Why Assange Evades U.S. Charges While Manning Sits in Jail

Prosecuting Julian Assange would mean implicating the journalists who worked with him.

Julian Assange
National Journal
Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
Brian Resnick
Nov. 26, 2013, 6:12 a.m.

From a U.S. leg­al stand­point, Ju­li­an As­sange made a smart move in 2010 — he de­cided to share his bounty of 500,000 leaked cables with tra­di­tion­al news out­lets like The Guard­i­an and The New York Times. Today, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ports that As­sange is un­likely to face U.S. charges for his role in fa­cil­it­at­ing the greatest in­tel­li­gence leak in Amer­ic­an his­tory. Why? Be­cause do­ing so would im­plic­ate the journ­al­ists who worked with As­sange. The Post re­ports:

Justice of­fi­cials said they looked hard at As­sange but real­ized that they have what they de­scribed as a “New York Times prob­lem.” If the Justice De­part­ment in­dicted As­sange, it would also have to pro­sec­ute The New York Times and oth­er news or­gan­iz­a­tions and writers who pub­lished clas­si­fied ma­ter­i­al, in­clud­ing The Wash­ing­ton Post and Bri­tain’s Guard­i­an news­pa­per, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of an­onym­ity to dis­cuss in­tern­al de­lib­er­a­tions.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has not been soft on leak­ers, and it has been cri­ti­cized for be­ing too ag­gress­ive with the press. But the gov­ern­ment makes a care­ful dis­tinc­tion here: Chelsea Man­ning and Ed­ward Snowden are clear crim­in­als. They leaked clas­si­fied doc­u­ments they swore not to re­lease. They did so be­cause of a sense of act­iv­ism. As­sange fa­cilil­ated, in Man­ning’s case, the leaks. But yet As­sange will not be charged with aid­ing the crime be­cause he was the mes­sen­ger, des­pite the fact that his in­tent to leak the doc­u­ments is also based in the same vein of protest or act­iv­ism as the oth­ers.

Bill Keller, the former Times ex­ec­ut­ive ed­it­or, wrote that As­sange was an “elu­sive, ma­nip­u­lat­ive, and volat­ile” part­ner to work with. His 2011 re­count of the epis­ode makes As­sange out to be more of an act­iv­ist seek­ing a mega­phone than a journ­al­ist who wants to un­cov­er the truth. For in­stance,  “He was angry that we de­clined to link our on­line cov­er­age of the War Logs to the WikiLeaks web­site,” Keller wrote, “a de­cision we made be­cause we feared — rightly, as it turned out — that its trove would con­tain the names of low-level in­form­ants and make them Taliban tar­gets.”

At sur­face level, one can ar­gue that As­sange is no dif­fer­ent from Man­ning and Snowden. But as The Post re­ports, “Justice of­fi­cials said [As­sange] would al­most cer­tainly not be pro­sec­uted for re­ceiv­ing clas­si­fied ma­ter­i­al from Man­ning.”

Which is to say, if you don’t want to be in­dicted for leak­ing in­form­a­tion, don’t steal the in­form­a­tion your­self.

What We're Following See More »
THE PLAN ALL ALONG?
Manchin Drops Objections, Clearing Way for Spending Deal
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."

Source:
UNCLEAR WHAT CAUSED CHANGE OF HEART
Giuliani Out of Running For State
1 days ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.

Source:
ALSO VICE-CHAIR OF TRUMP’S TRANSITION TEAM
Trump Taps Rep. McMorris Rodgers for Interior Secretary
1 days ago
BREAKING
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
2 days ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
2 days ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login