DOJ Finally Realizing That It Has Absolutely No Case Against Julian Assange

from the that-took-years-too-long dept

For years the Justice Department has been working with a grand jury to try to find something... anything... to charge Julian Assange with a crime for releasing the State Department cables apparently received from Chelsea Manning. The whole case against Manning was more of an attempt to find something with which to go after Assange. Nearly three years ago we wrote about how investigators kept trying to link Assange to Manning, because to prove there was a crime, they needed to show that Assange did a lot more than just receive and publish the documents. Investigators and Wikileaks haters kept insisting that Assange must have been the mastermind who encourage Manning to do the leak, but the evidence turned up nothing. The DOJ even offered Manning a plea deal if he would effectively lie and implicate Assange, saying they "conspired." Manning, despite being tortured refused to cooperate.

Three more years have passed since then and the DOJ seems to finally be coming to terms with the fact that Assange didn't break the law and there's nothing they can charge him with, even under their ridiculously broad interpretations of the Espionage Act. It seems that the DOJ has finally realized what many of us said from the very beginning: if you charge Assange, by default, you're saying that journalists can be charged with reporting on leaked documents:
“The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists,” said former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange.”

Justice officials said they looked hard at Assange but realized that they have what they described as a “New York Times problem.” If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Still, somewhere in the range of four years has been totally wasted on this effort, which was defined by its singular mission to get Assange at all costs. I'm almost surprised that enough people within the DOJ have realized that "NY Times problem," because we've seen more than a few defenders of the surveillance state twist themselves into all sorts of contortions to pretend that Wikileaks is different from the NY Times in a way that makes one operation journalistic and the other, not. So, while I'm disappointed that a ton of taxpayer money must have been spent on this years-long wild goose chase, I'm at least happy that they didn't feel the need to bring charges just to "show something."

Of course, nothing official has been stated -- and the DOJ might never actually make any public statement on this. The folks associated with Wikileaks are (understandably) skeptical about whether or not the US is really dropping the issue, and say that they won't trust the US government until an official statement is made (even then, I imagine they'd be fairly cautious). So, you can take some of this with whatever sized grain of salt you prefer. However, at least for now, it appears that the US will avoid trying to put on a show trial of Assange.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Shawn H Corey (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    And how many people in the DOJ were fired over this?

     

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  2.  
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    Pixelation, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 7:51am

    Re:

    Fired? This is how you fast track yourself to Senator.

     

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  3.  
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    Ha ha, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    Oh! But think of the careers!

    Burly, manly lawyers striding across the landscape making a name for themselves by attacking windmills called Assange!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 7:57am

    Great, now he's free to come out of hiding and face his rape charge.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 7:57am

    so they just decide he is a terrorist and send in the drones

     

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  6.  
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    Michael, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    they have what they described as a “New York Times problem.”

    Yeah - a HUGE problem that the DOJ has to allow such a crazy concept as freedom of the press. We should really reign that one in a bit...

     

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  7.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:04am

    That would be my luck...

    Imagine getting called for Grand Jury duty, and debating Assange's guilt for FOUR YEARS...

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:06am

    DOJ mad, bro

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    but they will keep after him and keep pumping Sweden with useless bits of information, as well as encouraging the so-called rape victims that they have to continuing lying just to get Assange arrested, deported and sued there. and when/if that happens, waiting in the wings will be 'the men in black suits, who have no case against Assange, but will still whisk him off to the USA, chuck him into Gitmo, so he never sees the light of a free day again!
    admitting there is no case that can be brought against him in the USA doesn't for one second mean that he wont be continuously pursued. as soon as he set foot outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he will disappear off the planet. the UK will continue to do whatever Obama tells them to do! (bend over, grab ankles, here comes our special relationship, AGAIN!)

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    Suborning perjury

    The DOJ even offered Manning a plea deal if he would effectively lie and implicate Assange

    Subornation of perjury
    In American law … subornation of perjury is the crime of persuading a person to commit perjury — the swearing of a false oath to tell the truth in a legal proceeding, be it spoken or written. The term subornation of perjury further describes the circumstance wherein an attorney at law causes a client to lie under oath, or allows another party to lie under oath.

    In American federal law, Title 18 U.S.C. § 1622 provides that:
    Whoever procures another to commit any perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury, and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


     

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    It's a trap Julian don't go outside!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    Indeed, they'll still try to find bogus charges to smear Assange's reputation and throw him in jail for life.

    The most likely charge they'll arrest him on if they ever can being the 'rape' allegation, that was deemed not credible before he was famous, and was then suddenly more then credible to arrest and extradite him after he published all that stuff Manning gave him, despite the lack of ANY new evidence in that time period.

     

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  13.  
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    madasahatter (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:47am

    Stupidity

    The problem is the Administration is upset over leaks showing them in a bad light. This is nothing new and like previous administrations they would like to shoot the messenger who printed the leaks. Almost never to do they look at themselves to see if they are the source of the problem.

    A related problem is the tendency to overclassify documents either by putting them in a more restricted category or by classifying them initially to prevent embarrassment. This is a longstanding problem. Other than the time wasted on Wikileaks, this administration is not much different than previous on this issue.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    "So, you can take some of this with whatever sized grain of salt you prefer. "

    How about a 50# block of salt.

     

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  15.  
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    UK's Hypocrisy, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:11am

    Police $$$ wasted on Assange & UK's raped women ignored!!

    http://rt.com/news/costs-spiral-assange-london-surveillance-927/

    London's costs spiral upwards as Assange stakeout sees no end
    Published time: July 11, 2013 03:34

    London officials are facing scrutiny over the spiraling cost of maintaining a 24-hour police watch outside of the Ecuadorian embassy, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has now resided for a year.

    According to a letter sent in response to London assembly member Jenny Jones, London’s Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has said that the total cost so far of constantly policing the embassy adds up to £3.8 million, £0.7 million of which is comprised of additional costs for increased overtime wages to officers. [...]

    Jenny Jones, a member of the Green party, has said that the situation is unsustainable for the City of London. "It's ridiculous that for over a year now the Metropolitan police service have been stationed outside the Ecuadorian embassy waiting for Julian Assange to attempt an escape. At a time when the Met is making cuts how can this be a priority for the police? This situation cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. The mayor really should be trying to find a solution to this stalemate because in the meantime the Met is spending time and resources on an expensive stakeout," Jones tells The Guardian. [...]
    ~~~~~
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25002927

    Police fix crime statistics to meet targets, MPs told
    19 November 2013

    Police forces across England and Wales are routinely manipulating crime statistics in order to meet targets, a committee of MPs has heard. [...]

    Analysing 12 months of data, PC Patrick said he had also found that "the Met had effectively been under-recording rape and serious sexual offences by between 22% and 25%".

    PC Patrick said he had learnt that, in an effort to avoid the perception of serious sex crimes going undetected, "a preference had developed to try to justify 'no crime' on the basis of mental health or similar issues of vulnerability or by saying that the victim has refused to disclose to them".

    Former West Midlands chief inspector Dr Rodger Patrick - no relation of the constable - backed his account: "This is my experience as well. You can see that in the investigations that are being carried out, victims are being pressurised." [...]

     

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  16.  
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    Deranged Poster (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Anyone know who sells Black Bags that fit over a human head? I need to buy some stock in that company.

     

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  17.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Re:

    Go ask a Jets fan, they'll know.

     

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  18.  
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    Frederique, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 9:30am

    Since when do we believe government?

    Well governments have recently proved to be utterly untrustful, see the Snowdon leaks, so there is no reason at all to believe them now.
    They have at least ten years of honesty to fulfill, until we can trust them again.

     

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  19.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re:

    while voted both insightful and funny, i'm presuming the 'funny' part is of the black humor variety...

    but the -really- horrific point, is that what you say is all too true...

    reason #15408348230 'our' (sic) democracy is broken...

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    The DOJ couldn't find anything to charge Assange with, so Eric Holder will probably be forced to file fake rape charges against him.

     

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  21.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    worse still: you won't KNOW sauron/us has turned his evil eye on you; you won't know what secret law you have traduced; you won't know who is accusing you; you won't know who is judging you; you won't know you've been convicted, and you won't know you've been disappeared until you wake up from the thorazine, they take the mask off, and you find yourself a non-person without a country, convicted of unknown krimes, and thrown into an secret black site to rot to death...



    *this* is America ? ? ?
    no, we're amerika, now, and kafka is our guidebook...

    "When in the course of human events..."

     

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  22.  
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    Kenneth Michaels, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 11:02am

    Assange and Barrett Brown

    They could charge Assange with the same thing they charged Barrett Brown with - the possession of stolen credit card information from the Stratfor leak.

    The DOJ statement is with respect to the Manning leaks, not the other stuff that Wikileaks does. That is why the Grand Jury is still working on the Assange case....

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 11:44am

    Selective Enforcement

    "If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian,"

    Nah. They can just use what's called "selective enforcement". Happens all the time. No problem.

     

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  24.  
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    Brent Ashley (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 11:46am

    Re:

    There is no rape charge. There never has been. He has been "wanted for questioning."

     

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  25.  
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    Oblate (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    No case? Isn't that special...

    Doesn't mean they won't drag him through a lengthy and expensive farce of a trial, just because they can.

    I can see it already: Criticizing the DOJ for this? Why do you love terrorists?

     

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  26.  
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    Deranged Poster (profile), Nov 26th, 2013 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And that's why we need a Sad but True button :(

     

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  27.  
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    techflaws (profile), Nov 27th, 2013 @ 1:14am

    Re:

    Given the SMS the two women texted *after the fact*, I'm pretty sure he's got no problems doing just that.

     

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  28.  
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    Jim Anderson, Nov 27th, 2013 @ 6:05am

    I hope that the President doesn't yield to several conservative Congress people and use his self proclaimed power of targeted killing to make the Assange problem go away. When your conduct is not governed by the laws of either man nor God anything no matter how dark becomes possible.

     

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  29.  
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    Crazy Canuck, Nov 27th, 2013 @ 7:29am

    NSA

    The real problem is that the NSA wasn't allowed to collect enough metadata to catch Julian. This proves that the NSA should get more funding and more power to do whatever they need to do in order to keep America safe from terrorists like Julian Assange.

    In fact, congress should just cement into law the ability for the NSA to be able to make up data. This would fast track the current program and cut costs on actually collecting the data that they manipulate into the lie to begin with.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    Re: NSA

    Virtual data collection makes convictions virtually assured.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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