The Meaning of Assange’s Persecution

Exclusive: The long legal ordeal of Julian Assange – and the continuing threats against the WikiLeaks founder – make a mockery of the West’s supposed commitment to press freedom and the public’s right to know, as Marjorie Cohn explains.

By Marjorie Cohn (Updated on May 30, 2017, to delete reference to Swedish prosecutors never submitting questions to Assange.)

Nearly five years ago, Ecuador granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange political asylum at its London embassy. The original purpose of the asylum was to avoid extradition to the United States. Two years earlier, Swedish authorities had launched an investigation of Assange for sexual assault. Sweden has now dropped that investigation.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (Photo credit: Espen Moe)

Assange called the Swedish decision to end the investigation an “important victory for me and for the U.N. human rights system.” But, he said, the “proper war was just commencing,” because the London Metropolitan Police warned if Assange leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy, they would arrest him on a 2012 warrant issued after he failed to appear at a magistrate’s court following his entry into the embassy.

The original reason for granting asylum to Assange remains intact. The U.S. government has been gunning for Assange since 2010, when WikiLeaks published documents leaked by whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Those documents, which included the Afghan and Iraq war logs and U.S. State Department cables, were ultimately published in the New York Times, the U.K. Guardian, and the German magazine Der Spiegel.

The leaked reports exposed 20,000 deaths, including thousands of children, according to Assange. Many of them contain evidence of war crimes. [Among the leaked material was the “Collateral Murder” video, a gruesome view from the gun-barrel of a U.S. helicopter gunship as it mowed down a group of Iraqi men, including two Reuters journalists, as they walked on a Baghdad street – and then killing a man who stopped to help the wounded and also wounding two children in his van.]

It was never clear what role Sweden played in the Assange saga. Criminal charges were never filed there. The long delay in the process resulted, in part, because the Swedish prosecutor insisted that Assange travel to Sweden to be interviewed. Assange declined, fearing that if he went to Sweden, that country would extradite him to the United States.

The Swedish investigation of Assange may have been instigated at the behest of the United States. Journalist John Pilger documented political pressure by the U.S. government on Swedish authorities: “Both the Swedish prime minister and foreign minister attacked Assange, who had been charged with no crime. Assange was warned that the Swedish intelligence service, SAPO, had been told by its U.S. counterparts that U.S.-Sweden intelligence-sharing arrangements would be ‘cut off’ if Sweden sheltered him.”

Although the Swedish investigation has now been dropped, the threat of arrest persists. The London police have indicated they will arrest Assange for failure to appear in a London Magistrates Court if he leaves the embassy. Britain would then likely extradite Assange to the United States for possible prosecution.

Arresting Assange a U.S. ‘Priority’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared in April that arresting Assange is a “priority” for the Department of Justice, even though the New York Times indicated that federal prosecutors are “skeptical that they could pursue the most serious charges, of espionage.” The Justice Department is reportedly considering charging Assange with theft of government documents.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Flickr U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

A decision to prosecute Assange would mark a 180-degree change of direction for President Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump declared, “I love WikiLeaks” after it published confidential emails from the Democratic National Committee that some U.S. intelligence agencies claim were obtained by Russian hackers (although Assange denies getting the material from Russia).

In March, WikiLeaks published CIA documents containing software and methods to hack into electronics. This was the beginning of WikiLeaks’ “Vault 7” series, which, Assange wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post, contained “evidence of remarkable CIA incompetence and other shortcomings.”

The publication included “the agency’s creation, at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars, of an entire arsenal of cyber viruses and hacking programs – over which it promptly lost control and then tried to cover up the loss,” Assange added. “These publications also revealed the CIA’s efforts to infect the public’s ubiquitous consumer products and automobiles with computer viruses.”

CIA Director Michael Pompeo called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

Pompeo said, “We have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” Pompeo declared, “Julian Assange has no First Amendment privileges. He is not a U.S. citizen.”

But, the Supreme Court has long held that the Constitution applies to non-Americans, not just U.S. citizens. And, when the Obama Justice Department considered prosecuting WikiLeaks, U.S. officials were unable to distinguish what Wikileaks did from what the Times and Guardian did since they also published documents that Manning leaked. WikiLeaks is not suspected of hacking or stealing them.

A week before Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Comey told the House Intelligence Committee, “WikiLeaks is an important focus of our attention.” He said the Justice Department’s position “has been [that] newsgathering and legitimate news reporting is not covered, is not going to be investigated or prosecuted as a criminal act,” adding, “Our focus is and should be on the leakers, not those [who] are obtaining it as part of legitimate newsgathering.”

But Comey said, “a huge portion of WikiLeaks’ activities has nothing to do with legitimate newsgathering, informing the public, commenting on important controversies, but is simply about releasing classified information to damage the United States of America.”

As Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, wrote at Just Security, Comey was drawing the line “not between leaking classified information and publishing it, but between publishing it for ‘good’ reasons and publishing it for ‘bad’ ones.”

And, “[a]llowing the FBI to determine who is allowed to publish leaked information based on the bureau’s assessment of their patriotism would cross a constitutional Rubicon,” Goitein wrote.

Other advocates for civil liberties also defended WikiLeaks as a news organization protected by the First Amendment. “The U.S. government has never shown that Assange did anything but publish leaked information,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told the Times.

Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, stated in an interview with the Times, “Never in the history of this country has a publisher been prosecuted for presenting truthful information to the public.”

Assange’s Detention Called Unlawful

In 2016, following a 16-month investigation, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange’s detention by Britain and Sweden was unlawful. It stated, “[A] deprivation of liberty exists where someone is forced to choose between either confinement, or forfeiting a fundamental right – such as asylum – and thereby facing a well-founded risk of persecution.”

A scene from the “Collateral Murder” video in which an Iraqi man stops his van to aid those wounded in a lethal U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad on July 12, 2007, only to be gunned down by the American gunners.

The U.N. group found, “Mr. Assange’s exit from the Ecuadorian Embassy would require him to renounce his right to asylum and expose himself to the very persecution and risk of physical and mental mistreatment that his grant of asylum was intended to address. His continued presence in the Embassy cannot, therefore, be characterized as ‘volitional’.”

Thus, the U.N. group concluded that Assange’s continued stay in the embassy “has become a state of an arbitrary deprivation of liberty,” in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Alfred de Zayas, U.N. Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, told Consortiumnews, “What is at stake here is freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.” He cited Article 19 of the ICCPR, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression.

“Whistleblowers are key human rights defenders in the Twenty-first Century, in which a culture of secrecy, behind-closed-door deals, disinformation, lack of access to information, 1984-like surveillance of individuals, intimidation and self-censorship lead to gross violations of human rights,” said de Zayas, who is also a retired senior lawyer with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Secretary for the UN Human Rights Committee.

Moreover, the Johannesburg Principles of National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, issued in 1996, provide, “No person may be punished on national security grounds for disclosure of information if the public interest in knowing the information outweighs the harm from the disclosure.”

Even some mainstream news organizations that have been critical of WikiLeaks for releasing classified U.S. information have objected to the idea of criminal prosecution. A Washington Post editorial in 2010 entitled “Don’t Charge Wikileaks” said: “Such prosecutions are a bad idea. The government has no business indicting someone who is not a spy and who is not legally bound to keep its secrets. Doing so would criminalize the exchange of information and put at risk responsible media organizations that vet and verify material and take seriously the protection of sources and methods when lives or national security are endangered.”

In the U.S. government’s continued legal pursuit of WikiLeaks, there is much more at stake than what happens to Julian Assange. There are principles of press freedoms and the public’s right to know. By publishing documents revealing evidence of U.S. war crimes, emails relevant to the U.S. presidential election and proof of CIA malfeasance, Assange did what journalists are supposed to do – inform the people about newsworthy topics and reveal abuses that powerful forces want concealed.

Assange also has the right to freedom of expression under both U.S. and international law, which would further argue for Great Britain dropping the failure-to-appear warrant and allowing Assange to freely leave the embassy and to finally resume his life.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter

72 comments for “The Meaning of Assange’s Persecution

  1. Kevin Beck
    June 4, 2017 at 09:31

    After reading some of the moronic comments made by the officials of the United States Government quoted in the article, I must inform them of some details about the United States and its founding documents.

    The idea of secrecy was intended to mean that the people’s individual secrets are to be secure from attack by the government. It was not intended to protect government secrets, however dubious or benevolent they may be. We were founded based upon secrets of the individual and transparency of the government. But it’s obvious that is a concept that is too difficult for those within government to comprehend, as evidenced by the quotes of Jeff Sessions, James Comey, and Mike Pompeo. It was also misunderstood by Barack Obama, but being that he was so un-American (not the same as “not from the United States), I wasn’t shocked at all in that case.

    It isn’t a good thing when the citizens of the nation are not certain of what the limits of government power are. But it is a horrific thing when those in government are either so uniformed or misinformed.

  2. ralph
    June 2, 2017 at 01:07

    Assange is a fake, a phoney.. an asset of the USA.
    nothing he “leaked” in collateral damage, was a surprise to anyone who had been paying attention. the whole world knew, or should have, that the usa was committing atrocities in afghanistan.. it is what they have been doing for decades with their illegal immoral warmongering, based on lies, against countries that were never a threat to anyone, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men women and children, and hundreds of thousands more, crippled, poisined, displaced, orphaned. the USA was only mildly embarrassed .. and then on and on it goes…

    Assange says that he is annoyed by anyone who questions the official account of 9/11.

    search the web for 9/11 litmus test.

    that should be enough for anyone to trust the lying fool as far as they could kick him. the sooner he dies the better, be it in his embassy room, on the street, or a USA prison.

  3. June 1, 2017 at 09:09

    The evil empire never sleeps. It is murdering the poor and unfortunate while you sleep and when you’re awake. They employ vast armies of murderers to kill anyone who , their edicts & invasions…

  4. James
    June 1, 2017 at 08:17

    Excellent article and thanks for taking on the challenge of standing up for a real HERO !

    I’m Australian & despise both of the cowardly Australian Governments who have totally abandoned Julian.
    They suck up & obey orders from the USA –shame on all of those traitors.

  5. richard feibel
    May 31, 2017 at 17:52


    • June 1, 2017 at 09:11

      Doubtful, they have Theresa to do their werk……

  6. Andy Jones
    May 31, 2017 at 12:51

    Before this scandal, I would never have imagined that Sweden’s legal system was fundamentally corrupt. Sweden doesn’t even have the rule of law. The Swedish government actually helped the CIA kidnap political refugees on Swedish soil so they could be tortured in Egypt. This was done in total disregard for what passes for law in Sweden. In Sweden, politicians can go prosecutor shopping if they don’t like the decision of the prosecutor who has the case.

    • June 1, 2017 at 09:14

      Obviously rule of law died on nine 11 along with our freedom as the DEEP STATE leaders took control…

  7. Terry Washington
    May 31, 2017 at 11:34

    “persecution”- you must be joking! Assange could end his “ordeal” here and now by stepping out of the Ecuadorian Embassy( a country where he has no demonstratable ties of family or otherwise). Given that the Guardian(hardly an uncritical admirer of Uncle Sam) noted that his claims for asylum from Swedish allegations of sexual misconduct or coercion are ridiculous- under no stretch of imagination can they be termed “political””
    Furthermore Sweden is a model Social Democracy which not only sheltered refugees from Nazi persecution during WWII, refused to join NATO and afforded asylum to young Americans who fled the country during the Vietnam War- much to the demonstratable annoyance of the Johnson and Nixon administrations. That such a country would turn over Assange to US authorities strikes me as ludicrous!

    • Andy Jones
      May 31, 2017 at 13:15

      The prosecutor who had the case said Assange had no case to answer and then a politician got another prosecutor to issue an arrest warrant, despite no evidence of a crime. The police report and texts by the women in question boasting about sleeping with Assange make the accusations preposterous. The woman Assange is accused of raping denies she was raped. The politician who got the case reopened said it she wouldn’t know whether or not she was raped because she isn’t a lawyer. Any reasonable person would say the accusations are political.

  8. richard feibel
    May 31, 2017 at 10:49


  9. Fred
    May 31, 2017 at 07:38

    A scene I would like to see;

    Ecuador grants Assange citizenship and makes him a member of their diplomatic corps. Thence does Julian walk out of the embassy, get on a jet and go home to Quito.

    • Andy Jones
      May 31, 2017 at 13:34

      They could have to make him part of their UN mission and get him accredited to the UN. That would clearly give him diplomatic immunity that the UK and US would be obliged to respect under international law. If they appoint him their ambassador to the UK and the UK rejects him do they have to send him to Ecuador?

  10. mike k
    May 30, 2017 at 17:29

    If we can shine enough truth light on these vampires who are sucking the life out of our planet, they will shrivel and be seen for the awful losers that they really are. then the first will truly be seen as the last, and the meek will inherit the Earth…..maybe…..

  11. Tom Welsh
    May 30, 2017 at 07:06

    One useful aspect of Mr Assange’s predicament (although very unpleasant for him) is that it throws into sharp relief the fact that, to the US government, international law and the United Nations are only conditionally to be obeyed.

    The US government will support the UN and enforce international law if, and only if, that is perceived to be advantageous for the US government.

    Otherwise, the US government is always entirely willing (indeed, sometimes quite eager) to ignore international law and snub the UN.

    • mike k
      May 30, 2017 at 12:01

      Truth tellers are enemies of the Mafia. They will try to slap you down if you speak out. They never really could deny the truth of what Assange, Snowden, and Manning revealed. It was the truth of it that they really couldn’t handle. They are like vampires who can only work in the dark; the light destroys them.

    • Andy Jones
      May 31, 2017 at 13:45

      When the US lectures other countries about following a rules-based system they are full of crap. The US has a stronger tradition of the rule of law inside its borders than most countries but it puts its national interests ahead of international law.

  12. Sting the SOBs
    May 30, 2017 at 02:44

    Speaking up doesn’t work if you want to be free. Get land, grow your own food, get your defense, don’t pay taxes, boycott banks, boycott the dollar, and get other people to join you and get off this crooked system. As long as we’re law-abiding tax payers, we’re like the bees they take honey from. It’s time to sting the SOBs.

  13. D5-5
    May 29, 2017 at 18:03

    Marjorie Cohn as usual thorough and clear. Excellent report.

    With the following, Comey was continuing to politicize his office, as he had been doing throughout the previous ten months or more, with further indication of his incompetence:

    “Prior to this Comey [a week before being fired on Tuesday, May 9] had said to The House Intelligence Committee the Justice Department’s position ‘has been that newsgathering and legitimate reporting is not covered, is not going to be investigated or prosecuted as a criminal act . . .’ ” He then went on to claim “a huge portion”‘ of Wikileaks “has nothing to do with legitimate newsgathering, informing the public, commenting on important controversies, but is simply releasing classified information to damage the United States of America.”

    Crucial here is defining “legitimate” and “damage” versus using this sort of language to beget the automatically nodding head and push the patriot button.

    Political massaging (and polluting) is also evident in the vague but sinister “huge portion” followed by denial of what Wikileaks has indeed been doing–informing the public and commenting on important controversies.

    This is followed by the red herring and again the automatic nodding head and stimulus re “releasing classified information” and the sonorous rhetoric of spelling out “The United States of America.”

    These indications of Comey as political tool versus neutral investigator are then sharply contrasted with the following note by Marjorie:

    “As Elizabeth Gotein, co-Director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, wrote at Just Security, Comey was drawing the line “not between leaking classified information and publishing it, but between publishing it for ‘good’ reasons and publishing it for ‘bad’ ones.”

    This criterion of “good” vs. “bad” is irrelevant to the principal issue of whether harm has been done or not by the leaks.

    If the harm done is largely embarrassment from rogue or criminal acts sanctioned or ignored by the US government, as with the collateral murder video, this is probably not going to be called “good” by Comey or whoever he represents. It is also irrelevant to the question of “harm” the leak created, as to what it was specifically in terms of compromising security.

    As usual political rhetoric and reliance on automatic group-think are used instead of cogent analysis and reliance on principles stemming from the constitution.

    For the past seven years of hounding Assange NO evidence has been presented, as with the current Russia red herring, that Assange’s leaks, or Manning’s leaks, or Snowden’s leaks, have damaged national security other than EMBARASSING the powers that be.

    Certainly, this would call for wounded warriors exposed bleating out baaaaad, the way Trump does.

    UK insistence on re-arresting Assange at this time has the background of Assange’s previously being required to wear an ankle bracelet and report daily, if not more than once a day, to the police. Anyone with a sense of fairness and an open mind must surely realize his seeking asylum was in the face of a very real, sinister threat, especially given what happened to Manning.

    Based on what we now know, including threats by Comey, Sessions, et al surely vindicate Assange’s course of action to seek refuge. Justice, if it is still to be imagined as extant today, calls for his release, not further mafia style threatening.

    • May 29, 2017 at 18:23

      Who would want to be arrested by a government that practices torture? This practice of the US government is an abomination…period.

      • D5-5
        May 29, 2017 at 18:42

        Who would indeed, additional to the fomenting style of a deranged pit bull like mentality, snarling and foaming at the mouth, indicated with such comments as Assange should be shot and “don’t we have a drone for this guy” or whatever it was Hillary Clinton said.

        • May 29, 2017 at 19:21

          I will never understand how Killary became the top of the Dems…she has the heart of the worst fascists that ever terrorized the earth…

          • Tom Welsh
            May 30, 2017 at 07:07

            That is why she became “top of the Dems”.

          • Andy Jones
            May 31, 2017 at 13:55

            That’s how she got the nomination. If she wanted to win the GOP nomination she would have painted herself orange, contradicted herself every 48 hours and tweeted crazy stuff in the middle of the night.

  14. kritik1
    May 29, 2017 at 15:55

    It is a blatant lie that Assange stole documents or Assange is involved in espionage. Assange got hold of legitimate facts that works the same way as New York Times got hold of legitimate facts. Assange has the conscious responsibility not to decieve the world general public by hiding those truths. And therefore Assange cannot withhold such facts and has to forward those facts to journalists like the New York Times. Let the ICJ decide if Assange should walk as a free man or not.

    • May 29, 2017 at 18:19

      There is also no question about the validity and accuracy of the documents he has published…. Even from Killary herself….lol

  15. kritik1
    May 29, 2017 at 15:37

    I thank the columnist Marjorie Cohn for her valuable facts that gives account of how powerful politics plays out not for the sake of democracy but for the sake of their own political agenda thereby making best use of usurper tools including collusion of banding together to persecute others to hide their own misdeeds. Not a single document out of millions upon millions of documents that Assange has obtained and distributed is a manipulated document and BTW Assange is never in collusion with anyone including the Russians, the Democratic Party’s DNC or the GOP’s Republican Party or the silly notion that he is in collusion with the terrorists and therefore he is a terrorist. Generally speaking people hate terrorist and terrorism and so if Assange is “conveniently” labeled as a terrorist it will serve their (political) illegitimate claims in denouncing Assange. I can safely say that Assange is a relentless distributor of facts and works as a lone wolf.

    • May 29, 2017 at 18:17

      yes…Assange is being persecuted for being good at his job…delivering real news…

      If he wasnt so good at exposing the corruption, lies, and criminal activities of the Dark Globalists…he wouldnt have any problem…

      keep up the good work Jullian…we will try to get you out…

  16. May 29, 2017 at 15:15

    So true, kritik. We must speak up, against these powers of evil. Earth and all life is at stake as never before.

    • mike k
      May 30, 2017 at 18:27

      I must say that I am coming away from this discussion with a much enhanced appreciation for the effectiveness of Chinese propaganda. Any outfit that can make the Dalai Lama appear to be a monster of evil, has really got something going for it propaganda-wise.

      • mike k
        May 30, 2017 at 20:41

        The next thing I expect to hear is that the Cultural Revolution was really a polite tea party.

  17. kritik1
    May 29, 2017 at 14:44

    If you want your family and future generations to enjoy freedom and not let governments make you dance and grab you by the neck like a low-intelligence animal then, stand up for your rights, speak up and convey your evaluation and thinking through the internet and the social media.
    Say enough is enough. Free Julian Assange so as to recognize his legal entity to freely conduct his business of investigating the world. Our so-called Free Press is a mockery of the words free press. Also take part to actively promote freedom views to yet another persecution that has been going on for decades: That the nation of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is going through continuous political persecutions. China must stop such political persecutions.

    • mike k
      May 29, 2017 at 16:08

      China’s persecution of the Tibetan people and theft of their land is one of the worst crimes of the modern era. Until they atone for this and restore Tibet’s freedom they will be cursed by this truly awful karma. China will never merit our full respect until it redresses this genocidal crime. Things that are truly good can never be built on this kind of rotten foundation. The same goes for slavery and Native American genocide by America.

      • F. G. Sanford
        May 29, 2017 at 16:52

        I think you’re basically a good, descent and noble person, and I generally agree with your comments. But, when you extol the virtues of the last ruler of the most reprehensibly barbaric feudal monstrosity on the face of the earth, I gotta say something. Tibet was the most horrific slave state on the face of the earth, with ripping out tongues, gouging out eyeballs and chopping off limbs right up until that Dalai was spirited out by his Nazi Brownshirt rescuer. He has maintained connections to international fascist elements ever since, and has remained on the CIA payroll, just like many of the “Operation Paperclip” recruits of Allen Dulles fame. China has attempted to bring literacy, sanitation, public health and economic relief to that horror show. EVERYTHING your hear about Tibet from loonies like Richard Gere and his Hollywood cronies is absolute hogwash. For a little enlightenment about the Dalai’s real background, I’d suggest a visit to: spitfirelist(dot)com
        Go to the search box and type in: dalai lama

        You’ll be shocked to learn what a monstrous abomination this man really represents.

        • Bill Bodden
          May 29, 2017 at 18:18

          F.G.: Thank you very much for that interesting link to the spitfire website.

        • Brad Owen
          May 30, 2017 at 12:13

          Yeah, I was shocked when I learned this other side of this story. It makes me think of what the strict Catholic Conquistadors must have thought when they walked into the capital of the Aztec Empire to see mountains of skulls and hearts ripped out of living victims by their priests… Satan’s spawn run riot, or some such thing. Of course, no 400 Conquistadors could have defeated the Aztec Empire. They had the help of 20,000 warriors from neighboring Indian Nations whose members were hunted down by Aztec warriors for these gruesome sacrificial rites. Its a good rule-of-thumb to look for the other side of the story, before reaching a conclusion.

        • BannanaBoat
          May 30, 2017 at 17:19

          Looked over the spitfire link , all the accusations were meaningless, e.g. His Holiness cavorts with Uighirs and other Muslims. Please…..

        • mike k
          May 30, 2017 at 18:04

          It’s always difficult to keep the whole complex picture of reality in mind. It’s much easier to focus on some aspects and ignore what doesn’t fit our preferences. Chinese militarists and disillusioned atheists would prefer to only see Tibet one way. From one angle the glorious armies of China liberating the oppressed Tibetan people from the purely evil forces of religious repression makes a good story, and we can enjoy the blessings of an enlightened culture such as China saving these clueless natives from being deprived of the unmixed blessing of Chinese culture, including the chance to become second class members of the new society with the opportunity to work twelve hour days for just enough money to keep their usefulness as slaves alive.

          For those for whom the spiritual riches of Tibetan Buddhism are just a bad joke of no value, on a par with all other religious traditions that should be better discarded in favor of the delights of modern society, it is obviously expedient to dredge up the worst manifestations of an admittedly imperfect spirituality to beat up on all aspects of this ancient and complex philosophy of life. A similar trashing exercise can be engaged with any other major religion on Earth. The question Nietzsche proposed however is still relevant: After we have trashed and discredited all religious beliefs, what will we replace all that with? Will it be a world steeped in greater evil than the ancient inquisitors could imagine or accomplish?

          Speaking as one who embraced a strict atheism for most of my early life, I am not unfamiliar with the arguments and thinking of my atheist brothers and sisters. Nor do I have any illusions of persuading anyone to adopt my own ideas about ultimate questions. I’ve been around long enough now to understand the futility of such an enterprise. Nevertheless, what we hold in our hearts relative to the deep meaning of human life may very well be decisive in determining our destiny in the not too distant future.

          • mike k
            May 30, 2017 at 18:20

            Come to think of it, didn’t we accuse the native americans of all sorts of horrible savage behaviors as an excuse for stealing their land, and exterminating those who resisted? And as far as the quaint methods of torture mentioned, I am sure that the scientists advising the torturers at Guantanamo and Abu Graib and black sites all over the world have improved on the scientifically unenlightened savages of ancient Tibet. Ain’t civilization wonderful?

            I seem to recall that the Chinese have been noted to be among the most adept torturers among cultures. Didn’t they anticipate our famous waterboarding techniques with their ancient Chinese water torture. Some of the Tibetans have given some rather harrowing accounts of their treatment by their liberators. Of course they may be lying. I suppose some of us have reasons to trust the Chinese as more truthful than backward Tibetans.

  18. wendy
    May 29, 2017 at 14:40

    i really agree with charles misfeldt’s observation.

  19. Liam
    May 29, 2017 at 14:30

    Kudos to Robert Parry and Consortium News on this Memorial Day for their excellent reporting and true patriotism. They are the real hero’s of America. I have also put together this Memorial Day post on another excellent US reporter and fighter for truth, Mr. Ben Swann. Thanks for all your hard work Consortium News.

    Tribute and Compendium of Videos of CBS46 Reporter Ben Swann Who Revealed US Support For Terrorist Groups in Syria

  20. kritik1
    May 29, 2017 at 14:20

    Even though Sweden dis-engaged the questioning of Assange (Arrest for investingation of sex misconduct), UK still finds itself committed to that connected ordeal of jumping bail. Political refugees have no where to turn where “politics” involves political persecution and seek Assylum not as a choice but who is willing to offer safe haven for such political intrusions, and that brings Ecuador into the picture, so when Sweden dropped the ball, UK should not have picked up the ball for further investigation on why he skipped bail. Isn’t that obvious? Duh! But the Government and the police of UK are somehow linked to oblige American “political thinking” and so the news distributor is holed in an international embassy of no other reason than persecution will surely lead to a brief arrest and the farce ‘show’ of magistrate attendence which leads to the ultimate mensrea of extradition. How can justice prevail where injustice is conquerred by political motives? If true justice and true democratic values are to be preserved than let the trial be held at the Hague ICJ for whatever trumped up reason of rape and espionage. We can all sleep better what ever the ICJ decides when it does, but my belief is the big great politics of big great nations rule over every thing else.

    • mike k
      May 29, 2017 at 14:37

      Assange incarcerated in Britain sheds a wonderful light on the hypocrisy and evil of the US/BRIT world domination white racist conspiracy. His persecution is so obvious that if it does not wake more of us up to the crimes of our government, I don’t know what will. This guy is suffering imprisonment in the Ecuadorian Embassy (God bless them for giving him refuge – they are so brave in the face of Empire’s power) – he is there for all of us on Earth, demonstrating his willingness to sacrifice his freedom for our right to know the truth.

  21. May 29, 2017 at 13:57

    Big Brother is clearly in charge in the USA and we’re in 1984 scenario. Julian Assange certainly has more guts than did Winston Smith. I recommended to my older sister that she read “1984”, told her it’s here, but she said she wouldn’t and I know why, the thought might send her into a tailspin like other ostriches in the Land of Amnesia. Like the Borg in Star Trek, the power mobsters would attach electrodes to heads and declare, “Resistance is futile” in a robot voice. Assange is a real hero and we owe him many thanks.

    • Liberty Vance
      June 1, 2017 at 00:29

      The huge mistake about the borg and start rek is that one assumes the federation is not the borg. I find it immensely humorous that one gang of slavery,the federation, is combating another gang of slavery, the borg.

      I do agree that Snowden & Assange are both heroes but for different reasons.

      Manning? While the information given before he became an IT is vital. What happens after he became an IT isn’t! Manning sought pity by becoming queer in the head.

      You know what? I really don’t buy that s**t.

  22. mike k
    May 29, 2017 at 13:43

    Julian Assange is a hero of the human species. He dared to breach the wall of secrecy concealing the crimes of the Evil Empire which the US government fronts for. This Empire claims to be a force for good in the world, but this is an outrageous lie supported by a huge propaganda machine led by the mainstream media. To know the truth about the American Empire it is necessary to understand the real meaning and value of Assange and Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden and many other truth revealers. If one is still a clueless victim of Empire propaganda, then these whistleblowers will be seen as dangerous enemies of all that is good and true.

    So it turns out that the ancient quest to know the real truth of everything is the key to possible deliverance from being enslaved and used by those who are skillfully disseminating lies and misinformation. You need to pursue the truth outside of the official version taught you in school. This takes courage and imagination. May many more of us do the work of seeking out truths that are outside the picture our rulers want us to see.

    • Virginia
      May 29, 2017 at 15:09

      I’ve been a truth lover and seeker all my life. I won’t go into detail on the transformation that’s taken place with me, but a while back I practically forced myself to learn something about Islam. The book I picked up, and it was very hard for me to do it, was “Jihad vs. McWorld” by Benjamin R. Barber. Little did I know this was not going to reveal very much about Islamic religion. Barber’s definition of jihad is quite different; it pertains to neighborhoods, close communities, identification…! The term McWorld speaks for itself. The impact this book had on me was amazing! I was, and am, so grateful that I was capable of opening my thought so vastly. That in itself seems miraculous. (I had been entrenched in party politics.) Since then I’ve taken up research on Syria (what an eye opener a little study brought there!), and on Russia, Lybia, other countries, foreign elections, NATO, EU, our own government, and so much more.

      Another book I happened upon was Anwar el-Sadat’s “In Search of Identity.” If anyone ever had any doubt that a Muslim’s connection with God would be less than a Christian’s or Jew’s, well Sadat’s experience would inevitably change your mind.

      So in response to Mike’s comment, I share this little bit of my own experience, and I thank you all for the “jihad” — the community and friendship and likemindedness — I have found here on CN. Really, thank you.

      • mike k
        May 29, 2017 at 16:23

        Virginia, it is so good to read your open-hearted sharing. We pray so much that more and more people will wake up to what is really going on in our world. To hear your story makes me feel that our attempts to discover and share the truth are not futile, but may yet bear the fruit of saving truth we long to share with our suffering world.

        The truth will indeed make us free (from lies and ignorance) but there is an inner effort and work required to discover those hidden truths. One of the keys for me in the path of seeking truth has been to feel and enjoy the sense of adventure and excitement as deeper levels begin to be revealed. Good luck on your continuing journey of awakening.

      • Gregory Herr
        May 29, 2017 at 19:30

        Virginia, a meaningful way to comprehend jihad. I sense your research into Syria and other places has evidenced some of what Barber is speaking of. Thank you.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 29, 2017 at 15:53

      Julian Assange is a hero of the human species.

      But he might have gone too far when he wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post, the suggestion of “evidence of remarkable CIA incompetence and other shortcomings.”

      Publishing national secrets and classified documents is one thing, but there is nothing more offensive to government bureaucrats than the suggestion they are incompetent. The Peter Principle at work.

      • Tom Welsh
        May 30, 2017 at 07:09

        Exactly. It is hard to credit, but it does seem that the worst atrocities are always committed against anyone who has “disrespected” government officials. They behave exactly like traditional mob leaders – the Mafia, for example.

      • Lord Koos
        May 30, 2017 at 13:23

        Ah, but the CIA has on its own demonstrated it’s incompetence so many times, it amazes me that anyone continues to believe anything they say. They hardly need any help from Assange in that department.

        • Dutch
          May 31, 2017 at 11:00

          Our intelligence agencies have been at work in Syria for some 5 years now. Given the current state of that situation 5 years in no other conclusion is possible besides that our intel agencies are tragically inept if not downright traitorous and in collusion with our claimed ‘enemies’. What started as a spark has become a 7 alarm fire with the so called firefighters throwing fuel on it. Just look at the facts and the course this ‘conflict’ (read ‘coup attempt’) has taken. Our intelligence agencies are the key facilitators of all of it. And somehow Assange is some anti-American criminal for revealing these truths? He’s more of an American than the treasonous provocateurs feeding from our tax rolls while pushing lie after lie in the fraudstream media and atrocity after atrocity in the ME, which have now spilled over into Europe. No other conclusion is possible if you look at this conflict as a complete work.

          • David Hart
            May 31, 2017 at 14:49

            Dutch: FIVE years? Try THIRTY-five years, if not longer. This is de-classified info that shows the CIA had a plan back in 1983 to ruin Syria.

            “While Syria is not in conflict with Iraq today, after being destroyed by the United States in 2003, Western Iraq now houses the mysteriously-funded Islamic State on the border between Iraq and Syria.

            That being said, this plan is not merely being discussed, it is being implemented as one can clearly see by the fact that Israel routinely launches airstrikes against the Syrian military, Turkey continues to funnel ISIS and related terrorists into Syria through its own territory, and ISIS continues to present itself as an Eastern front militarily. As a result, the “multi-front” war envisioned and written about by the CIA in 1983 and discussed by Brookings in 2012 has come to fruition and is in full swing today.”


      • Tionico
        May 31, 2017 at 11:58

        so, when everyone is standing there staring at the emperor, who is stark naked in front of all, and ONE MAN declares “he hath not clothes”, why do the crowds seek to demonise the one who spoke the truth everyone else could already see, rather than the one standing their offensively naked?

        Assange has ONLY been the bucket in which these “leaked” truths were carried from the source (which voluntarily poured those truths into the bucket). And as pointed out in the article, why do not the same crowd pillory the “professional” lamestream media who took what was poured out of Assange’s bucket and into their own and carried it to a much wider and less esoteric receiver, the public? If it is a “crime” or “offense” for Assange to “publish” these things, how can it NOT also be for the press?

        But the REAL question is WHY have not government gone after those who put the original information into Assange’s bucket? Had that information not been illegally leaked in the first place, Assange would still be the nobody he was prior to all this. And he would not be residing in that Peruvian embassy in London…… he’d be wherever he wished to be, which is likely anywhere but here.

    • calmtruth
      May 31, 2017 at 13:44


  23. Joe Tedesky
    May 29, 2017 at 13:08

    I find it truly bizarre that criminals are charging Assange of being a criminal. I will admit that when Julian Assange first entered the scene, I thought he might be a convenient CIA/MI6 plant. Now I have all the respect in the world for this news provider, since he proves to be a valuable link to the political underside which schemes it’s way through too fool us people into believing their lies.

    For Comey and Pompeo to want to bring Assange down over leaks, then Comey and Pompeo better start with going after all the leaks coming from the leakers inside this White House. No doubt for that is the reason Wapo opposes going after leakers in the manner that Comey and Pompeo suggested.

    Here’s a thought, start governing with transparency and tell the truth.

  24. bluto
    May 29, 2017 at 13:02

    During Dec 2016 did Jared use Israeli encrypted communications with Netanyahu and the Israelis in Dermer’s office in the Israeli Embassy during their infamous FAILED attempt to sabotage President Obama and US foreign policy over American support for UN SCR 2334 condemning Israeli settlements as ‘flagrantly illegal’?

    Jared’s collusion with Israel and Bibi over UN SCR 2334 is STUCK LIKE A TARBABY to Jared’s collusion with Russia


    The million dollar question regarding Kushner runs thru Tel Aviv and UN SCR 2334 – it’s the million dollar realization of Israeli/Israeli Lobby domination of the American political landscape in collapse.

    It’s the Successful 2nd American Revolution of April 2, 2015, the signing of the Framework Deal with Iran and the existential collapse of Israeli Apartheid that created

    This collusion with Israel was in Dec 2016 during the same time Jared was trying to set up secret channels with the Russians – like he was doing with the Israelis to screw Obama and the Americans

    Jared’s motive is Jewish Power – Jewish Power in America. Well, that and the money…

    • bluto
      May 29, 2017 at 13:03

      Democracy dies in Darkness and that is EXACTLY what the Nightflower has had for years. No longer…

      It’s the Successful 2nd American Revolution

      Planks of the ‘Successful 2nd American Revolution Party’

      1- force AIPAC to register as agent of foreign government, then bring forward the Rep Jane Harman completed crime to derail the FBI prosecution of AIPAC president Steve Rosen and vp Weissman, then prosecute AIPAC and make it illegal.
      2- 28th amendment prohibiting israeli or other interference in, financing of American politics/politicians
      3- Prosecute Jared Kushner to the full extent of the law

      VOTE the Successful 2nd American Revolution Party

      GOGOGOGOGO Courage is Contagious GOGOGOGOGO

      • mike k
        May 29, 2017 at 13:21

        Is the name “bluto” from popeye’s nemesis? Why would you use that moniker?

        • mike k
          May 29, 2017 at 14:25

          Actually bluto, your comments don’t make any more sense than what bluto used to splutter in popeye’s comics.

          • kritik1
            May 29, 2017 at 14:53

            @mike k, Just say it is ok for bluto to say whatever he wishes to say regardless of any sense of direction. For bluto is an honorable man and he has the right to speak his mind over the internet. This way bluto can get it off his chest and feel better.

          • Vincent Castigliola
            May 31, 2017 at 08:31

            Why do people use pseudonyms?
            Do you think the NSA does not know who you are?
            I ask sincerely, Am I unwise not to try to hide my identity?

  25. Bill Bodden
    May 29, 2017 at 12:14

    And, “[a]llowing the FBI to determine who is allowed to publish leaked information based on the bureau’s assessment of their patriotism would cross a constitutional Rubicon,” Goitein wrote.

    This is an ominous concept that all citizens would do well to ponder and encourage them to support organizations such as the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights that are active in resistance to such threats. Cross that Rubicon and it is the end of what remains of the democracy in our republic.

    • JWalters
      May 30, 2017 at 20:31

      By all logic and common sense the New York Times, the U.K. Guardian, and Der Spiegel should all also be prosecuted.

    • Boganboy
      May 31, 2017 at 01:07

      You’ll have noted that the FBI is following the Johannesburg Principles. As always, the question is who decides whether the public interest outweighs the harm.
      The question of freedom of speech is somewhat similar. The present rule appears to be that if they say what they think about you, that’s freedom of speech; if you say what you think about them, it’s hate speech.

    • Vincent Castigliola
      May 31, 2017 at 08:26

      We are perhaps already midstream. Consider the number of people who urge that “hate speech” is not protected under the Constitution.

    • May 31, 2017 at 09:16

      Better yet ACLJ (John Whitehead), who has gone where ACLU first not tread, exposing email-hate with their FOIA request and demand to know what our government was doing to us.

      And wikileaks.

      And EFF Electronic Freedom Foundation.

      And home schooling.

      And independence from Washington.

  26. Charles Misfeldt
    May 29, 2017 at 11:54

    All those who tell truth to power in direct opposition to world domination by the conservative ruling power elite will be hounded, murdered, assassinated, poisoned, persecuted, vilified, imprisoned, sabotaged, undermined. The constitution is almost meaningless when it interferes with the desires of the criminals that control our world.

    • May 29, 2017 at 14:47

      What you call “the conservative ruling power elite” is not conservative and is not “elite” in a true meaning of the word. They are the most decadent and imprudent seekers of money and power. This has nothing to do with tradition and conservatism. Look at the intellectually dishonest and openly profiteering Maddow who proclaims herself a progressive and a democrat; she has been presstituting for the deep state with enthusiasm of nouveaux riches

    • May 31, 2017 at 09:10

      Ruling power elite propaganda and overt operations are best understood as left- fascist. They want ever more not-“democratic” power whole pretending to demand more of it.

      Their shadow operations are meant to beat down traditional culture to re-mold them into their tyranny-friendly image. Meaning twist you. And increase that insider group’s wealth and more so their power.

      whene George Soros works through layers of shells with the Deep Dark State to overthrow Ukraine, Georgia governments, to finance riots in Berkeley, agitate race hatred in the USA, put down nationalism and ethnic independence in Europe.

      And that BILLIONAIRE’s cohorts, are raving rabid mad to crush conservatives.

      They are livid that the masses, men, rednecks and union workers, even women, blacks, and Latins in the USA did not vote the way they were told in 2016. So they are determined to bring down this “Mule” (ref: Foundation and Empire) that exposed their “democracy” as a Fake Democracy and demoralize freedom living people.

      Too late. The Left is now driven nuts by them. Women of all colors are starting to realize they’ve been Lord to. They are starting to exhibit more loyalty to their families. Black leaders are starting to tell men to support their families.

      The Fascist Left’s hope is now their up my controlled Academia faction. Students fired up with dumb secular state socialist spaghetti logic with more twists than a pretzel.

      But the eyes of the Lord are in every place be holding the evil and the good.

      Isaiah 1:18

    • David Walters
      May 31, 2017 at 13:04

      So true.


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