DOJ Moving Ahead With Its Attempt To Prosecute Julian Assange; Subpoenas Chelsea Manning

from the all-the-bad-precedent-it-can-get dept

The DOJ is still moving ahead with its plan to attack free speech protections. More than eight years in the making, the attempted prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing leaked documents forges ahead slowly, threatening every journalist in its path.

Wikileaks isn't the only entity to publish leaked documents or shield their source. Multiple US press entities have done the same thing over the years. It seems the DOJ feels it's ok to go after Assange and Wikileaks because it's not a US newspaper. But once you set foot on a slope this slippery, it's pretty tough to regain your footing -- especially when the Executive Branch has housed people hellbent on eliminating leakers and whistleblowers for most of the last 20 years.

It appears the government wants Chelsea Manning to testify about her relationship with Wikileaks and Julian Assange. The demand Manning received may be deliberately vague, but it's pretty easy to connect the dots, as Charlie Savage does for the New York Times.

The subpoena does not say what prosecutors intend to ask her about. But it was issued in the Eastern District of Virginia and comes after prosecutors inadvertently disclosed in November that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been charged under seal in that district.

Ms. Manning, who provided a copy of the subpoena to The New York Times, said that her legal team would file a motion on Friday to quash it, arguing that it would violate her constitutional rights to force her to appear. She declined to say whether she would cooperate if that failed.

It would seem like Manning already cooperated when she was being prosecuted. During that hearing, she took full responsibility for her actions and stated Wikileaks/Assange did not direct her actions. But if the DOJ can't get Manning to talk, it apparently has other options.

A former WikiLeaks volunteer who was also personal friends with Manning was subpoenaed last May. But unlike Manning, he did not fight the subpoena. He accepted an immunity deal offered by prosecutors.

It’s the second person in Assange’s broader orbit publicly known to have cooperated with prosecutors in their nearly decade-long pursuit of WikiLeaks.

The former volunteer is David House. House has been subpoenaed twice, according to The Daily Beast's Kevin Poulsen. House was uncooperative with the first, but far more accommodating the second time around, after being granted immunity for testifying.

House spoke briefly with prosecutors and then testified for about 90 minutes in front of the grand jury, he said. “They wanted to know about my meetings with Assange, they wanted to know broadly about what we talked about,” he recalled. Prosecutors seemed particularly interested in the potential for collateral damage in some of Assange’s leaks.

If the DOJ is really going to re-litigate the harms of Manning's leaks, it might want to refresh its memory about the damage they did. A classified Defense Department report said the leaked docs did no serious damage to personnel or American interests. This reiterated findings by the US military dating all the way back to 2013 which said the same thing: no Americans were harmed or killed as a result of the leaks. Unfortunately, the reality we're faced with is this: the DOJ is threatening First Amendment protections over some hurt feelings and embarrassment.

Filed Under: chelsea manning, david house, doj, indictment, journalism, julian assange, leaks, subpoenas
Companies: wikileaks


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 10:25am

    Define 'harm'

    A classified Defense Department report said the leaked docs did no serious damage to personnel or American interests. This reiterated findings by the US military dating all the way back to 2013 which said the same thing: no Americans were harmed or killed as a result of the leaks. Unfortunately, the reality we're faced with is this: the DOJ is threatening First Amendment protections over some hurt feelings and embarrassment.

    No one lost their lives, but plenty of powerful people ended up with egg on their faces, with the government left looking all sorts of bad. That I suspect is the real motivation here, sending a message that if you make the USG look bad it will hound you until you are broken.

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

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 10:41am

      Re: Define 'harm'

      No one lost their lives... this time.

      If I fire a bullet into a crowd and it doesn't happen to hit anyone, does that mean I didn't do anything wrong? Of course not, and I suspect that that basic reality has more to do with the motivations in this case than petty desires for revenge.

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

      • identicon
        stine, 4 Mar 2019 @ 10:52am

        Re: Re: Define 'harm'

        Then you should be using a bigger gun, like the ones that the military uses.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2019 @ 11:07am

        Re: Re: Define 'harm'

        You're seriously equating the publication of leaked documents with firing a gun into a crowd?

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

        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 11:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

          Not in general, but considering the nature of this particular leak, and the careless, reckless manner in which it was published, it's a valid metaphor. It could easily have caused some very real harm, and the fact that it didn't doesn't mean anything other than that we got lucky.

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

          • identicon
            Baron von Robber, 4 Mar 2019 @ 11:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            Who's life was almost harmed?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2019 @ 11:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            anyone who can be harmed by such leaks, should be. and so should all you authoritarian true believers. 5here are not enough leaks, given the severe overclassification of most information.

            the only harm ever done has been by official leaks against certain individuals for politically expedient actions. some of whom were actually doing some good, as opposed to say, any of our military forces anywhere, almost ever.

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

          • identicon
            TFG, 4 Mar 2019 @ 12:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            Mason: Should the press that published the leak be prosecuted, thereby threatening the possibility of a free and independent press, or should the leakers be prosecuted instead? Should the press be forced to reveal the identities of their sources?

            Should the leakers always be prosecuted? Is it always wrong to leak? What about when the government is actively spying on citizens who are innocent of any crime? What if the leak exposes actual illegal actions?

            Do you realize the knock-on effects of actions like this? Do you understand what happens when it becomes known that journalists can be forced to give up identities? Do you understand what a chilling effect is?

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

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 12:33pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

              Should the press that published the leak be prosecuted, thereby threatening the possibility of a free and independent press, or should the leakers be prosecuted instead?

              And of course, lest we forget, in this case the leaker was prosecuted. And convicted, and sentenced; that sentence was later commuted, but she was incarcerated for over six years (arrested in 2010, convicted and sentenced in 2013, released in 2017).

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 1:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            It could easily have caused some very real harm, and the fact that it didn't doesn't mean anything other than that we got lucky.

            Or, that the 'potential for harm' was vastly over-hyped by people looking to crucify manning/wikileaks by making them look wildly reckless in just tossing out documents at whim, whether or not that was actually accurate. If the government, who would have loved to find a smoking gun/bullet ridden body couldn't find it, brushing that off as just 'lucky' ignores the much more plausible explanation for that in that they were lying/overstating the 'threat' for their own ends.

            For the life of me I cannot figure out what words to use to find the relevant article(if someone can that'd be great), but if memory serves wikileaks actually offered to let the USG/military vet what they planned to release in order to redact any potentially dangerous information, only to be blown off and told that the only cooperation willing to be offered was for wikileaks to 'return' of all the documents, which of course wasn't going to happen.

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

          • identicon
            Anon, 4 Mar 2019 @ 2:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            Careless? Reckless?

            You do realize that they vetted all documents to ensure that nothing in them identified people who would be in harms' way (i.e. Iraqi collaborators, etc.)? Just as journalists should - or are you just repeating Fox tripe instead of journalism?

            that's how come there was no damage done. Wikileaks did their homework.

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

          • identicon
            Canuck, 4 Mar 2019 @ 9:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            Wheeler, you're a lying sack of shit.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2019 @ 4:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            You gotta be joking. Please read up what "this particular leak" was about. Right: War crimes.

            You dare to suggest "responsible disclosure of war crimes?"

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2019 @ 9:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            I maintain that the public service of exposing the war crimes, illegal surveillance, and general asshattery of the US government to its citizens far outweighs any risks created by that exposure.

            If you don't do the crimes you can't get caught.

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 11:29am

        Re: Re: Define 'harm'

        Or if you fire a chaingun into a crowd of people trying to save the injured & take joy in a child run over by a military vehicle.

        You know all of those things we're not supposed to do, but were covered up to protect the image of the military... maybe its not the only thing cops took from the military with the ribbons.

        Lots of people lost their lives, but since we couldn't see it they pretended it never happened. Like that reporter who was murdered b/c his camera lens "looked" like an RPG and not because his reporting wasn't glowing worship of 'Merica.

        They claim everything is a secret, the the point of ridiculousness.
        Many of the secrets only put careers at risk, not lives but letting people know we're breaking our own rules & everyone is looking away who is supposed to do something about it.

        Don't want people to leak?
        Stop covering up bad acts b/c image matters more than anything else.

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Prinny, 4 Mar 2019 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

          Wow, do you own stock in a tinfoil company or something, dood?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2019 @ 11:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            are you another fucking moron, dude?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2019 @ 1:54pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            you must be too young to remember the news from almost a decade ago

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

          • icon
            That Anonymous Coward (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 2:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Define 'harm'

            Oh thats right, the government told its cogs to pretend the leaked video wasn't released and not to look at it on pain of punishment.

            How else could you be completely unaware of what was leaked & the nonanswers given about the outright murder of innocents?

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 1:26pm

        Re: Re: Define 'harm'

        Well damn, if 'what if' hypotheticals are what you want to go for then you'd best turn your self into the police for immediate arrest and incarceration, because one of your posts might, at some point, result in a crime occurring. Doesn't matter if it hasn't yet, your reckless posting might cause some damage so into the clink you go.

        Prosecutors seemed particularly interested in the potential for collateral damage in some of Assange’s leaks.

        When they are fishing for some 'harm' to bolster their case it is absolutely relevant to point out that even the gorram government investigation couldn't point to any. For being 'reckless' they sure seem to have caused no real harm besides making the USG look bad by exposing it's own actions, and going after wikileaks/Assange for that would very much fall into the 'How dare you claim the emperor has no clothes?!' realm.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 9 Mar 2019 @ 11:40am

        Re: Re: Define 'harm'

        If I fire a bullet into a crowd and it doesn't happen to hit anyone, does that mean I didn't do anything wrong?

        No, but you would not be prosecuted for the same crime as if you killed someone. If this is what the government does when leaks don't do any damage, what would they have done if they had?

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

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 1:33pm

    Harm

    Prosecutors seemed particularly interested in the potential for collateral damage in some of Assange’s leaks.

    Perhaps prosecutors should be more interested in the actual misdeeds and possible war crimes that were leaked?

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

  • identicon
    bobob, 4 Mar 2019 @ 3:33pm

    The journalists at major news organizations like the New York Times, The Washington Post, the TV talking heads, etc., have all opted out of vigorously defending Assange (and Edward Snowden, too), long ago and have done nothing but report on what's up with his cat since. I would not expect them to start doing anything that might generate any controversy now and if and when they are affected in the future, they will act surprised.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2019 @ 5:28pm

    DOJ wants to ensure that Julian / Wikileaks are punished so that there never will be another Julian or Wikileaks. And to make it clear anyone who is involved with leakers (or tries to leak themselves) are going to find themselves (justifiably or not) in a lot of hot water. Put simply, they're trying to make an example of Julian and Wikileaks.

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

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 5 Mar 2019 @ 1:18am

    Why don't the media have a problem with this witch hunt?

    Assange did what every good journalist did - he published information he considered to be relevant to be public, pushing some light into shadier areas of government activity.

    Whether one regards Wikileaks formally as a media outlet or not, the bottom line is that the government is going after the messenger.

    And that is plainly wrong. And should be a major concern for everybody who is in the business of sharing information.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Rog S., 5 Mar 2019 @ 3:11am

      Re: Why don't the media have a problem with this witch hunt?

      um....

      Since Gary Webb, who wrote the Dark Alliance, there has been a war on white, non -Jewish/Progressive /tribalist /sectarian~AIPAC affiliated males who break important stories.

      I can provide a list, if you wish.

      Meantime, Marcy Wheeler, aka empywheel and a few others whipped off their fashionable, but short, comfortable high heels, and jumped in bed with the FBI as soon as things got a little "spooky "

      https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2018/7/17/1781419/-FBI-informant-Marcy-Wheeler-Mueller-is-sitt ing-on-a-lot

      Partisanship sinks ink ships.

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

      • identicon
        TFG, 5 Mar 2019 @ 6:58am

        Re: Re: Why don't the media have a problem with this witch hunt?

        _Since Gary Webb, who wrote the Dark Alliance, there has been a war on white, non -Jewish/Progressive /tribalist /sectarian~AIPAC affiliated males who break important stories.

        I can provide a list, if you wish._

        You should provide a list if you want anyone to give you the time of day. You're proposing a campaign of oppression on a demographic that, in the European and American areas, exceedingly rarely oppressed, and more often than not has historically done the oppressing. You've got a high bar to pass to prove that any such oppression is based on them being white, non-Jewish, and right-wing, and not just on them talking about stuff that people don't want them talking about.

        The bar is, at minimum, this: you would need to provide evidence not only that your referenced people were targeted, but that the targeting was done due to their ideology and race. You would need to provide examples of those who don't fit your proposed profile, who broke stories of equal import, and who were never targeted. You would need to provide evidence that they were not targeted because of their ideology and race.

        If you only provide a list of white, non-jewish, right-wing males who are targeted for breaking stories that the government doesn't like, then all you've done is shown that the government will target people who break stories it doesn't like. Not that the government only targets certain types of people who break stories it doesn't like.

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

  • icon
    DNY (profile), 5 Mar 2019 @ 6:51am

    An example of Assange, but an example of what?

    By all means throw the book at Americans who violated our statutes regarding the handling of classified information. But Assange?

    He's not a U.S. citizen. His activities were undertaken outside of the United States. If he can be prosecuted for violating our secrecy laws, the precedent is established. Americans violating the secrecy laws of the People's Republic of China or the Islamic Republic of Iran or the Russian Federation, despite never having set foot in those countries can be prosecuted by their governments, subject to arrest and extradition the moment they set foot in a country that would honor an extradition request from the PRC, Iran or Russia.

    Extraterritorial application of our laws to non-citizens should be a non-starter for reasons of international law.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2019 @ 9:20am

    Wait, so we're back to loving Wikileaks and Julian instead of sobbing about Muh Russia into our Weetabix?

    Which is it? Is he a journalist, or a Russian puppet collusionist with Putin's hand up his arse?

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 5 Mar 2019 @ 9:24am

      Re:

      Which is it? Is he a journalist, or a Russian puppet collusionist with Putin's hand up his arse?

      I would point out that those two things aren't actually mutually exclusive, but I gather you have trouble holding more than one thought in your head simultaneously.

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

    • identicon
      bobob, 5 Mar 2019 @ 10:54pm

      Re:

      "Which is it? Is he a journalist, or a Russian puppet collusionist with Putin's hand up his arse?"

      Facts have no morality. They exist independent of how one learns of them, so it does not matter which, if any of those things, apply to Julian Assange, nor do his motivations matter.

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

    • identicon
      TFG, 6 Mar 2019 @ 1:16pm

      Re:

      As the others have said, it is possible to both criticize Julian Assange for his choices in what to release and what to ignore, while simultaneously criticizing the government for pursuing a prosecution that promises to have a chilling effect on press freedoms.

      It's also worth noting that the criticism of Julian Assange is in relation to more recent publishing actions, while the prosecution referenced in this article is in relation to an old publishing action. So the two events are entirely different - and as the events are different, with different circumstances, different information, and different results, it is entirely possible and logical to have different opinions on each case, even though they concern the same person.

      To simplify this, I will present an analogy:

      A man, who is named Steve, sees a robbery in process, and calls the police. He is lauded for this.

      At a later date, Steve assaults Gary on the street, and puts Gary in the hospital. Steve is criticized for this (and arrested etc.).

      There is no logical disconnect in the reactions to these separate events. Steve did the right thing in the first case, the wrong thing in the second case, and his later action of hospitalizing Gary is rather irrelevant to the earlier case.

      For a more on-the-nose analogy, we'll use Alice. Alice is a reporter, who gets a call from Bob. Bob says he has information about heavily illegal actions perpetrated by government people. Alice meets with Bob, gets legit information, and publishes that information, exposing actual illegal actions perpetrated by the government.

      The public lauds Alice for the exposure. The government hates it, but they have no valid method to pursue Alice. Attempts to pursue her get rightly criticized by the public.

      Years later, Alice gets a leak of information that incriminates members of two political parties that are in opposition to each other, the Bulls and the Bears. Alice is, herself, a Bull. So she ignores the leaked info about the Bulls, and only publishes the leaked info about the Bears.

      When this is discovered, people criticize her for her actions in suppressing information that she didn't like.

      There is no contradiction in these reactions. It is entirely possible to support Alice's actions when receiving the leak about government members, and criticize her for her actions in suppressing information that incriminates Bulls.

      It's also entirely logical to say that Steve is an angry asshole, while still lauding him for calling in the robbery. It's entirely logical to say that Alice is a biased and corrupt journalist, while still criticizing the government for trying to prosecute her for publishing that years-old leak.

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


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