Greens Defending Assange

The sell-out by rank-and-file Democrats in Congress that will allow the Bush tax exemptions for the wealthy to continue, as President Obama wishes, is indicative of the utter abandonment of the liberal ethos that characterized Democratic office holders during the New Deal era. The Democratic Party no longer deserves its name, any more than Republicans deserve to call themselves “the party of Lincoln.” Over and again, Obama caves in to the demands of the Republican Right, putting up not even a feeble fight for what the public believed were his principles on health care and taxation. The change they hoped for turns out to be chump change. Only the emerging Green Party takes the traditional progressive stance, as indicated by its support of Julian Assange.

It is apparent now that President Obama is no FDR-style Democrat at all, but a reactionary on domestic policy and an imperialist in foreign policy. Those who marketed him during the 2008 presidential campaign as a reformer who would bring change and break the color line in the White House in the bargain have a right to be well satisfied with themselves over their historic con job. Concealed from the public was Obama’s extensive service to the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA), that apparent fountainhead of American fascism. For that matter, neither did Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, mention during his White House bid his prior employment stint with a CIA front.

The striking similarities of the two parties may be seen in the bipartisan attacks on Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks. “In the past few days the calls for action against Assange have grown steadily louder and more shrill, with leading Republicans labelling him a terrorist, and top liberal Democratic politicians, albeit in more moderate language, also calling for his prosecution,” the UKGuardian reported December 9th. The Guardian goes on to say, “The most extreme attacks have come from prominent Republicans including Sarah Palin, who has likened Assange to an al-Qaida operative (and Sen.) Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) , the Republican leader in the Senate, who called him a ‘hi-tech terrorist.’ Assange was also attacked by leading Democrats such as (Sen.) Diane Feinstein(D.-Calif.), who said he should be charged under the US espionage act, and (Sen.) John Kerry(D.-Mass.), who has called for the law to be changed to allow a prosecution of the WikiLeaks website.”

By contrast, the emerging Green Party is unequivocal in its support for Assange. “The war on WikiLeaks may set a precedent for the treatment of journalists who expose government wrong-doing,” said Carl Romanelli of the Pennsylvania Greens. “While the U.S. government has increasingly operated outside of US constitutional and international law, Wikileaks’ actions would not be called a crime in a free and open society.” A statement from Scott McLarty, a Green Party spokesman in Washington, said, “Greens expressed dismay and outrage over the decision of companies like Amazon, Pay Pal, MasterCard, and Visa, as well as several Internet hosting companies to cooperate with U.S. government demands for censorship.”

McLarty says WikiLeaks and reporters that expose top secret documents revealing evidence of criminality “deserve praise and support, not condemnation.” He noted that the WikiLeaks cables disclosed secret U.S. military operations in Yemen “that killed dozens of Yemenis (previously denied by Obama officials,)” as well as orders from the U.S. State Department for U.S. diplomats “to steal personal information from UN officials and human rights groups…”

The Green Party press statement notes that Obama’s predecessor “authorized prolonged detention without due process,” denied habeas corpus, and engaged in extraordinary rendition and torture, among other crimes, and that the Obama White House “has maintained most of these policies and refuses to prosecute Bush officials who approved torture…including President Bush himself.” For all these reasons, the Greens say, they “welcome the WikiLeaks revelations detailing official abuses of power.”

That’s very different viewpoint from what the two major U.S. political parties are peddling today. It’s a good reason for paying the Greens serious attention.

SHERWOOD ROSS formerly reported for major dailies and wire services. He also worked in the press office of former Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago and participated in a number of election campaigns for the Democratic Party, including as a speechwriter for Senator George McGovern. Today he runs the Anti-War News Service. To contribute to his work or to comment, reach him at