Justice Department Trying To Figure Out How To Twist US Laws To Charge Julian Assange
from the um,-wow dept
Yesterday, we noted that the Obama administration was considering legal action against Julian Assange of Wikileaks for the release of various government documents. The latest on that front is that the Justice Department is wasting valuable resources scouring the legal books to see if it can come up with some sort of ridiculous justification for charging Assange with violating the Espionage Act. It’s difficult to think of a more ridiculous and simply petty response from the feds.
First of all, Assange is not an American and not in the US. Charging him in absentia is basically a meaningless (and childish) gesture against someone it doesn’t like. Furthermore, as the Justice Department must know (it does know this, right?), the Espionage Act is generally viewed as outdated in light of more modern case law on the First Amendment. The feds’ loss in the Pentagon Papers case should make them realize what an amazing waste of taxpayer money it would be to go after Assange.
But, more to the point, such a response wouldn’t do anything to help the situation. Getting rid of Assange won’t stop the release of this kind of information. It will just mean that the next such release will come from more distributed sources. The US government’s focus on Assange and Wikileaks as an organization suggests that it doesn’t realize what it’s actually dealing with. The fact that it’s reacting this way, rather than addressing the issues raised by the leaks, suggests that it thinks these types of leaks aren’t inevitable. It’s wrong. It’s shooting the messenger, rather than realizing that the message is pretty important.