The Case against Assange: Is the Exposure of War Crimes a Threat Worth Silencing?

When Ecuador decided to strip journalist Julian Assange of his asylum status, it was really sentencing him to the full wrath of the United States government. Although extradition from the United Kingdom may take some time, when he does arrive on the shores of the “freest” nation on earth, he will likely be awarded a false trial and harsh punishment because he exposed the ominous truth about American activities overseas. Exposing government corruption or providing embarrassing evidence that the government spies on its citizens or harms civilians in other countries is a big no-no. If we are not allowed to do this, freedom of speech and the press do not really exist, and we have begun on the road to totalitarianism.

The stated reasons that Assange lost his asylum status in Ecuador are that he had bad hygiene and a negative attitude toward others in the embassy, and that Ecuador’s new president, Lenin Moreno, was seeking better relations with the United States; however, there may be another reason. It is abundantly clear that the United States has wanted the extradition of Assange for years, and this may have led to U.S. pressure against Ecuador. What we do know for sure is that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned $4.2 billion to Ecuador in order to bolster the economic situation there. Although on the surface, this may not seem like a big deal to most people, but consider this. The United States pays a significantly higher amount of taxpayer money towards this body than any other member nation, and therefore, it has unproportioned power in the decisions. Is it possible that handing over Assange was part of a bribe to receive the economic bailout?

Assange, whether or not you like him on a personal level, did something that most people would be afraid to do. He exposed war crimes committed in Afghanistan and Iraq and challenged the federal government’s claim that the wars were being fought successfully and with utmost ethical considerations. It was revealed that the government was actually killing more civilians than what it was admitting. A video was even released where military members were enjoying the opportunity to slaughter civilians.

What kind of sick and twisted culture has the government created in the military? When I served in the military, I remember the pep rallies ensuring us that no other country comes close in military might. Subtle hints were made that we can do whatever we want around the world and that people in the countries that we are at war with are less than human, and these are ways to ensure that military members are ready to pull the trigger on their fellow humans when necessary. The Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire” sums up this mentality and strategy well. Around 2010, we were even prohibited from viewing WikiLeaks because it might cause us to question the war effort.

This is not the fault of the military members, however. The problem exists with the politicians and others who perpetually push the country into unwinnable and unjust wars and cause a trickle-down effect of disinformation into the military. In addition, the mainstream media thrives on reporting these wars and propagandizing people to accept them as routine procedures that help us maintain our freedom. Yet, ironically, these wars make us less safe and less free.

It is difficult to know exactly what has transpired between Assange, Ecuador, and the United Kingdom, or what will occur in the extradition hearings, but it seems far more likely that future potential whistleblowers, journalists, and protestors will think twice about sounding the alarm to corruption and human rights abuses by the United States government. Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and others who have had the courage to challenge the government paid a price, but let us hope that their sacrifices do not ultimately fall on deaf ears. It is indeed a sad day when the people must be silenced for fear of retribution, and this is a threat to freedom of speech and the press. Let us hope that our government changes its course and encourages more transparency, but we should not hold our breaths.

Thank you for reading, and if you would like to learn more about my work, please check out my book, The Global Bully, or website.
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Published on April 17, 2019 03:25
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