JOE LAURIA: State Dept. & Senate Leaders Troll Assange

Increasing pressure is being brought by politicians and the public on the DOJ to drop the charges against Julian Assange. Despite some progress, the political obstacles are formidable.

Joe Lauria at DOJ rally for Assange. (Martha Allen)

The following is an address delivered by Consortium News Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria at a rally for Julian Assange in front of the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington on April 11, the fourth anniversary of Assange’s arrest. 

At our last rally in front of this Justice Department building last October I read a letter I had written to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Now there is a more important letter delivered to Garland drafted bu Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and signed by six other House members.

This letter is part of the increasing pressure being brought by politicians and the public on the DOJ to drop the charges against Julian Assange. And it is slowly showing progress.

In Australia, Foreign Minister Penny Wong was directly asked in Parliament by Senator David Shoebridge whether Prime Minster Anthony Albanese asked President Biden directly about Assange when they met in San Diego in March. Wong waffled. She said Australia follows the rule of law. She said Australia can’t interfere in an ongoing legal process in another country.

But Wong is full of crap. The Australian government has, through diplomatic intervention, won the release of six Australian citizens from foreign jails since 2007: David Hicks (U.S./Guantanamo),Melinda Taylor (Libya), James Ricketson (Cambodia), Sean Turnell (Myanmar), Kylie Moore-Gilbert (Iran), and Peter Greste (Egypt).

The legal process in Turnell’s case, for instance, was still ongoing as, like Assange, he had only been charged, but not convicted. Australian foreign affairs minister at the time, Liberal Marise Payne, issued a statement demanding Turnell’s release, something the Labor government refused to do for Assange. Payne said Turnell :

“… is a highly regarded adviser and member of the academic community in Australia … We called in the Myanmar ambassador into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to raise our concerns in relation to this, and we will continue to do that and press strongly for Professor Turnell’s release.”

The Hicks case is starker. He was never put on trial by the U.S. after years in Guantanamo. Yet Australia intervened to free him while that legal process played out.

Albanese encouraged the Australian High Commissioner in Britain to visit Julian in Belmarsh as the beginning of April. Julian’s father John Shipton told Consortium News the visit was “tremendous and substantial.” He said it was the “beginning of the end” for his son’s ordeal.

Albanese has been forced to finally say he is meeting U.S. officials at appropriate levels. But what is the appropriate level? Head of government to head of state?

Biden is headed to Australia in May. Will this be the moment when Albanese finally confronts him?

There is another bizarre way in which the message is getting through and the pressure is building. It’s a case of what can be called psychological appropriation. That is, taking something from your enemy and making it your own.

I’m old enough to recall the reaction to Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at the Woodstock festival in 1968? There was outrage from conservatives. How could he desecrate the national anthem. And the fast forward 34 years. I walked into Madison Square Garden in 2004 for the Republican National Convention. And what did I hear on the loudspeakers?

Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The Republicans played this.

And now we have Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer and then the State Department saying, “Journalism is Not a Crime.”

Where have we heard that before?

Of course they were speaking about the WSJ reporter imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges. Are they aware that this has been Assange supporters’ slogan for years? Are they trolling Assange? Are they trolling us? Or is it just some subconscious internalization?

So what or who is stopping Biden from dropping the charges?

The DNC and the C.I.A. Before the DNC leaks and the Vault 7 – for which Julian was not charged – Biden as VP told Meet the Press in 2010 that unless they could prove Assange actually stole the documents they could not charge him. And the Obama administration didn’t. So what changed? The indictment is about those 2010 leaks so that didn’t change.

It was WikiLeaks‘ DNC leaks and Vault 7. The DNC and the C.I.A. would be mighty pissed off at Biden if he dropped the charges.

What is the cost to Biden politically if he has the charges dropped? What would he gain? Unlike Albanese there is not the groundswell of public and political pressure building in the U.S. as in Australia, though Tlaib’s letter is a start.

And so are rallies like this. It may seem small but it is significant in putting pressure on Biden and Garland to finally do the right and not the expedient thing: Free Julian Assange.

Thank you.

15 comments for “JOE LAURIA: State Dept. & Senate Leaders Troll Assange

  1. ray Peterson
    April 26, 2023 at 18:19

    Jimi Hendrix’s (1968) guitar sounded like the bombs the U.S.
    was dropping on Vietnam, an antiwar not anti-American
    But if war lusting C.I.A. can get away with Nord stream
    sabotage, and the Democratic Party keeps its Russiagate lie
    going, Julian’s truth in journalism becomes an anti-American activity.
    Consortium News, like Hendrix, reminds us that war doesn’t have
    to be the American Way.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    April 26, 2023 at 10:45

    Our so-called Western ‘values’ want to make me puke!!! Oh, yeah…we are free to think and speak as long as we follow the lines dictated by the ‘elites’. Time to do away with them…all of them.

    • Onlooker
      April 26, 2023 at 15:57

      Or, to quote a famous line by the German painter Max Liebermann, on watching a triumphant Nazi parade when Hitler came to power, “Ick kann jar nicht zoviel fressen wie ich kotzen möchte!” (= “I can’t even gobble down as much as I want to puke up!”)

  3. Randal Marlin
    April 26, 2023 at 08:12

    One good thing about Biden’s age is that one tends to think more about doing the right thing than doing what is career enhancing. I think and hope that there is a good chance he will do the right thing and free Assange.

    • Mike
      April 26, 2023 at 12:24

      Biden has 40 years history of war crimes do you think he will have conscious for one more crime!!!!!!!!!
      Also, there is a big question if he is the one running the show in the (white) Black House

      • Randal Marlin
        April 27, 2023 at 08:58

        True enough, on both counts. Still, thinking about meeting one’s Maker and accounting for one’s life without benefit of spin-meisters can be a sobering thought for believers.

        • Anon
          April 27, 2023 at 16:06

          One word defines POTUS’ position (‘though complicated by Vault seven Essence and laptop controversy):

          • Randal Marlin
            April 28, 2023 at 08:48

            Thanks for the reference to Vault seven Essence. I see a fruitful supply of subtle metaphors for dealing with “the smell test” – a whole new field of study.

  4. Graeme
    April 26, 2023 at 06:12

    Even after the books by Nils Melzer and Stefania Maurizi – plus others – there are still intelligent people who regurgitate the lies manufactured about Julian by media outlets who act as apologists for those who persecute him and try to evade the truths Wikileaks exposed about them..

    Clive Hamilton – respected academic, writer of books about climate change – wrote in his recently published autobiography that “Assange helped elect Trump.” (Provocateur, p.72)
    Hamilton does not qualify nor provide evidence for his statement.
    Hasn’t he even bothered to read the very credible and authoritative books which explain clearly the injustices heaped upon Assange?
    Yet many people will read what Hamilton has written, people who normally respect and trust his opinion and consider that he is telling the truth.

    The arguments for why this statement is erroneous are well-known; yet once again it rears its ugly head for no authenticated reason and somewhat out of context.

    It is not just the issue of Julian’s illegal incarceration where many Australians are feeling let down by the Labor government – mistakenly thought to be of the left – as it is proving itself to be be only marginally better than the previous government of right-wing fruitcakes.

  5. Mikael Andersson
    April 25, 2023 at 20:04

    “Wong is full of crap”. God bless you Joe Lauria. You called it how it is. Nobody else has the guts. Her”rule of law” thing is crap. Her “can’t interfere in an ongoing legal process in another country” thing is crap. I’m through with her, and that means I’m through with Labor.

    • Andrew Nichols
      April 26, 2023 at 02:32

      Vote Green

  6. shmutzoid
    April 25, 2023 at 20:02

    There are two issues where the US empire will remain inflexible, IMO. 1) no backing away from its proxy war on Russia in Ukraine. 2) pressing forward with the prosecution of Assange. ………. NATO/US have staked everything on this war against Russia. I don’t think there’ll be any ‘face saving’ move to just declare victory and withdraw support for the neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

    …….. The persecution of Assange has more to do than his embarrassing the US by exposing its war crimes and the thoroughly corrupt Dem Party. ……Above all, it serves as a stark warning/threat to journos around the world to never never look too closely at ANYTHING imperial US does. The message won’t be considered delivered until Assange has his show trial in the US and dragged out of the courtroom in shackles for the whole world to see……….The noose is tightening around dissent and the free flow of information.The closing of the American mind is accelerating. …..Any variance from the approved official narratives spewed out 24/7 by State Media (posing as news outlets) is tightly monitored. ……..Recent arrests are particularly ominous. Four members of the APSP arrested for “sowing discord” and “pushing Russian propaganda”. ——- A French publisher arrested in England and interrogated about his political beliefs and position on Macron’s raising the retirement age in France! ………
    ……. The coordination between the neoliberal capitalist regimes in efforts to lock it all down is apparent. ……. I wonder how long it’ll be before comment sections like this one will be de-platformed??? McCarthyism 2.0. Hello!

    • Juan Luchador
      April 26, 2023 at 09:14

      A M E N ! Spot on comment. Thanks

    • vinnieoh
      April 26, 2023 at 10:25

      It will be de-platformed after the spooks and spies have harvested as much info about us as they think sufficient. I don’t mean to be too dark or alarmist, but this is the two-way street of the internet.

      I’ve long maintained that any resistance movement to be effective will have to operate off the radar – that is, forsake the internet and social media and go back to the type of communication, command and control, that was employed say, during the French Resistance to the Nazi occupation. There is a secondary reason for doing this: using social media and the internet has become the norm now, and it will be expected that naive but well-meaning persons will use it and expose themselves. Going outside of that will provide some temporary cover and force the status quo (the establishment) to risk the direct contact type of infiltration and operation that is both more expensive and more dangerous.

      These are dark times and it disgusts me that I even have had my thoughts dragged to these kinds of considerations. Especially considering that the type of confrontations that seem likely to ensue will not move the cause and the prospects of the human race forward, but only sideways.

      • Valerie
        April 26, 2023 at 15:48

        Mmm the Baader-Meinhof gang come to mind.

Comments are closed.