With so much going on in terms of large scale disasters at the moment, it is easy to lose track of the stories of a mere individuals. But there are two individuals whose stories should not be forgotten. They are facing the full might and anger of the American establishment. Their “crime” was to tell the truth:
Julian Assange has lost the first round in his case to avoid extradition to Sweden. His lawyers have said all along if he were sent to Sweden, he’d soon be on his way to the U.S. If the Obama Administration has anything to say about it, he will.
Assange, who is currently in England, faces charges in Sweden of rape and coercion stemming from sexual relations with two women. But the U.S. Department of Justice has for many months been investigating Assange, the editor of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, in connection with the release of about 250,000 classified cables beginning in November 2010 detailing correspondence between the U.S. State Department and its diplomatic missions around the world.
The Justice Department has set up a grand jury in Virginia to indict him under the Espionage Act. The problem for the Justice Department is that the Espionage Act seemingly does not cover Assange’s acts. It has never been used to criminalize publication of classified information. … Apparently, because the Justice Department couldn’t figure out a way to apply the Espionage Act to publication, it announced on Nov. 29, 2010, it was contemplating an end run a round the act. It would investigate Assange to see if he urged Bradley Manning to leak.
Manning is the U.S. soldier arrested in May 2010 on suspicion of having passed classified information on Iraq to WikiLeaks. This was a clever solution to the Justice Department’s problems. If it couldn’t prove Assange violated the Espionage Act, it would claim Manning had violated the Espionage Act at the urging of Assange.
This was an easier case for the government, since Manning, an employee of the government, in all probability was subject to the Espionage Act, unlike Assange. But if Assange conspired with Manning, Assange could be indicted for conspiracy.
This announcement caused angst in the First Amendment community. If Assange could be indicted for conspiracy, so could every journalist who discussed the leaking of classified information with a source within government. For this reason both the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch protested to the Obama Administration. They urged that Assange not be indicted. In a little noticed announcement of several weeks ago, the Justice Department said it was giving up on this approach. It said that it could find no evidence that Assange discussed the leaking of classified information with Manning.
This would seemingly leave the Justice Department with no case. But the department is not giving up easily. … The Justice Department is on what lawyers call a “fishing expedition.” They are looking desperately for any evidence to construct a case … what started off as a putative prosecution of Assange, has turned into a persecution.
The plight of Bradley Manning is particularly extreme:
“You can hear Bradley coming from a long way away because of the chains – his feet have chains on them, they go to a leather belt around his waist. His hands go into them and he has no free movement of his hands.” …
The picture became bleaker, however, as the months of imprisonment wore on, House says. After the suicide watch episode, he says, Manning seemed “catatonic” and exhausted. …
Amnesty International in Britain has expressed similar strong concern. International UK campaigns director Tim Hancock said: “We’ve heard that Bradley Manning is made to strip each night and then stand to attention, naked, each morning and wait for his clothes. This is completely degrading and serves no purpose other than to humiliate and punish him, given that he’s already under close supervision.
“Manning is being subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. This is particularly disturbing when one considers that he hasn’t even been brought to trial, let alone convicted of a crime.” …
In the latest escalation of his conditions, he has now been charged with 22 new offences, including the potentially capital crime of “aiding the enemy”. To his supporters, it seems that this small figure chained up in Quantico must represent something very terrifying to the US Army.
Home of the brave? Land of the free?