If Albanese Asks for Assange’s Freedom, Biden Has Every Reason to Agree

Ex-Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says it’s time the U.S. closed the books on the disastrous wars unloosed by George W. Bush.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, left, during QUAD meeting in Tokyo on May 24. (CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Bob Carr
The Sydney Morning Herald
Two years ago, at my local Australian Labor Party branch, I moved a motion urging the ALP to support dropping extradition proceedings against Julian Assange. Maroubra ALP is not inner city. It might be regarded as a bastion of the right. The motion was carried, near unanimously. After the debate, one member came up and said: “I think Assange is probably a narcissistic bastard but he’s ours.”

That is, he’s an Australian.

It was the Trump administration — probably at the insistence of then-C.I.A. chief Mike Pompeo — that pursued Assange’s extradition. The Morrison government declined even the faintest whinny of protest. It was as if we were not a sovereign government but some category of U.S. territory like Puerto Rico and an Australian passport holder didn’t rate protection from the vengeful anger of one corner of the American security apparatus. A France or Germany — a New Zealand  would not have been as craven.

Most Potent Argument

Here lies Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s most potent argument as he proceeds to winkle out of the Biden administration a decision to quietly drop its pursuit of Assange, even after Britain announced on Friday that it had approved his extradition to the U.S. Albanese can say that, to Australian public opinion, it looks like one rule for Americans, another for citizens of its ally.

Albanese can gently remind Washington that President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. That is, he lifted her sentence for gifting to Assange the material that he published on WikiLeaks in 2010.

(Click on photo to view video.)

This was the collateral murder video that showed soldiers in a U.S. Apache helicopter mowing down civilians with their automatic weapons in Iraq in 2007. The video exposed America’s lack of rules of engagement but, more than that, tore away the justification for the neocon high adventure of the Iraq war.

Manning, the American who slipped the material to Assange, goes free while the Australian who published it faces extradition, trial in Virginia and the rest of his life in cruel confinement in a high-security prison, likely on the plains of Oklahoma.

Albanese doesn’t have to state — because the Americans know it — that we are a darn good partner. A request on Assange is small change in such an alliance relationship. We host vital U.S. communication facilities that likely make Australia a nuclear target. We host ship visits, planes and marines, about which the same baleful point could be made. And, as the capstone, we are spending about $150 billion purchasing U.S. nuclear submarines.

We’ve elected a new prime minister who within hours set off for a meeting of the Quad — the U.S., Japan, India and Australia — talking continuity in Australian policy on the so-called Indo-Pacific. He arrived in Tokyo with positive policies on climate — music to Biden’s ears — and commitment on the South Pacific. A re-elected Morrison would have turned up with surly, shop-worn, adversarial rhetoric on China — welcome enough to the U.S., but adding no more value than a poodle yapping at its master’s heels.

The US Can Barely Say No

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcoming Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the Quad meeting in May. (Quad Leaders’ Meeting Tokyo2022)

Put like this, the U.S. can barely say no – that is, to an Australian prime minister who makes it known with firmness and confidence he believes, as he said in December about Assange, “Enough is enough.” That is, it’s enough he suffered the three years in Belmarsh prison, sometimes with arms and legs shackled as if Hannibal Lecter, on top of eight years of self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy.

In the context of Australia’s role as an ally – the heft we deliver for the U.S. empire – a decision to let Assange walk free rates about five minutes of President Joe Biden’s Oval Office attention. And our ambassador in Washington should be deputed to trot up and down the Senate corridors telling Republicans that, if they value our friendship, they might lay off the president for listening to Canberra on this one.

Assange supporters outside Ecuadorian embassy, June 16, 2013, London. (Wikimedia Commons)

In any case, Biden and his advisers might conclude, it’s time all the baggage of Afghanistan and Iraq were let go. Afghanistan was America’s longest war undertaken to eliminate Al-Qaeda and, later, drive out the Taliban. After 20 years of squandered blood and treasure, the Taliban are firmly in control and Al-Qaeda again claims the wretched country as haven.

The Iraq War proved only the paradox of unintended consequences, unleashing Islamic State on the world and delivering a boon to Iranian power projection. Pursuing Assange makes it look like the unfinished business of these wars devolves on the pursuit of one shackled Australian, even as if snatching Assange is the last expression of American frustration at the battlefield defeats by ragged insurgents. It’s time the restless giant closed the books on the disasters unloosed by George W. Bush.

Last week Bill Clinton said for the first time he feared for the future of America as a “constitutional democracy.” He was referring to laws enacted by Republican state governors that make it harder to vote and easier for state officials to overturn the popular vote. And the return of former President Donald Trump. Fifty percent of Americans think their country is headed for civil war; a similar number think their country will end up a dictatorship.

Yet as it sinks lower on the list of democracies published by Freedom House, the battered American republic can teach the world a thing or two about its First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Its claim to be a nation of laws is stronger if Assange, this dissident publisher, has the threat of extradition lifted. If he were sentenced to die in jail, The New York Times and The Washington Post would suffer a precedent against them anytime they might want to expose bad wars and the atrocities that follow in their wake.

The military in the U.S and Australia have had to admit no lives were lost because of Assange. But we wouldn’t have heard of serious war crimes in a counterproductive war were it not for the haggard prisoner in Belmarsh.

Our new prime minister can say: “We’re not fans of the guy either, Mr President, but it’s gone on long enough. We’re good allies. Let this one drop.”

And if Albanese asks, my guess is America will agree.

Bob Carr is the longest-serving premier of NSW and a former foreign minister of Australia.

This article is fromThe Sydney Morning Herald and published with permission from the author.

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


39 comments for “If Albanese Asks for Assange’s Freedom, Biden Has Every Reason to Agree

  1. June 22, 2022 at 21:40

    Many Democrat Party loyalists, Biden being one, will never forgive Asssange for exposing the Party corruption just prior to the HRC/Trump elections. The exposure had nothing to do with the HRC loss. HRC lost long before the exposure. By the time Wikileaks published the evidence, everybody had already made up their minds. Nevertheless, HRC and the Party needed a scapegoat and Assange provided them the perfect goat. God forbid they take responsibility for their own failed neoliberal policies that continue to punish the very people they expect to vote for them.

  2. susan mullen
    June 22, 2022 at 01:19

    In 2019 U.S. offered Ecuador an IMF bailout in return for extraditing Assange. Ecuador was desperate for money. As Whitney Webb describes, Ecuador had been hounded and threatened by the US before on much less important matters.

    3/6/19, “Washington’s IMF leverage,” Whitney Webb, Mint Press News…hxxps://www.mintpressnews.com/ecuadors-cooperation-bought-imf-loans-washington-waxes-optimistic-assange-extradition/255942/

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    June 21, 2022 at 14:45

    Australia’s silence has been deafening.

  4. Vesa Sainio
    June 21, 2022 at 11:21

    Im afraid the sad truth is: Albanese does not care, Biden hardly knows any more who Assange is. They will kill him, the only question is, how?
    My guess is that he commits suicide when all the cameras are off in Belmarsh. Then gradually everybody forgets the thing.
    This is the western world which hopefully will be taken over by east and south.

  5. Alan
    June 21, 2022 at 11:20

    Is there reason to believe that Albanese has any interest in Julian Assange’s welfare, at least enough to incur the wrath of Big Daddy USA?

  6. Em
    June 21, 2022 at 09:09

    Knee-Jerk reaction to “… is Biden coherent enough to understand why he MUST free Julian?”
    Biden is no longer, at all times even coherent enough to realize that he wields no actual authority. And besides, the real power of the US presidency was long ago usurped by clandestine insurgence agent (CIA) forces.
    It’s akin to working hand-in-glove with the artifice of the artificial intelligence (AI) operatives attempting to turn us all into self-drive vehicles, where no real critical thinker even has to be in the driver’s seat.
    The real power lies in the putative person — the robots of Silicon Valley.
    Zelenskyy, the puppet, is but one puppet in a deadly puppet show, ‘Pinocchio and the Juggler’.
    We, the people, have long ago been ‘shocked and awed’ into a permanent state of alienated stupor! Speaking for one individual alone, of course!
    Need it even be stated; this comment, like all commentary, is personal opinion; the expression of thought, spoken freely and openly, and purported to be what the first Amendment is all about, in a democratic country!
    Does every publisher first have to absolve themselves of the views expressed, with disclaimers, such as: the views expressed are solely those of an author or commenter?
    “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is really fear.”
    ? Gandhi

    • Mary Jane
      June 22, 2022 at 03:03

      We have become a nation of lawyers. Our leader, Captain Obvious, insists that disclaimers protect us from being sued.

      When I was at the store, I got a big bag of peanuts to feed the squirrels. On the back it says, in big letters, Warning: contains nuts.

  7. Elyse Gilbert
    June 21, 2022 at 08:49

    Instead of offering just another pessimistic naysayer opinion of what is clearly a respected, well thought out plan to end the unjust incarceration of Assange, I fully appreciate and support it.
    I support Albanese employing this tactic of Bob Carr’s because what he speaks of are specific financial and political examples of the new Australian administration giving the US support in the geographical location crucial to greatly aid the US hegemony. While I do not approve or support the US hegemony at all, the AUKUS agreement should be powerful enough for the ‘5 minutes’ of Biden to end the complete travesty of justice waged upon Assange. As even China points out, extraditing Assange is a mirror to the hypocrisy of the US claiming they support a free press.
    A free press is vital to a democracy. So, I am much obliged to Bob Carr for publicly speaking out and attempting to get Albanese to demand Biden drop this case, immediately.
    Thank you also to Consortium News for the role it plays in publishing the real news.

  8. Alan Ross
    June 21, 2022 at 08:22

    Biden will only stop the persecution of Assange if there are other political reasons besides justice. Throughout his career Biden has very often put aside what is good for Americans in favor of pleasing his contributors. He wasn’t called “Mr. MBNA” for nothing as he helped change bankruptcy laws to favor credit card companies make for a life of servitude for students. He helped caused the deaths of so many innocent people by championing the Iraq War by holding sham hearings to lead us into that catastrophic war. He supported the vile TPP and its destructive predecessor, NAFTA. And so on ad nauseum. He is just another corporate clown. In the meantime he may free Assange because it may help in the midterm elections, but he may, like Schumer, be too cowardly to oppose the intelligence community. As we near November, we may see a shift in the narratives being imposed. (I noticed the NY Times, lead outlet for the US govt published a story that implied Ukraine will lose the conflict, that is if you do not count the many innocent Ukrainians that have already been sacrificed.

    No matter what happens, I agree with Caitlin Johnstone: Assange is doing his most important work ever – exposing how rotten the US govt has gotten under Trump and Bien, and how servile is the government of the UK.

  9. Jack Stephen Hepburn Flanigan
    June 21, 2022 at 06:34

    What you have to understand Australians are the dumbest and most self centered amalgam of beings one can (or cannot) imagine. I should know, I am one; born of Irish/Pommie grand parents born in 1946.
    There is no such person as an Australian citizen. The only reference to “citizen” in the Constitution relates to foreign citizens.
    “Citizenship”; such as it exists, in this country amounts to nothing more than a statutory licence.
    Australia is the lapdog of the US and the Poms. Australian Prime ministers carry no weight with the Whitehouse regardless who occupies the role of President.
    Julia Gillard (Labor party) as Prime Minister wanted to cancel Julian’s citizenship. Albernese will do nothing.

    jack flanigan

  10. Ian Stevenson
    June 21, 2022 at 05:30

    Boris Johnson will do anything to get a post Brexit trade deal with America.
    He was the prime driver for it and there is almost nothing to show for it.
    He and his cabinet will happily sacrifice principle for political ‘wins’.

  11. Tom Partridge
    June 21, 2022 at 03:59

    Tony Burke Australia’s minister for employment and workplace relations, comment to Sky News, “The issue needs to be brought to a close. Australia is not a party to the prosecution that’s happening here [and] each country has its own legal system” seems to suggest Mr Burke’s undue naivety on the integrity of the judicial and political systems of both countries, especially when one considers the comments of UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer.
    He has described Julian Assange as showing, “all the symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture” and “what we have seen from UK Government is outright contempt for Mr. Assange’s rights and integrity.”He continued, “ while the US Government prosecutes Mr. Assange for publishing information about serious human rights violations, including torture and murder, the officials responsible for these crimes continue to enjoy impunity.” He went on to say “the continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.”
    As of now the jury is out on this Australian government willingness, unlike previous craven governments of the past, to exercise its responsibility on behalf of its citizen Julian Assange, and its verdict remains to be seen.

  12. Charles
    June 20, 2022 at 23:36

    Assange is in the business of reporting the truth. He did his job and did it well. The support by the cowardly “news reporters”in this country show how low they have gone. None of them have said anything of merit and that includes their news reporting. This is why I have not watched the news because its not news. Its nothing at all. The real news is carried by Consortium News, The Greyzone, Strategic Culture, and by the real journalists that have survived the loss of their jobs by being let go by our esteemed papers (NYT, Washington Post) etc. Those that have gone to sites like Rumble or Substack are now able to express the truths that they have been muzzled by our Homeland Security and other govt agencies that fear the truth. Assange is the focal point on this war against the truth. Putting him in jail will keep this war festering in the background and that will weaken ourselves for behaving in such a craven manner. He has been tortured enough. Glad to see the Honorable Rob Carr stand up and say what needs to be said.

  13. Wha Dee Duck
    June 20, 2022 at 19:51

    Hard to imagine either of these two right-wing authoritarians doing what the headline fantasizes about.

    Joe Biden has been pushing to get the chance to torture and kill Assange ever since he took power. His government could have ended this whole extradition charade with a single announcement. Instead, Joe’s nasty crew keeps pushing and pushing to get their hands on the man and have their way with him. And Australia’s pro-war, pro-corporate rulers have shown zero interest in either the truth or independent journalism during this whole travesty.

    It is especially hard to picture this occurring as Joe heads off on his “Dead Journalist” Tour to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

  14. ray Peterson
    June 20, 2022 at 19:03

    Well Bob, no sense getting hopeful over the new Australian
    prime minister, because Australian leaders are down under
    the thumb of Washington

    • WillD
      June 20, 2022 at 22:57

      Yes, you’re right – unfortunately. But that doesn’t mean that this new government can’t make the effort. Not that they need it right now, but getting Assange out of the US’ clutches would generate a lot of good will (and votes, of course!).

      • ray Peterson
        June 21, 2022 at 16:19

        WillD your hope is genuine, but take a look at
        the Antiwar headline today about Australia’s
        parliament and weep

    • steve williams
      June 21, 2022 at 00:29

      Exactly right, no politician has the balls to stand up to the US, they’re probably filling their pockets with american dollars

  15. Piotr Berman
    June 20, 2022 at 18:36


    Biden had every reason to reverse Trump’s decision on Assange and JCPOA, so now it is not the time of reason but for producing monsters. Ethics and political expediency pointing in the same direction … that will not do. Lets be spiteful and hurt ourselves.

    Nowadays, “soft power” means circulating “less than solid” (hence soft) “intelligence to the press”. The best I hope for is some collective hangover after the bout of unreason. For all the cynicism, I applaud Ben Carr and his article, in time, trickles join to a river.

    • Piotr Berman
      June 20, 2022 at 18:42

      I must stress that the cynicism I mentioned above is mine.

  16. joanne lavine
    June 20, 2022 at 18:26

    Everyone has to get up and prevent this extradition by prevailing on Biden and Garland.

  17. Daryl Rush
    June 20, 2022 at 18:15

    a weak man, since his beginning in politics, our of his element. A fraud trying to appear tough and on point, always just off.
    He need guidance and Albanese can give it.
    He should have made this move right from the beginning of his_ presidency. Biden’s weakness is just that, he never made this hi_s presidency.
    It slips under him and is continuing to slip.
    Daryl R

  18. IJScambling
    June 20, 2022 at 17:45

    “The military in the U.S and Australia have had to admit no lives were lost because of Assange.” It’s time to end the hypocrisy and disgrace of imprisoning and torturing a man for his journalism. This alone over the past 20 years shows the disgrace the US has fallen into. The tendency to mollify his treatment with terms like “narcissist” is also disgusting.

    • Dianne Foster
      June 21, 2022 at 02:04

      IJScrambling – Absolutely spot on! He is the opposite of narcissist…. he sacrificed himself to tell the horrible truth about war and imperialism, and is among many other brave whistleblowers like Daniel Hale who are punished for their good deeds. Luckily, he has a smart wife and legal team, among them Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky. I email the White House almost daily, as we all should.

  19. Rodger C
    June 20, 2022 at 17:44

    I can’t remember how many decades it’s been since I’ve felt optimistic about any of the gross injustices perpetrated by the US Empire, but I do have to say that the scenario outlined by Mr Carr is the first bit of potentially substantive hope I’ve heard in far too many years. The question is, is Biden coherent enough to understand why he MUST free Julian?

  20. Hippo Dave
    June 20, 2022 at 16:33

    I got an opposite interpretation from the recent statements–I thought by “this has gone on long enough” the meaning was that Assange’s lawyers needed to stop appealing and just let him be extradited already. This interpretation certainly fits the long and utter abandonment of Assange by Australia. If he’s finally sent to the US to die, then he’s no longer such a constant embarrassment.

    So, I don’t share the optimism. But my interpretation may be totally wrong, I sure hope so.

  21. Realist
    June 20, 2022 at 16:17

    As far as I am concerned, regardless of the “legal” precedents revolving around Chelsea Manning or going all the way back to Daniel Ellsberg and how they were treated by the courts or by the executive, whether the actions were out of strict juris prudence or simple humanity, I will always contend that, as the United States does relentlessly in every instance, it is never justifiable or a legitimate act to cover up war crimes, especially crimes against humanity of the most egregious sort as discovered again and again, by simply declaring them “classified” and an act of treason to divulge. The purported “security” of the American state, which as often as not is no more than some specious attempt to dodge culpability for monstrous sins is not a legitimate means for allowing the worst among us to literally get away with murder, torture and worse. Their heinous actions must never be absolved or allowed by such a cheap and immoral contrivance.

    I thought this was all hashed out at Nuremburg after WWII. “Just following orders” does not exonerate one from committing such crimes, neither should hiding them under the cloak of declaring them “state secrets.” The very idea is outrageous, yet America’s huge club of war criminals resort to it endlessly.

    Simple logic and fairness dictate that such malfeasance should cease immediately. Let Julian Assange’s alleged transgressions be judged in direct comparison to the vile craven acts he was exposing. It will become immediately clear that his acts, even if strictly “illegal,” (this is debatable on strict legal grounds) were done to prevent much greater evil by the American state. He should be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, not incarcerated for life to protect some generals from getting the justice that they deserve for the criminal acts they committed. Obama should be subpoenaed and forced to testify as to what motivated him to release Manning. Perhaps even he surmised that actual justice in cases like this often have absolutely nothing to do with the “letter” of laws that arguably exist mostly or even solely to protect the real criminals. Sadly, this may not be Obama’s thinking at all, in that he quite reliably came down against the whistleblowers and in favor of the ensconced criminals. Still, it would be revealing to “out” a “revered” figure such as himself on the witness stand. Julian deserves that much justice.

  22. Kauai John
    June 20, 2022 at 16:09

    I have to laugh that Mr. Carr actually thinks the USA values Australia as a partner. Biden (and the neocons, which is anyone in any position of power in the USA — including the “so-called” squad) sacrificed the entire EU on his insane quest to protect American Hegemony.

    The NYT and WaPo need not fear censorship — they are the propaganda organs for the Oligarchy. They will never print anything the Oligarch does not approve of.

    Let’s go Brandon.

    • Yu Ma
      June 20, 2022 at 21:17

      ^^ This. It seems to me that Mr Carr is a throwback from the past who still believes the public image presented by Washington DC propaganda. They care nothing about anyone but themselves and their grip on power, anyone else will get thrown under the bus in pursuit of that power. Be it a nation or a single person, it makes no difference. USA political machinations are reminiscent of last few centuries of Roman Empire. I guess you could call it “Pax Americana”.

  23. Cara
    June 20, 2022 at 16:08

    This is revenge for Vault 7. The CIA will not allow that to go unpunished. War crimes… eh… who cares?
    Sadly, I don’t believe any Australian pol is capable of standing up to Washington. How I hope I’m wrong.

  24. Roger Hoffmann
    June 20, 2022 at 15:19

    Well said. Well done sir!

  25. doris
    June 20, 2022 at 15:07

    “And if Albanese asks, my guess is America will agree.”
    Wow! You have a LOT more faith in Amerika than I could ever muster. The nation seems to thrive on ignorance and arrogance and most Americans believe he’s a criminal because the US presstitutes have done such a great job with their hideous propaganda. Plus, he’s reported on the criminality of BOTH parties so both have reason to hate him. “The truth?! The truth?! America can’t handle the truth!”

    I hope that once he gets here that Americans will line the streets to protest his incarceration, but judging by the “disinformation/misinformation” trashing of the First Amendment, I honestly figure that will happen when pigs fly. Truth is subjective these days, and even a video recording of Americans committing actual war crimes is subjective because of the “git-them-bad-guys-at-all-cost” mentality of the average ignorant citizen.

    • Realist
      June 20, 2022 at 23:20

      Hell, if given a choice, Americans would demand the release of Barrabas.

      My demands in your hypothetical street? Jail Biden! Free Assange!

      But then, like most of you readers of CN, I am not mainstream. I think, I reason, I collect information, I analyse, and I try to be just and fair.

      My 75-year old bones are presently feeling as ornery as they did back during the country-wide campus “revolution” during the Spring of 1970. For me, the battleground was Champaign-Urbana. National guard called in. Campus sweeps. Strict curfews. Mass incarcerations. Town being trashed. Administrative offices occupied. Within the week there were four dead in Ohio and several others at Jackson State. Today’s young people need to take back the streets, not with riots, but with better ideas than the senile septua- and octo-genarians offer this country in high political office. They may not be killing our own kids today (such policy doesn’t “poll” well), but they have even more blood of many other peoples on their hands. Make your demands to Washington known: Let our people (the whole human race) go! Stop the carnage everywhere in the name of your arrogant and grasping hegemony!

      • Mary Jane
        June 22, 2022 at 02:42

        “Today’s young people need to take back the streets, not with riots, but with better ideas than the senile septua- and octo-genarians offer this country in high political office.”

        My grandma was too old to be called for jury duty when she turned 70. I told her to not despair because she could still become a supreme court justice or run for president.

  26. June 20, 2022 at 15:06

    Let’s hope he does..

  27. JonT
    June 20, 2022 at 14:18

    I try to be optimistic throughout all this, I really do. So now it down to Mr. Albanese to save the day? I wonder. We shall see. By the way, I am suprised that you tube have not taken down the Collateral Murder video, for “violating” one of their “rules”. Has the US government not been putting on enough pressure? If they thought they could wipe the internet of all references to this, I am sure they would try.

    • doris
      June 20, 2022 at 15:08

      I hope there are enough copies to keep it going forever.

    • David Otness
      June 20, 2022 at 15:20

      Taking down the “Collateral Murder” video would take it out of the public eye—where it serves as a constant reminder of Julian’s persecution ‘to whom it may concern.’ Its shock value has otherwise worn off and its horrible implications’ acceptance by the US public long ago show it now completely subsumed along with “Extraordinary Rendition” and “Enhanced Interrogation” into that now vacant space where the collective public conscience once reigned supreme.

      • Dianne Foster
        June 21, 2022 at 02:11

        As an American, I can tell you that most people don’t have a clue who Julian Assange is, or what war crimes he revealed. We have a hopelessly ignorant population, though a good weekly turnout here in Bellingham for the Peace Vigil.

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