The legal assault on WikiLeaks and press freedom

As the Justice Department develops a legal strategy for attacking WikiLeaks it will be looking for political cover to defend itself from the charge that it is attacking the First Amendment rights of a free press and will do so by arguing that what WikiLeaks does is not journalism.

The administration’s lack of interest in defending the Constitution is transparent. The question is, where will the pillars of the American mainstream media establishment take their stand? In defense of a free press? Or will they equivocate because they attach greater value to the privilege of government access than they do to their obligation to serve the public?

Wired reports:

The Justice Department would have no problem distinguishing WikiLeaks from traditional media outlets, if it decides to charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with violating the Espionage Act, a former federal prosecutor told lawmakers Thursday.

“By clearly showing how WikiLeaks is fundamentally different, the government should be able to demonstrate that any prosecution here is the exception and is not the sign of a more aggressive prosecution effort against the press,” said Kenneth Wainstein (pictured at right), former assistant attorney general on national security, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing about WikiLeaks and the Espionage Act on Thursday.

The hearing was the first to publicly address WikiLeaks. It consisted of testimony from legal scholars and attorneys as well as former Green Party presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Testimony focused primarily on whether the 1917 Espionage Act should be revised to make it easier to prosecute recipients of classified information.

But Wainstein’s remarks, coming from a former prosecutor, hint at arguments the Justice Department is likely to make if it proceeds with prosecuting Assange under the existing Espionage Act.

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4 thoughts on “The legal assault on WikiLeaks and press freedom

  1. Vince J.

    The longer the rogue government of North America goes after Wikileaks the less credibility (It has none!) it will have in the World stage.

    RealNews today showed us the Brave Chris Hedges non-violent resistance demonstration in front of the White House. Great to have a follow up on that and to see that this non-violent resistance is growing!

  2. Norman

    With the tract record the DOJ has, for them to attach Wikileaks & Assange is another feeble attempt to cover up the wrong doings of the State Department, which is a reflection on the Nation as a whole. This should be the wake up call that the U.S. should get out of the business of they have gotten into. Pull back, lower the profile, for if they do bring charges against Mr Assange, then more telling negative P.R. will come out, which it probably will anyway, but the flood gates will be opened wider, perhaps spilling even more damaging information.

  3. Paloma

    there is no legality with the charges against Mr Assange. Again the US administration try to “deal” with this new “public outcome” in the way of its maffia style behaviour. This power has lost its morality since long, nothing can stop its fall. The rotten administration will act in its well known hysterical and impotent way: brutality. The poor time for the USA is on the way since quite a time. Assange is the clean man announcing a new age where the USA is not existing anymore, just cunvulsing . I think that the 9/11 has given the “coup de grace” because of its rotten conspiration. There is nothing to halt the fall, because the US Administration accelerate it with its immoral acting.

  4. seamus o'bannion

    Well, there’s the solution: If what you want to do is against the law, just change the law! Why didn’t I think of that? Way to go, Department of Injustice! What do you plan for an encore? By the way, if you’re going to rewrite the Espionage Act of 1917, why not delete the Bill of Rights (which you’ve already done in practice), but, I mean, do it officially. It seems you can get away with anything these days, so go ahead – blame it on changing times, changing necessities, new technologies, a whole bunch of new citizens (the corporations) who have their own particular needs.

    Democracy, free press – one funny line after the other! Keep’m coming, you’re a laugh riot!


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