldnt be a surprise) or an attempt to prevent future "cyber crimes" against individuals who release sensitive information that is harming to the safety of the public (must be nice for Scooter Libby and company to live in the land of hypocrisy, where the real criminals are anyone but the government).

Even if this law were to pass, I just dont see how can they stop Wikileaks:

It is not clear whether WikiLeaks — a confederation of open-government advocates who solicit secret documents for publication — could be subject to a federal subpoena. Federal courts most likely do not have jurisdiction over it or a means to serve it with such a subpoena.

But leaving that issue aside, what is there to stop the government from prosecuting the New York Times or any media organization that "conspired" to release the leaked documents? After all, they also helped Wikileaks in spreading the information to the masses, making them no less different than Wikileaks on their part. And what about bloggers and online media outlets or social networks like facebook? Would they also be prosecuted for spreading the information? Will the government shut down the internet just so they can stop the spread of electronic information? It soon becomes an issue of Freedom of Speech.

The only law that the US can use against Julian Assange is the World War I-era spy law, the Espionage Act of 1917, and this is a law that was created before the internet and the electronic age. The law has several holes that would make it difficult to successfully use against Julian Assange. The Espionage Act of 1917 would successfully prosecute Bradley Manning, the 22 year old private in the US army. Since the law makes it clear regarding the issue of those responsible for providing leaked information. But it becomes murky on Assange's case. It will be the burden of the government to prove that Assange encouraged and conspired with Bradley Manning to produce and pass the documents to Wikileaks.

The fact that the government is more concerned with prosecuting whistle-blowers releasing their dirty secrets for the world to see over the issue that the government has no problem in violating our civil liberties to learn our own private secrets in the name of National Security says a lot about their view of the world and their priorities.

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Tags: freedom of speech, internet, national security, wikileaks
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