WikiLeaks is a publisher, part of the media – except in one major respect.
It’s a whistleblower publishing material supplied by sources, unidentified for their protection. It’s not an intelligence operation, no spies on its staff.
In late July, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed a provision in legislation authorizing appropriations for FY 2018 “intelligence and intelligence-related activities” by a 14 – 1 vote.
It contains a clause declaring WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such a service by the United States” – Julian Assange called a cyberthreat.
Ron Wyden was the only Intelligence Committee senator voting against the clause, citing “legal, constitutional and policy implications” it could entail.
In April, CIA director Mike Pompeo disgracefully said the same thing as 14 senators, claiming without justification that disclosures by Assange and Edward Snowden did “great harm to our nation’s national security, and they will continue to do so in the long term.”
Pompeo wants them denied fundamental First Amendment protections, adding revelations hurt US relations with foreign partners.
In response to the Senate’s actions, Assange tweeted: The clause “is equivalent to suggesting that the CIA is a media organization. Publishers publish what they obtain. Intelligence agencies do not.”
“WikiLeaks is famous for its accuracy and its publishing boldness…(I)f the ‘Pompeo doctrine’ applies to WikiLeaks, then it applies equally if not more so to other serious outlets.
Assange blasted the attempt to make Pompeo’s doctrine the law of the land. Responsible dissent, truth-telling on vital issues, and whistleblowing are the highest forms of patriotism.
Exposing government wrongdoing is essential, especially when media scoundrels suppress it.
In 2012, the Obama administration disgracefully declared Assange an enemy of the state, forcing him to take refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid unjust arrest, extradition to America and imprisonment to silence him – not for any crimes.
Around the same time, a secret grand jury sealed indictment followed, allegedly accusing him of spying under the long ago outdated 1917 Espionage Act, enacted shortly after America’s entry into WW I.
It prohibited interfering with US military operations, supporting the nation’s enemies, promoting insubordination in the ranks, or obstructing military recruitment.
Its most controversial provisions were later repealed. It remains the law of the land, used to charge, prosecute, convict and imprison Chelsea Manning unjustly.
Assange faces the same fate if extradited to America. Anyone exposing US high crimes and/or other dirty secrets Washington wants suppressed is vulnerable.
Challenging the nations policies, no matter how heinous, risks severe punishment.
Assange earlier claimed the right “to publish newsworthy content,” saying “(c)onsistent with the US Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true, irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media.”
Doing the right thing has risks. The rewards are priceless.