The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Terrible Assange Extradition Ruling for Press Freedom

We have a brilliantly authoritarian ruling on the Assange extradition case. The judge (who was endlessly hostile to Assange) ruled he couldn’t be extradited because of his bad health, but said that none of the press freedom arguments worked.

Now this is good news for Assange, but it is terrible news for press freedom. If the judge had approved the extradition of Assange, he would have appealed, and there is a very good chance for a reversal on appeal. Assange isn’t a US citizen; the US has no jurisdiction, and he was clearly acting as a publisher through the entire sequence.

The Australian journalists’ union sums this up well:

MEAA, the union for Australian journalists, welcomes today’s decision by a British judge to prevent the extradition to the United States of our member Julian Assange and calls on the US government to now drop his prosecution.

The court ruled against extradition on health grounds, accepting medical evidence that Assange would be at risk in US custody.

However, journalists everywhere should be concerned at the hostile manner in which the court dismissed all defence arguments related to press freedom.

“Today’s court ruling is a huge relief for Julian, his partner and family, his legal team and his supporters around the world,” said MEAA Media Federal President Marcus Strom.

“Julian has suffered a ten-year ordeal for trying to bring information of public interest to the light of day, and it has had an immense impact on his mental and physical health.

“But we are dismayed that the judge showed no concern for press freedom in any of her comments today, and effectively accepted the US arguments that journalists can be prosecuted for exposing war crimes and other government secrets, and for protecting their sources.

“The stories for which he was being prosecuted were published by WikiLeaks a decade ago and revealed war crimes and other shameful actions by the United States government. They were clearly in the public interest.

“The case against Assange has always been politically motivated with the intent of curtailing free speech, criminalising journalism and sending a clear message to future whistleblowers and publishers that they too will be punished if they step out of line.”

MEAA now calls on the US government to drop all charges against Julian Assange and for the Australian government to expedite his safe passage to Australia if that is his wish.

This is a brilliant way to paint Assange guilty of a crime, who is just being let off for sympathy, when he is not guilty (or if he is, so are hundreds of other journalists who have reported on leaked or hacked data from “dubious” people). The US may be appeal, so it’s not clear whether (as of the time of writing) Assange will go free.

At any rate, mission accomplished: An evil law (The Official Secrets Act) is not declared a dead letter by British courts and so can be used as a cudgel in the future. Assange is a broken man; a shadow of himself, and a warning to anyone else who would reveal American war crimes or that the DNC colluded to elect a specific candidate (Clinton) against another candidate (Sanders.)

And no, I don’t give even one shit who hacked the info: It was in the public interest and the public had and has a right to know about American war crimes and Democratic party election fixing.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 3, 2021


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  1. Stirling S Newberry

    It is not that bad… but it is bad. The judge knew that the OSA was just too useful so he found a way to throw it out in this one case (one that would have consequences.) Essentially he wanted to have his cake (keep OSA) and eat it too (not having the EU get upset.)

    Bad law but not the worst (because “worst” is being broken as we speak.)

  2. Hugh

    It sounds like the judge punted. A ruling one way would discredit British courts further and invite a public backlash. A ruling the other way would anger her superiors in the political establishment. So she came up with a ruling that didn’t change anything, didn’t address the law, and kicked it up to her superiors to deal with on appeal.

    I don’t think the judge succeeded. This whole affair really damages the British judiciary. It illustrates its lack of independence , its classism, and its politicization. Not a good day for the UK or British justice.

  3. Mark Pontin

    Stirling N. wrote: ‘The judge knew that the OSA was just too useful so he found a way to throw it out in this one case (one that would have consequences.) Essentially he wanted to have his cake (keep OSA) and eat it too (not having the EU get upset.)’

    A detail, but the judge is a she. (As I see Hugh notes.)

    Also, you may have a naive understanding of the EU and how much a U.K. judge needs to care about them anyway. I agree it would be nice if the U.K. establishment cared as little about the demands of the U.S. and/or confronted the fact that it’s attached itself to a collapsing empire.

    There may indeed be factions in the U.S. policy establishment that want to punish the U.K. for being less than the full poodle on this. Though it’s also safe to assume that the judge negotiated how she was going to rule in this case with her superiors before she did.

  4. Synoia

    Typical British Fudge. Found Assange not suitable for deportation, and did not attack the US, because no ruling was made on the Espionage accusations.

    Following this ruling, was Assange released?

    I don’t believe the US cam successfully appeal, becise the verdict is based on Assange’s health, not US Law.

  5. different clue

    If Trump really wants to get targeted revenge on his political enemies, he will give Assange a full, free and absolute ” Ford Pardons Nixon” type of pardon.

    That would set Assange free to go into deep hiding and try recovering from his ordeal while staying safe from all the assassin teams who would be sent to kill him.

    If he were fully human enough to feel and process human emotions like “gratitude” toward the man who set him free ( in this scenario), then he would reveal all he knows about the source of the emails. EsPECially if they were leaked rather than hacked. And MOST especially if they were leaked by Seth Rich.

    Even if Assange is too computer-like to feel things like “gratitude”, he might still be human enough to feel things like hatred and revenge. If so, a pardon might set him free to tell all he knows in order to get revenge on the Clintobamacrats.

  6. anon y'mouse

    they would rather he die in jail. don’t want him on trial, don’t want the precedents or lack of real case against him. they just want him to suffer and die without being cleared and then declare victory after it’s over.

    see: Milosevic

  7. Eric Anderson

    Hmmm … i dunno about the above conjecture.
    In family law, we call it splitting the baby (I know, horrible imagery, but bear with).
    Lower courts hate getting overturned on appeal, especially when there is little precedent to guide, as here. There is always small precedent in family law because people so rarely appeal. This leaves the lower courts in a damned if I do, damned if don’t position b/c they know someone is going really unhappy, and back in the judges face with another motion.
    Hence, they punish everyone just for being before them.
    Nobody got what they wanted out of this necessarily.
    The U.S. didn’t get it’s man, and likely won’t. Assange wasn’t released, and likely won’t be.
    Hurt both sides and make them both loathe to seek the court’s providence in the future, while yes, punting in the meantime if they don’t get the message.

  8. Eric Anderson

    I’ll add, too, (and I’d love to hear from those who have spent time in the courtroom litigating) that you might be surprised how widely employed and effective this judicial tactic is. In real life, judges don’t do justice they do finality (if they’re doing their job right). They end conflicts with an inviolable decision.

    But here, the judge turns the table. It sucks. In my experience, it happens way too much.
    And it is fatiguing on the parties, no doubt.


  9. Eric Anderson

    Like running a two person marathon at top speed for a photo finish only to have the judge declare that he won.

  10. Eric Anderson

    Finally, and I promise to shut up. Apologies aforehand for any perceived gender bias in my last comment. I had a particular old fat white male red state judge in mind that I’ve crossed swords with in mind when I was writing it.

  11. Chicago Clubs

    > judges don’t do justice they do finality (if they’re doing their job right)

    This has long been my experience when dealing with lawyers and legal matters, but this doesn’t really sound like how a normal, non-legal person would define a judge “doing their job right.”

  12. bruce wilder

    It is actually highly unlikely that Assange could be successfully convicted under U.S. law, given the facts of the case. The actus reus is a dubious technicality at best. That doesn’t really matter, because the whole point of the operation has been persecution, not prosection and the persecution continues apace. Assange has been given “a tuneup” a la grande and more than once.

    I do not understand how the Official Secrets Act, a British statute with no equivalent in U.S. law, comes into it. Maybe someone could explain? As far as I know, the Official Secrets Act is in regular use and has not come under adverse judicial review (now that the UK has judicial review of a sort.) But I welcome informed correction.

  13. bruce wilder


    It remains to be seen how final this ruling is in practice. It seems awfully late coming and it isn’t obvious to me that Assange is bound to released or that the case might not be further prolonged.

  14. Assange did not violate any U.S. law; or at least any U.S. law for which the U.S. Gov’t has constitutional authority to promulgate. This was a political prosecution and it was meritless.

    Also, it does not matter whether the classified U.S. public documents he published were in the “public interest” (although this case certainly met that unnecessary burden by leaps and bounds).

    There is no legal/constitutional distinction between good journalism or shitty journalism. The only thing that matters is that Mr. Assange(or any other writer/journalist) published something. At that point, the U.S. government has no jurisdiction over, much less authority to criminalize, the words, documents or facts published by Mr. Assange and/or Wikileaks. The U.S.’s legal criminal conspiracy theories notwithstanding.

    In this case and its ruling, the the U.K. court has failed to uphold the rule of law. Instead the court has exposed itself as a mere testicle cozy to U.S. authoritarianism.

    – cl

  15. S Brennan

    Right on Brother Ian,

    No quibbles, no equivocations, you are on the side of angels with this post.

    Assange broke no laws and yet he was broken, smashed into pieces, [in a manner that Stalin would be proud of], by the neocolonialists in both parties. Trump should still pardon him and if Pompeo wasn’t around it could’ve been on the docket. A big shout out to all those “liberals” who went after Flynn…insuring the installation of Pompeo and Haspel, great work boys! I am looking forward to seeing your hi-jinks during the next 3 neoD administrations…1st reform opp in 2036…yeah! Just 16 years to go..yes..yes..Trump=Hitler => Biden (TINA).

    And as of yet and for the foreseeable future, no similar love will be offered Gen [Ret.] Flynn who’s 2012 DIA report outed Obama’s regime change war in Syria. The 2012 DIA report detailed the 3-letter agencies funding/training/arming of ISIS. It was Obama’s second major war crime [see war of aggression, Nuremberg] in four years of office. Obama and his entourage went after Gen Flynn with hammer and tongs…but not alone, the “liberals” and “progressives” who take their cues from the likes of disinformation specialists, Rachael Maddox, Cenk Uygur et al gladly enjoined the war criminal of the Obama years in their campaign against a man who ratted out their gross violation of US law. Yes Dorthey, arming known terrorists is till against the law.

    And because it’s become de rigueur on this blog to always ask, “what about R’s how come you don’t mention R’s at the beginning and end of each sentence whenever you criticize a D”? Let me add, Bush [the 2nd] was/is a war criminal just like Obama was/is…I guess that’s why they get along so well..huh?

  16. S Brennan

    So, let me add, if MI-6 got wind that Trump might pardon Assange on the way out, this would preempt such a move, making such a Trump move look tardy, tawdry and banal.

  17. different clue

    A Trump-pardon for Assange might be spun as tardy and tawdry, but wouldn’t it still have real effects? At least in terms of freedom for Assange?

    Or would other governments step forward to fabricate cases against Assange? He is hated by several governments at least.

  18. S Brennan

    Dunno DC,

    I think the spin is all that matters now that the “blue no matter who” crowd has become akin to the pre-war Bush-2 [red] crowd in devotion to doctrine ex supra dictata.

    I would love to be wrong but, after the absolute silence by the “left”/”liberals”/”progressives” on the incredible SC Court victory handed to ALL SEXUAL MINORITIES this past summer by Gorsuch/Roberts the hypocrisy of the “left”/”liberals”/”progressives” on almost all matters that do not advantage the neoD party appears immutable.

    In the same vein, unbeknownst to the vast majority of “blue no matter who”s the post Bush rural conservative is largely to the left of neoD America [blue] on matters of foreign wars. Their kids or their friends kids fought, were seriously wounded and/or died and…like the draft used to do for ALL Americans, that has a tendency to focus the mind on the subject of foreign wars.

  19. Astrid

    SB: As I said in the previous post, Dems be the gaslighting user that friends/family can’t believe you broker up with. So even if they sorta acknowledge how rotten the Dems are, they’ll gaslighting themselves and you by pointing out how Reps (the creeper you knew to stay well away from) are bad. Nevermind that Dems have acted as handmaidens to Reps rather than putting up any kind of fight. Nevermind that not having anything to do with either is a choice and one made by over half of the US vote age populace.

    Reps do the same self gaslighting by imagining Democrats as a bunch of Stalinist monsters coming out of their beds to drag them and their guns to the gulag. To make doing biding for Koch brothers and despoiling their land and rights and economy seem like a reasonable policy.

    All so those locked up in the Dems/Rep duplex don’t have to ask themselves why they’re all tied to the jerks who gave them nothing but grief (unless they’re in the top 0.1 percent) for the last forty years.

    It also explains the”but Russia and China are bad” contingent, so they don’t have to think about the exponentially more terrible nation wrecking and destabilization that the US engages in around the world. By making Russia and China into the next Hitler, rather than more effective and less brutal versions of what Israel and Saudi Arabia and Turkey and US/UK practices, to gives them an external Hitler so they don’t need to think and acknowledge the horrors that they have enabled by failing to stop.

    This December, some gear in my brain finally pushed Dems into exactly the same category as Reps. I no longer get upset about them. The Dems aren’t just bad, they’re irredeemable exactly just like the GOP.

  20. bruce wilder

    Obvious creeper vs gaslighting user was inspired, Astrid. Your insights on Yves also seemed spot-on to me.

    I know people who are really locked into the polarization personally and it can be bizarre. For many, obsession with Trump was a critical anchor. I know someone, who has been quietly shifting right in his old age, who is addicted to news and satirical jokes about Trump. He seeks it out on teevee and on-line. Hates Mitch McConnell, too. (Of course Mitch is eminently hateable.) And, you are right, too, that much of the country is in denial/ignorance about how committed the deep state is to perpetual war in extremely poor places far away plus perpetual flirtation with nuclear confrontation. Zionists are among the worst crazies now. Is it something in the water? Miasma?

    That piece by Greenwald recently suggesting that the dembots pretending Trump=Hitler was furthering actual authoritarianism seems spot-on to me. A world turned upside-down

  21. S Brennan

    Just a note about the “Trump voters” in my neck of the woods, their vote for Trump was very much against R’s as well as neoD’s. The hate they express towards the Bush/Cheney wing of the R party is visceral and what would amaze this crowd, if they ever made an effort to really listen instead of preparing an insulting retort, pretty damn accurate. The only thing that gets “Trump voters” to vote R at all is the neoD’s disgusting line-up of corporate fluffers and the policies enacted against the working class for the last forty years.

    Had the neoD’s/3-letter-agencies/MediaCorp not been able to fully convince “liberals”/”lefties”/”progressives” that Trump=Hitler the possibility of a national realignment where the 1935-50 generation, for example, Pelosi/McConnell/Schumer/Romney etc all got put on an ice flow was strongly possible.

    I know many, maybe the majority of Trump voters who ARE NOT regular R’s, despise the Bushes, Romney and Cheney families. That’s what Yang & Tulsi were trying to tap into…and why the neoD’d – DNC used Sanders in 2020, to sweep-up votes that then would be delivered to the appointed DNCer [I had picked Kamala in 2018] prevent any such candidate that could crossover and lead to a structural break-up of the neoD party architecture…laid down in the early 80’s…some 40 years ago. And please…Sanders and Alexandria Cortez are every bit tools of the neoD’s, hell she was barely elected before she renounced her campaign pledges and began doing Pelosi’s bidding…every bit the Sanders replacement.

    But as we have witnessed on this blog, primitive tribal thinking is no longer some scene out of “Deliverance”, [or “Lord of the Flies” for hipsters], it’s now the neoD’s main mechanism for party control.

    Fortunately, now that the election dust has all but settled, those 20-35 comment a day posters, who used endless ad hominem and vitriol, will largely disappear until the next election cycle where they will once again channel the dialogue into the “the evil of two lessors”. Their job is largely done, they have maintained the narrative, they maintained the neoD’s power over the party of FDR and any hope of a return to a nationally unified FDRism.

    That said, the true fault lies with many educated people who have come to prize their personal political esthetics, [noting that’s nothing more than class indoctrinated culture], to a series of just policies that 85% of American would agree to.

  22. Hugh

    Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden made great personal sacrifices because they tried to get secrets the government was hiding behind to the public. Glenn Greenwald, on the other hand, published a few articles on the Snowden trove and then sat on them keeping them from the public. So while the others were imprisoned or exiled with the threat of imprisonment, Glenn hooked up with a billionaire backer and moved to a comfortable life in Brazil.

    Greenwald made his reputation chronicling the many lies and failures of the Bush Administration. You would think Trump with his non-stop lies would be another obvious target for Greenwald. I looked through the last couple of years of his work listed at the Intercept and the silence on Trump was deafening. People change and as Greenwald shows not always in a good way.

  23. nihil obstet

    @S Brennan

    what would amaze this crowd, if they ever made an effort to really listen instead of preparing an insulting retort

    Have you ever made an effort to really listen instead of preparing an insulting retort? I apologize if I’m simply launching another personal insult battle, but if you can see how others react to a long diatribe of denigration, surely you can consider modifying your comments. Maybe you could consider discussing the issues or adding information or analysis if you did really listen.

    I will note that you are highly efficient. Since you repeat, you don’t need to prepare a retort. You’ve got hundreds on file.

  24. S Brennan

    Nihiel, What consider you consider a “personal insult” is any political view that you disagree with.

    You asked for example to prove wrong, here’s one from yesterday. Here’s an exchange where YOU trash DC’s suggestion and I remark that low turnout has more to do with what’s offered up.


    different clue permalink
    January 4, 2021

    Here’s an interesting comment from off the NaCap offering another idea about how to approach elective politics.

    January 3, 2021 at 3:10 pm
    In the most radical sense, the electorate could start witholding votes. Given the two headed one body nature of the parties, it would make more sense to say to the dems or rs “we will withhold our votes en masse” unless they push through policies. Its easier to get people to stay home and not vote than to change their vote to a different candidate and party. Plus it’s a lot cheaper.

    Outside of forming another party or mass general strikes, that’s a pretty effective way to get the message across that we will not participate in the system at all until there is representation.”

    targeted voter strikes. worth discussing or even thinking about?


    nihil obstet permalink
    January 4, 2021

    Few things would make the elites happier than mass withholding of votes. You notice that they throw up obstacles to voting at every opportunity? They want to get rid of the pesky underlings.


    S Brennan permalink
    January 4, 2021

    Nihil, has a point when he says:

    “You notice that they throw up obstacles to voting at every opportunity”

    The most effective being…wait for it…the candidates themselves.


    That said, of today’s political groups, only “lefties”/ “liberals” seem to enthusiastically vote party line [neoD] even when you couldn’t slide a piece a paper between the neoDs and the Rs…NeoDs whole shtick is to govern hard right while talking, [but never doing] left….


    Again, no insult there, just an opinion you don’t like…and so you respond with insult..fair enough.

    And I note for the record Nihil, in spite claims by neoDs of voter suppression, which you repeat verbatim, this election feature the largest turnout ever. Biden is for more popular than Obama ever was…for example in districts across Pennsylvania 95-97% of the votes cast went to Biden. Nothing like that has ever happened before in the USA, now Stalin’s USSR had turnout like that but not the USA. So when claim voter suppression and the highest turn-out in the land occurred in favor Biden, you are clearly wrong, unless there was massive fraud, in which case, you may have an argument.

  25. Ten Bears

    … those 20-35 comment a day posters who use endless ad hominem and vitriol …

    Nine posts today on three threads on just this blog, and only a bit past noon.

    But please, do continue …

  26. nihil obstet

    @S Brennan

    Maybe you can help me understand your reasoning. The strategy of boycotting elections was proposed arguing that it would pressure elites. I disagreed and countered with how I think elites would react to voters staying home. I was clearly disagreeing. Explain what in my comment was an insult. And I’m not aware that I have repeated myself over and over about voter boycotts. I’m trying to listen to what you say, but I’m having trouble making sense of it.

  27. S Brennan

    “Maybe you can help me understand your reasoning.” – Nihil obstet

    No…no I can not, to paraphrase Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his world-view depends upon his not understanding it.”

    You are trying to be mistaken for a clever boy, adopting a superior pedantic tone that frat boy pledges learn in prep school, I hope that type of 2nd rate deceit makes you feel superior? I don’t who you are trying to fool, perhaps yourself?

    Personally Nihil, I think you need work on your tiresome routine…or…maybe something fresh know…something that shows that you are capable of independent thought? You know, something beside an insult to those who don’t buy into tribal thinking or perhaps a thought that didn’t originate from a msm-outlet?

    Yes, since you came to for advice, work on that for while.

  28. S Brennan

    Astrid I agree with what you said her:

    “This December, some gear in my brain finally pushed Dems into exactly the same category as Reps. I no longer get upset about them. The Dems aren’t just bad, they’re irredeemable exactly just like the GOP.”

    Bush 2nd forced rural R’s away from the party and sadly, neoDs like Obama pushed a lot them right back. Indeed the neoDs need the R’s to keep their tribe plantation bound. It is the evil of two lessors.

  29. nihil obstet

    @S Brennan

    Do you think you’ve explained what the insult is in the particular comment of mine that you picked out or in most of my other comments?

  30. Mediator

    It gives me a good feeling knowing that S Brennan and nihil obset have reached an understanding.

    This is just one of many examples you’ll find – both here and on the internet at large – of people truly trying to understand one another in order to carve out some sort of working relationship. It’s mature and it’s intelligent, and they’re both good examples of how we’d want our children to act.

    Hopefully we can all dispense with the ill will and move forward on both building back better and making America great again.

  31. Mediator's Kid

    Don’t listen to my father. He doesn’t have any skin in the game.

  32. Mediator's Other Kid

    I’m really confused.

  33. nihil obstet

    Ha, ha. Good one.

  34. nihil obstet

    @offspring of Mediator
    Now, the elder should help the younger understand this world we are blessed with, even the parts whose blessedness passeth all understanding.

  35. different clue


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