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.
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Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.
In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."
Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.
Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."
Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."