Daniel Ellsberg: Indict Me Too

Daniel Ellsberg has called on the U.S. to indict him for having the same unauthorized possession of classified material as Julian Assange. Ellsberg follows the Cryptome.org founder who has also invited prosecution, reports Joe Lauria.

Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange. (Real News Network/YouTube)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has told the U.S. Justice Department and President Joe Biden that he is as indictable as WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange for having unauthorized possession of classified materials before they were published by WikiLeaks and that he would plead “not guilty” because the Espionage Act is unconstitutional. 

Ellsberg revealed this week to the BBC interview program Hard Talk that Assange had given him the files leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to keep as a backup before they were published by WikiLeaks in 2010.

Assange has been charged with violating the Espionage Act for possession and dissemination of classified information and faces 175 years in a U.S. prison if he is extradited from Belmarsh Prison in London.

Ellsberg is the second figure this month to come forward calling on the U.S. government to indict them for the same reasons Assange has been charged.

“Cryptome published the decrypted unredacted State Department Cables on September 1, 2011 prior to publication of the cables by WikiLeaks,” John Young wrote in a Justice Department submission form, which Young posted on Twitter last week. 

“No US official has contacted me about publishing the unredacted cables since cryptome published them,” he wrote. “I respectfully request that the Department of Justice add me as a co-defendant in the prosecution of Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act.”

The 1917 Espionage Act does not exempt journalists from receiving and publishing classified information, which Ellsberg says is a clear violation of the First Amendment and should be challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Anyone who has downloaded a classified document from WikiLeaks, Cryptome or any other source, or posted it online is liable to prosecution under the Act, which would include millions of people around the world.

Receiving and publishing classified information is routine work for journalists at major publications. Five newspapers partnered with WikiLeaks to publish Manning’s material in 2010 but only Assange has been charged. Those five newspapers last week called on the Biden administration to drop the charges on Assange because of the threat to the First Amendment.

The Obama administration declined to indict Assange in 2011 because it understood that it would also have to indict New York Times editors and reporters for having published the same materiel Assange did.  That is the only material Assange was indicted for.

He was not charged for releases exposing Central Intelligence Agency hacking activities in 2016, though that so infuriated then C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo that Pompeo later asked for plans to be drawn up to either kidnap or kill Assange while he was living under asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy.

The Trump administration then had Assange arrested and charged under the Espionage Act in 2019. Despite being part of the Obama administration, Biden has refused to drop the case.

When those plans were first revealed at Assange’s extradition hearing in 2020, Ellsberg said that the government was treating Assange worse than he had been treated and that it should have set Assange free.

“That’s essentially the same information that ended my case and confronted Nixon with impeachment, leading to his resignation!,” Ellsberg said in an email to Consortium News at the time.

Ellsberg’s prosecution for leaking the Pentagon Papers ended in a mistrial after President Richard Nixon’s “Plumbers” broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office trying to get dirt on him by stealing his medical files; Nixon had Ellsberg illegally wiretapped; the government said it lost the wiretaps when asked to produce them at trial; and the government tried to bribe Ellsberg’s judge with the directorship of the F.B.I.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

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11 comments for “Daniel Ellsberg: Indict Me Too

  1. December 8, 2022 at 12:15

    Cheers and best wishes to Mr. Ellsberg. Keep up the good work, and to Mr. Lauria and all here as well.

  2. susan
    December 8, 2022 at 08:28

    I love that these people have finally found a solid way to help Julian Assange!

  3. Anon
    December 7, 2022 at 22:39

    “Conspiracy Theorist”. The pejorative hung on any individual questioning State explanation of events.
    Death of Diana Princess of Wales featured questionable events… the GB jury found the State without liability… so lily pure Great British Justice prevailed.
    Contextualized through later events… Julian Assange’s kangaroo procedures, for instance, any logical questioning of earlier events must be viewed with increased credibility… just saying…

    • lester
      December 8, 2022 at 15:51

      Unfortunately a lot of “conspiracy theorists” ARE raging nut-burgers blaming Zionists, China, the Kremlin, the Reptilian Space Aliens, every time they stub their toes, etc. Too many conspiracy theories are just low-quality fantasy fiction.

      If you can prove it, it’s not a theory. That the world is round is not a theory, for example. Produce your evidence and your reasoning and take a chance on beling proven wrong, if you are a rationa person.

  4. ray Peterson
    December 7, 2022 at 16:54

    Hope springs eternal!
    All of us who have seen “Collateral Murder” on
    YouTube we too are art of the “millions to be indicted.”
    Embarrassment may be the only way to free Julian and jail Pompeo.

  5. Realist
    December 7, 2022 at 13:08

    Unbelievable: Ukraine’s Clown-in-chief, Cosplay World Diplomat, Most Accomplished Grifter and Premier Waster of Human Lives declared Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” Julian Assange, for sacrificing his own life as a normal husband and father to stop war and prevent the same sort of tragedies made possible by aforementioned Volodymyr Zelenskyy, rewarded with an indictment for espionage against a merciless country he only tried to help by providing shocking truths deliberately hidden from their own populace. Roundly condemned by the same mass media that chooses to lionize the fool Zelenskyy in an unintended but quite appropriate self-indictment of and by that very media. Yes, dear people, the world we inhabit, which we call “the West,” is quite the opposite of what it proclaims to be in so many disappointing and tragic ways.

    • John R
      December 7, 2022 at 14:43

      A M E N

    • Arch Stanton
      December 7, 2022 at 16:43

      100% agree with every word

  6. evelync
    December 7, 2022 at 11:19

    Thank you Dan Ellsberg!
    For your work on the release of the Pentagon Papers and more. And your work now for Julian!

    You prove, once again, the hypocrisy of this criminal national security state – politicized by the corrupted politicians et al – the #MICIMATT – to hang onto power and profiteer at the expense of the American people and world peace.

    And what if a DNC insider was the “leaker!” who exposed the evildoing of Hillary Clinton and the DNC – I acknowledge that I was a Bernie supporter back then. Too bad decent people like Sanders and Corbyn self censor instead of hitting back. e.g. Bernie’s foolish remark “forget the emails”. How naive. They suppress their killer instinct when it matters most to defend the people who they think they are fighting for..they don’t face the reality of the evil – (I’m also reminded of Hannah Arendt’s “the banality of evil”.)

    I understand that it would defeat the critical trust established by Wikileaks for Julian to name the leaker of the DNC emails.
    But if some brave honest soul in the FBI could leak the related contents of Seth Rich’s laptop….I wonder if it might speed up the ongoing breakup/collapse of this unsustainable hegemonic empire…

    As Randy Newman sang:
    “The end of an empire
    Is messy at best
    And this empire’s ending
    Like all the rest”
    That acceleration could help enable the development of a multipolar world, and I believe it would save so many lives that this empire is dead set on wasting while it still can….

    Newman ends with:
    “good-bye, good-bye, good-bye………..(soto) good-bye….

    It’s painful to watch the criminalization of our courageous whistleblowers. And know that we imprison and torture people for telling us the truth of what’s done in our name and with our tax dollars…..

    pas bon

  7. Em
    December 7, 2022 at 10:26

    How appropriate, on this remarkable day, the states duplicitous infamy is, at last, being brought out into the open, by one such as Daniel Ellsberg!

  8. IJ Scambling
    December 7, 2022 at 09:07

    Where is the outrage? Have we become such a nation of nitwits we no longer know when the criminals have taken over persecuting the innocent?

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