Julian Assange isn’t even a US citizen, but the catch phrase seems to have ironically become common among conservative mainstream media pundits. It implies foreign nationals have constitutional rights to begin with. You know like, you could expect Nancy Pilose to say natives of the Amazon rain forest have no constitutional right to hack emails, even though she would assert they have a constitutional right to US food stamps. But, that’s the socialists block.
I suppose it does beg a point. Are journalists “word citizens” who automatically have constitutional rights? That would mean the US is in charge of the world, I suppose. But I don’t suppose that would be a good idea really. Let the Chinese deal with their own 5 billion people.
Even still, the arrest and impending extradition of Julian Assange to the United States does not bode well for freedom of press and journalism. There is no doubt, hacking emails is wrong and probably illegal – and it should be. But, if spying on Adolph Hitler was illegal in Nazi Germany, would US agents be guilty of a crime for doing so? In WWII, there certainly was evidence to believe that crimes were being committed against the people of Germany by their own government. Spying, after all, is an act of war, not necessarily a domestic crime – right?
I guess it all does boil down to perspective. Whether or not the US government was engaged in crimes against it’s own citizens seem to be in little doubt to me. There was little doubt at the time, and while there have been some changes that try to make us believe it is no longer taking place, I still have no doubt there are crimes being committed by the US government against US citizens.
So, what are you going to call Julian Assange, a journalist, a publisher, a spy, a mercenary, a soldier? And what about Chelsea Manning and American hero Edward Snowden? They are certainly US citizens, and they certainly did have reason to believe, and in fact the US government was committing crimes against US citizens. Whose job is it to protect and defend the US people and the constitutional values we portend to live by? If not Wikileaks – who?
These questions are not easy because as soon as you give license to someone like Julian Assange, some idiot thinks his hurt feelings, which do not rise to the same level, can go around breaking into things – or somehow has an entitlement to sell bootleg cigarettes. It’s not an easy call but in the real world governments are corrupt and throughout history many, many innocent people have lost their lives because no one thought it was their job to do what is right.
As a journalist, I recognize that Julian Assange is no saint, but I could not bring charges and prosecute him for what he did. He and Manning and Snowden, and others walk a fine and blurry line and sometimes pay for it in ways they shouldn’t have to. My country, The United States of America is a better place for their sacrifices.
One aspect of Julian Assange’s arrest that I find particulary disconcerting is the timing. While there is backlash occurring now, the story of our government’s violations of privacy and citizen rights has cooled off quite a bit since the hysteria prompted by 911. That makes it seem to me that the US government, and the Ecuadorian government, have acted together to make the biggest possible impact on the psyche of the American people. Because of the timing, it rings as malicious propaganda. “Don’t cross big brother even when he’s wrong, ’cause he will have a vendetta and get you in the end.”
I say let Julian Assange go. The United States is a better country for what he did, and he’s had enough days without any sunshine.