This morning British Judge Venessa Baraitser denied the U.S. government’s extradition request for Julian Assange. That of course was the right thing to do. The problem though is with Baraitser’s reason for the denial: She says that there is a high danger that Assange will commit suicide if he is extradited. That was the justification she used for her decision.
What judicial cowardice! Baraitser should have denied the extradition request for the right reason: The U.S. government, specifically the U.S. national-security establishment (i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA) simply wants vengeance for Assange’s disclosing the truth about the evil and immoral actions of the U.S. government. That’s why they have been seeking Assange’s extradition for years — to punish him for committing the dastardly “crime” of disclosing the truth about them.
After all, let’s keep something important in mind: Assange isn’t accused of perjury or lying, like former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. was (and who wasn’t charged with anything for doing so). Assange’s “crime” is that he told the truth about the deep state. That’s verboten in any national-security state, whether it’s Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Egypt. Pakistan, Nazi Germany, or the United States.
Assange, who isn’t even a U.S. citizen, had to be taught a lesson. Moreover, he had to be used to send a message to anyone else who was contemplating disclosing the dark-side, sordid secrets of the U.S. national-security state. That message is a simple one: “Disclose our secrets and this is what will happen to you. We will harass you, persecute you, prosecute you, abuse you, and torture you until you want to kill yourself — that is, unless we have the opportunity to kill you first.”
Some people are saying that the Assange case is a threat to freedom of the press. They are saying that if Assange and his organization Wikileaks can be punished for publishing the truth about U.S. government actions, then any mainstream publication runs the same risk.
They are right, of course. But the Assange case goes far beyond freedom of the press. Why shouldn’t anyone, press or not, be free to disclose the truth about the sordid, dark-side, secret activities of the U.S. military, the CIA, the NSA, the State Department, and every other part of the U.S. government? Why should the right to tell the truth be limited to people who work for the press? Why doesn’t freedom encompass the right of everyone to tell the truth about their government?
Make no mistake about it: U.S. officials are going to appeal Baraitser’s ruling. Given the tenuous nature of her justification, there is a good chance that her ruling will be reversed, which probably would mean a remand with instructions to Baraitser to consider the other, more substantial grounds that Assange is contending justify the denial of the extradition request.
That of course means many more months of delay. Baraitser now should do the right thing and release Assange on bond pending the final outcome of the proceedings. Given the presumption of innocence and her finding regarding Assange’s mental state, he should be entitled to wait out the months of appeals outside of prison, where he can receive proper treatment.
There is still a chance, of course, that President Trump will pardon Assange, which would thereby bring an end to this evil and immoral nightmare. I wouldn’t hold your breath, however. Given that Trump pardoned the Blackwater contractors who killed Iraqi citizens or a Border Patrol agent who shot an undocumented worker in the buttock, both of whom Trump obviously considers to be “heroes,” it is unlikely that he would ever consider someone like Assange to be a hero, which he most definitely is.
Moreover, It is likely that the national-security establishment won’t let Trump pardon Assange. Oh sure, they’ll let him get away with pardoning those Blackwater and Border Patrol “heroes,” but the Assange case, like the Edward Snowden case, is a red line for them.
Early on in his administration, it was clear that despite his campaign rhetoric, Trump, for some mysterious reason, decided to defer to the supremacy and power of the national-security establishment that he once derided. That was demonstrated by his surrounding himself early on with generals and other promoters of empire and intervention, by his continuation of their forever wars, by his support of ever-increasing tax money for them, and by his surrender to the CIA on the still-secret JFK records relating to the assassination.
And no one should count on President-elect Biden to issue a pardon to Assange. Who doubts that he is going to be owned by the national-security establishment, lock, stock, and barrel?
Maybe U.S. officials will get their wish and Assange will in fact commit suicide, much like the FBI tried to get Martin Luther King to take his own life. If that happens, U.S. officials will be satisfied, but it will be another dark day in the history of America’s national-security state.