Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
My Cousin Ted
Now Playing: http://www.iraqwarheroes.org/westhusing.htm
Theodore S Westhusing
June 5, 2005
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York
Died in Baghdad, Iraq, from non-combat related injuries.
|From Brian C 04/10/08: |
Ted Westhusing, was a champion basketball player at Jenks High School in Tulsa Oklahoma. A driven kid with a strong work ethic, he would show up at the gym at 7AM to throw 100 practice shots before school. He was driven academically too, becoming a National Merritt Scholarship finalist. His career through West Point and straight into overseas service was sterling, and by 2000 he had enrolled in Emory University to earn his doctorate in Philosophy. His dissertation was on honor and the ethics of war, with the opening containing the following passage: "Born to be a warrior, I desire these answers not just for philosophical reasons, but for self-knowledge." Would that all military commanders took such an interest in the study of ethics and morality and what our conduct in times of war says about our development as human beings. Would that any educational system in this country taught ethics, decision making, or even political science that's not part of an advanced degree anymore.
Ted Westhusing, the soldier, philosopher and ethicist, was given a guaranteed lifetime teaching position and West Point by the time he had finished with his service and his education. he felt like he could do more for his country by trying to shape the minds coming out of the academy that were the ones that would be military commanders. He had settled into that life with his wife and kids, when in 2004 he volunteered for active duty in Iraq, feeling like the experience would help his teaching. He had missed combat in his active duty and it seemed like an important piece for someone who not only philosophized about war, but who was also preparing the military's future leaders.
But more than that, he was sure that the Iraq mission was a just one; he supported the cause and he bought the information that was put in front of him. Considering that vials of powder were being tossed around hearings by the highest level of military commanders how could he not? This was a man who was so steeped in the patriotism of idealistic military fervor that he barely could fit in regular society. His whole being was dedicated to this path, and he was proud to serve his country.
Once in Iraq, he found himself straddling the fence between a questioning philosopher and an unquestioning soldier. Westhusing had thought he was freeing a country in bondage, keeping America safe from a horrible threat, and spreading democracy to a grateful people. But the reality of what was happening in this out of control war was too much for him. His mission was to oversee one of the most important tasks left from the war; retraining the Iraqi military by overseeing the private contractors that had been put in charge of it.
As the assignment went on he found that everywhere he looked he was seeing corrupt contractors doing shoddy work, abusing people, and stealing from the government. These contractors were being paid to do many of the jobs that would normally be done by a regulated military, and they bore out the worst fears of those who don't believe in outsourcing such vital work. He responded to the corruption that he saw by reporting the problems up the line, but the response from his commanding officers was disappointing. He had, for much of his career, idolized military commanders, and in that assignment he found himself with some of the military's most famous faces, doing the most important job, but he was terribly disappointed and alarmed to realize that they were greedy and corrupt themselves.
The wall of silence about this was impenetrable and the reality of the situation turned his entire belief system upside down, making him question everything that was going on, and his role in it. Having envisioned the top military commanders to be the most honorable that America has to offer, he was crushed to find out that ascending to power in this military could be more due to cronyism than expertise and that these men who he had aspired to be like were greedy and corrupt themselves. Upon reporting to his commanding officers, he realized that not only did the problems stretch to the level above him, but that they were systemic.
To these commanders the only real problem was the fact that they had a deeply honorable soldier in their command that was likely to rock the cash cow. Westhusing was so bereft at the realization of his part in this breakdown in the military's code of conduct, and the atrocities carried out in America's name, that he became despondent and finally in June, 2005, he shot himself. It was called a suicide, though there have been some questions raised about it.
He's not the first Iraq suicide, though he was, at the time of his death, the highest ranking one. He was an oddity; a thinking soldier in a war that requires blind obedience, and unwavering dedication. The black and white world of Bush's military doesn't allow much for the grays that come into the picture when one is, at heart, a philosopher...and even in the face of seeing the reality of war, how can anyone come to terms with the revelation of corruption on this scale? More crushing was the realization that the leaders that he idolized, and the honor that he held as being the very foundation of his entire world as a military officer, were all a lie, and stories told to cadets at West Point that didn't bear out in reality. The leaders in this war didn't care, and many were, as he outlined in his 4 page suicide letter, that was addressed to General's Fil and Petraeus, his direct commanders, only out for their own selfish enrichment.
Thanks for telling me it was a good day until I briefed you. [Redacted name]—You are only interested in your career and provide no support to your staff—no msn [mission] support and you don't care. I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human right abuses and liars. I am sullied—no more. I didn't volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. I trust no Iraqi. I cannot live this way. All my love to my family, my wife and my precious children. I love you and trust you only. Death before being dishonored any more. Trust is essential—I don't know who trust anymore. [sic] Why serve when you cannot accomplish the mission, when you no longer believe in the cause, when your every effort and breath to succeed meets with lies, lack of support, and selfishness? No more. Reevaluate yourselves, cdrs [commanders]. You are not what you think you are and I know it.
COL Ted Westhusing
Life needs trust. Trust is no more for me here in Iraq.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:08 PM PST
Monday, 27 December 2010
War is Over If You Want It - Anti War video from London Catholic Workers
Now Playing: Shut Down Military Recruiters Office - Video - Peace - Love
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 2:53 PM PST
Friday, 24 December 2010
Woody Guthrie - Jesus Christ
Now Playing: music video for you all on Xmas eve
Topic: SMILE SMILE SMILE
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:41 PM PST
Bulldozers and Ethnic Cleansing in Gaza
Now Playing: The West Bank persecution
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:23 PM PST
The good news is that the bulldozers stopped working today
Now Playing: Update after: our arrest in Al-Walaja, a peaceful beautiful village that is
The good news is that the bulldozers stopped working today thanks to the
brave people of Al-Walaja but they still need our collective support. 100
internationls will be in Al-Walaja tomorrow morning (Friday at 9 AM).
The video that I recorded and loaded this morning summarizes what happened
to us after our arrest in Al-Walaja, a peaceful beautiful village that is
slated for ethnic cleansing (for the second time). The beatings and pepper
spray used on Sheerin and the young men of Al-Walaja was truly vicious.
During the arrest, I managed to text message, take notes, and even take a
couple of pictures from under the stairwell without the soldiers being aware
(details maybe for my next book!). We challenged the soldiers' demand that
we not speak to each other or to them. Many of the soldiers kept saying
they are obeying orders and I and others reminded them that obeying fascist
order is not an excuse in international courts of justice (we are not there
yet, but I believe the day is coming). I was truly inspired by the courage,
vision and dedication of villagers like Sheerin and Dia who exemplify
decency and dignified poise in front of the machine that still comes up
among humans every few decades. From fascism to Nazism to Zionism, the
enemy is one: racism and greed that in the end is self-destructive. But if
enough good people stand-up, the end may come sooner and more people on all
sides would be saved the physical and emotional scars of colonization.
Anyway, here is my statement on youtube:
Our friend Olivia Zemor and many others were denied entry on Ben Gurion
airport. You can read her statement here (in French, may translate using
However, thousands of people from around the world still managed to enter
Palestine through Israeli controlled ports of entry like Ben Gurion airport.
Some were asked to sign stupid statements about not entering "Palestinian
areas". Of course all of this land is Palestinian areas, they should state
entering the ghettos or bantustans to make it clearer.
In the holding cell with tight handcuffs cutting our circulation, we had a
sense of peace and self-confidence. We shared smiles and whispered words of
encouragement to each other. It was uplifting experience and camaraderie. I
myself started singing (Fairuz-Zahrat Al-Madaen, Christmas songs, the
Palestinian national anthem etc). After all we were told not to speak to
each other but they said nothing of singing. I wished to dance but then I
thought this might be too much for my cell-mates. We all believe that it is
a sign of weakness and desperation that the Israeli army increasingly
brutally attacks unarmed people who are simply challenging occupation
nonviolently or merely asking pointed questions. From the Gaza freedom
flotilla to Rafah to Bilin to Al-Walaja, to Stuttgart, to Paris, and to the
rest of the world, the cracks in the walls holding empire of lies are being
felt. Again, there will be an event in Al-Walaja Friday at 9-11 AM. For
those outside Palestine, thank you for acting in your spheres of influence.
Auschwitz Survivor on Palestine
Why will there not be a US foreign policy that benefits US population? Is it
because certain Jews make money out of the tribalism that is Zionism? An
article in Haaretz on "How much do U.S. Jewish leaders [sic] make?"
Song for Kairos Palestine (Manal abdo)
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
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Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:22 PM PST
want to put a stop to airport humiliation through invasive "pat-downs" and "virtual strip searches
Now Playing: Stop TSA illegal searches and Nude Body Scans - get involved here
WASHINGTON – Do you want to put a stop to airport humiliation through invasive "pat-downs" and "virtual strip searches"?
Now you can generate individual letters of protest of these new "enhanced" security procedures by the Transportation Security Administration to every member of the House and Senate, as well as Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in one minute, announces Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, who spearheaded the historic "Send Congress a Pink Slip" campaign that buried Congress in 9 million letters of grievance and another campaign that helped free railroaded Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Campeon.
The innovative campaign called "STOP AIRPORT HUMILIATION NOW" permits anyone to deliver 537 letters, with delivery guaranteed by Fed Ex, to all those officials – putting them on notice that Americans are angry and will not tolerate these abuses of privacy.
Because of the volume of these messages, WND is able to send them less expensively than American citizens could send them individually. Through this program, you can send the 537 messages for only $29.95. To replicate that feat individually, postage alone would cost more than $236. But the impact of participating in the "STOP AIRPORT HUMILIATION CAMPAIGN" makes your protest much more impressive – being a part of a mass movement, rather than an individual grievance, explained Farah.
"You would think these people in Washington didn't notice the election results this month," said Farah. "Well, maybe they need a reminder that the people are not resting on their laurels and will not accept being treated like cattle before they get on an airplane." Americans have been expressing their outrage since the new "enhanced" security procedures by the TSA went into effect Nov. 1.
"Heads should roll over this kind of abuse – namely Janet 'Big Sis' Napolitano's," said Farah.
WND simultaneously established a free on-line petition to these same officials. Similar petitions launched by WND have attracted nearly 600,000 virtual signatures.
"If $29.95 is not in your budget right now, at least sign the free petition," urges Farah. "I understand what politicians in Washington have done to our economy. But don't let them cow you into silence as they march us like sheep down the road to tyranny and degrading subjugation."
As the letter being sent to officials in Washington states, under the new screening protocols, passengers are subjected to a virtual "strip search" by being required to undergo a humiliating full-body scan, resulting in the display of a graphic image of their naked body to be scrutinized by a TSA agent.
If they choose to "opt out" of the full-body scan, they are forced instead to undergo the same kind of aggressive pat-down that criminals and drug-dealers get, including direct manual contact with their breasts and genitalia. Children are not exempt.
While such degrading and invasive searches certainly violate passengers' Fourth Amendment guarantee to be "secure in their persons … against unreasonable searches and seizures," the generation of naked images of minor passengers arguably amounts to the creation of illegal child pornography.
Moreover, backscatter X-ray technology is known to produce radiation that is potentially harmful to frequent fliers and airline crew members, which is why the American Pilots Association, representing about 12,000 pilots (including almost all of American Airlines' pilots) has strongly warned its members to refuse the full-body scanning.
This humiliating and degrading new program is already massively unpopular, and obviously subject to horrific abuse. As such, it is certain to result in a significant decline in air travel by Americans at a time when neither the airline industry nor the country can afford another economic crisis.
"Don't wait on taking action," urges Farah. "I am participating in this bargain program – and I urge every single American to do the same. Let's recreate the success of the 'Pink Slip' program and other similar efforts and return sanity and decency to our airports."
Participate in the "STOP AIRPORT HUMILIATION" program now.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 10:46 AM PST
Thursday, 23 December 2010
A letter to the Government in Israel: What have you done with Mazin Qumsiyeh?
Now Playing: My request to Israle regarding arrested US citizen and 8 others
From The Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Email I sent on 12/23/10 to:
(( please see their reply back to me, by "auto-reply below))
I am an independentmedia journalist in Portland Oregon, USA.
I also maintain numerous blogs and website that cover peace and justice and human rights issues and violations. I am very concerned and am contacting you requesting information regarding an American citizen that is to be reported to be falsely arrested and mistreated.
I am worried that this American citizen: Mazin Qumsiyeh will be and has been mistreated, and that the reason for the arrest is false (and thus illegal.)
I am told the arrest took place in the West Bank, in Al-Walaja, in Beit Sahour near Bethlehem.
I am requesting "contact" information or a contact person who can inform me what is happening or happened to him.
I am also concerned for his safety and want to be briefed on his status, his charges and whereabouts, and more relevant information to his arrest and the which law he has broken.
I am contributing an article on this for Portland Indymedia ( http://portland.indymedia.org/
) that is read worldwide by thousands of readers, your opinion will be of value and important truthful clarification regarding this international arrest.
In regards to his arrest and the human rights concerns is my interest regarding the right to be building or expand a settlement on Palestinian land by Israel.
It was my understanding this issue is about bulldozers and outdated work orders and over zealous soldiers and police, abusing their authority and a disregard for "International Law".
I have been informed that Israeli soldiers snatched some innocent Palestinian villagers (eight of them actually) these include an older gentlemen, two teenagers, three other gentlemen, as well as the person whom I am inquiring directly about, and Sheerin Al-Araj whom is a vocal activist from the village.
I am concerned about their locations and charges from an International Human Rights concern.
There is also allegations that these illegally detained people are being mistreated.
I have good information that recently these innocent people who I am inquiring about are being arrested and thus illegally detained, and they have been transferred to Atarot.
(Possibly near Ramallah.)
They are waiting to appear in front of a judge.
They are cold and hungry.
The Israeli personnel there sprayed cold water on them and is claiming it is an accident.
I repeat they are cold and hungry.
As I mentioned I am writing an article on this arrest, and I would like to get your side of the story before I print and circulate this information.
This is a very serious and grave situation.
With all due respect for law and human rights I hope to hear back as quickly as you can to my inquiries.
I will be making other inquiries with various agecency, here in the US and in Israel, on Thursday trying to get a clear answer as to what is going on with Mazin Qumiyeh and those that were with him when he was taken in handcuffs away.
An email or phone me call will be sufficient, I plan on posting my article by at the latest on Friday Christmas Eve.
I will be also reposting this letter with my article as a transparent record of my inquiry.
Please reply to my information request and my safety request inquiry regarding American citizen Mazin Qumiyeh to:
(( please see their reply back to me, by "auto-reply below))
Thanks for your message. 12/23/10
The American Citizen Services section of theU.S. Consulate General Jerusalem provides information and assistance toU.S. citizens in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Our website provides a wealth of information, including answers to manycommonly asked questions. Your answer may be just a click away:http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov/service.html
For questions about Federal Benefits or Social Security, please visit: http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov/federal_benefits.html We will respond within two to three business days. Regards, American Citizen ServicesConsulate General of the United States in Jerusalem Email: JerusalemACS@state.govPhone: +972 (0)2-630-4000Fax: +972 (0)2-630-4070Street Address: 14 David Flusser, Jerusalem 93392(Near the former Diplomat Hotel, now the Caprice Diamond Center)Location via Google Maps<http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Jerusalem+Israel&sll=37.0625,-.677068&sspn=22.789218,70.224609&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Jerusalem,+Israel&ll=31.747876,35.225322&spn=0.002755,0.006528&t=h&z=18> (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Jerusalem+Israel&sll=37.0625,-.677068&sspn=22.789218,70.224609&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Jerusalem,+Israel&ll=31.747876,35.225322&spn=0.002755,0.006528&t=h&z=18)
Hours: 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM (UTC/GMT +2) Monday - Friday (Closed onAmerican and local holidays.)
Make An Appointment Online:http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov/appointment2.html Tips for Speeding Up Your Visit:http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov/service/tips-for-speeding-up-your-visit/
For Emergency Service, please see:http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov/contact_us2.html
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:47 AM PST
Updated: Thursday, 23 December 2010 2:49 AM PST
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Veterans in DC today chain themselves to Fence 12/16/10
Now Playing: Veterans For Peace DEMAND PEACE NOW ...in Washington DC
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:55 AM PST
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
F8 TSA ...I would rather walk ...than get on my knees ~joe anybody
Now Playing: Surrendering Our Civil Liberties (at the airports)
Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS
Surrendering Our Civil Liberties
December 4, 2010
The TSA: taking away our freedoms to ‘protect’ us from ‘threats’ [GALLO/GETTY]
As a very frequent flyer, I have wanted to write about the abuses of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for years now. To tell the truth, since I am such a frequent flyer and often recognised by individual TSA employees, I was a little timid about this because I did not want flying to become an even bigger hassle and more invasive than it already is. But the recent brouhaha over the Chertoff-O-Scanners has given me the courage in numbers to be able to write about my experiences.
The first thing that bugs me is how complacent my fellow travellers are about the civil rights abuses we endure to be able to take the airplane seats we pay hundreds of dollars for. The second we click ‘purchase’ on the airline’s website, we are treated as though we are guilty just for wanting to go from point A to B by plane. This goes against our constitutional right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Every time a TSA operative asks me if he or she can “take a look in my bag,” I say: “Sure, if you can show me a warrant.” I cannot say how many times a fellow traveller has proclaimed: “It’s for your own safety!”
Speaking of “it’s for your own safety”, who can forget Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber” who allegedly tried to detonate explosives on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2002? That incident is the reason why in the US we have to take our shoes off and put them through the x-ray machine. But did you know that the US is the only country that forces flyers to do this? Reid is a citizen of the UK and was flying from France, but if one flies in either of these countries, or anywhere else for that matter, it is not common practice to remove your shoes. So why are planes not dropping from the skies all over the world? Well, because this has nothing to do with our “safety”. Shoe removal and shoe throwing are the same act of disrespect and intimidation unless one is entering a Japanese home or walking on holy ground.
I think the next opportunity for abuse that came from on high to us already weary and grouchy flyers, was when some nebulous plot was discovered in the UK to blow up planes by carrying explosive liquids on board. We were never shown any hardcore proof that our shampoo would blow up an airplane if it was in a four ounce bottle, but that the offending liquid in a 3.5 ounce bottle, safely ensconced in a Ziploc bag, would be okay. I was actually on my way to the airport with a backpack full of naughty liquids when I heard about this one on the radio. I had to throw away about $80 worth of toiletries and make-up and wait in excessively long lines since the glorified minimum wage workers of the TSA were not too sure how to handle this latest threat to our “freedom and safety” – except, of course, to do what they always do and take away more of our freedoms to “protect” us from “threats”.
Shortly after the liquids scare, we could not even take liquids on airplanes that we had purchased after passing through security. There were huge bins at every gate to take away our coffee, water, lotions. I was sitting at the gate in one airport (I do not remember which one) drinking a cup of coffee when a TSA supervisor told me that I would have to finish the coffee before I boarded.
I responded: "Why? Can you show me the store where I can purchase bomb-making material past security?" He replied: "You never know ma'am." And, me being me, I said: "Really? What kind of airport do you run where anyone can purchase explosives past security?" At which point, the big-TSA-man gave me a look that said: "Lady, you better shut up if you don't want a body-cavity search." The other passengers were giving me surreptitious thumbs' up, but I do not think many people would go as far as I did in my conversation with the TSA-man, who looked very confused that someone was challenging him.
Over a barrel
Even before the dreaded "underwear bomber" made all of this additional screening possible, I used to kid with the audiences that I spoke to that it was a good thing that the "shoe bomber" was not a "bra bomber," as we ladies who wear those undergarments would then have to disrobe at the security line and put our brassieres through the x-ray machine. But my "joke" has now come into being in an even more horrid way than even I could have predicted. We do not have to take our underwear off to go through airport checkpoints, but, in many airports, we are forced to go through the Chertoff-O-Scanners which show a fully nude image to the TSA operatives and have been proven not to thwart the chemical agents that the "underwear bomber" hid in his Fruit-of-the-Looms.
Today I saw a CNN poll that said 58 per cent of Americans do not like the new procedure. However, in all of the corporate media discussions about the scanners, no one talks about how Michael Chertoff, the former national security advisor, represents a company called Rapiscan that is profiting from every machine that is installed in airports. There is even talk about Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, putting them in malls, schools, subways, train stations - and I am waiting to be told that we have to put a home version at our front doors.
I always refuse to go through the scanners and am then subjected to the "feel up". We have heard that toddlers, elderly people and those with medical problems have been violated by the TSA voyeurs. Each fresh incident produces a brief flash of outrage, but many people do not even know about the scanner/feel up.
A couple of weeks ago, I was running very late for a flight that was leaving out of SFO, my home airport. I was literally running for my gate and dreading the dance that I do every time with the TSA there:
Me: "I refuse to go through that machine."
Me: "It is my right to opt-out."
TSA: "It is also our right to ask you why you are opting-out."
Me: "Because it is a violation of my human dignity and civil rights and I don't want you all to see me naked."
TSA: "Female screening!" (As they yell for someone to come and grope me with gusto, and "someone" always happily obliges).
I do not like the groping any more than I like the molestation of the scanners - one feels dirty and violated and super-wary of future travel. However, the police state knows it has us over a barrel, so the least we can do is to protest loudly while it is happening.
Anyway, on this day, I noticed that the TSA was waving some passengers though the lane with the scanner and sending some through the normal metal detector. I was relieved to be waved through the lane without the scanner, but the woman behind me, upon noticing that her boyfriend was sent to the lane with the scanner, asked: "Why didn't I have to go through that?" I told her: "You're lucky, they can see you naked when you go through it." Unbelievably, she responded: "Why didn't they want to see me naked?" She was not kidding, but I just shook my head, gathered my stuff and ran to my gate.
The point to these stories is that we can only have our rights taken away from us with our consent. There is a famous Benjamin Franklin saying that was often quoted when Bush was president that rings ever truer during the Obama regime: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." We are becoming a nation of lemmings running to the sea with the abandon of those that would rather plunge to our deaths than think for ourselves.
While I was writing this, the FBI "uncovered" another "terrorist" plot where a Somali-American allegedly tried to detonate a bomb at a "Christmas event" in Portland, Oregon. Mark my words, the monstrous state will either ban "Christmas events" or institute mandatory travelling Chertoff-O-Scanners to be able to put us into an even deeper state of fear. Where would a "terrorist plot" have the most devastating affect? I cannot think of a more fitting one than a "Christmas event" in very progressive Portland, Oregon.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Specialist Casey A. Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has been an activist for peace and human rights. She has published five books, has her own Internet radio show, Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. You can learn more about Cindy at Peace of the Action.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
Full article poted here --> aljazeera.net
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 15 December 2010 1:04 PM PST
Monday, 13 December 2010
WikiLeaks and the (sic) Espionage Act
Now Playing: WikiLeaks could be vulnerable to Espionage Act
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
CNET: WikiLeaks could be vulnerable to Espionage Act
If WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange is indicted by the U.S. government for disseminating classified information, as even his own lawyer now expects, his defense is likely to face long legal odds.
The 1917 Espionage Act, enacted by the U.S. Congress during World War I, has been a mainstay of national security prosecutions ever since. And it's been upheld as constitutional by every court that has examined whether its invocation in a criminal prosecution complies with the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech.
A CNET review of Espionage Act cases shows that judges have generally favored the government and, in a 1985 case, even allowed an extraterritorial prosecution of a non-U.S. citizen. In the 1978 case of U.S. v. Dedeyan, the Fourth Circuit upheld the Act against arguments that it was vague and overly broad. A year later, in U.S. v. Boyce, the Ninth Circuit ruled it was "constitutionally sufficient." "We find no uncertainty in this statute which deprives a person of the ability to predetermine whether a contemplated action is criminal under the provisions of this law," the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1941. "The language employed appears sufficiently definite to apprise the public of prohibited activities and is consonant with due process." The Pentagon's criminal investigation of WikiLeaks--especially Assange, its frontman and spokesman--began over the summer after the Web site published thousands of military dispatches from Afghanistan.
By August, the FBI had been drawn in, and after last month's recent leaks of confidential Iraq and State Department communications, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that the probe is ongoing.
Some of the more hawkish members of Congress have egged him on. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the incoming head of the House Intelligence Committee, asked Holder to charge Assange under the Espionage Act, as did Senate Intelligence Committee chiefs Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kit Bond (R-Miss.). Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) has been publicly wondering why an indictment and extradition "hasn't happened yet."
It's true that prosecuting Assange, who is in a London facing an extradition hearing tomorrow on unrelated charges lodged in Sweden, is engaging in something that's closer to informational activism and not what most people would think of as spying. The actual text of the Espionage Act, 18 USC 793(e), is nevertheless breathtakingly broad.
It says that anyone who has "unauthorized possession" of documents "relating to the national defense" and publishes them, believing they "could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation," is guilty of a federal felony. (This is narrower than a version proposed by President Wilson, which would have given the executive branch the power to censor information "of such character that it is or might be useful to the enemy.") On Fox News over the weekend, Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey called the law "an oldie but goodie."
He said that there's no question in his mind that a prosecution against Assange, an Australian citizen, could proceed "because the First Amendment doesn't protect speech that causes certain prescribed--certain defined injury."
In the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, a 6-3 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a prior restraint prohibiting the New York Times and Washington Post from publishing classified documents on the Vietnam war. But even the justices in the majority acknowledged at the time that criminal prosecutions after publication would still be possible.
"If a criminal prosecution is instituted, it will be the responsibility of the courts to decide the applicability of the criminal law under which the charge is brought," wrote Justice Potter Stewart. And Justice Byron White added that the drafters of the Espionage Act "appeared to have little doubt that newspapers would be subject to criminal prosecution if they insisted on publishing information of the type Congress had itself determined should not be revealed."
Rep. King told Fox Business News over the weekend that Assange could be prosecuted because "the Pentagon Papers case was limited to prior restraint" before publication. The full contours of what limits the First Amendment places on the Espionage Act have never been outlined by a court. In part, that's likely because the Justice Department has not been eager to learn the answer: no criminal charges were lodged against either newspaper in the Pentagon Papers case.
And prosecutions since then have typically targeted leakers, not publishers or journalists. This is hardly a universal view.
Civil libertarians have already taken up the defense of WikiLeaks' First Amendment rights. White collar defense attorney Baruch Weiss suggests any prosecution of Assange "will not be easy."
Writer Naomi Wolf has even called for Americans to "rise up and insist on repeal of the Espionage Act." A review of Espionage Act cases shows that judges have tended to chip away at obstacles for government prosecutors. In a 2007 conspiracy case, for instance, a court ruled that the Justice Department did not need to prove that the information disclosed was closely held and damaging to national security. In July 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled there did not have to be "bad intent" for someone to be convicted of disclosing information covered by the Espionage Act.
What was important, the court concluded, was "the conscious choice to communicate covered information." (Assange would presumably claim to be acting out of the best of intentions; his an op-ed in The Australian last week said WikiLeaks is "fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.") Nearly six decades ago, in what may have been the most famous Cold War prosecution, the Second Circuit allowed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to be executed. "We think the statute valid under the First Amendment," the court concluded. "The communication to a foreign government of secret material connected with the national defense can by no far-fetched reasoning be included within the area of First Amendment protected free speech."
Even an unsuccessful attempt to pass on "national defense" information is illegal. In the 1958 U.S. v. Abel case, the Second Circuit acknowledged "there is no evidence" that the defendant and his co-conspirators "ever succeeded in gathering or in transmitting any unlawful information."
But "the conspirators' lack of success, if indeed they were unsuccessful, does not lessen the criminality of their activities." The phrase "information relating to the national defense" isn't actually defined in the Espionage Act.
A federal judge in Connecticut, however, ruled last year in U.S. v. Abu-Jihaad that it was a "generic concept of broad connotations, referring to the military and naval establishments and the related activities of national preparedness," as long as the information was reasonably accurate and it was intended to be kept secret.
WikiLeaks has disclosed more than 75,000 confidential files related to the war in Afghanistan, nearly 400,000 classified documents from Iraq, and about 1,300 of 250,000 State Department cables so far. Perhaps the closest legal parallel with WikiLeaks arose when two employees of the AIPAC pro-Israel lobbying group were charged with violating the Espionage Act.
They weren't government employees themselves -- they were more akin to WikiLeaks, or the media, because they obtained sensitive information through a leak. (The Obama administration dropped the case last year.) "Both common sense and the relevant precedent point persuasively to the conclusion that the government can punish those outside of the government for the unauthorized receipt and deliberate retransmission of information relating to the national defense," Judge T.S. Ellis wrote in 2006 in the AIPAC case.
He noted that with the lone exception of Justice Hugo Black, eight of the Pentagon Papers justices indicated "that they would have upheld a criminal prosecution of the newspapers." .
Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20025430-281.html#ixzz181JWBjUk
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:10 AM PST
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