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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Daniel Ellsberg On The CIA Plan To Kidnap And Possibly Kill Julian Assange, The End Of The Afghanistan Occupation, And The Ongoing Us Drone War – CounterPunch.org

Posted by M. C. on October 19, 2021

So, I think we have to accept that if Biden’s appeal is successful and Assange is brought back here and tried, that will not be the last, and we won’t have to wait for a Republican either or for Trump. Even under Biden it will not be the last, and yes, the New York Times itself will find that it has to defend and maybe a little late because the precedent will have been set.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/10/11/daniel-ellsberg-on-the-cia-plan-to-kidnap-and-possibly-kill-julian-assange-the-end-of-the-afghanistan-occupation-and-the-ongoing-us-drone-war/

by Dennis Bernstein

There are many things to say about Legendary Whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg. First and foremost of course is that he blew the whistle on the big lies behind the US Justification for the Vietnam war. Indeed, in 1967 while at the Rand Institute Daniel Ellsberg worked on the top-secret McNamara Study, US Decision Making in Vietnam, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969 he photocopied the 7,000-page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers.

Ellsberg’s subsequent trial on 12 felony counts posing a possible sentence of some 115 years was dismissed in 1973 on the grounds of governmental misconduct against him, leading to the convictions of several White House aides and figuring in the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon. Now in his 90’s, Dan Ellsberg is front and center in the battle to free Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. We spoke to Ellsberg on the heels of the troubling revelations that the US CIA was considering kidnapping and even killing Assange.

Dennis: Good to speak to you again Dan. Let’s start with this: Why do you think the former CIA Director under Donald Trump thought that it might be necessary not only to kidnap, to maybe kill, Julian Assange? Why did they find him so dangerous?

Dan: You know, the – I notice on the news, on Wiki, Google News, a couple headlines that I haven’t seen yet about why did the CIA want to kill Assange. I’m interested in those stories. I haven’t been able to read them yet. Actually, it’s on a podcast. I’ll have to listen to it in England, because that isn’t self-evident why at that point they would want to kill him, except that yes, they wanted him to come into trial, they wanted to kidnap him, and get him back here. Or now they’re still trying to extradite him under Biden and get him for trial.

But on the other hand, a trial isn’t actually perfect for them because that will certainly bring up two kinds of problems, the crimes that he revealed, the war crimes, the things that Chelsea Manning had given to him about Afghanistan and Iraq revealing enormous numbers of civilians killed which had not been reported, a major program of torture by our Iraqi allies which continued into the Biden – into the, I’m sorry, Obama Administration when Biden was Vice President, and definitely would have constituted war crimes. So, these are not things they wanted discussed in open-ended trial all that much, although they do want to make an example of Julian.

I really think that in one – I’ve always thought that to some extent the best thing for him is just to keep him there in a prison without having to go through a trial and reveal any of this stuff, or have him even in Sweden on that. But since they don’t want to concede that what he did was not criminal, as I would say was not under any constitutional reading of the Espionage Act, they want to continue that and have to at least go through the motions of trying to expedite him.

But of course, assassinating him would cut that short, just keep him silent, keep him out of the way, certainly form a good example, counter, to people who might be tempted to follow in his footsteps as to what to expect if you take on not only the world’s richest and strongest imperial power, the United States, but really this was a challenge to secrecy in all governments in the world. And I doubt if he has very many admirers within state governments, practically anywhere in the world, although there were many countries where he’s extremely popular.

Germany, for example, being one for various reasons. But their – and even their Bundestag has tried to get him to come as a witness about the secrecy system. But governments that want to be tight in hand with their rich uncle here, Uncle Sam, do not want to antagonize America, and that turns out to be Biden as well as Trump. So, he’s challenged all of them, and that puts you by way of a lot of retribution.

Dennis: How would you – how do you consider Julian Assange? Do you see him as a publisher and poet and journalist? People call him lots of different things. And apparently he’s been, although he’s helped a great deal in publishing a number of incredible stories in various news organizations, he’s been sort of betrayed, set aside, forgotten. How do you see him? Is he – is his work important in terms of journalism, and what role does it play in the public knowledge?

Dan: Well first take the position that the government – that he’s put himself in as government, our government, has put him in of being under charges as a publisher, as a journalist. He’s the first actually to be indicted in this country in a way that is blatantly in contradiction to the First Amendment, “Congress shall pass no law abridging freedom of the press, freedom of speech.” There could hardly be a more clear-cut denial of the protection to the press, that the First Amendment author than to be indicting and prosecuting Julian Assange.

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