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5/24/19: FREEDOM TO OPPRESS – WHISTLEBLOWER JOURNALIST OR SPY W/ ROD HARREL

Ron Patton | May 24, 2019
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FREEDOM TO OPPRESS

WHISTLEBLOWER JOURNALIST OR SPY

MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS

When the United States declared war on Germany over a century ago, the impact on the press was swift and dramatic.

In its crusade to “make the world safe for democracy,” the Wilson administration took immediate steps at home to curtail one of the pillars of democracy –freedom of the press by implementing a plan to control, manipulate and censor all news coverage, on a scale never seen in U.S. history.

Following the lead of the Germans and British, Wilson elevated propaganda and censorship to strategic elements of all-out information war. Even before the U.S. entered the war, Wilson had expressed the expectation that his fellow Americans would show what he considered “loyalty.”

Immediately upon entering the war, the Wilson administration brought the most modern management techniques to bear in the area of government-press relations. Wilson started one of the earliest uses of government propaganda. He waged a campaign of intimidation and outright suppression against the press that continued to oppose the war. Taken together, these wartime measures added up to an unprecedented assault on press freedom.

It has been said that before a major war, during wartime and immediate post wartime – one of the biggest casualties is the truth.

Within a week of Congress declaring war, on April 13, 1917, Wilson issued an executive order creating a new federal agency that would put the government in the business of actively shaping press coverage. That agency was called the Committee on Public Information, which was implemented to push the agenda of why the United States should now support the war.

At the time, most Americans got their news through newspapers, which were flourishing in the years just before the rise of radio and the invention of the weekly news magazine.

It was a dark time for the press and we see that it is becoming even darker today.

Consider that, if history repeats itself, how much time does America really have?

Can a comparative look at history give us pause to think that we face a cessation of the benefits of the constitution because all of what we have been taught is now antiquated because of our consensus behaviors?

These questions will be answered with the Julian Assange case.

For over a decade, there has been a raging debate over precisely what Julian Assange is – a whistleblower, journalist, or spy.

The United States hit him with 17 new counts under the Espionage Act for receiving and publishing information from Army Intelligence Analyst Chelsea Manning.

President Trump can call the media the enemy of the people — he can choose to tell reporters that they are not welcome in the press room but this has crossed a line.

Whatever you may think of Trump, he was told not to do this and now he has triggered the most important press freedom case in the US in 300 years.

While the status of Assange has long been hotly debated, his actions in publishing classified information on WikiLeaks is a common component of journalism. Indeed, the most celebrated cases in history, such as the failed attempts to stop the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which were based on the publications of classified evidence.

Assange’s supporters note that his publications revealed alleged war crimes in places like Afghanistan and Iraq that were unlikely to have been exposed otherwise. If it was a crime for Assange to receive and publish such information, then journalism in the US will become a criminal enterprise.

It will be a criminal act to give the people the right to know, no matter how politically uncomfortable it is.

In April, the government avoided this threshold question by charging Assange with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The charge is related to helping Manning obtain access to defense department computers in 2010. In doing so, the justice department stayed clear of charging him as a publisher as opposed to an intruder.

This has all changed now. The line has been crossed we are well on our way to having State sponsored news – anyone questioning the Ministry of Truth will be arrested, or executed.

The charges against Assange were brought under the controversial Espionage Act of 1917. Passed after World War One, it was used to target anti-war activists and political dissidents.

Counts nine through 17 against Assange concern the publications of “national defense information.” The justice department takes pains to try to argue that Assange is not a journalist and that the publication counts concern the disclosure of not just classified information but the actual names of intelligence sources. That, however, may establish that Assange is a poor journalist, but a journalist all the same.

If successful, the Justice Department would have not only the ability to prosecute but to investigate a wide array of journalists. This danger is made all the more acute in an administration headed by a president who routinely calls the press “the enemy of the people.”

However, the danger did not begin with President Trump. The Obama administration used this law to conduct surveillance on mainstream journalists. The Obama administration secretly monitored a Washington journalist. In seeking a search warrant, the FBI called Fox News’ James Rosen a “criminal co-conspirator.”

For the first time ever, a presidential administration treated news reporting like a crime and a reporter like a criminal suspect.

Before Donald Trump was cited as the president that attacks the media and the insipid “fake news” axiom, Barack Obama was the president that wanted to silence anyone who The Pentagon thought was generating content that would be considered a threat to national security.

The World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies.
In an unstable environment, the media becomes a strategic goal and target for groups or individuals whose attempts to control news and information violate the guarantees enshrined in international law, in particular, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Protocols Additional 1 and 2 to the Geneva Conventions.

The Obama administration reportedly rejected the option of criminal charges against Assange under the Espionage Act, in recognition of the danger to press freedom. President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have now crossed that Rubicon.

This also comes at a particularly precarious time for journalists around the world. Reporters are being arrested and killed in increasing numbers. Some countries like China and Russia have even taken up the Trump trope of “fake news” to crack down on the press. Most vividly, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is accused of ordering the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi yet has suffered few consequences from the Trump administration.

It is not just the “usual suspects” attacking the free press. Just this week, the French government put three journalists under criminal investigation for disclosing alleged lies by French officials on the country’s role in the war in Yemen.

A couple of days later a senior reporter, Ariane Chemin, at the renowned French Le Monde, was called in for questioning after revealing embarrassing details about a former bodyguard to President Emmanuel Macron.

The United States Constitution guarantees a free press, however, it is trying to establish that any journalist can be prosecuted for receiving or publishing classified information. Since the government routinely over-classifies a wide array of information, it would leave every journalist at constant risk of surveillance and prosecution.

In 1948, George Orwell created what appears to be the blueprint for the totalitarian state that is slowly being implemented by the current administration. The book, 1984, was meant to be a satirical commentary on despotism and the ongoing threat of tyranny around the world.

The dystopian novel spoke of a time where citizens were forbidden to do almost everything. Their subservience was achieved through the control of the media under the auspices of The Ministry of Truth that was in charge of destroying evidence, changing facts and creating propaganda for the masses.

A steadily growing percentage of Americans know that some form of threat does exist which actually challenges the continued existence of this Republic. The opinions of what the threats consist of vary from person to person because of political views and religious affiliation.

Other opinions are now being turned with the use of successful propaganda.

We have spoken before about the established ministry of truth that was created during the Obama administration.

The Global Engagement Center was an office established initially to counter the propaganda of other countries.

Now it is an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” where 40 million dollars of taxpayer money is used to initiate information warfare against the American people.

Make no mistake; this organization has been established to weaponize information and ideas – it is simply a Trojan Horse that has been created by the technocracy to reeducate the American people and reprogram them for a new era that will most certainly be plagued with war.

Information is a craft. Who crafts the information, controls the message and therefore what the population believes. As much as purveyors of information may wish to convey that the information they are reporting has objective value, free from bias and constituting simply ‘the news’, everything that is packaged as such is laden with assumptions, all of them ultimately geared towards ensuring ‘continuity of narrative’ and thus the status quo.

Information will eventually be no more than a well-organized psy-op that can be witnessed from the day to day perusing of the social network and how the trash talk, trolling and bullying becomes part of the daily routine. The political forum has been reduced to various tweets and small bits of information. Anything that is posted in the social network with a link to a referenced article or essay is seldom read, but armchair critics have much to say about the headline, how it is written and whether it is misspelled or misleading.

The Trump Administration has tried to push a narrative in which, even though WikiLeaks behaves like a journalistic outlet, they are something distinct, almost certainly an argument that envisioned having to argue a case like this as being something other than rank censorship of the media.

If the conviction of Assange is successful, he could face 170 years in prison or execution. It would have a chilling effect on the American press, and indeed the international press since Assange wasn’t American nor in America during the “crimes” in question, establishing that the US government can jail journalists for reporting on their embarrassing secrets.

This sets up a potentially very controversial case. Though also used to prosecute proper spies for foreign governments, the Espionage Act of 1917 has been used repeatedly to target journalists and those who provided information to journalists. Its use against the press has historically been deeply criticized.

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the Freedom of Speech individually and for the media, stating that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press.

FreePhotoStock.Pixabay

Assange has few friends in Washington. The Democrats have been relatively muted in responding to the charges. After presenting WikiLeaks as a tool used by Russia to try to help President Trump win the presidency, that narrative breaks down if they recognize Assange as a journalist.

The Republicans have their own narrative of journalists as deep-state co-conspirators. Even mainstream reporters have long kept Assange at arm’s length. For them, he is the symbol of reckless figures emerging in the “new media” of the internet.

Assange is not the rallying figure advocates for press freedom would choose, but he is the one they have been given. Assange may be the first modern journalist to be prosecuted under this law. However, if successful, he will certainly not be the last.

https://soundcloud.com/groundzeromedia/freedom-to-oppress-whistleblower-journalist-or-spy-w-rod-harrel-may-24-2019

Written by Ron Patton





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