||Posted: Aug. 18 2012,13:44
Here is an argument that Julian Assange should be recognized as a culture of peace hero. After all, the free flow of information is one of the eight key action areas in the UN resolution for a culture of peace.
The following are excerpts from an interview with Daniel Ellsberg by the progressive American television journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. The full interview is available online As they explain, Ellsberg is certainly a culture of peace hero (See a previous CPNN discussion on whistleblowers).
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: For more on Julian Assange, we’re joined by Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower. He leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, the secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, I congratulate Ecuador, of course, for standing up to the British Empire here, for insisting that they are not a British colony, and acting as a sovereign state ought to act. And I think they’ve done the right thing. I appreciate what they’ve done.
AMY GOODMAN: And the British government first threatening to raid the Ecuadorean embassy in London, also saying they would arrest Julian Assange if he attempted to leave to go to Ecuador, but also saying they’d actually raid the embassy?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: It’s an outrageous proposal, which actually undermines the security of every diplomat in the world, in this country right now. I would say it has a chilling effect right now, the very fact that that possibility has been raised. I’m old enough to remember the occasion that gave rise to that, actually. I remember when a Libyan official shot from the Libyan embassy in London and killed a British female officer—Vivian [Yvonne Joyce Fletcher], I think her name was—in 1984. The result of that was that they removed diplomatic recognition from Libya altogether, sent everybody home. They didn’t raid the embassy on that occasion, but that led three years later to a law that permitted them, under extraordinary circumstances, to do that again. They obviously don’t have anyone here who’s been shooting from the Ecuadorean embassy at anyone. He’s merely been telling the truth, there as in London earlier. He should be congratulated for that, not threatened.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dan Ellsberg, again, the extraordinary efforts that are being taken here by the British government—and, obviously, the Swedish government—supposedly just to question him on allegations of a sexual attack, not even actual charges.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, everything that we’ve seen supports the position of his defense team, that this is not about sexual charges in Sweden, essentially, that that’s a cover story—whatever substance there may be to that story. But the procedures that have been followed here are extraordinary: a red notice here, very unusually given, never under these circumstances, to arrest him and these heavy efforts to extradite him, after he had offered either to be questioned by the prosecutor herself or by some representative of her in the Swedish embassy or the British embassy or by British police in London, where he was, something that, by the way, is routinely done all the time, and the expense is paid for that, if necessary—all of that being refused. Why? In a situation where this man is charged with criminal charges by no country—not by Sweden, not by Britain, not by the United States, although there may in fact be a secret indictment already waiting for him in the United States, being denied or lied about right now by my country. But no charges have actually been made public. So, here, all this emphasis just to get him charged—just to get him questioned, rather, when he’s offered himself for questioning, even right now in the Ecuadorean embassy. The state of Ecuador has actually officially proposed that that take place in the Ecuadorean embassy or elsewhere and in London. And that has been refused. All of this supports the idea that this is merely a way of getting him to Sweden, which apparently would be easier to extradite him from to the United States than Britain. If Britain were totally open to extraditing him, it would have happened by now. Two years have passed. But he’s an Australian citizen, a member of the Commonwealth, and the criteria for extraditing somebody who’s been telling the truth and is wanted for what can only be a political crime in another country are apparently more stringent here than they might be in Sweden.
So I think that—in fact, I join his lawyers, Michael Ratner and others, in saying that he has every reason to be wary that the real intent here is to whisk him away to America, where it really hasn’t been made as clear what might be waiting for him as I think one can conjecture. The new National Defense Authorization Act—and I’m a plaintiff in a suit to call that act unconstitutional, in terms of its effect on me and on others, a suit that has been successful so far at the district court level and has led to that act being called unconstitutional. But on its face, that act could be used against Julian Assange or Bradley Manning, if he weren’t already in military custody. Julian Assange, although a civilian, and not an American civilian at that, would seem to me, a layman, to be clearly subject to the National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA, putting in military detention for suspicion of giving aid to an enemy, which he’s certainly been accused of by high American officials. I don’t see why he couldn’t be put in indefinite contention, without even the charges that I faced 40 years ago for doing the exact same things that he did.
AMY GOODMAN: The record of President Obama on whistleblowers: six whistleblowers charged under the Obama administration, more than in all—under the administrations of all past presidents combined, Dan Ellsberg?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Twice as many. Twice as many as all past presidents. There was a total of three under past presidents, one each. I was the first ever charged with those charges. Obama has brought six such charges. And apparently his grand jury in Virginia is seeking at least a seventh, and perhaps more, against Assange and others. Twice as many as all previous.
AMY GOODMAN: You were charged? You were indicted for having secret documents and giving them away?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: For possessing them and for possessing them without authorization. There was a second grand jury going on that would have gotten me in a second trial for distribution, which of course I was also involved in. I didn’t contest any of the facts. And would—that would probably, for the first time, have brought in newspaper people, like Neil Sheehan and Hendrick Smith. That was quashed after government criminality led to the ending of my trial, and so they dropped the other grand jury. As a result, we have no prior precedent of a newspaper person being tried under that charge. I was a former official. Julian Assange would be the first, again, charged. No newspaper person has been so charged.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dan Ellsberg, the impact already of this hounding of Assange by the Swedish, and clearly with the United States government in the wings, behind the scenes, orchestrating a lot of this—the impact on WikiLeaks and on other whistleblowers? The message that’s being sent, that if you dare to go against the empire, you will be hounded and gone after?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: That’s hardly an amazing message. It was, of course, to be expected. There was reason to think that an international organization with no national roots here, and using the internet, would escape that kind of chilling effect. And they found the empire here is more resourceful and creative and less mindful of its own constitution and laws and traditions than one might have hoped. But, anyway, it’s hardly surprising that when you twist the lion’s tail, the lion may get very angry. Their ability to shut off the funding by intimidating, without even invoking the law, places like PayPal and Amazon and others from giving any money to or serving as distribution channels is very dismaying. It’s a sign, and not unique, of the way in which our fundamental rights, our Bill of Rights, our constitutional freedoms, have been abridged by the last 10 years and more. And President Obama is, unhappily, following in that tradition, as, I must say, I predicted, unhappily, when I urged people to vote for him four years ago. . .