ASSANGE EXTRADITION: An Extension of the US War on Terror

Nozomi Hayese looks back at the calamitous events antyrannical forces that, since 9-11, have turned a whistleblower and her publisher into the enemies of empire. 

Assange supporters march on Parliament, February 2020. (Joe Lauria)

By Nozomi Hayase
U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga released Chelsea Manning on March 12 from detainment after concluding that the grand jury that she had been subpoenaed to testify before no longer needed her, since it was being disbanded. Manning was incarcerated because of her principled stance against the secrecy of the grand jury and her refusal to cooperate in its coercive procedure.

The release of Manning came after the U.S. government tried to break her to the point of suicide. Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, wrote a letter to the U.S. government late last year indicating that Manning’s imprisonment amounted to torture. Her resistance is a part of the U.S. government’s war on the free press, going after WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange.

Assange has been charged under the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents that exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. This indictment is recognized by free speech groups as an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment. In February, the first week of the U.K. hearing of the U.S. request for Assange’s extradition revealed a scale of this “war” that goes well beyond press freedom. What took place last month inside the Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London was a sign of a dangerous slippery slide towards fascism.

Guilty Without Trial

Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s deliberations on the U.S. extradition request for Assange was a trial for journalism, where the bullying of an innocent man is camouflaged as a judicial process and the prosecution of a publisher that has no legal ground is given legitimacy. As Assange’s defense team argued, the proceedings have shown a serious disregard for the rule of law, including abuse of process and ignoring the political nature of this case.

Craig Murray, a U.K. ex-diplomat who attended the hearing every day, gave a report of his first-hand account, pointing out the very oppressive nature of the building and physical arrangement inside the maximum security anti-terrorist court. He made it clear that Assange is a remand prisoner who completed an unprecedentedly long sentence for a minor bail violation and an innocent man facing charges for publishing documents that exposed the U.S. and U.K. government’s war crimes.

The former ambassador to Uzbekistan described how Assange was treated like a violent criminal. On the first day of trial, Assange was subjected to strip searches twice, handcuffed 11 times and his court papers were removed. In the courtroom he was held behind a glass pane in the presence of private security officers, being unable to communicate with his legal team confidentially during proceedings. During the hearing, Assange spoke:

“I cannot communicate with my lawyers or ask them for clarifications without the other side seeing. The other side has about 100 times more contact with their lawyers per day. What is the point of asking if I can concentrate if I cannot participate?”

Clare Daly, member of the European Parliament from Ireland for the Dublin constituency was at the hearing and commented on this draconian measure taken against international standards. She mentioned that she was shocked to see Assange isolated behind the glass window, away from his legal team. Another member of the Parliament, Stelios Kouloglou, who was also at court to observe the proceedings, was reminded  of the dictatorship in Greece.

Erosion of Civil Liberties

What is this prosecution of WikiLeaks founder really about? What has quietly taken place in the U.S. government’s war on free press is the shredding of the Magna Carta as the very foundation of democracy. The Magna Carta is one of the most important historical documents, having established the principle of due process. It embodies the idea that everyone is subject to the law, even the king, and that all are entitled to the right to a fair trial, thus guaranteeing the rights of the individual.

The Founding Fathers of the United States considered this protection against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment essential in securing individual liberty. For this, they aimed to guarantee the constitutional due process right of habeas corpus, in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution.

Julian Assange. (Twitter)

By prosecuting Julian Assange, the U.S. government is not only violating the First Amendment, but also engaged in a direct assault on the core of civil liberties. The steps toward destruction of the Constitution didn’t just begin now. Nor did it happen accidentally. Nor does this government’s obstruction of human rights only concern Assange as an individual. If we look carefully, we can see a series of events that were carefully orchestrated, leading to the extremely disturbing scenario of the detention of a multi-award winning journalist inside a glass box, as seen during the extradition hearing.

Assange through his work with WikiLeaks came to understand the hidden oppressive force that has insidiously stripped him of his own democratic rights. In his 2006 essay “Conspiracy as Governance,” he wrote:

“Authoritarian regimes create forces which oppose them by pushing against a people’s will to truth, love and self-realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce further resistance. Hence such schemes are concealed by successful authoritarian powers until resistance is futile or out weighed by the efficiencies of naked power. This collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population, is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial.”

What Assange described as “conspiratorial interactions among the political elite” can be identified in power networks documented by Peter Phillips in his book “Giants: The Global Power Elites.” This includes efforts such as the Project for the New American Century — an enterprise established in 1997 for the purpose of exercising American global leadership. Consisting of top-level people in President George W. Bush’s administration, it aims for total military domination of the world.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, networks of “collaborative secrecy” that Assange analyzed, seemed to have gained momentum. Investigative journalist John Pilger revealed the American plan to exploit a catastrophic event and the way the 9/11 disaster provided the “new Pearl Harbor” (discussed in the plan) as the opportunity for the extremists in America to grab the world’s resources. 

Right after the event the U.S., supported by its close allies, invaded Afghanistan. Then, just weeks later The USA PATRIOT Act, that radically expanded the government’s capability of surveillance, was developed as anti-terrorism legislation. The following year, in 2002, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp was set up in Cuba – in violation of due process clauses of the Constitution. From the Iraq War in 2003; to congressional passage of the Military Commissions Act (MCA), that completely dismantled the principle of habeas corpus, the erosion of civil liberties was made under the pretext of “fighting terrorism” – America’s official mission to wipe out al Qaeda and the terrorist Taliban leaders.

‘War on Terror’ Doctrine

9/11 dawn memorial at Pentagon, Sept. 11, 2017. (Dominique A. Pineiro/DoD)

9/11 dawn memorial at Pentagon, Sept. 11, 2017. (Dominique A. Pineiro/DoD)

How did this radical transgression against democracy come about? Author Naomi Klein in “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” investigated how the state exploits crises through taking advantage of the public’s psychologically vulnerable state to push through their agendas. She described the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq as a prime example of this shock doctrine.

The terror invoked by the Bush doctrine of “war on terror” in the wake of 9/11 was truly an attack on the heart of democracy. It paralyzed people and decapitated their ability to define reality, uprooting them from their own history. With the mainstream media broadcast of repeated images of the collapse of the Twin Towers, a climate of fear was amplified.

In response to the event portrayed as “terrorist attacks,” George W. Bush in his address to Congress and the American people, expressed his patriotism with the deep emotional tones of vendetta. While the nation was disoriented, and before people had time to process this tragic incident or even really know who perpetrated it, the narrative of victimization was deftly put forth. Many wrapped themselves in the flag and joined the drumbeat of war with a sense of righteous self-defense.

The hearts of people that had frozen became numb. Many of us became unable to feel a sense of wrongness in the face of injustice. A steady advance in the reduction of civil liberties came to be normalized. In the euphemisms of “enhanced interrogation” and “extraordinary rendition” reprehensible human acts such as torture and kidnapping were made more acceptable. The term “bulk collection” was used to disguise “mass surveillance,” making unconstitutional NSA spying of an entire world seem less severe or immoral. Cruel killings of civilians became less sensational when they are called “noncombatants” or become “collateral damage” after they were killed. 

Conscience of Chelsea Manning

Two months after 9/11, in a news conference, Bush urged the international community to form a coalition for military action. He said, “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror!” – claiming there is no neutrality in this war against terror. With a police crackdown on activists creating a chilling effect, the nation entered a political winter. Consequently, Obama’s victory in the 2008 presidential election appeared to lift the dark cloud of the post-9/11 world. Yet by the end of 2009, the American public became disillusioned with Obama’s empty promises of “hope and change.”

In spring of 2010, as waves of apathy were moving through the country, a shift in the tide emerged. WikiLeaks published classified military footage of the July 2007 attack by a US Army helicopter gunship in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. The video, titled “Collateral Murder,” depicted the killing of more than a dozen men, including two Reuters’ staffers. 

The release of the Collateral Murder video brought a real catalyst for change. In the 17-minute film that portrayed the everyday life of the brutal military occupation in Iraq, we were given an opportunity to see with our own eyes who those labeled as enemies in the “war on terror” really were—a group of adults and children trying to defend themselves from being shot and journalists risking their lives to do their job.

The light that unveiled the U.S. military’s senseless killing was the conscience of U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. It brought an awakening to the heart that remembers our inherent obligation to one another, helping to recover stolen memories of our own history. 

Journalism with Moral Courage

The act of conscience of this young American whistleblower was met with cowardliness and indifference of the established media. Manning first reached out to major U.S. news outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post with material that exposed U.S. war crimes, but they turned her away.

With a vacuum of moral courage in the media landscape, WikiLeaks became the publisher of Manning’s last resort. Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa, once spoke on how courage is “not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it” and that “the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”  

In the face of the prevailing terror of an authoritarian state, WikiLeaks demonstrated truly fearless journalism, igniting the courage of their sources. A project of Sunshine Press launched in 2006, WikiLeaks began to melt frozen hearts, revealing the reality covered up by the corporate media.

In releasing the Collateral Murder video, Assange indicated that the purpose of this publication was to show the world what modern warfare actually looks like and that “his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.” An Australian journalist, Assange explained how WikiLeaks gave a political slant to their naming of the video as a way to give it maximum political impact, because the organization wanted to “knock out the euphemism of ‘collateral damage,’ so when anyone watches it they will think ‘collateral murder.’”

Empire’s War of Aggression

(thierry ehrmann, Flickr)

In the summer of 2010, the light of transparency grew stronger. WikiLeaks published the “Afghan War Diary,” the trove of U.S. classified military records concerning the war in Afghanistan, revealing around 20,000 civilian deaths by assassination, massacre and night raids. This was quickly followed by their subsequent release of the “Iraq War Logs,” which informed people in Iraq about 15,000 civilian casualties previously unreported and not known to the international community. WikiLeaks’ release of 779 classified reports on prisoners of the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo shed light on illegal detention and interrogation practices that were carried out during the Bush regime.

After their release of documents concerning wars in the oil-rich Middle East, the Pentagon swiftly attacked WikiLeaks. Despite careful redacting of sensitive information, U.S. Joint Chief of Staff Mike Mullen threatened the whistleblowing site with a bombastic line of “blood on their hands.” This official spokesperson of the Pentagon called WikiLeaks’ publications “reckless” and “irresponsible” although not one single shred of evidence has ever been brought forth that any of these disclosures caused anyone harm. 

When WikiLeaks began publishing the “U.S. Diplomatic Cables,” revealing countless wrongdoing, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (in the Obama administration) strongly condemned the whistleblowing site. Clinton, who admitted the Iraq War was a mistake and confessed how the U.S. had created Al Qaeda and ISIS, said: “This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community…”

Contrary to the U.S. government’s portrayal of itself as a victim, WikiLeaks’ released documents which have shown the truth – that they are the perpetrator of human rights abuses, engaging in illegal wars. Manning’s act of conscience and WikiLeaks’ brave act of publishing were responses to the U.S. imperial war of aggression — the massive political offence committed against the entire world.

Resuscitating the Heart of Democracy

America’s political offense continued even after the Bush-Cheney era. President Barack Obama not only refused to prosecute the previous administration’s war criminals, he himself became a successor to their crimes. In 2009, instead of withdrawing troops, he added more, fueling the war in Afghanistan. Despite his promised “sunshine” policy — to make the government more transparent — Obama waged an unprecedented war against truthtellers, charging Manning and the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden under the Espionage Act. 

With his 2012 campaign slogan of “Forward,” Obama went “forward” with Guantanamo Bay and drone attacks. He signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 that contained controversial provisions of a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention, which is still effective today. With his kill list,” this supposedly “progressive” president expanded the power of the executive branch in ways that enabled him to act as accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner all in one, including assassinating anyone, even U.S. citizens.

In 2012, declassified military documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the U.S. government has designated WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as enemies of the United States, putting the media organization in the same legal category as Al Qaeda and violent terrorist groups.

From secret grand jury investigation to extrajudicial financial blockade, to harassment of WikiLeaks’ associates at borders (including Assange’s lawyer), the Obama administration attacked the publisher who has fiercely defended the public against the empire’s repeated human rights abuses and egregious political offenses. Now, in the Trump administration’s indictment against Assange on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit computer crime, we are seeing the escalation of this unprecedented war against the First Amendment.

Assange’s U.S. extradition case is our fight against the empire’s perpetual “war on terror” — the war that started with lies, and a war with no end. This is a political battle and Assange’s freedom cannot be won by the court.

Julian Assange created a new form of journalism that enabled a free press to perform its true function – the role of watchdog for democracy. WikiLeaks opened a possibility for ordinary people to use information as power to participate in unfolding events, thwart authoritarian planning, so as to never repeat the tragic hijack of history that led to atrocities in distant lands – killing tens of thousands of innocent people.

Networks of contagious courage that emerged through waves of whistleblowers began to dissolve the conspiracy of governance. The heart of democracy that is resuscitated now inspires us to move toward justice, to recognize our own significance and look one another in the eyes as we become who we are meant to be — movers and shakers of our own history. Only through the courage of each individual to overcome fear and confront this terror that has been unleashed, can we end this war and free those who sacrificed their liberty, so we all can be free.

Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D., is an essayist and author of “WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate: History Is Happening.”  Follow her on Twitter: @nozomimagine

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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15 comments for “ASSANGE EXTRADITION: An Extension of the US War on Terror

  1. DW Bartoo
    March 27, 2020 at 14:13

    My continuing appreciation to Nozomi Hayese, whose articles are actually of value, for their clear insight, pithy honesty, useful perspective, and connection to reality, rather than wishful thinking, or anticipations of U$ elite behavior as well-meaning and likely to change in ways of value to human beings anywhere on planet Earth.

    Claims that “normal” will be replaced (though well it should be) with sane, humane, and sustainable, non-aggressive foreign policies or more compassionate domestic agendas as a result of coronavirus, fly in the face of what is actually, really, indisputably, going on.
    Frankly, official policy IS “more of the same”, and “no changes at all”. Period.

    My ongoing appreciation, as well to Skip Scott, Realist, and numerous others who comment on these threads.

    It is most heartening to know that others think and feel much as I do and are willing to step aside cloying hopiness and “things will work out for the best” and “we have been in worse spots and always come through” nostrums and other patently idiotic appeals to exceptional mythologies and fairytale notions of U$ cultural supremacy, buoyancy, and righteousness.

    My appreciation to Consortium News for providing space for such excellent articles and consistently thoughtful, informed analysis, especially when other platforms seem consumed with petty infighting and ownership squabbles more reminiscent of turf war capitalism than of transformative enlightenment and inclusive efforts to develop shared understanding and mutual support within the larger society.

  2. rosemerry
    March 27, 2020 at 03:38

    A very moving and clear article, of the type we are lucky to find on CN but sadly most of the US public seems to be missing. Remembering the way the NYT, “Guardian” (Sycophant) and others used Wikileaks to sell news, then shamefully turned on Assange and destroyed him, shows the way freedom of speech is treated by many journalists.
    The execrable Luke Harding and David Leigh wrote a nasty biography then distributed by the “Guardian”. Harding (also author of “Russiagate” and a complete fabricator, still remains an accepted journalist on the Guardian-see an interview with him with Aaron Maté on the Real News to judge his competence and value) yet anyone telling the truth is often ridiculed.
    Keep up the good work on CN!

  3. Realist
    March 26, 2020 at 17:31

    “War on terror” indeed! More like gangster tactics by a criminal regime in Washington.

    This just in: the Trump regime has taken actions to use the “Manuel Noriega gambit” against the Madura government in Venezuela.

    Madura and dozens in his administration have been charged with “narcoterrorism” for allegedly flooding the USA with cocaine from Columbia. Yeah, sure. All sorts of fancy charts and graphics spread before Mr. Pompeo on screen to convince you of yet another alleged outrage to get you riled up in support of more outrageous American aggression.

    Madura has a $15 million bounty placed on his head by the Trumpers.

    So, even in the face of a collapsing economy and a pandemic of biblical proportions, with the US armed forces swamped with so many covid-19 cases that they refuse to release any more data and are calling up as many retired medical personnel as possible, the regime in Washington is still insane enough to war on other hapless countries chosen for victimhood. Venezuela’s remaining paltry share of collapsing world oil markets sure won’t help the American shale oil frackers, if that’s what these maniacs hope.

    These are the death throes of the First American Republic where the leaders who have destroyed the nation thrash out in desperation at any convenient target and hope their frantic actions bring them popular support. Who here thinks this latest round of mindless aggression will prove to be a winner? How many more countries will the regime double down against to distract the public from our nation’s collapse? Is this the start of a wider world war to cover their asses? I find the actions of the regime in Washington to be more irrational and conspicuously self-destructive every day.

    • rosemerry
      March 27, 2020 at 03:26

      What really terrifies me is that the US public seems immune to any evidence of the crimes of their government. How can the Trump régime (following the same sanctions plus more as Obama imposed)keep pounding Venezuela at this time? How can it keep on against Iran and Cuba, and of course China, as if the USA is not about to be engulfed in a real explosion of COVID-19 for which it is grossly unprepared by its political decisions or lack of them? To continue with the military exercises against Russia, to have talks with the White Helmets to ensure that the persecution of Syria goes on, when in 2001 the event killing fewer than 3000 people was billed at the greatest tragedy in modern history, shows the complete lack of any perspective,yet the MSM and many of the “Christians” and everyday humans in the USA seem not to blame their leaders, past or present.

    • Dave P.
      March 28, 2020 at 03:50

      Realist, Skip Scott – You and many others on this website express so well the feelings and thoughts of many of us. Thanks.

      All I see is darkness over this land, and over much of the rest of The West. With all forms of Media and communication firmly in the hands of the oligarchy, they have effectively brainwashed the masses of these lands and beyond. I do not see any hope for the better.

  4. Skip Scott
    March 26, 2020 at 10:33

    Great article that doesn’t pull any punches. More people need to realize that Obama was just another warmonger, and that the democratic party is just as guilty as the GOP in supporting the Oligarchy and it’s war machine. The MSM is now completely under the thumb of our so-called “Intelligence Community”. Operation Mockingbird continues and gains strength daily.

    Until the sheeple wake up from their MSM infotainment trance there is no hope for the future.

    • Realist
      March 26, 2020 at 17:41

      I feel like I am in the company of the few remaining sane people bucking the transmogrification of this country into something resembling the Third Reich when I log onto this site. Only, unlike the Einsteins and other refugees from that looming catastrophe, we have no place in this world left to flee that is free and strong enough to defend itself from the Empire of Chaos. Every other country is either co-opted by the maniacs in Washington or a target for destruction by them.

  5. Obadiah
    March 26, 2020 at 09:56

    Actually DCINC and their whipping boy the UK couldn’t be happier to have Julian Assange die of Covid 19. His death is their optimum goal and to make it appear as though he died of a most convenient virus. My question is, is how the hell has a virus made it’s way into supposedly secure prisons in Jolly Ol’ England? There was never any doubt that Assange would make it to DC INC alive, only a matter of how he’d be killed before receiving a fair trial anywhere

    • Lily
      March 26, 2020 at 20:09

      The United Kingdom, the land of the Magna Charta which is now but the servant of a thoroughly evil empire is determined to kill a courageous highly intelligent man whose only crime is telling the truth about the empire’s crimes and murders. Now they will be able to say that Julian Assange died of a virus infection.

      It is almost impossible to imagine how much this mensch must be suffering in that prison each single day for twenty four hours except perhaps a few hours of blissful sleep.

      A state with a judical system that is capable of destroying such a fine innocent human being in cold blood is really destroying itselt. The Hieronymus Bosch like almost clairyoyant photograph of Joe Lauria says a lot about what Britain and the West will eventually be like.

  6. Volker
    March 26, 2020 at 09:34

    The headline is wrong! I fixed for you.

    ASSANGE EXTRADITION: An Extension of the US ‘War Of Terror’ against the rest of the World.

  7. OlyaPola
    March 26, 2020 at 08:48

    “An Extension of the US War on Terror”

    Perhaps it would offer wider context/perspective if the following hypothesis was tested.

    The hypothesis is – that in varying assays all coercive social relations are fiats predicated upon the belief of others which when challenged the challengers are subjected to additional assays of coercion in furtherance of maintaining beliefs/myths.

    Whilst realising that the essay is in some regard a piece of journalism, if the purpose is to transcend and/or to encourage others to transcend coercive social relations, such wider context/perspective would offer greater opportunities of formulating/implementing/monitoring/modulating lateral strategies to transcend coercive social relations.

    In regard to the coercive social relations self-described/branded as “The United States of America”, these have always been engaged in class war given that others/the other were/was/are/is deemed to be food sources and human shields, some describing the social relations self-described/branded as “The United States of America” as a State of War with varying assays and forms of coercion subject to context.

    Consequently the contention of “ASSANGE EXTRADITION: An Extension of the US War on Terror” through focus/framing/ommission tends to obfuscate that the Assange Extradiction is a context specific example of attempts to impose lex Americana and that such practice of attempting to impose lex Americana or previously lex Romana, other examples/tools including but not being restricted to NATO, The “World Bank”, and the “International Monetary Fund”, is the norm and a requirement of coercive social relations.

  8. March 26, 2020 at 08:26

    Thank you for a superb analysis of our perilous reality. While Assange and Manning are the personification of truth tellers, sadly the distracted confused public even when presented with factual evidence, is unable to decipher the root cause of our woes..just yesterday I heard a physician quoting Rudolph Steiner..’Humanity can only evolve in the right way if we understand the heart is not pump.’

  9. Lily
    March 26, 2020 at 04:41

    Thank you, CN for remindung us of Julian Assange.

  10. March 26, 2020 at 03:20

    ASSANGE EXTRADITION: An Extension of the US War on Terror

    Stop it! Its a War of Terror! and always has been.

  11. geeyp
    March 26, 2020 at 00:15

    “Helping to recover stolen memories of our own history”. Yes, amen to that. If one knows that evil does not have a conscience, then one finds this a clear delineation of good and evil. I’ll choose good every time over this pure evil. This “war on terror” propaganda is disgusting.

Comments are closed.