Julian Assange: bank account closed, prepares to meet with police, face talking-point wrath of GOP hopefuls

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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104 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    For my part, I’m just glad that Obama is President and he will keep the government from doing anything crazy.

    Wait… what?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      P.S. To Jaybird’s first comment: Obviously Obama is terrible on civil liberties issues and his administration’s response to this and other national security issues is awful. But I can pretty safely bet that the three GOP candidates-in-waiting listed above would be worse. That doesn’t excuse Obama – but at least the current president isn’t calling for Assange’s execution, and as far as I know his own rhetoric on the issue has not reached this level at any point.

      Because, lord knows, rhetoric is so much more important than giving Eric Holder the go-ahead.

      This isn’t a defense of the mostly impotent Palin, Gingrich, or O’Reilly. It’s just pointing out that they are, in fact, impotent.

      It’s Obama who has Eric Holder at his disposal.

      And it’s Eric Holder who is gearing up for something.Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird says:

        But we also have actual historical record of the GOP massively expanding the security state – by a president whose rhetoric was comparably mild. Why should we expect anything less out of Gingrich or Palin? Notice Paul is not included in my critique. And I’ve discussed Obama’s abysmal track record many times.Report

        • I think this is basically what I was getting at last week though. While I know you aren’t really part of the movement left, what you’ve written. here is jpretty typical of much of the left’s commentary on civil liberties. Who cares whether the GOP would be worse on civil liberties? Obama is the one in charge right now and focusing on a bunch of out of power would-be President s effectively gives cover for Obama’s civil liberties abuses. And yeah, I’m sure I’m guilty of this too. We’re still almost two years from the question of” who’s worse?” being relevant again. Meet, et al are certainly ridiculous. But right now their ridiculousness is as relevant as Orly Taitz’s. Indeed, paying them attention just makes them seem relevant and not so ridiculous.Report

          • I don’t know Mark. I wrote this last week. I hardly think I’m being unfair to Republicans by saying that these particular candidates would be worse than Obama. I don’t think all Republicans would be worse on security state stuff, and could very well vote for some of them instead of him if I thought that were the case.Report

            • I didn’t say you were being unfair to Republicans. Just that what Republicans think on this issue is basically irrelevant and a distraction right now that ultimately helps enable the civil liberties abuses of those currently in a position to do something about them.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I have to agree with Mark here — the focus desrves to be kept on those in power who are making decisions at this point in time. If the present administration gets any worse, the best choice for liberals, libertarians and moderates in 2012 might be None Of The Above.Report

              • That’s fine – I agree – however, I think one can still expend the ink necessary to point out stupid things that the GOP shills have to say. It’s not as though I ignore the Obama administration in other posts.Report

              • tom van dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                EDK, President Obama is conspicuous by his absence on this blog.

                He’s all about everything that should make a libertarian blanch. Not that that makes him a bad person. It’s just what he believes.

                He is The Invisible Man except when attacked from his left [or far right] in continuing the Dubya Admin’s national security policies. But echoing Glenn Greenwald doth not a libertarian make.

                Not pointing a finger at you in particular, EDK, but pls. I like the cyberpunk anarchy guy, albeit a bit outdated, although it looks like his latest enterprise is all about tapping into some gummint money.

                And good for you, Barrett. Welcome to the Machine.Report

              • E.D. Kain in reply to tom van dyke says:

                I very much agree that he’s continued (or expanded) many of Bush’s worst programs. I mean, look I wrote this at Balloon Juice the other day:

                John is, of course, absolutely correct that the folks who led us down this security rabbit hole in the first place were the Republicans – albeit, with the aid of most of the Democrats at the time (a few stalwart civil libertarians on the right and the left opposed the security power grabs – Russ Feingold, Ron Paul, etc.) Nonetheless, it was the Republican party that was in charge when they formed the DHS, the TSA, started torturing people, wire-tapping sans warrants, detaining P.O.W.’s indefinitely at Gitmo without trial, and so forth.

                Thank God the Democrats have changed all that.

                It’s all well and good to point out the hypocrisy of the Republicans here. The Charles Krauthammers of the world deserve it. But I care more about the people who hold the reins of power now – and the Obama administration and Democrat-controlled congress have not scaled back their war-on-terror powers in any meaningful or sustainable way. That’s also useful to remember when you fly this holiday season. The Republicans may have gotten the ball rolling, but the ball is still rolling under the Democrats.

                Another thing to remember is that your team will only hold on to their seats for a limited amount of time. When they’re out of office, whatever power they accrued will transfer over to the Republicans, who, despite their current hypocrisy on the matter, will quickly return to their old ways, heaping fertilizer on the worst parts of government all in the name of national security. Then the Democrats, after supporting these programs when they came to a vote, will campaign against them, win, and continue whatever programs they campaigned against. And so on and so forth ad infinitum.

                Bipartisanship is terrifying in practice.

                See, I’m really not ignoring these facts. I wrote this for a largely very pro-Obama audience. If I spend a few graphs mocking Republicans it is not for lack of pointing these same things out – I think quite forcefully.Report

              • Heidegger in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                Will any of you nuts ever stop with this torture crap????? You’re driving me mad. So they scared the shit out of this fat, freaking, despicable, homicidal nutbag mastermind of 9/11 with a little too much water up his nose and saved hundreds and hundreds of lives in the process and all you do is endlessly obsess about torture, torture, torture!!! Oh God, I’m in a freaking nuthouse—please stop the world and let me get off—NOW!!!!!Report

              • MFarmer in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                My replies seem to be out of order– I was saying “Yes!” to this reply from ED — “See, I’m really not ignoring these facts. I wrote this for a largely very pro-Obama audience. If I spend a few graphs mocking Republicans it is not for lack of pointing these same things out – I think quite forcefully.”Report

              • MFarmer in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                E.D., I agree that pressure still needs to be placed on Republicans, because like I said, if one party doesn’t do something quickly, there’s no reason to vote. But, to Mark’s point, the Democrats will try to hide and blame everything on Republicans like each party in power does, but what’s important to me is that the State is held accountable, which entails both parties ignoring too many liberties, economic and civil. The two party system has effectively divided the country, so that the division works to hide the expansion of State power. I say cut through the two-party bullshit and limit power at the source — the State, propped up by an over-reaching, rights-violating government which alternates management between two parties with nothing changing except the State gains more power.Report

      • trizzlor in reply to Jaybird says:

        “Holder gearing up for something” is kinda his job in this situation isn’t it? We just saw three major presidential hopefuls really confused as to why we haven’t killed Assange yet, so at the very least a cogent and well-researched statement from the DOJ would be a good thing, no?

        Obviously, I’m not saying the DOJ should follow-up on everything Sara Palin is confused about. But I think Assange’s role could get pretty muddled if, for example, he started accepting patronage from certain agencies … or launched an offshoot of Wikileaks “brought to you by the North Korean government”, so there are other reasons for the DOJ to investigate this as well.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to trizzlor says:

          So… would you say that he’s “just following orders”?Report

          • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

            What exactly is he doing or planning to do that is so horrible? The law is a bit muddy here and could use some actual cases to bring some clarity to it but it seems to say that Assange committed no crime for publishing leaks that arrived at his inbox but he can be charged with a crime if he helped or conspired with the private to leak the info. (I think that would mean things like asking the guy to provide the info, requesting more documents, giving him hints of what to copy etc.)Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

              It’s wacky.

              Does Canadian law apply to me? Does Argentinian? Does Israeli? Chinese? Russian?

              Off the top of my head, the answer is not just no but hell no to all of them.

              I don’t understand the argument that American Law applies to Assange.

              If the argument is that this is a case far more analogous to, say, Eichmann than Perez Hilton, I’d be delighted to entertain it. (We can continue running with the Nazi thing.)Report

              • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

                Actually it does. Let’s say you set up a credit card phishing scheme and steal the numbers of some Canadians and drain their bank accounts. Can Canada charge you with a crime? Yes. Does it matter that you never actually set foot on Canadian soil? No.

                Canada, though, can’t just swoop in on US soil and take you unless it is willing to risk an international incident with the US. They would have to apply to the US to extradict you at which point it goes to the lawyers.

                Now your Constitutional protections apply so let’s say Canada had a law against posting hate speech and you post a lot of hate speech on your blog. Can Canada issue a warrent for you? Yes. If they apply to the US to extradict, though, the US courts would have to say no because that would violate your free speech rights. However, if you happened to take a vacation to Canada they can indeed arrest you at the airport or if you happened to travel to a country that doesn’t recognize free speech and is willing to extradict to Canada you are at risk.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                Let’s say that I point out that the Prime Minister of Italy is a philandering cad. What then?Report

              • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

                That wouldn’t be a crime in the US. Say it is in Italy. If you happen to end up within the jurisdiction of Italy then you’re subject to their legal system. It’s that easy.

                So you’re missing the point. It’s not that the US legal system has ‘jurisdiction on the moon’. The US legal system has jurisdiction to hear US cases. If person A is charged with violating US law the US system has jurisdiction to hear that claim. If the person isn’ t on US soil then that may present a problem but that’s a different question than jurisdiction. In fact I believe the US Constitution specifically grants the Federal courts jurisdiction on cases that happen on the ‘high seas’. Presumably if the coast guard happened to stumble upon Assange raping a Swiss woman on his personal yacht on international waters he could be arrested and then tried for rape in the US.

                I suppose the only limitation you may find Constitutionally is laws that have nothing to do with US soil or US people. For example, if its legal to have sex with a 14 yr old in some country and a 25 yr old resident of that country does so I don’t think the US Congress can pass a law making him a criminal. It may, though, pass a law saying US citizens can’t go to that country and have sex with 14 yr olds OR that a person having sex with a US 14-yr old is committing crime (even if it happens in that country).Report

              • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

                Before you start fighting the hypothetical.

                1. Yes the US has laws against stealing credit card numbers, even if they are Canadian victims. Nonetheless, Canada’s laws still apply to you even if the US didn’t have such laws. So if Nigerian con artists ever happened to come within US jurisdication, they can be arrested for stealing the funds of US citizens even if they never set foot in the US when they did it and there was no Nigerian law against stealing from Americans.

                2. Don’t confuse jurisdiction with extradiction. The US probably does not have any jurisdiction where noone from the US was involved. If a person in China steals from a person in India, and that person happens to end up in the US I don’t htink the US can charge him with a crime. But it can turn him over to either India or China for prosecution. If someone in India commits a crime agains thte US, the US can charge that person if he comes within US jurisdiction (say he ends up in the US or India agrees to extradict him). If the US kidnaps him from India, though, that doesn’t impact the charges against him. That would be a violation of Indian sovereignity by the US for which there may or may not be reprecussions in terms of US-India relations, but that doesn’t impact the fact that once the US has the guy US courts have jurisdiction to hear the charges against him.Report

          • trizzlor in reply to Jaybird says:

            So… would you say that he’s “just following orders”?

            This seems awfully glib even for you Jaybird, though I lost the plot of the Nazi analogy right from the outset since both sides are equally adamant that Obama/Assange is abetting a time-travelling Hitler.

            Certainly there are many things a person can do with a computer that would be an offense worthy of prosecution even if they never set foot in the US: hacking of US government computers, death-threats made against the president on-line, or conspiracy to commit a crime against US citizens – for example. Your argument that US law doesn’t apply to Assange simply because he’s not in the US and used the internet charitably assumes we’re all as dumb as O’Reilly on this issue.

            Still, while the readers of this blog can probably come up with a decent reason why he should be innocent (because US law does not forbid the publication of information obtained legally by a journalist, even if the information was initially obtained illegally) it seems like there’s quite a few important and influential political leaders who cannot. On the other hand, there’s people like yourself who don’t see why US law should come into it at all. Which is exactly why Holder should be gearing up to investigate and make clear the official DOJ position.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to trizzlor says:

              He ain’t gearing up to make an official DOJ position clear, trizz.

              He’s gearing up to “Do Something”.

              After all, Assange let the world know that we know that Italy’s Prime Minister is a womanizer.Report

      • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

        Because anti-civil liberty rhetoric isn’t important. Politicians who spout such stuff to help get them into office never really act on it. That’s just shrill fear mongering.Report

  2. MFarmer says:

    It’s never pertinent what Obama says, but what he does:


    In all fairness, Obama likely wants to do the same to Assange as Palin, Gingrich and the others. We’ll see what happens. As for Assange, he’s no hero — what he’s revealing is not freedom fighter material, but just information for the sake of information — it’s not about Assange, anyway, but the reality of the Information Age. The good news is that the State is losing power over the control of information in general. This doesn’t mean that when soldiers’s lives are at stake, whether one believes in the war or not, information which puts them at risk should be fully protected. In this case, I haven’t seen any strong evidence that the leaks have endangered our soldiers, but I don’t know for sure — if this information was so easily accessed, it makes me wonder if it will amount to much at all in the long run. Some people are making the case that Assange’s philosophy that all information about anyone should be available, that everything should be open to the public, is a route to totalitarianism — it’s a complicated matter, because on one hand, private citizens have a right to their privacy, but when it comes to the State, we should ere on the side of openness.Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to MFarmer says:

      > As for Assange, he’s no hero — what he’s revealing is not freedom
      > fighter material, but just information for the sake of information

      I’d classify his disclosures similarly, for the most part. However, while I don’t necessarily label the dude as a hero, his actions are somewhat heroic. Not very many people would be willing to substantially piss of dozens of governmental entities, at a real risk to their own security. That takes either a huge ego, an enormous foolishness and disregard for one’s own comfort, a major commitment to one’s own beliefs, or a combination of the three.

      Dude’s got balls, is all I’m saying. He might also be many other things, but a coward certainly isn’t one of them.Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        He’s got balls for sure.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          Compare to Hitler!Report

          • Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

            Didn’t the Fuhrer only have on testicle?

            Hey, I think Jaybird bested E.D. but that’s just my opinion. Also, didn’t the Enlightened One turn his ‘security apparatus’ loose to kill people? I seem to remember yous guys whining about that a few weeks ago. I like El Rushbo’s take on Assange, e.g. that our Keynan-Marxist president loves his info revelations because they place America in a bad, if not stupid, light.
            However, the ‘sex’ charges look a bit shakey, a gummint setup? Though the dude looks like he’s having sexual orientation issues.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              Dude, it’s not about “besting”.

              The point is that we are in a situation where those with power are indistinguishable from those without power.

              It seems odd to complain about those without power being particularly bad.

              Complain about them being particularly indistinguishable. Complain about them being an echo, not a choice. Complain about them being hypocrites, even. Complaining about them acting like Democrats is a bit odd.

              Anyway, Bob, can we now assume that you support the expansion of executive power to include extra-national assassination of American Citizens without a reason given?Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Anyway, Bob, can we now assume that you support the expansion of executive power to include extra-national assassination of American Citizens without a reason given?”

                JB, why would you accuse me of such an obnoxious opinion when I was trying to show that it was our Indonesian president that was ordering wet work. Now, recently I’ve been accused of being a closet libertarian, and of course I’m not, in fact I really want to limit the power of the executive and that’s why I’ve always preferred the Articles of Confederation over the Constitution.
                If Mr. Assange participated in espionage then arrest, try, and if found guilty hang him.

                Also, I said you ‘bested’ E.D. to jag him a little because he’s so anti-GOP.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Dude, I’m just making sure.

                We see all of these supposed Democrats suddenly supporting leaving gitmo open, no trials for terrorists, surges in Afghanistan, extending tax cuts, and re-upping PATRIOT.

                I was just making sure that the whole world wasn’t going topsy-turvy on me.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

                We see all of these supposed Democrats suddenly supporting leaving gitmo open, no trials for terrorists, surges in Afghanistan, extending tax cuts, and re-upping PATRIOT.

                Extending tax cuts for the middle class is well within Democratic goals. For the wealthy was a compromise to purchase extended unemployment and additional middle class tax cuts. Would a Republican White House & Congress have done that? Probably not.

                Obama ran on expanding Afghanistan (recall his statements about trying to get bin Laden rather than focusing on Iraq). I’m perplexed by people who think that Obama ran on a platform of ‘get out of Afghanistan’.

                He has made a serious effort to close gitmo, frustrated by the fact that Congress has made it impossible to transfer out the few remaining people there who can’t be released.

                Terrorists are getting trials. Military tribunals are no different from ‘civilian trials’. Unlike the misimpression of Bush supporters, all trials must be conducted in accord with the US Constitution.

                Re-upping Patriot is an issue I haven’t really explored as much as I should so I’ll have to be silent on that.Report

              • JosephFM in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, Bob just supports the extra-judicial lynching of people he doesn’t like.

                As long as it’s not the State doing it, right?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to JosephFM says:

                Read your post again.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

                Anyway, Bob, can we now assume that you support the expansion of executive power to include extra-national assassination of American Citizens without a reason given?

                You mean your mythical right for people who are US military operations to be subject to judicial review?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                No, the actual limitation on government from killing citizens without any oversight whatsoever.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

                Where is that in the Constitution? I believe the phrase says no PERSON shall be deprived of life without due process of law, not citizen. Why, then, does a drone strike on a terrorist in Yeman who happens to be a US citizen require a court hearing but a drone strike on Bin Laden’s suspected hideout in the mountains of Pakistan or Afghanistan does not?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:


                I’m not saying “the government can’t do this”, I’m saying “we need to have due process of law”.

                Have a trial in absentia! When questioned “why are you killing this citizen?”, point to the trial!

                Or, I suppose, DECLARE WAR.

                If you want to say “hey, we’re at war”, you can then point to the Declaration of War.

                If you cannot point to either due process of law nor to a declaration of war, I don’t see why you get to kill American citizens living abroad.

                Or wedding parties, for that matter.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                So answer the question. War was declared against terrorism. By any resonable reading of that both Afghanistan and Yeman are war zones (if you disagree explain why attempts to bomb the US are being made today from Yeman and how the USS Cole wasn’t an act of war).

                So what are you saying? Do we need a trial for Bin Laden before bombing his hideout wherever it is? Why do you keep harping on the American citizen aspect? If Bin Laden happens to have a sympathizer with him that’s a US citizen do we have to forgo an attack?

                The concept of US citizenship was never very strong in the original Constitution. Only with Dred Scott and the post Civil War amendments did we start giving it serious thought. Before that if you were in the US you were more or less a citizen if you wanted to be. Never has there been an understanding that civil libertires precluded military operations that might be carried out against groups that may contain US citizens and from the beginning there have been people who were technically US citizens who fought on ‘the other side’ from the Revolutionary War to the actions against Native Americans to the Civil War and beyond.

                So where are you getting these ideas about civil liberties? You’re just making them up as you go along totally oblivious to the real civil liberties you’d trample along the way (like your blithe insistence on ‘trials in absentia’ that can issue death sentences on people)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                “War was declared against Terrorism”.

                By Congress? Name the act. If you can’t name the act, it’s the same as a “War On Drugs”.

                A rhetorical trick rather than an ACT OF CONGRESS.

                I am not asking you if there has been an empty suit in the last 10 years who has said “War”.

                I’m asking if a majority of 435 empty suits have said “war”.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                Fair point, but Congress authorized the use of force against terrorism. Some of argued that only formal declaration of war can authorize military operations but this fails for a few reasons:

                1. There clearly needs to be the ability for the military to use force for self defense. When Pearl Harbor was attacked there was no declaration of war yet machine gunners needed no such thing to shoot back as best they could. Self defense is not sufficient here. If right after the attack ended a US submarine spotted the planes landing on the Japanese carriers, it would have been able to attack even though there was no immediate attack happening but the declaration hadn’t been passed.

                2. There have been numerous uses of force in US history and never have the courts tried to assert that they are constitutional only with a declaration of war. Likewise Congress can but never has inserted funding restrcitions on the use of force sans a declaration. The closest you get is the War Powers Act which does not require a declaration. Custom and precedent seem to indicate that a Declaration of War is a diplomatic act of Congress but NOT an actual restriction on war.

                3. None of this seems consistent with your strange fixation on US citizenship. If you want ot argue that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yeman are all illegal….that every war since WWII has been illegal then go ahead. But you’re not. Only when I challenge you to back up your claims of special war immunity based on citizenship do you fall back on the declaration argument.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                And an authorization of the use of force is not a DECLARATION OF WAR.

                You want to act as if we’re at war? Then declare war.

                You can’t get 218 empty suits to declare war? Then you don’t get to act as if we’re at war.

                So comparisons between now and WWII have a gulf between them. Want to bridge the gulf?

                Declare war.

                If you don’t want to declare war (and there are plenty of reasons that you don’t want to!), then you don’t get to act like you have.

                This ought to be less controversial than it is.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                This thread began with you saying:

                “No, the actual limitation on government from killing citizens without any oversight whatsoever.”


                “No, the actual limitation on gov’t from doing war without any oversight whatsoever”

                YOU haven’t been telling us wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yeman, Iraq etc. are illegal. For that matter you haven’t declared Vietnam and North Korea and the first Gulf War illegal (as well as other military operations like Panama, Bosnia, Grenada, Iran etc.). That’s a very different argument than complaining about ONE hypothetical killing that hasn’t even happened and may never happen.

                Since your cohorts here have been making the same ‘but he’s a US citizen’ argument I have every right to bundle you all together and dispense with your faulty reasoning and lack of facts to support your argument.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                And you are arguing that the government ought to have the power to kill an American citizen in a “war zone” without having to explain why to ANYBODY.

                And every single example you and your cohorts ha’ve given as to why invokes situations where war has actually been declared by congress.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                “And you are arguing that the government ought to have the power to kill an American citizen in a “war zone” without having to explain why to ANYBODY.”

                Really? Again where do you get the point that killing an American citizen is different from killing a non-citizen? You’re just making that up, nowhere is that distinction made in the US Constitution. In fact the US Constitution specifically says you cannot deprive a ‘person’ of life without due process rather than a ‘citizen’.

                As for examples of declared war, there hasn’t been a declaration of war since WWII. Korea & Vietnam were fought as ‘police actions’, the numerous other military operations since then were fought without a declaration of war. In none of those was it assumed that the gov’t had to explain to the courts why certain targets were selected. Likewise there was no special procedures for handling targets that might have been citizens.

                Again and again you spin but you refuse to support your arguments. I’m not going to let you pretend, now, that you’ve been arguing all along for no military actions sans a formal war declaration.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                Was Korea, or Vietnam, or Desert Storm I, or Desert Storm II used as a reason for why it’d be okay to kill someone in Somalia (which, everyone knows, is a War Zone)?Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                Why does that matter? If you’re saying the Declaration of War and only that makes it ok to kill people then the killing in all those wars is illegal. Why would a spare killing in Somalia be all that important?

                If the Declaration isn’t necessarily required then why demand it for Yeman? (Or Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq?)?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                Or France?Report

              • Boonton in reply to Jaybird says:

                As you can see I’m kind of irked by people who claim civil liberties are very important yet not important enough for them to know what they actually are and where they come from.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                They’re social constructs.

                If we abandon social constructs the moment they become inconvenient to those in power, we can quickly expect some serious unintended consequences.

                I tend to self-identify with those not in power, my man. I’m against the government throwing away its limitations because it finds them inconvenient.

                And, let me point out, I wasn’t talking about “rights” but about “limitations of government power”.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                The problem is you are the one that is ditching social constructs and you’re not even doing it because they are inconvenient….you’re doing it because you’re too lazy to be bothered to learn about what you really consider importnat.

                For example, you’re creation of ‘special rights’ for citizens in war zones is made up out of nothing. Even worse you’ll casually create ‘death tribunals’ that can authorize the killing of citizens or anyone thru ‘trials in absentia’ without any regard for how our system puts very tight limits on trial in absentia.

                Likewise you’ll remain totally ignorant of how our history of social constructing civil liberties treats military operations and judicials ones in very different manners. So rather than protecting our traditional liberties you’d invent new ones that add little to our actual freedom and protection from tyranny and ditch old ones that are very important.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                It’s a war zone?

                Has there been a declaration of war?Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                See previous post, declarations of war have never been understood to be a requirement for a war zone to exist.

                If you feel this way, though, then argue that the wars are all illegal unless Congress specifically passes a declaration of war. Why are you asserting special rights for citizens fighting against the US in war zones instead?Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                Jaybird warns us that we can’t ditch ‘social constructs’ yet its interesting that these supposed social constructs are created by him with no reference to actual history. We have:

                1. Trial in absentia, which any C-level law student can spin out a ten page paper in less than an hour on why the concept is absolutely rejected in the US legal system except under some very specific circumstances.

                2. Special rules on military operations against enemies who may include US citizens. Again with no reference to anything in our history, which has had one major war where the enemy was US citizens and many smaller ones that included some citizens who fought with the enemy.

                3. No war without a declaration…..But the Constitution says nothing of the sort. While this is a possible reading of a passage that could go either way (the US is commander in chief but only Congress can declare war), little in our history supports that this is the reading we have choosen to take.

                So we seem to have social constructs that Jaybird thinks exists but he seems to feel no need to reference the actual society or history that supposedly created them. Maybe he should just call them Jaybird Constructs.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                Boonton, I’m not talking about rights.

                I’m talking about limitations on government.

                I think that the government should be limited from killing people without having to officially explain why.

                Just saying “everybody knows it’s a war zone” is not sufficient for defining a war zone. Just saying “everybody knows that we’re at war” without officially declaring war is not sufficient for us being at war.

                This is not about rights.

                This is about limited government.Report

              • Boonton in reply to Boonton says:

                I didn’t say that you can just call anything a war zone to get some type of blanket permission to kill people, but the fact is Yeman, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq are war zones in a manner that, say, Paris or Trenton NJ are not. Now we can talk about a good way to define this but we should first be clear your argument that it only comes from a formal Declaration of War is purely a construct of your imagination.

                Likewise you’re backtracking here. You and your cohorts have been making much of the fact that the guy in Yeman is a US Citizen. Only now do you suddenly discover that everyone else whose died is also a person! Why the demand that the US gov’t ‘explain why’ it may be trying to kill the terrorist in Yeman but it doesn’t have to ‘explain why’ it’s trying to kill Bin Laden? (And to whom is this explaining done? What are the consquences of the entity that gets the explanation rejecting it? What criteria is used to evaluate whether an explanation is good or bad?)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Boonton says:

                Screw my cohorts.

                You’re talking to me.

                I don’t get to say that Gregiank said this and you said that and now you are contradicting yourselves.

                You don’t get to say that about me and my “cohorts”.Report

  3. Jim says:

    “Apparently Bill O’Reilly believes that even foreigners like Assange can be tried for treason. ”

    Typical. He apparently thought city mayors were responsible for deportation of aliens when he started foaming about how the mayor of Seattle had failed to deport a British citizen who went on to kill a women he had been stalking. “This never would have happened…blah blah blah”Report

  4. Heidegger says:

    Okay, all you libertarians out there. I hope I’m wrong. but… Be honest now—it’s 1944, the Manhattan Project is in full swing, and along comes a Bradley Manning who’s about to leak a few hundred thousand pages of documents to the NYTimes detailing highly classified info regarding the enrichment of uranium, location of key labs, names of scientists involved, timelines, datelines, details of the location where the highly complex process of electromagnetic separation of U-235 took place as well as all the extremely difficult, hard to produce technical info using gaseous diffusion and thermal diffusion needed to enrich U238. So , what are you going to do? Are you going to play the silly “protect the constitutional rights of Manning at all costs”, game, or are you going to set your feet on Terra fir ma and get real? “Sure, we’ll give him a fair trial, then we’ll hang him in the morning.” I don’t expect that, but I do suspect many, if not the majority of the folks at this site would say Manning’s constitutional rights trump national security. That’s not a big leap—you’re already expressing those exact sentiments with regard to the present situation of wikigate.Report

    • Simon K in reply to Heidegger says:

      I hope I would have said that. It would certainly be better than what the contemporary equivalents of Bradley Manning actually did.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Heidegger says:

      Or we could instead go back to 1944, the Manhattan Project is in full swing, along comes a Bradley Manning who gives Julian Assange the information that he’s intercepted a diplomatic cable from Hitler’s doctor that explains that Hitler has an undescended testicle.

      This gets out when Julian Assange TELLS THE WORLD.

      Should everybody act like Julian Assange just gave away the inner secrets of the Manhattan Project and is a traitor? Should Julian Assange be treated differently than Bradley Manning?Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:

        What if Hitler’s doctor has also been passing on vital strategic planning information that he’s overheard, and now Hitler knows–from the public release of a cable detailing his undescended testicle–that his doctor is talking to someone who’s passing information on to the allies, and has the doctor executed, destroying that source of information?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

          Then Hitler’s doctor is dead and we’re going to have to use other sources to figure out how to kill him.

          As for what we need to do, I’d suggest trying Bradley Manning for treason and taking all future diplomatic cables into account that there is an Australian out there that would loooove to tell the world about them.Report

      • Heidegger in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yes, Jaybird, I think he should. I’d say some leniency should be accorded Mr. Assange. I’d go so far as say 72 hours after Manning is tried and executed, the same fate should await Mr. Assange. I’m starting to drift into a catatonic stupor. The profoundly depressing reality that most of you extremely bright, well-educated people, (some of whom, aghast, are even in very influential think tanks) would let this nation vaporize into one giant mushroom cloud in order to protect constitutional rights of an individual is simply more than I can bear. And could someone please elucidate how treason and espionage are protected constitutional rights? How I’d love Robert Bork to join in this conversation!Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Heidegger says:

          Heidegger, the problem is that we are most decidedly *NOT* fighting against Hitler and we are most decidedly *NOT* dealing with Manhattan Level secrets.

          “But what if we were?”, I hear you ask.

          Well, then let’s have something as simple as:

          A Declaration of War.

          No, not an authorization of military action or whatever the phrasing is. Let’s have a straight-up declaration of War.

          If we can’t declare war, I’m pretty sure that your comparison between what we’re doing now and what we did to the Germans is a specious comparison.Report

        • Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

          I’m going to really go out on a limb and say, I bet there are some folks on this site who think the Rosenbergs were innocent!Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Heidegger says:

            Were the Rosenbergs American citizens?

            Does that matter, at all, to whether American Law applied to them?

            Is there *ANYTHING* that you feel does not fall under American Jurisdiction, Heidegger?Report

            • Heidegger in reply to Jaybird says:

              I’ll have to think about that, Jaybird. Certainly every square inch of the lunar surface would fall under American Jurisdiction. And I’d guess NASA would probably include all of Jupiter. Then again, Holst might lay claim to the entire solar system. Remember, a pessimist’s blood type is always b-negative.
              Dammit–look at the furher (like it, J) you’ve created!!Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Heidegger says:

            Ethel was innocent. She was sentenced to death to put pressure on Julius to talk, and executed even though it didn’t work.Report

    • Constitutional rights trump national security by definition. Yes the SCOTUS may have found all sorts of national security exceptions of varying merit, but lest we forget the Constitution does not disappear or become irrelevant the moment the government utters the phrase” National Security!” I’m open to the notion that under certain normative worldviews the tradeoff between security and liberty should overwhelmingly favor security. I’d disagree, but it’s a reasonable enough worldview. But that is not the worldview embodied in our Constitutio. Or at least it wasn’t supposed to be.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Constitutional rights trump national security by definition.

        That’s a normative claim dressed up in the guise of an empirical claim. The Supreme Court, which has ultimate practical authority for constitutional interpretation, has rarely, if ever, agreed with such a definitional statement. Perhaps they should, but they haven’t.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        “Constitutional rights trump national security by definition. ”

        In other words, “yes. I, Mark Thompson, believe that revealing the design secrets of nuclear weapons to the Nazis is Constitutionally-protected free speech, and to punish anyone who did such a thing would be a reprehensible violation of fundamental Constitutional rights.”

        Stupid shit like this is why Madison didn’t even want there to be a Bill Of Rights in the first place!Report

        • Heidegger in reply to DensityDuck says:

          BRAVO!! BRAVO!!! Sanity lives!!Report

        • MFarmer in reply to DensityDuck says:

          This came from the Georgetown Law website:

          Does Congress have the constitutional authority to enact this legislation?

          Yes. Congress has both the constitutional authority and responsibility to regulate the state secrets privilege.

          The Constitution explicitly grants Congress the power to enact “Regulations” concerning the jurisdiction of federal courts. This constitutional power gives Congress authority to reform the state secrets privilege, and indeed, Congress regularly reviews and approves rules of procedure and evidence for the federal courts. As the Supreme Court has stated, “Congress retains the ultimate authority to modify or set aside any judicially created rules of evidence and procedure that are not required by the Constitution.” Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428, 437 (2000).
          Congress has a particular responsibility to act because the Executive Branch’s overuse of the state secrets privilege undermines Congress’ constitutional authority to determine the jurisdiction of the federal courts, by removing from the courts cases in which Congress has provided jurisdiction.
          Congress has a history of acting to establish and regulate judicial proceedings related to classified and sensitive national security information. Congress has passed amendments to FOIA and created the FISA Court, and enacted the Classified Information Procedures Act to regulate the use of classified information in criminal trials. Because of these laws, federal judges regularly review and handle highly classified evidence in many types of cases, but civil litigants have been left behind.
          A range of scholars and institutions have recognized the need for reform of the state secrets privilege, and have asked Congress to enact legislation. This Act draws from proposals offered by institutions including the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law, the American Bar Association, and the Constitution Project.Report

      • E.C. Gach in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I agree Thompson. The point is, according to the First Amendment, you have freedom to speak uninhibited by the government. If that can be damaging in some cases, like H-man’s hypothetical Manhattan Project scenario (or whoever brought it up) then CHANGE IT!

        I mean, the words plainly say one thing. It’s not as if we’re arguing over whether or not publishing documents counts as freedom of speech, we’re arguing over whether or not that part of the Constitution can be suspended in this case, which, to me, seems to make the whole document a joke.

        If we want to protect state secrets, and have their exposure prosecutable under the law, then bring on the Constitutional Convention and let’s amend the First Amendment to have that nuance added.Report

    • Robert Cheeks in reply to Heidegger says:

      Good one H-man, you tell these commie-Dems! But, you’ve got to understand any number of our beloved interlocutors are citizens of the world!Report

  5. the innominate one says:

    Of course, Heidegger’s metaphor fails on all counts and has nothing to do with the issues being debated, as well as involving obvious logical fallacies.Report

    • Heidegger in reply to the innominate one says:

      I’m only raising the seriousness to the hundredth power. Would you allow highly classified documents to be published if the potential of grave harm to this country could be a likely consequence. A very simple question, even fallacy-free, I believe.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Heidegger says:

        Were we debating highly classified documents?

        I thought we were talking about the shocking revelation that the Italian Prime Minister philanders.Report

      • Pat Cahalan in reply to Heidegger says:

        > Would you allow highly classified documents to be published
        > if the potential of grave harm to this country could be a likely
        > consequence.

        Is the potential of great good of a greater likelihood?

        Bayesian reasoning, my friend. One cannot take into account only the positive (or negative) potential outcomes of a decision. That’s not risk management.

        The probability that something is a good idea is the probability that it’s a good idea times the value-add minus the probability that it’s a bad idea minus the loss.

        Nonbayesian analysis is why we have the TSA.Report

  6. Heidegger says:

    No, no, no, Jaybird–not that serious–(a philandering Italian Prime Minister) It evolved into the shockingly, ultra-classified documents showing Hitler was a monorchid, no, not a monarch, but monorchid, meaning, one testicle. A missing testicle and being a classmate of Ludwig Wittgenstein (who was Jewish), whose extraordinary and superior intelligence completely humiliated Hitler, pretty much changed human history leading to deaths of 50,000,000. And Herr Hitler didn’t take too kindly to leaked intelligence which he blamed for the assassination of his good, Aryan-pure pal, Reinhard Heydrich. The Czech town of Lidice was pretty much leveled and about 30,000 people slaughtered. Damn, I completely forget what we were talking about. Oh, that’s right–executing Assange and Manning at dawn, tomorrow.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Heidegger says:

      “I didn’t mean to cause such a furher!”Report

    • tom van dyke in reply to Heidegger says:

      If innocent people died as a result of their actions, it would not be unjust.

      Somewhere along the line, those who consider themselves “moral” [or with “pure” motives] have decided they’re not responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.

      But even if we reduce morality [whatever that is] to “ethics,” that’s not an ethical position.

      As for the Hitler thing, I liked the Manhattan Project analogy better.Report

      • J_A in reply to tom van dyke says:

        But once you consider consequential damages, no one is guiltless.

        How many innocent people have died as a result of the decision to go intto the Irak war?

        What should be the right response to such decision?Report

    • Chris in reply to Heidegger says:

      Heidegger, that Wittgenstein stuff is myth, and really really stupid myth at that.Report

      • Heidegger in reply to Chris says:

        Chris, Chris, DAR, DAR, where hath thee gone, hey, hey, hey,
        Where have you gone, Chris and DAR,
        A nation (League of Gentlemen) turns it’s lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)
        What’s that you say, Mr. Mixed Memories, Chris,
        Joltin’ Ludwig has left and gone and now you’re saying he’s a myth?(Hey, hey, hey..hey, hey, hey)
        So, how is it a myth? I have numerous class pictures of them together. Are you saying it’s a “myth” that LW exerted a very strong influence on Hitler? That’s certainly open to interpretation. Wittgenstein was a mathematical savant, Hitler was a complete dolt, poor student, failed artist, and a flophouse dwelling loser. The experience of being in the same classroom as Wittgenstein ate at him like acid, until his last breath on this earth. I suspect you’re profoundly depressed that AI is at least a thousand years away from passing the Turing test. I also suspect that next to me, the human being you most homicidally detest is Roger Penrose. I strongly urge you to read his, “The Road to Reality” because I fear you’re slipping, irretrievably, into an inescapable cosmic wormhole from which you’ll never recover. What’s left of time, Chris, is fast disappearing—ACT NOW! It’s not too late. The Universal Godhead accepts all heathens, even those who worship Marvin Minsky!
        “Die Welt ist tief,
        Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
        Tief ist ihr Weh, —
        Lust — tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
        Weh spricht: ‘Vergeh!’
        Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit, —
        Will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!”Report

        • Chris in reply to Heidegger says:

          They don’t have numerous class pictures together. You made that up. There’s a picture, a single picture, with a young Hitler in it, and a kid some have suggested is Wittgenstein, but which almost certainly isn’t. But more than that, they weren’t in the same class! Wittgenstein was a couple years behind Hitler. It’s an apocryphal story, one of many about Hitler’s youth, told in an effort to explain his hatred of Jews, and like many of them, it ultimately blames it on a Jew. Never mind that Wittgenstein was Jewish in name only (and that very few people would have known that he had Jewish ancestry in his youth, as his family hid it well), that he himself was openly anti-Semitic, and that there’s no evidence that he and Hitler ever interacted, certainly not for any extended or meaningful period of time, and certainly not to the point that Hitler would have realized Wittgenstein was either brilliant or of Jewish descent.

          The Hitler had one testicle thing is also a myth, serving the same purpose, though in this case blaming it on emasculation rather than a Jew. So at least it’s merely stupid, instead of maliciously so. In this case, we know exactly where the myth came from, and it wasn’t Hitler’s doctor.

          Also, I don’t know what you’re talking about with AI and Penrose, and I rather suspect that you don’t either. I don’t despise you, and while I think his work on consciousness is interesting but ultimately useless, I certainly don’t despise Penrose.Report

          • Heidegger in reply to Chris says:

            Chris—thanks for the reply. Looking forward to responding which will do later. I have ground-breaking news to break. Also a mind blowing neuroscience thought experiment for you–warning: your life will never be the same! See ya.Report

          • Heidegger in reply to Chris says:

            Chris–didn’t look like LW tried all that robustly to hide his “Jewishness”–he did keep his surname, Wittgenstein. And I seriously doubt that Hitler and the SS cared much whether Jews were practicing Jews or not—this was all about racial “purity” and genetics. You want to know who the real father of all this Aryan mythology nonsense was, read Houston Chamberlain. He taught that Jesus was an Aryan! Not kidding, either–check it out—“batshit” insane comes closest to mind.Report

            • Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

              And Hitler just worshipped this guy. And yes, he was related to the other Chamberlain, Neville the appeaser.Report

              • Chris in reply to Heidegger says:

                Oh, and Houston wasn’t related to Neville. Seriously, where do you get this stuff?Report

              • Heidegger in reply to Chris says:

                Chris, okay, okay, my bad. I was sure I had read that in Shirer”s Rise and Fall” a long time ago. Just dug up an old copy and sure enough, it turns out he had an uncle who was a British Field Marshall, named, Sir Neville Chamberlain but was not THE British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. For that, an honest mistake, I’m being taken to the cleaners? I mean, he did have an uncle named Neville Chamberlain but just not the one who sold out the Czecks. I don’t think the scourge was necessary, but you are correct, in any case. The other stuff I can prove with hard evidence. Can I at least be considered half right? When Groucho Marx was told a swimming pool was off-limits to Jews, his reply was: “My son is half-Jewish; can he wade in up to his knees?”Report

              • Chris in reply to Heidegger says:

                What’s half right in what you’ve said here? That Hitler hated Jews? That’s right, for sure. Everything else you’ve said has been either myth, British propaganda, or outright nonnsense.Report

            • Chris in reply to Heidegger says:

              Heidegger, I don’t mean to be an ass, but you are talking out of yours. Wittgenstein is a county name, from which the surname was taken, in part at least, to hide the family’s Jewish heritage. Just because a name ends in Stein doesn’t make it Jewish name (“Stein” is actually fairly common in Germanic place names, and therefore in Germanic surnames).

              And even if he were overtly Jewish (and not, himself, an antisemite), that still doesn’t change the fact that he and Hitler didn’t know each other. Or that Hitler had two balls, and that his antisemitism and evil temperment had nothing to do with Hitler, testicles, or any such simple explanation.Report

            • Chris in reply to Heidegger says:

              By the way, the reason I’ve gone to all this trouble of pointing out that everything you’ve said here is false –aside from the fact that the readers of this blog may not know as well as the readers of the now defunct Positive Liberty and The One Best Way, that arguing from a combination of debunked myths, ideological slant, and outright falsehoods, is pretty much your m.o—is that I find the constant attempts to pin Hitler’s massacre of 6 million Jews (to go along with 3 million non-Jewish Poles, a bunch of gypsies, gays, etc., to say nothing of the Russian P.O.W.s and 13 or so million Russian civilians) on a Jewish individual or a few Jewish individuals in Hitler’s past, to be infuriating. Sure, it was Wittgenstein’s brilliance, not anything malicious on his part, that caused Hitler to hate Jews so much that he’d try to wipe them off the face of the Earth, but it was still the fault of a Jew, ultimately. It couldn’t possibly be the fact that Hitler was raised in a culture—not just Austrian and German, but continental European generally—in which fervent anti-Semitism was not just rampant, but pretty nearly universal, or that just a few decades before Hitler’s anti-Semitism really reached new heights after German’s defeat in World War I, German nationalism and German anti-Semitism had become deeply intertwined in German intellectual, artistic, and even political culture, or that these facts made Jews a convenient scapegoat for someone looking to gain political power through German nationalism. No, it was the fault of some kid who was so brilliant that when confronted with him, Hitler, couldn’t stand the humiliation of his own intellectual inferiority, particularly not when combined with the emasculation that comes from having an apocryphal lonely testicle. Blame the victim. If only he’d been less Jewish along with whatever else it was that pissed pre-adolescent Hitler off, Hitler would have married a Jew, developed a scheme for eternal world peace, and everyone in the world would have gotten a digital watch and a cookie.Report

              • Heidegger in reply to Chris says:

                Chris, ONLY you could have read my comments to mean I blamed Wittgenstein for the Holocaust. Clever. No, no, it couldn’t possibly have been the conditions of the Weimar Republic where virulent, rabid anti-Semitism was flourishing, with Jews being blamed for communism, Bolshevism, unemployment, “degenerate” art, artistic parasitism, the severely punishing Treaty of Versaille. Nope. Not a chance. I put the entire blame on the young shoulders of Ludwig Wittgenstein. And this must be the truth because…well, you said it! And I have to applaud your heroic and courageous gesture of marching in on your white horse to alert all the Leaguers that: “that arguing from a combination of debunked myths, ideological slant, and outright falsehoods, is pretty much your m.o. What a mensch you are, Chris! “Ideological slant”? You’re to the left of Marx and Engels! My day just doesn’t feel complete until I’m berated as a liar and fraud by the ever ignoble Chris. My hero, please keep up the vigilant watch! Vielan Dank!Report

              • Chris in reply to Heidegger says:

                Heidegger, maybe I’m being unclear. I don’t think you’re a liar; I think you buy the lies of others very easily when they’re consistent with your world view, or at least the one you’re trying to project. I don’t think you’re blaming Wittgenstein for the Holocaust; I think you are unwittingly using a common trope in the history Hitler explanations : blame it on a Jew. Clear as mud?Report

  7. Boonton says:

    I generally think the job of keeping American secrets falls on Americans who are entrusted with them. Would you prosecute workers in the KGB who analyzed documents received by American spies during the Cold War for treason against the US? The line here is crossed only if Assange actually did something more direct than passively receive leaked data.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Here’s my crazy question:

    Can’t we appeal to NATO?

    Dear Great Britain,

    You are our ally in NATO and you have captured a terrorist who is engaged in making war against the United States and is, at the very least, giving aid/comfort to our enemies. We’d like to take him, try him, then shoot him.


    L’il Brudder

    Why wouldn’t something like this work?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      (To clarify: I do not necessarily endorse this approach. I’m asking the folks who think that Assange’s work better compares to The Manhattan Project than to Entertainment Tonight why they aren’t.)Report

  9. the innominate one says:

    Assange hasn’t attacked the U.S. in any common understanding of what would constitute a war. Potentially, he’s a criminal, but what specific law has he broken?

    The NATO treaty is irrelevant for dealing with criminals. Extradition treaties are relevant, but again, one has to actually have broken a law (or be charged with same) to be extradited. What law did Assange break?

    Do U.S. laws apply to acts occurring outside the borders of the U.S.?Report