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Free Julian Assange and All Political Prisoners

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

The American war against Iraq was among the more idiotic and gratuitous slaughters in human history. It was premised on lies, prosecuted by criminals and fools, outsourced to professional murderers and it isn’t over. In addition to those murdered directly and indirectly in the war, several million refugees were scattered across the Middle East, including over a million into Syria. ISIS grew from the ranks of the disbanded Iraqi army. This fiasco appeared as it was to all the world, the gasp of a dying empire sunk under the weight of its ignorance and arrogance.

Late in the war Julian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks published documents and videos allegedly leaked by Chelsea Manning that brought the gratuitous nature of American violence home for all to see. The most damning was this videothat shows American soldiers carefully and methodically slaughtering civilians, including Reuters staffers, outside of any determinable theater of war. The label ‘collateral murders’ was attached to the video, but those murdered were targeted— they weren’t ancillary to otherwise justifiable murders.

Julian Assange has reportedly been charged by an American Grand Jury for his role in publishing this leaked video, among others. He will apparently be extradited to the U.S. where he is expected to stand trial for doing what reporters do— publishing true information in the public interest. The New York Times and other newspapers also published the leaked documents, but have as yet not been charged. This legal maneuvering appears to be a politically motivated vendetta against Julian Assange for embarrassing the War Criminals behind the Iraq war.

National Democrats and the liberal press have spent the last 2.5 years demonizing Mr. Assange for his role in publishing leaked DNC emails in the run up to the 2016 Presidential race. As with the government’s case against him, the content of the leaked videos and documents is not in dispute. They are what they are purported to be. American soldiers did murder civilians and Reuters staffers who posed no immediate threat to them. Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff did screw Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic nomination and she did give contradictory information about her political positions depending on what she thought her audience wanted to hear.

Mr. Assange’s accusers are largely those responsible for the imperial decline that his reporting has illuminated. The leading Republicans and Democrats behind the Iraq war should have been charged with War Crimes. There is no statute of limitations on War Crimes. The national security officials among Mr. Assange’s accusers illegally spied on Americans and lied about doing so under oath to congress. The CIA illegally spied on the congressional committee charged with investigating illegal torture in the Iraq War after illegally destroying videotape evidence of its crimes. What is Julian Assange being charged with again?

What Mr. Assange did is expose the crimes of the rich and powerful. Arguments over his methods conflate process errors with the gratuitous murder of civilians. If these murdered civilians had been well-to-do white Americans and staffers at the New York Times, where might ‘process’ fit into the utterly predictable (and justifiable) calls to give those charged fair trials and prison sentences if convicted. Through what lens are the crimes exposed by Mr. Assange and Wikileaks not crimes? As with everything about a gratuitous war in which a million or more civilians are killed, why aren’t its architects and chief instigators in the dock at The Hague pleading for their lives?

While the political pump has been primed in the U.S. by war-state Democrats and war-state liberals to go after Julian Assange without legal restraint, he is lauded by much of the world for bringing the crimes of the American elite into public view. What will be illuminated by prosecuting Mr. Assange is the crimes of the elite and their use of power and office to cover up their crimes. While most Americans haven’t seen the video (link above) of American soldiers murdering civilians and press staffers, the publicity of a trial will certainly stir public interest.

Much as the Iraq War was a late gasp of an empire in decline, the prosecution of Julian Assange is the desperate act of a political establishment that is losing its grip on power. Mr. Assange is but a messenger. This establishment is the agent of its own demise. And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people. Free Julian Assange and All Political Prisoners. All Power to the People!

 

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Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is published by CounterPunch Books.

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