Though I always tear through my weekly copy of Valley News to get to your Opinion column first, I must say that I was surprised and disappointed with your most recent discussion in defense of Mr. Assange. The issue with Mr. Assange is not freedom of the press, which I declare is a right we all will agree with and support vigorously but an issue of espionage and subterfuge. If Mr. Assange wants to voice opinions or even facts in evidence on corruption or malfeasance on the part of any elected or appointed official, I would agree with your defense that he is protected under our 1st amendment, but Mr. Assange went much further than that. In his zeal to uncover information, which he did illegally via computer hacks, he also uncovered sensitive military secrets of our country and laid those secrets out for our enemies to enjoy. THIS is why our law enforcement agencies want him so badly. This is not a matter of 1st amendment rights Julie, his actions are a serious crime against our country.
I understand your point. It's complicated because Assange didn't help steal the secrets. He did publish them though.
My concern is just the ramifications of using the Espionage Act in publishing and what that would mean for journalists and whistleblowers who have always had the freedom to expose secrets when they were part of a story that they felt needed to be exposed.
Just like the example of the disclosure of the Pentagon Papers which Ellsberg, who worked on the original report, was initially charged with conspiracy, Espionage, and theft of government property after the New York Times published the information on the front page in 1971.
Charges were later dismissed after prosecutors investigating the Watergate scandal uncovered that the White House was trying to discredit Ellsberg.
Back to Manning, who was the person who stole the military information that showed civilians being bombed and the numbers of which they kept track after saying they hadn’t. He was convicted and served time as an American citizen and military person.
My concern is the ability for the govt. to use the precedent in the future against publishers exposing corrupt govt. Officials. Especially in the climate of growing authoritarian tendencies.
Thank you for the conversation.