Thursday, August 1, 2019

Congress, WikiLeaks and the End of Free Speech in America

The rather onerously named Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 (aka S.3153 - 115th Congress) better known as the Intelligence Authorization Act has an interesting inclusion which seems to have escaped notice.

Under Section 733, we find this:

"It is the sense of Congress that WikiLeaks and the senior leadership of WikiLeaks resemble a nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such a service by the United States."

Congress uses "sense of" resolutions and provisions when it wants to express formal opinions about subjects that are of national interest.  A sense of Congress resolution must be a concurrent resolution and be approved by both the House and Senate.  These resolutions do not involve the expenditure of public funds and have no force in law.  That said, U.S. government agencies monitor these "sense of" proposals may serve as an early signal that Congress will alter statutory provisions (i.e. change laws to reflect the proposal) if the proposal does not influence agency policy.

Just in case you might have thought that you had heard that WikiLeaks was a nonstate hostile intelligence service some time in the past, you would be correct.  Here's what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had to say about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in April 2017:

You will notice that Mr. Pompeo couldn't help himself and just had to throw Russia under the bus at the same time as he vilified WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.  Mind you, you must remember that this is what Mr. Pompeo had to say about America's intelligence community that has gone unpunished:

So, who do we trust, Mr. Pompeo or Mr. Assange?

With the arrest and detention of Julian Assange and the formal request by Washington to extradite Mr. Assange to face charges in the United States, Congress has already shown us its cards.  We can pretty much assure ourselves that Congress will "alter statutory provisions" to ensure that WikiLeaks is treated as a hostile intelligence service under laws yet to be written or publicized.  Even though the American Civil Liberties Union has stated this about the arrest of Julian Assange back in May 2019:

"For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information. This is an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration's attacks on journalism, and a direct assault on the First Amendment. It establishes a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets. And it is equally dangerous for U.S. journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations. If the US can prosecute a foreign publisher for violating our secrecy laws, there’s nothing preventing China, or Russia, from doing the same." (my bold)

...we all know that Washington is adverse to truth-telling and would rather that the misdeeds of its intelligence community remain safely behind locked doors.  There goes any hope of what remains of the independent media holding Washington accountable; Congress is taking significant steps to ensure that any group or individual that tries to emulate the WikiLeaks model will find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

First Amendment to the Constitution be damned.  Free speech is rapidly becoming extinct in America.

1 comment:

  1. And that is why blogs such as yours have become tremendously important for the average person to get a sense of what is really going on...