They are out to get Assange now:
The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom
Mr. Fish / Truthdig
The failure on the part of establishment media to defend
Julian Assange, who has been trapped in the Ecuadorean
Embassy in London since 2012, has been denied communication
with the outside world since March and appears to be facing
imminent expulsion and arrest, is astonishing. The
extradition of the publisher--the maniacal goal of the U.S.
government--would set a legal precedent that would
criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of
the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing
into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions
of the ruling global elites. If Assange is extradited to the
United States and sentenced, The New York Times, The
Washington Post and every other media organization, no
matter how tepid their coverage of the corporate state,
would be subject to the same draconian censorship. Under the
precedent set, Donald Trump's Supreme Court would
enthusiastically uphold the arrest and imprisonment of any
publisher, editor or reporter in the name of national
There are growing signs that the Ecuadorean government of
Lenín Moreno is preparing to evict Assange and turn him
over to British police. Moreno and his foreign minister,
José Valencia, have confirmed they are in negotiations with
the British government to "resolve" the fate of Assange.
Moreno, who will visit Britain in a few weeks, calls Assange
an "inherited problem" and "a stone in the shoe" and has
referred to him as a "hacker." It appears that under a
Moreno government Assange is no longer welcome in Ecuador.
His only hope now is safe passage to his native Australia or
another country willing to give him asylum.
"Ecuador has been looking for a solution to this problem,"
Valencia commented on television. "The refuge is not
forever, you cannot expect it to last for years without us
reviewing this situation, including because this violates
the rights of the refugee."
Moreno's predecessor as president, Rafael Correa, who
granted Assange asylum in the embassy and made him an
Ecuadorean citizen last year, warned that Assange's "days
were numbered." He charged that Moreno--who cut off
Assange's communications the day after Moreno welcomed a
delegation from the U.S. Southern Command--would "throw him
out of the embassy at the first pressure from the United
Assange, who reportedly is in ill health, took asylum in the
embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions
about sexual offense charges. He feared that once in Swedish
custody for these charges, which he said were false, he
would be extradited to the United States. The Swedish
prosecutors' office ended its "investigation" and
extradition request to Britain in May 2017 and did not file
sexual offense charges against Assange. But the British
government said Assange would nevertheless be arrested and
jailed for breaching his bail conditions.
The persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault
against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news
organizations. The ruling elites, who refuse to accept
responsibility for profound social inequality or the crimes
of empire, have no ideological veneer left to justify their
greed, ineptitude and pillage. Global capitalism and its
ideological justification, neoliberalism, are discredited as
forces for democracy and the equitable distribution of
wealth. The corporate-controlled economic and political
system is as hated by right-wing populists as it is by the
rest of the population. This makes the critics of
corporatism and imperialism--journalists, writers,
dissidents and intellectuals already pushed to the margins
of the media landscape--dangerous and it makes them prime
targets. Assange is at the top of the list.
I took part with dozens of others, including Daniel
Ellsberg, William Binney, Craig Murray, Peter Van Buren,
Slavoj Zizek, George Galloway and Cian Westmoreland, a week
ago in a 36-hour international online vigil demanding
freedom for the WikiLeaks publisher. The vigil was organized
by the New Zealand Internet Party leader Suzie Dawson. It
was the third Unity4J vigil since all of Assange's
communication with the outside world was severed by the
Ecuadorean authorities and visits with him were suspended in
March, part of the increased pressure the United States has
brought on the Ecuadorean government. Assange has since
March been allowed to meet only with his attorneys and
consular officials from the Australian Embassy.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled Friday that
those seeking political asylum have the right to take refuge
in embassies and diplomatic compounds. The court stated that
governments are obliged to provide safe passage out of the
country to those granted asylum. The ruling did not name
Assange, but it was a powerful rebuke to the British
government, which has refused to allow the WikiLeaks
co-founder safe passage to the airport.
The ruling elites no longer have a counterargument to their
critics. They have resorted to cruder forms of control.
These include censorship, slander and character
assassination (which in the case of Assange has sadly been
successful), blacklisting, financial strangulation,
intimidation, imprisonment under the Espionage Act and
branding critics and dissidents as agents of a foreign power
and purveyors of fake news. The corporate media amplifies
these charges, which have no credibility but which become
part of the common vernacular through constant repetition.
The blacklisting, imprisonment and deportation of tens of
thousands of people of conscience during the Red Scares of
the 1920s and 1950s are back with a vengeance. It is a New
Did Russia attempt to influence the election? Undoubtedly.
This is what governments do. The United States interfered in
81 elections from 1945 to 2000, according to professor Dov
Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. His statistics do not
include the numerous coups we orchestrated in countries such
as Greece, Iran, Guatemala and Chile or the disastrous Bay
of Pigs invasion in Cuba. We indirectly bankrolled the
re-election campaign of Russia's buffoonish Boris Yeltsin to
the tune of $2.5 billion.
But did Russia, as the Democratic Party establishment
claims, swing the election to Trump? No. Trump is not
Vladimir Putin's puppet. He is part of the wave of
right-wing populists, from Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in
Britain to Viktor Orbán in Hungary, who have harnessed the
rage and frustration born of an economic and political
system dominated by global capitalism and under which the
rights and aspirations of working men and women do not
The Democratic Party establishment, like the liberal elites
in most of the rest of the industrialized world, would be
swept from power in an open political process devoid of
corporate money. The party elite, including Chuck Schumer
and Nancy Pelosi, is a creation of the corporate state.
Campaign finance and electoral reform are the last things
the party hierarchy intends to champion. It will not call
for social and political programs that will alienate its
corporate masters. This myopia and naked self-interest may
ensure a second term for Donald Trump; it may further
empower the lunatic fringe that is loyal to Trump; it may
continue to erode the credibility of the political system.
But the choice before the Democratic Party elites is clear:
political oblivion or enduring the rule of a demagogue. They
have chosen the latter. They are not interested in reform.
They are determined to silence anyone, like Assange, who
exposes the rot within the ruling class.
The Democratic Party establishment benefits from our system
of legalized bribery. It benefits from deregulating Wall
Street and the fossil fuel industry. It benefits from the
endless wars. It benefits from the curtailment of civil
liberties, including the right to privacy and due process.
It benefits from militarized police. It benefits from
austerity programs. It benefits from mass incarceration. It
is an enabler of tyranny, not an impediment.
Demagogues like Trump, Farage and Johnson, of course, have
no intention of altering the system of corporate pillage.
Rather, they accelerate the pillage, which is what happened
with the passage of the massive U.S. tax cut for
corporations. They divert the public's anger toward
demonized groups such as Muslims, undocumented workers,
people of color, liberals, intellectuals, artists,
feminists, the LGBT community and the press. The demonized
are blamed for the social and economic dysfunction, much as
Jews were falsely blamed for Germany's defeat in World War I
and the economic collapse that followed. Corporations such
as Goldman Sachs, in the midst of the decay, continue to
make a financial killing.
The corporate titans, who often come out of elite
universities and are groomed in institutions like Harvard
Business School, find these demagogues crude and vulgar.
They are embarrassed by their imbecility, megalomania and
incompetence. But they endure their presence rather than
permit socialists or leftist politicians to impede their
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