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[Updated] Morning Briefing: Cheer Over Julian Assange's Arrest All You Want

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | April 11, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | April 11, 2019 |


Updated again: I stand corrected, as it has since been revealed that the single charge against Assange — hacking a government computer — does not trigger First Amendment implications, therefore, please feel free to cheer Assange’s arrest all you like, because not only is he an evil POS, but an alleged rapist who sicced his followers on his victims.

Julian Assange was arrested this morning after the Ecuadorian embassy revoked his asylum because Assange was being “discourteous” (i.e., an asshole). However, before you start cheering about the arrest of an alleged rapist, understand that Assange was not arrested over those rape charges out of Sweden. Those were dropped. He was arrested for skipping bail, but more importantly, the UK arrested him “on behalf of the United States,” which seeks to extradite Assange.

This is probably very bad. As Wikileaks suggests, he may be charged for publishing secret documents — they say he’s being arrested in relation to “‘conspiracy with Chelsea Manning’ for publishing Iraq War Logs, Cablegate, Afghan War Logs.” If that is the case, or if he’s being arrested in relation to publishing all the Hillary docs, that would be a blow to press freedoms. If he’s only being charged for computer crimes or hacking, then f**k him, but I have a very strong feeling that that is not the case. And if he is charged — and convicted — for publishing leaked or stolen materials, that is a precedent that could ultimately be used against traditional publications. It is very troubling. We don’t want the Post or The Times to be charged under the Espionage Act for publishing documents leaked by whistleblowers within our government.

Update: Per SludgeVohaul, if this is true, it would not implicate press freedoms, in which case: F*ck him.

(Unrelated, but also: Assange had his asylum revolved for failure “to … clean up after himself in the bathroom and tend to the ‘well-being, food, cleanliness, and proper care’ of his cat,” which dude. How hard is it to clean up after yourself and take care of your damn cat?)

Also, and not for nothing, but dude is literally hanging on to Roger Stone’s book while he’s being dragged out of the embassy.

He’s an evil man, but even evil men should be afforded the press and whistleblower protections, although we’ll have to wait and see what the charges are.

It is scary times, though, and it’s as good a time as any to remind everyone that Reality Winner is still in prison on a five-year sentence for leaking an NSA document to the press showing that voting machines in seven states had been hacked. She got five years, which is a year more than the sentence the judge gave Paul Manafort in his first trial. She leaked one document (note that this is not the same situation as Assange, who didn’t leak documents; he published already leaked documents).

Another illustration of scary times was what AG William Barr said on the House floor yesterday about opening an investigation into the intelligence community for “spying” on Trump. In part, it’s scary because of how the media covered that. Here’s the Times headline:

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That headline — and the many, many others like it — is going to unnecessarily sound alarm bells. Barr did say that, and it is true that the intelligence community spied on Carter Page. The question is, did the intelligence community have a legal predicate for doing so, and that is what Barr wants to investigate. I feel like we’ve already established many, many times over that there was a legal predicate for the FISA warrant, so any investigation that Barr opens will strike everyone as politically partisan. If Barr wants to get Mueller to investigate that, however, be our guest, not that any investigation is ever going to satisfy the Trumpers.

Meanwhile, in “that’s totally fair” news, Gregory B. Craig — a lawyer in the Obama White House — is expected to be indicted under charges stemming from the Mueller probe. Craig is expected to be charged not for his failure to register as a foreign agent for his legal work with Ukraine, but for lying when asked if he was required to register as a foreign agent.

Let’s end this morning briefing, however, on a … lighter note?

No, that’s not lighter at all. It really just exposes how incredibly idiotic some of our nation’s elected representatives are.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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