Header Image (book)


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Pardon Julian Assange?

Silverfiddle Rant!

In an age of interminable titty-twisters, here's one more: Clown car conservatives are joining the Pardon Julian Assange circus.

Should President Trump pardon Julian Assage?  Here are some facts.

DoJ initially charged Assange with conspiring with Private Chelsea Manning to steal classified government documents and publish them to the world. In 2019, the US government issued an 18-count superseding indictment.

People and organizations big and small worldwide have been protesting US prosecution of Assange since the initial indictment, usually citing freedom of the press.  The US counter-argues that Assange is not a reporter and that he was in on the conspiracy to steal government secrets.

Assange is not a US citizen and does not have a security clearance, and anyway, what makes his actions any different from that of the Washington Post, NY Times, or any other news outlet that gleefully publishes purloined government secrets to advance the outlet's and the leaker's political agenda?

The crime lies with Private Chelsea Manning, a cleared US citizen who violated federal law and betrayed her nation by turning over classified information to people not authorized to receive it. Instead of doing the right thing and executing Chelsea Manning on the battlefield in Iraq, the government treated her leniently, giving her 35 years, but President Barack Obama commuted her sentence on his way out the door. 

The initial and most unambiguous charge against Assange is that he received a password hash value stolen by Manning (I laughed when the DoJ indictment called the Linux operating system used by Manning "special software.")  Assange used publicly available tools in an unsuccessful attempt to derive the password from the hash, which would have allowed Manning to continue her theft under the cloak of a different user account. 

Manning did all the work and paid for it with a grand total of four years in federal prison before Obama let her go.  

How many years should Assange get for conspiracy and attempt to crack a password?


Glenn Greenwald - The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom and Tyranny


  1. I don't have a formed decision about Assange, one way or the other.

    "DoJ initially charged Assange with conspiring with Private Chelsea Manning". Is that the same DoJ complicit in framing Trump?
    Was Assange complicit in helping Manning break the law?
    I don't know, because I don't know which sources to trust.

    And must you insist in supporting Manniing's Delusion that he is a she?

    1. I voluntarily call people whatever they want to be called out of basic respect for fellow human beings.

      However, I do not support enforced complicity in the delusion of others.

  2. Pardon Assange and Snowden. They are whistleblowers and uncovered the true threat to democracy, the Deep State IC.

    1. ps - The Republic is dead, it was killed by the Deep State.

    2. Oh wait, you believe that we had a fair election....

  3. Why does the US believe that its laws apply to persons who are not US citizens and who are not physically located in the US or US territory?

  4. I have two observations:

    The first is that the American judicial system is about as one-sided as it gets. The entire process begins that way with a "grand jury" proceeding, where only the prosecutor is present and, whenever an indictment is rendered, only means that there "may have been" a violation of the law and that the accused "might" have done it.

    So, on the one side, you have an "accused" who stands innocent of all charges until proven guilty in a court of law – except that in the minds of most Americans who never had a civics class, an indictment suggests that the accused is guilty of something, otherwise he wouldn’t have been indicted. On the other side of that door is the government standing by with unlimited resources who or which are dedicated to placing the accused behind bars.

    And then, depending on the severity of the charges, an accused’s financial situation, his ties to the community, etc., he may end up in pre-trial confinement for a few years "pending trial." He could demand a speedy trial, and the government would like nothing better. One could argue that Assange has been in pre-trial confinement for several years now.

    Suppose the accused is provided with an attorney to represent him, at no cost to him. In that case, he is likely to end up with a lawyer removed from law school by only a few years, whose grades in law school were appalling, who in all likelihood took the bar exam on numerous occasions before passing it, or if not that, is a lawyer with a severe drinking problem whose only possible job in the law is as a court-appointed attorney. If the accused hires an attorney, it's going to cost him a small fortune, from which he may never recover financially.

    On the other side of this fiasco is the federal government's entire weight standing ready with butcher knives to slice and dice the accused (unless he’s one of the untouchables) and the government has no restriction on its spending of taxpayer money on the proceedings. The accused has his one lawyer; the government has numerous prosecuting attorneys, dozens of police investigators, unlimited access to forensic labs, unlimited budgets to transport witnesses and put them up in posh hotels but to help make this a slam-dunk victory for the government, prosecutors routinely "over charge" an accused because doing so intimidates them and edges them toward “plea bargains.” According this kind of latitude to prosecutors is what makes our system unfair.

    Then, finally, federal charges are usually filed in areas where the jury pool consists of mental midgets where it is almost a guarantee that no one in the jury pool understand the word venue. In doing so, the government may have followed the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law is seriously lacking.

    My advice to Assange would be this: if he wants a fair hearing, avoid a US court for as long as it is humanly possible.

  5. My second observation:

    Admittedly, I do not know any of the particulars of the events that transpired in this case. For example, I do not know if Assange contacted Manning to solicit his help in obtaining classified information, or if Manning offered the information to Assange. I don’t know if there was an arrangement to pay Manning for this material – but even if a monetary arrangement was made, how did Assange’s acceptance of the material differ substantially from any US news source, who readily accepts classified material for publication?

    Once in possession of the material, what did Assange do with it? Did he transfer the material to an American adversary, sell it to Islamists, put it on E-bay? Did Assange benefit from releasing this material to the general public? Did Assange have a moral or legal duty to the United States to safeguard it or return it to the government unmolested?

    I do believe there was a serious breach of US security in the Manning affair, but the real violation of law was that the government’s custodian, whose duty it was to protect that information, was negligent in his or her duty – and that such negligence rises to the level of a criminal violation.

    Consider: while this classified information was in government custody, Manning accessed it, copied it, and transmitted it to a source outside the United States. Manning went to jail for his role in taking and transmitting this information, but what of the individual whose duty it was to safeguard that information?

    I conclude by wondering why the government would be willing to spend so much money prosecuting Assange, who never signed a security agreement ... while at the same time ignoring a more serious violation by a former Secretary of State, who conspired with others to circumvent security procedures designed to safeguard classified material? Our system of justice appears, to me at least, supremely un-just.

  6. ....but what of the individual whose duty it was to safeguard that information?

    There was no individual charged with safeguarding the information that he took. He was a 35F Intelligence Analyst, entrusted with a security clearance, working in a SCIF and with access to 2 classified networks as part of his job. When he violated the terms of his clearance and NDA, he was assigned to said SCIF and working the night shift, probably under limited NCO supervision. The information he took was in an accessible database [accessible to any analyst with the same clearance as Manning]. He copied what he wanted and spirited the CD out.

    While he deserved to serve the full sentence that he received, the information itself was not particularly damaging to national security or special programs. But commuting his sentence was a miscarriage of justice.

  7. @ CI ... so are you saying no one is responsible for the security of a network that contains classified information? Wow ... No wonder foreign governments are able to hack us at will. Amazing. Thanks for the info.

    1. Way to take it out of context. Good job. Do you labor under some notion that military intelligence analysts don't have access to information that allows them to make assessments?

      Do you think that all of the assorted analysts at every level, have to mother-may-I for every bit of information on the domains that cleared intelligence personnel gave access to?

      Please, share with me your vision of how classified information networks operate, and who or where these 'guardians' are located to round out your conspiracy theory. I'm fascinated.....

    2. I have no vision; I was simply asking a question.

  8. Should an extremely seditious and treasonous lame-duck President who has actively called for and is currently encouraging the ongoing violent assault on the US Capitol pardon a foreign actor that harmed the United States?

    Sure, if Vladimir Putin gives him permission to issue said pardon.

    1. The current extremely seditious and treasonous lame-duck President. Got any hard questions?

    2. TC: Stop sniveling. DC will be back to starting wars and bending over for China and Iran in two weeks.


We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective