Executive VP at The Quincy Institute, Trita Parsi, breaks down the latest reports from the intelligence community concerning a potential attack on America orchestrated by Iran’s leadership. Some say these retaliation efforts are a direct result of the killing of terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani.
The gloves were off on Tuesday as the US Government explicitly argued that all journalists are liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act (1917) for publishing classified information, citing the Rosen case. Counsel for the US government also argued that the famous Pentagon Papers supreme court judgment on the New York Times only referred to pre-publication injunction and specifically did not preclude prosecution under the Espionage Act. The US Government even surmised in court that such an Espionage Act prosecution of the New York Times may have been successful.
It is hard for me to convey to a British audience what an assault this represents by the Trump administration on Americans’ self-image of their own political culture. The First Amendment is celebrated across the political divide and the New York Times judgment is viewed as a pillar of freedom. So much so that Hollywood’s main superstars are still making blockbusters about it, in which the heroes are the journalists rather than the actual whistleblower, Dan Ellsberg (whom I am proud to know).
The US government is now saying, completely explicitly, in court, those reporters could and should have gone to jail and that is how we will act in future. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and all the “great liberal media” of the USA are not in court to hear it and do not report it, because of their active complicity in the “othering” of Julian Assange as something sub-human whose fate can be ignored. Are they really so stupid as not to understand that they are next?
Things became not merely dramatic in the Assange courtroom today, but spiteful and nasty. There were two real issues, the evidence and the procedure. On the evidence, there were stark details of the dreadful regime Assange will face in US jails if extradited. On the procedure, we saw behavior from the prosecution QC that went well beyond normal cross examination and was a real attempt to denigrate and even humiliate the witness. I hope to prove that to you by a straightforward exposition of what happened today in court, after which I shall add further comment.
Today’s witness was Eric Lewis. A practicing US attorney for 35 years, Eric Lewis has a doctorate in law from Yale and a masters in criminology from Cambridge. He is former professor in law at Georgetown University, an elected member of both the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is Chairman of Reprieve. He has represented high profile clients in national security and terrorism cases, including Seymour Hersh and Guantanamo Bay internees.
Lewis had submitted five statements to the court, between October 2019 and August 2020, addressing the ever-changing indictments and charges brought by the prosecution. He was initially led through the permitted brief half-hour summary of his statements by defense QC Edward Fitzgerald. (I am told I am not currently allowed to publish the defense statements or links to them. I shall try to clarify this tomorrow.)
My late father was a US army officer in London during World War II and I remember best his stories of the stern old air raid wardens of the day. According to dad’s stories their power was absolute. If an air raid warden told you to stub out that cigarette, you did it, no questions asked, lest an eagle-eyed German aircrew from on high blow up the whole neighborhood. If he told you to draw that shade, you drew it. Bottom line was, if the air raid warden told you to sh*t, you asked what color. These wardens were a crusty old lot, past prime military age, to free the younger men up for the front. They were effective because the British people of the day believed in something called truth. One example of truth was that the Germans were the enemy who needed to be defeated. There was no equivocation so they all pulled together.
How come we don’t have our own version of air raid warden to help us out in this time of corona panic? Put that mask on, you can hear the old guy shouting. And If that didn’t work, he might take the scofflaw off by the scruff of the neck off to the local hooscow.
But, in order for the air raid warden to wield authority, the people would have to believe in something. Like the Brits of WW II, they would have to have a shared understanding called truth. No, I’m not talking about the kind of truth that philosophers deal in, like how many angels can dance on the head of a nuclear bomb. No, I mean a plainer, more practical concept of truth; like can you believe our president? The congress? How about the MSM? Surely you believe the MSM? Right? But, don’t forget that most of the stuff the networks carry comes from right- wing or left- wing think-tanks. Sometimes it seems like an original thought is a thing of the past. Truth, today, is manufactured in the bowels of the corporations. Some call it the deep state.