The DOJ’s Indictment of Assange is Almost as Idiotic as Mueller’s Indictments of Russians

Originally published Apr 11, 2019

Today, an indictment of Julian Assange for “Conspiracy to Commit Computer Intrusion”, issued secretly by the US Department of Justice in March 2018, was unsealed.

Aside from the well-known facts that Assange acted as a publisher of secret materials illegally leaked by Manning, and strove to keep Manning’s identity secret (as journalists are supposed to do for confidential sources), the indictment of Assange makes these key claims:

7. On or about March 8, 2010, Assange agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers….

What was the precise nature of this “agreement”? How does the DOJ know that Assange wasn’t just making idle chatter?

13. ….Manning also said “after this upload, that’s all I really have left.” To which Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience”.

So is it illegal for a journalist to hope that a source can provide more material?

24. On or about March 8, 2010, Manning provided Assange with part of a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol.

25. On or about March 10, 2010, Assange requested more information from Manning related to the password. Assange indicated that he had been trying to crack the password by stating that he “had no luck so far”.

In fact, the DOJ appears to have no evidence that Assange actually had made serious efforts to solve the password, nor is there any evidence that Assange achieved such a solution, nor that Manning ever used the solved password for computer intrusion. Assange might reasonably claim that he had just been humoring Manning.

Moreover, as Glenn Greenwald and Micah Lee of the Intercept have clarified, the purpose of cracking the password was NOT to give Manning access to more documents — in other words, to expedite a hack — but rather to enable Manning to log in to the system under another name so that she would be better able to disguise her identity while retrieving documents she already had legal access to. In other words, Assange was just trying to protect a source, a fundamental obligation of a journalist. If Assange was indeed intent on cracking the password, the worst that can be said is that he made an unsuccessful attempt to expedite leaking by helping the leaker mask her identity.

That’s why they call it WikiLEAKS, capisce?!

The U.S. Government's Indictment of Julian Assange Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedoms

Nevertheless, these facts form the basis for the claim that Assange engaged in a conspiracy to hack classified US government computers, a crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

This indictment is so sketchy that it is no wonder that, many years earlier, the Obama administration, which was apprised of all these facts, chose not to indict Assange, rightly fearing that such a dubious indictment would be viewed by the world as a massive infringement of journalistic freedom.

But there is something notable about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act — it includes a 5-year statute of limitations. In other words, the window to charge Assange under this law had run out 3 years before the formal date of the indictment (March 2018).

Here’s an intriguing passage from a just-published article by Andy Greenberg:

Ekeland [a defense attorney specializing in hacking cases] also points out that to expand the statute of limitations for the CFAA [Computer Fraud and Abuse Act] from the normal five years to the necessary eight in this case, given the indictment’s date of March 2018, the Justice Department is charging Assange under a statute that labels his alleged hacking an “act of terrorism.” He sees that as another suspect element of the case, if not one that would necessarily hinder prosecution. “To get the benefit of the eight years, they’re trying to call this a terrorist act,” Ekeland says. “That seems a little weird.”

Breaking Down the Hacking Case Against Julian Assange

I’m not sure that “weird” is a strong enough word. “Idiotic” fits better. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “terrorism” refer to acts which kill or injure civilians that are intended to achieve some political end? Or is its new meaning “Doing anything the US government disapproves of?” Guess I missed out on that new edition of the dictionary.

Any judge who would extradite or convict on this ridiculous torturing of the facts is simply beyond the pale. To compound the sketchiness of the indictment with the claim that Assange’s alleged effort to help Manning minimize her risk of detection amounted to “an act of terrorism”, is so absurd as to be wholly worthy of the Deep State scumbags with which Trump has stocked his administration.

Look at it this way — if a random person had offered to help a whistleblower shield her identity, then reported back two days later, “Sorry, can’t help”, and that’s the sum of it — what is the chance that the U.S. government would indict and then attempt to extradite that person on the basis of a conspiracy charge whose statute of limitations had expired 3 years earlier? The notion is farcical. The U.S. Deep State wants to get its fangs into Julian for the crime of revealing its own crimes through fully legal journalism. The Obama administration, which led the league in whistleblower prosecutions, had too much self respect and common sense to try to pull this transparent scam. Leave it to the cretinous Jeff Sessions to have given the go-ahead to this charade.

And view this in the context of the fact that Julian has effectively already been imprisoned for 7 years in the London Ecuadorean embassy, because he rightly judged that if he left the embassy he would be extradited to the US for the crime of practicing consequential journalism.

Listen to journalist Kim Iversen explain why Julian is a hero:

Here’s my proposed response — Julian Assange should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The chief cause of wars waged by quasi-democratic societies are malicious lies demonizing the opponent of choice, and the covering up of the ghastly consequences of these wars. What publisher has has done more that Assange to crush such lies, and to reveal the purveyors of war as the gross criminals they are?

Why shouldn’t the rational people of the world offer a profound FUCK YOU to the Trump administration and our war-criminal Deep State by honoring Assange with the Peace Prize?

P.S. And I suppose I should address a comment to the so-called liberals who will find my suggestion repugnant, because they believe that Assange helped elect Trump. Those who truly elected Trump are those “Democrats” who tried to shove down the nation’s throat a war criminal, mega-grifting, serial lying, transparently phony shill for moneyed interests, despised by the majority of American voters. Assange just helped Americans realize the truth about her by publishing her own words and those of her staff. And in any case, did black Americans fail to show up to vote in Milwaukee because of Assange?

How much you wanna bet that if Bernie Sanders’ email had been hacked and published, people would have ended up just liking him more?!

Oh — and about those Mueller indictments of Russians:

Mueller’s New Indictment — Do the Feds Take Us for Idiots?!

HILARITY ALERT: Moon of Alabama Explains What the Indicted Russian Trolls Were Really Doing

And the slander that Assange was acting as “Russia’s puppet” when he released the DNC/Podesta emails, is a malicious hoax concocted by the same Deep State Russophobes who brought us “Trump collusion” — a clever ploy to defame both Russia and Assange with the same lie.

Every Aspect of Russiagate is an Outright HOAX, Crafted by Paid Associates of the DNC, and Abetted…

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Justice Department is charging Assange under a statute that labels his alleged hacking an “act of terrorism.” He sees that as another suspect element of the case, if not one that would necessarily hinder prosecution. “To get the benefit of the eight years, they’re trying to call this a terrorist act,” Ekeland says. “That seems a little weird.”

The CFAA doesn't proscribe a limitations period, so the default statute applies limiting the prosecution to five years, but eight for terrorist acts.

The statue defines terrorism as:

18 U.S.C. § 2332b(g)(5)

(5) the term “Federal crime of terrorism” means an offense that—
(A) is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
(B) is a violation of—
(i) ... 1030(a)(1) (relating to protection of computers), 1030(a)(5)(A) resulting in damage as defined in 1030(c)(4)(A)(i)(II) through (VI) (relating to protection of computers),

So under the DOJ's theory, acts (or even just speech) in furtherance of the publication of embarrassing government documents are illegal terrorist acts if the publication is intended to intimidate or coerce the government, or to retaliate against it.

Basically, the DOJ is requiring journalists to have a government approved motive before publishing sensitive material.

Hello Orwell.

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Peace Sells