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Should the U.S. government prosecute Julian Assange?

Federal authorities are investigating whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange violated criminal laws in the group's release of government documents, including possible charges under the Espionage Act, sources familiar with the inquiry said Monday. Read the full story.

By Abha Bhattarai  |  November 30, 2010; 9:40 AM ET  | Category:  National Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Regardless of whether he is providing an "important public service," he broke the law. You don't like the law, then change it, but the fact remains that he violated federal law.

Posted by: JG08 | November 30, 2010 9:54 AM

Wow. Only 10% of responders think that waiting for the results of an investigation is needed.

Posted by: deanowade | November 30, 2010 10:17 AM

this is why this country is DOOM. We give up ALL RIGHT because our government say we should for our safety and when you do that YOU GET NEITHER. Someone in the government GAVE him the information to leak out and this company has the right to put it out and the right to protect where they got there info from.once Top Secret Information is put out by the people that THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT trust to keep the information safe and they put it out, it out and the government just has to go to who had it and deal with them. leak baby leak

Posted by: lostdogrwd1011 | November 30, 2010 10:28 AM

Assange is in this only for personal glory and to stroke his own ego. HIs leaks are counterproductive to the goals of ending conflicts and promoting peace and put lives in danger. He cannot be trusted with this kind of information and every legal means to stop him should be employed.

PFC Manning should be tried for treason and punished accordingly if found guilty.

Posted by: West_Seattle | November 30, 2010 10:40 AM


What I find interesting is that our attitudes about this breach of security isn't necessarily labeled by our politics.

I have spoken to lefties who were appalled that our government has sloppier web security than your typical on-line retailer.

I have heard from right wing nuts, gleeful on the thought of making Obama look bad, cheering this disaster on.

Fact is, it's against the law.

It goes against the most common best practices of any corporation as well.

Find out who did it and come as close to hanging them from the Washington Monument that you can.

Ending conflicts relies on trust, not innuendo, rumor mongering and mean girl tactics like wikileaks.

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | November 30, 2010 10:53 AM

First, the U.S. should prosecute Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein!!! After all, they revealed a few government secrets 40 years ago. And those revelations were very damaging... for Richard Nixon.

Posted by: jdsolano | November 30, 2010 10:59 AM

He should "disappear".

Posted by: Marlowe20001 | November 30, 2010 11:00 AM

The Assange leaks represent the small guys' protest against the corrupt ways our political leaders have been conducting themselves. The leaks clearly show that Bush lied in office and he lied in his memoirs. How else can ordinary citizens learn the truths? Relatively transparent investigations like Watergate, Iran Contragate, etc. could never have happened nowadays because the current generations of politicians, since Karl Rove days, are so polarized and just have no scruples and integrity.

Give us more responsible politicians, and we can then prosecute Assange and his colleagues.

Posted by: KT11 | November 30, 2010 11:05 AM

What's to investigate? We've seen the results spread all over the front pages of leading newspapers and magazines.

The publications may be able to hide behind the first amendment, and at least some of them appear to have attempted to be responsible in what they print. Assange and his organization have taken a nihilistic approach to the consequences of their behavior. Even worse, they have put civilians living in places like Afghanistan in real danger.

PFC Manning should be prosecuted for treason. So should Assange if he is an American citizen. If not, he certainly is guilty of violating the Espionage Act among other laws.

Posted by: hambya | November 30, 2010 11:07 AM

Prosecute WikiLeaks and Assange? Only if you are prepared to prosecute the New York Times, Der Speigel, Guardian, and Le Monde. All of these, including WikiLeaks, received stolen classified documents then all of them chose to publish them. Now, even the Washington Post is publishing the contents of classified diplomatic cables and previoulsy those military reports on Iraq and Afghanistan. Sorry, I do not see the difference between WikiLeaks and the traditional media in this matter. What should occur is prosecuting the culprits who stoled the documents in the first place.

Posted by: MatthewWeaver | November 30, 2010 11:45 AM

"The American government's inability or unwillingness to deal with WikiLeaks puts the American People in danger again."
"It is the continuation of the Wimpy-Apologetic Foreign Policy Doctrine."
These are statements from the only source that got it right when they say that "The Real Danger of WikiLeaks is being missed by everyone - government and the media."
The piece is called "WikiLeaks takes another shaving of Samson's hair" and they have their case at http://www.robbingamerica.com


Posted by: JohnGalt9 | November 30, 2010 12:29 PM

The public have a right to know what their Govts. are doing. Truth always wins in the end. The leaks might embarass some politicians but the people win and that is important.

Posted by: kms123 | November 30, 2010 12:51 PM

How exactly can a foreign national in a foreign country have violated US law by publishing information that he received electronically? Seems we have a miopic view of the reach of our laws. Prosecuting this guy or organization is as senseless as prosecuting "pirate radio stations" operating in international waters for "violating" FCC rules.

Face it, people, these 250,000 cats are out of the bag. The issue going forward is not how to "get even", but how to institute information handling protocols that minimize unauthorized dissemination. The more we fixate on the former, the less we attend to the latter.

Posted by: audritsh | November 30, 2010 1:34 PM

There are tons of issues here which I love.

For those who say he's breaking the law, what laws do you mean? Sorry. He's an Aussie, living on the run in countries that protect him from laws. He's not breaking the law of his jurisdiction. What jurisdiction would this even fall?

What's fascinating is the character this guy is creating. Its straight out of a science fiction novel. He's a lone computer hacker with amibiguous national ties going after the big bad superpower. He is the first but wont be the last. One day a guy like this will lead the world revolution.

What bothers me is that this guy is picking on the US, deliberately or not. It is well documented that our government is dispicable in many aspects, but on a relative basis, we are the good guys. I would like to see China's leaks or Russia or France or Germany, whoever. The only way we get a good picture of the world is to see everyone.

The best would be the Isrealis. They are the worst of all. It would be great to see how many times "random" acts of violence were actually orchestrated by the Mossad. The problem is the Isrealis are too smart to let their $hit get out because they know if it did the whole world would hate them.

Posted by: mr_spacely | November 30, 2010 2:31 PM

"Wow. Only 10% of responders think that waiting for the results of an investigation is needed"

The question asks if the govt. should prosecute. That already assumes known laws were broken. It's pretty clear laws were broken. If they were not then he won't be prosecuted. Anyone stealing secret govt. documents is breaking our laws.

The distinction is because Eric Holder says he will investigate but I think he is just saying that for the press. I doubt he wants to prosectue Mr. Assange no matter what he finds out. It's all a game of words on the Obama Administration's part.


But first I want to see him face those rape and molestation charges in Sweden.

Posted by: AnotherContrarian | November 30, 2010 4:30 PM

The old Espionage Act from 1917 rears its head again. But the first amendment probably trumps federal law when it comes to Julian Assange. Remember the Pentagon Papers case. The Supreme Court ruled that the New York Times could publish the stolen documents because of the first amendment. I doubt that Mr. Assange can be found guilty of committing a crime in this case. Plus, the New York Times is also publishing the stolen materials. Should they be prosecuted?

The private who stole the cables certainly did commit a crime, and he will be prosecuted. But Mr. Assange? I think he has the protection of the first amendment. The Supreme Court takes a free press very seriously.

Perhaps we should focus on what the cables reveal and consider whether they show that our government has violated the law. Let's not shoot the messenger. He is probably protected by the constitution anyway.

Posted by: alivo | December 1, 2010 12:49 AM

Assange didn't break any law. He can't be tried for "treason" as several morons have already declared he should be (Palin etc) because he isn't an American. Those who have called for him to be executed forget that America is the only western nation that has the death penalty, or just don't know because as far as they're concerned America is "the world". Most Americans couldn't point to most of the aggreived other nations on a world map so they shouldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks, and they don't anyway. So what's the big deal? Afraid of looking like dolts? Maybe. But it's a bit late now considering dum dum dubya and peabrain Palin.

Posted by: icurhuman2 | December 1, 2010 5:12 AM

By the way, the Interpol Assange "most wanted" is a bit overdone, they don't even have a photo of him up on their website.

Posted by: icurhuman2 | December 1, 2010 5:31 AM

If the Washington Post 'leaked' a classified document as part of a story on the US selling arms to a enemy nation to pay for funding for a rebel group with appalling ethics fighting against an unfavored foreign government, would we prosecute the WaPo? Would the story damage foreign relations? Sure. Would the government object to it being public? Sure. Would it be good for democracy to publish? Absolutely.
Just because it is against the law to publish doesn't mean that it is wrong to publish. Having not read the leaked documents, I can't write to whether there is any value to having these in the public domain. However, I am enough of a student of history to know that keeping secrets is a role all governments take very seriously but is also dangerous to key aspects of freedom and democracy.

Posted by: natecar | December 1, 2010 6:04 AM

One poster wrote "Regardless of whether he is providing an "important public service," he broke the law. You don't like the law, then change it, but the fact remains that he violated federal law."

Would it trouble you too much to tell us what law you think he broke? And for the masses who think we don't even need to wait for facts and an investigation, are you Americans?

Do you see yourself as more of a war lord or as a government-sponsored lynch mob?

Posted by: whyregister2 | December 1, 2010 9:35 AM

Americans are a young and barbaric nation and their strong response to this re-enforces that opinion. Julian Assange isn't an American and cannot be called a traitor, executed, etc...The US ministry of propaganda, i.e., the media, should be ashamed of itself for being such lap dogs to the government and not being watch dogs for the people...After all, he didn't spend trillions of dollars to execute baseless wars, destroy the entire world's financial system, rape the common citizen of their futures for generations...

Posted by: jeeemusna | December 1, 2010 9:53 AM

So,let me be clear here,as I have a better
idea how about we prosecute every single
one of the miserable excuses for Presidents
from George H W Bush Nothing Accomplished
Gulf War One,Bill Clinton Impeached White House Intern Sex Educator,George W Bush,the
Mission Accomplished One,and Comrade Kenyan
Barack Hussein Obama and company by just
throwing the whole US Code at them instead.

Posted by: carleen09 | December 1, 2010 10:03 AM

Fact is, it's against the law............
Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | November 30, 2010 10:53 AM
=====

Tony, it is not against International Law. If Assange decides to visit the US, he may be detained and interrogated, but Interpol is targeting him for totally unrelated offenses.

I find it somewhat odd that drastic measures to bring this guy down didn't go into effect until he threatened to expose inappropriate behavior by people involved with and wthin the US Banking and Finance Industries.

Twice the man exposed "secrets" that were hardly secrets to most. Obama expressed disappointment; grim faced world leaders had their ego bubbles burst; Little Dicators learned that just being Muslim doesn't justify being an arse; Congress is a little red-faced; Hillary went on an apology binge ---- yet no one waggled the finger at Assange and said "we are going to get you" .... UNTIL .... he threatened to expose courrput actions and participants in the Banking and Finance Industries.

Like we didn't see this coming?

Posted by: asmith1 | December 1, 2010 10:08 AM

This is how adult journalists report this...

How Wikileaks is copying 16th-century Amsterdam

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/edmundconway/100008823/how-wikileaks-is-copying-16th-century-amsterdam/

Posted by: jeeemusna | December 1, 2010 10:14 AM

The results of this poll aren't real surprising. Very few Americans (as indicated by the poll) are interested in the truth. Their minds are made up for them by the talking-heads on TV. This poll also shows Republicans hate truth as much as they hate freedom.
I'll admit, the number of people that thought truth was a good thing did pleasantly surprise me.
Maybe there is still hope for our nation. After all, only 1/3 of the population supported the American revolution. 2/3 were happy to remain suppressed & subjugated by the king.

Posted by: GEarlMoore | December 1, 2010 11:09 AM


He should "disappear".
Posted by: Marlowe20001 | November 30, 2010 11:00 AM


---


That comment is nothing short of hilarious. A few years ago the tinfoil hat crowd was whining about Muslims who were outraged at false portrayals of Prophet Muhammad and wanted to kill the people behind it.

Their cry then was "FREE SPEECH"! "FREE SPEECH"!

Now these same right-wing sickos want to "disappear" Assange because Wikileaks has embarrassed ... Hillary Clinton?!?

You just can't make this stuff up.


Posted by: bloggersvilleusa | December 1, 2010 11:38 AM

The poll is biased. There are many other possible answers than the ones you provided for us. How about No, because it would make our government look vindictive and pathetic?

Posted by: wideblacksky | December 1, 2010 11:57 AM

Assange colluded with and assisted Manning, he needs to rot in jail for that alone.

Posted by: Nymous | December 1, 2010 2:06 PM

"wait for facts and investigation"' yeah, yeah, more lawyers, more wasted time and money, more jerking us off. The leaks are out there, the guy brags about it, Manning got his thrills out of it, what's to investigate? Silence him, by any means necessary.

Posted by: CraiginJersey | December 1, 2010 2:36 PM

Put Bourne on his trail. That will do it.

Posted by: truth1 | December 1, 2010 2:48 PM

Why isn't more being made out of the fact that the alleged leak came from a gay male?

Posted by: Dr_b_ | December 1, 2010 3:47 PM

The fact that Wikileaks bargained with media outlets for their information, and in fact, tried to bargain with the federal government on the release of certain names, completely discredits whatever 'moral obligation' they have.

Wikileaks claims to promote a more open government, but the fact is that leaking information, especially the diplomatic cables, will only cause them to tighten the flow of information even further.

Of course, I support transparent government, and I think it is important that some of the more dire aspects of it are brought to public light. If Wikileaks was actually releasing stuff that was more damning, like the Pentagon Papers, then I might have a little more trust and respect for them. But releasing things like diplomatic cables that are actually secret for a good reason does nothing but make them seem like a small bully looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

Posted by: mohaas05 | December 1, 2010 6:03 PM

Should it? Is the wrong question.

The right question is can it?

And the answer to that in a country which respects the rule of law and the First Amendment should be no, not unless a law has been broken.

Will it?

Who knows.

Obama ran for President with a two handed view - on one hand, he said when questioned on the Bush administration, law should be upheld, on the other hand he wanted to move forward.

Holder responding to questions about waterboarding before becoming Attorney General said it was torture. Bush said "damn right" he authorised waterboarding and he hasn't been charged.

I think the whole world can plainly see what the rule of law as opposed to the rule of arbitrary men is worth in the United States.

Posted by: BrettPaatsch1 | December 6, 2010 7:26 PM

Waterboard him (and Bradley Manning) and stream it live on the internet.

Posted by: AG11 | December 6, 2010 7:31 PM

I have no idea why the United States would have any right under US law to prosecute him. The only crime here is to embarrass the powers that be. The obvious reason for all of this is his intention to release information on the The Bank Of America. But that is not to say he is a dead man.

Posted by: kingfish20815 | December 6, 2010 7:46 PM

The US should not try this man. Instead, they should waterboard him to find out all he knows, what he's done and whom he's done it with. Then, he should be slowly dipped into a vat of acid. He's a traitor to freedom and an idiot who thinks nothing of helping the worst scum of the earth by printing things that will endanger lives. I can only hope karma pays him back tenfold, piece of $hit rapist!

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | December 6, 2010 7:52 PM

Assange is a publisher, not a thief, and he's Australian, working abroad, so even if we were Emperors of the World and our law applied to everyone, he'd have first amendment rights-- yes? That is, if we had jurisdiction.

On the other hand, Bradley Manning is under different rules: he breached his military duties and should be judged with the severity that his crime requires.

Does that make sense?

That being said, Assange has managed to piss off and embarrass almost every government in the planet, so he's going to be tossed like a hot potato until some dictator tortures and beheads him. He's probably being "renditioned" right now, and Mitch McConnell is having wet dreams about it.

Posted by: alarico | December 6, 2010 8:01 PM

"Regardless of whether he is providing an 'important public service,' he broke the law. You don't like the law, then change it, but the fact remains that he violated federal law."

For starters, Wikileaks is more than just Julian Assange. More to the point, to the extent any federal laws might have been broken, they were broken by the leaker or leakers, not by Wikileaks. What this affair has done very effectively, though, is smoke out all government-worshiping authoritarians who are baying for blood with the assistance of the corporate media which distributed the material like the Guardian in the U.K., Der Spiegel in Germany and the New York Times in this country.

Posted by: ozma1 | December 6, 2010 8:20 PM

The U.S. should prosecute Bush and Cheney and other REAL criminals. WikiLeaks is doing the job that you folks in the corporate media refuse to do.

Posted by: jjedif | December 6, 2010 8:24 PM

No! He should be assassinated.

Posted by: georges2 | December 6, 2010 9:02 PM

Assange has NOT broken the law, anymore than the New York Times broke it when publishing the Pentagon Papers. The US government has something to hide, that is why it is running scared and that is why it is desperate to shut him down. Anyone who truly believes in a government that works for the people openly and honestly should be very concerned about the Stasi/Gestapo style hunt for Assange.

To see Assange talking about why the world needs Wikileaks, see: http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_assange_why_the_world_needs_wikileaks.html

I wonder if the level of vitriol coming from U.S. politicians is enough to make Assange feel safer in the custody of British police than on the street.

Posted by: francinelast | December 6, 2010 9:02 PM

It is simple. When the US government arrests the journalists and staff of the New York TImes they will have made a case. Otherwise there is no case. The New York Times is as innocent or guilty as is Wikileaks and their founder.
I am ignoring the Swedish Charge as that is a separate matter.

Posted by: guytaur1 | December 6, 2010 9:25 PM

On a blog of a British newspaper, there was this comment:

America is willing to put Europe at risk over its own political ideas. And is using NATO as its private army as it is now in Afghanistan a place where NATO has no right to be.

It also shows that the United States believes that no other country has the right to protect itself or have its own plans of self defense without it being demonized.

Why is America in Europe? Aren't European countries capable of defending themselves and making their own decisions about who it does business with? Or does everything need to be funneled through the American political system and OK'd before a European country is allowed to have its own mind.

Do we want the next war because of American politics? The Americans don't care if Europe bears the brunt of a nuclear; war it won't hurt them and they'll look at it as a way of opening up new markets.

Posted by: francinelast | December 6, 2010 9:29 PM

Prosecute? Yes.

The execute.

Posted by: BigTrees | December 6, 2010 9:31 PM

No! He should be assassinated.GEORGES2 | DECEMBER 6, 2010 9:02 PM

Seeing posts like this one makes me shudder. If America is now going to start assassinating journalists at random like the Russians do, this country is doomed and quite frankly I hope the rest of the world will turn away from America. America is only worth something if it has principles and believes in human rights. Without that it will become a pariah state that the rest of the world will no longer want to do business with.

Posted by: francinelast | December 6, 2010 9:33 PM

NO! The Justice Dept. and Pentagon should stop blaming the messenger and instead start asking why our online security systems are so weakly protected in the first place. We have known for years that foreign powers roam our defense and industrial databases at will. Wikileaks has simply made public what everyone else already knows. Hopefully this embarrassment will serve as a wake up call and get bureaucrats motivated to take national security seriously, and focus attention where it’s really needed.

Posted by: jdwil | December 6, 2010 9:36 PM

Quite frankly, with people like Sarah Palin calling for his assassination I have lost all faith in American justice.

So now, anyone can be killed without due process to prove guilt. If the government says you're guilty, that's it. No evidence, no trial, no proof. Just sentenced and condemned. So much for America being the bastion of freedom and liberty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: francinelast | December 6, 2010 9:37 PM

This is like the teacher who leaves the answer key to a test on his/her desk and then blames a kid for cheating when the student looks at it.

We've all gotten so good at claiming how responsible we are and then ignoring those responsibilities.

But it's okay: we're fightin' them terrorists.

Posted by: rogied25 | December 6, 2010 10:06 PM


Julian Assange deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Posted by: gggg2 | December 6, 2010 10:24 PM

US government prosecute Wiki Julian Assange than how to take action to the most responsibility person Obama is an important national matter.
The US government's secret documents leakage main source must be White House.

Posted by: BellaLiberty | December 6, 2010 10:32 PM

Sarah Palin may not have a monopoly on unintelligent and cruel comments but nevertheless she has proven that the vigilante spirit is alive and well in her barren mind.

It is foolish to assume that great wrongs have been committed. If terrible things have been done by Assange and Wikileaks then let his accusers state the charges specifically and point to evidence supporting those charges.

To date, we have heard Assange call a traitor, a hater of the US, and someone who deserves to be executed without a trial. That means without his detractors having to prove their case or any case.

Those who are outraged by the leaks have ignored the rule of law and the principles associated with procedural fairness. I doubt that they are aware of these ideas that govern judicial systems. They are indicia of societies that support human rights.

The US has an enormous number of people who appear to be driven by vindictiveness and highly charged emotions. These behaviours displace fairness.

Until, the charges are identified and the evidence against Assange and Wikileaks is in the presumption of innocence should prevail. By the way, that is another foundation stone of the criminal law system. I am sure that it has reached some parts of the US.

The US government has behaved abominably, especially A-G Holder and Secretary of State Clinton. They have shown that they are unable to make out a prima facie case against Assange. It seems that the strength of their case is based on embarrassment, outrage and a desire to punish Assange. That makes them dangerous. Holder and Clinton, both lawyers, have ignored the fundamental principles that were drilled into them at law school. Why?

The case against Assange is based on proclaiming him guilty of wrongdoing. However, guilt by proclamation is not enough.

Unfortunately, many Americans have become hysterical after hearing the proclamations that surround the leaks. But why should they be of concern when almost all of the information has been disclosed in one form or another in the media?

If Assange is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanours then let them be identified along with the evidence because proclamations and assumptions take us back to times when the Star Chamber prevailed along with the presumption of guilt.

This question arises: If Assange has committed wrongs then how can government documents ever be released without the whistleblower being attacked. The consequence is that all government documents must not be released into the public domain.

Why does America have so many sanctimonious crazies who call for the assassination of people they don't like? If Iran attacked someone in this way they would attack Iran.

I guess it just goes to show that America has enough defects in its population to screw things up.

Posted by: robertjames1 | December 6, 2010 10:50 PM

What the hey - It all goes into the pockets of the attornies. Heck, they cannot even prosecute an Army Major who killed or wounded 30+ people on a post in Texas. Assange is just showing us how corrupt our own government has become.

Posted by: shangps | December 6, 2010 11:13 PM

We shouldn't prosecute him, but perhaps our government (and others) should be more careful as to how they handle supposedly classified communications. In some ways it appears he has done a service for the intelligence communities by revealing their lapses before truly damaging information could be released.

From a legal perspective, I would guess that prosecution would be difficult if not impossible (and ill-advised). He didn't steal the documents and he's not a U.S. citizen so isn't really beholden to our laws is he? I imagine there are plenty of actual war criminals we could pursue--even some within our actual borders.

Posted by: mediamaverick | December 6, 2010 11:27 PM

The State Department shared these memos with their three million closest friends. Given how corruptible these memos have portrayed people - confirmed by what we know about law enforcement and our drug laws - who can reasonably believe that anyone who wanted to know this mostly non-secret information had not already purchased it?

What I am upset about is that the "Patriot" act closed off most paths of money transfer, except for the major banks and WU, allowing our second secretive government a mechanism to silence truth.

Posted by: ChicagoKen | December 7, 2010 12:47 AM

The material is copyrighted fully under international law. One would think it also would be receiving NATO treaty protection from member states as well. However feigning ignorance of treaty obligations is diplomatically convenient, so it's unlikely any of our good friends will be inclined to act.

In Australia, the debate seems centered around protecting their local hero from falling into the claws of their evil enemy: America.

Posted by: Nymous | December 7, 2010 1:14 AM

He needs a long vacation. Very long.

Posted by: thebump | December 7, 2010 1:53 AM

While at the most this is embarassing, the media, in their quest to "be relevant" should ask him some hard questions, such as why he has yet to publish any leaks that are not anti-American. Can anyone honestly believe that no one in a totalitarian government has leaked to him? His obvious bias against the US takes him from being a "journalist" to being a prejudiced fool, and it's time to call him on that.

Posted by: ChrisW1958 | December 7, 2010 2:34 AM

Of course he should be prosecuted. That is the very best way for the sneaky bastards in government who violate the law in secret to clearly demonstrate their hypocrisy and remove all doubt about who the real villains of the piece are.

Posted by: Adam_Smith | December 7, 2010 7:15 AM

America's answer to every problem is assassination, what a sick society you have there. Some might say, murdering scum of the Earth.

Posted by: icurhuman2 | December 7, 2010 7:49 AM

This is one conservative Republican, albeit of a libertarian bent, who deplores the hysterical overreaction to Julian Assange. While I strongly reject his political views and anti-American animus, I also reject the notion that the First Amendment no longer applies and that there is a different standard for the New York Times than non-mainstream media. A very dangerous precedent indeed, which conservatives and liberals will come to regret.

The seemingly ridiculous "sex charge" as a pretext for arresting him also stinks to high heaven.

Posted by: tsarken13 | December 7, 2010 8:11 AM

I think most Americans are missing the point. He published information that was given to him just like a newspaper or any other press outlet. The real issue is that US Citizens committed treason by sending these documents to him...

Why is no one talking about that? Instead we're wasting time with some nonsense sexual charges
w

Posted by: Utopia13 | December 7, 2010 8:40 AM

A far better and equal justice for all, the requirement of our constitution, that is, if it is ever going to be taken seriously, the criminals during 8 years of Bush/ Cheney secret govt of executive privilege, all the conservative republican malignant narcissists, chronic scape-goaters, uncorrectable grab baggers, who sacrificed others with coercion, reckless abandon and impunity, the likes of forked tongued Madam piano legs and pant suits Sec. of State, and thousand other incompetent patronage hacks, SOB shyster bankers, etc should be prosecuted first. It is these SOBs who have gotten this nation to this predicament of economic terror siege, hate, fear, ideological divide, polarization and a fast track of self destruction from within.

The poor innocent citizens are powerless from the tyranny of the oppressive Govt. that is controlled by the rich and powerful few for their self interests, self righteousness, down right bigotry, misleading the ignorant and the gullible.

Posted by: winemaster2 | December 7, 2010 8:40 AM

People fail to remember that Assange is not a US citizen nor is he required to follow our laws. Without a US citizenship or a legal residence here he has no need to uphold our laws. I'm sure we break odd or old Swedish laws but to be prosecuted for them while never having visited that country is preposterous. Same with Assange's persecution.

What is important is that Assange's message gets out. We have enough corruption in our country. Let's expose it so we can clean it up. Personally I would love for Bank of America or BP to be exposed.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | December 7, 2010 8:52 AM

Even though you were being sarcastic, you were right...Wodoward and Bernstein should have faced charges for releasing the top secret pentagon papers concerning the Vietnam war if there involvent could be proven. Daniel Elsberg should have been charged with espionage and the media that released it should have been charged with complicity. The entire Watergate affair rose out of this release. People are under the misconception that Watergate was broken into for political gains as McGovern's headquarters were located there. In actuality it was to enter Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrists office to try to learn what other secrets he was prepared to release, etc. This is where the entire "plumber" system in the Nixon administration rose from...to plug the leaks. Funny thing, had Nixon not been swept into the entire Watergate affair, he would have gone down in history as one of the great presidents of the 20th century. He made mistakes and broke some laws to try to cover up the watergate affair, but they actually were in the name of national security. Believe what you will and holler as loudly as you want, but those are the real facts. Woodward and Bernstein were more instrumental in revealing the coverup, but whomever were instrumental in releasing the Penatagon papers as well as the Wikileaks info should be charged as possible. I'm aware that it is not "cool" to associate yourself with the medias depiction of Nixon, but I wish we had him in the white house now!!!!

Posted by: KJB013 | December 7, 2010 9:42 AM

If Asange is prosecuted, then every single player over the last 12 years in the political and world stage should also be prosecuted. Everyone is still embarrassed about what was revealed in the cables, and is lashing out. It's very cool seeing them squirm, even as the lies they've been telling the world are being shown.

Posted by: fmamstyle | December 7, 2010 9:49 AM

JG08, Laws are vaporous little annoyances that are changed constantly to give someone the power they crave. It's happened too many times to count that a law was changed to fit someone's agenda. Uncomfortable thought, huh? That your bedrock-solid world can be ripped out from under you in the stroke of the Supreme Court's whim? Hmmmmmm.....what a strange and scary world it is.

Posted by: fmamstyle | December 7, 2010 9:53 AM

If we open a pandora's box of trying to prosecute whistleblowers etc on political charges we run the risk of being held accountable for our own "war crimes." We violated the Geneva convention by the use of torture and waterboarding. We got off easy. Next time it could be more difficult.

Posted by: Dipsy1 | December 7, 2010 9:58 AM

*hits head against wall multiple times*

PEOPLE. He is not an AMERICAN. What the Hell are we going to "prosecute" him with since Treason and Espionage call for the prosecution of people here. In *AMERICA*.

I'm no longer scared of Assange. I'm scared of the idiocracy taking place on both sides of the fence here. Here's an idea: stop taking ideas pandered to you by figures and the media and instead step back, investigate the issues, and make a decision yourself. And then you wouldn't look silly screaming "OMFGTREASON!1!!" when people come along and say, "Actually, no. Have you read the law on Treason? Or the definition?"

Posted by: MasonPatriot1 | December 7, 2010 10:09 AM

Prosecute? No.

Execute? Yes.

How terrible? It's called war.

Are we at war? If you don't know the answer...

But will we not become less than human? Destroying Hitler didn't harm "the greatest generation."

Wasn't that different? No, not really.

This makes you uncomfortable? And your children living under Sharia Law is better.

It can't happen here? Tell 1940's Germany.

Not a fair comparison? Then, why do Islamists love Hitler?

Posted by: RobertAJonesJr | December 7, 2010 10:24 AM

It is not treason he can be charged under, but espionage. Don't have to be an american citizen. Have YOU ever read the espionage laws??? Kind of nitpicking aren't you?

Posted by: KJB013 | December 7, 2010 10:30 AM

AUDRITSH ~ although Assange probably thought he was into simple espionage, many people would prefer no more money be wasted on this guy.

Just give him a 2 minute headstart up in the taiga/tundra during a Fenno-Scandian winter and let those women he tricked into not using rubbers head out after him with ULUs.

Feminism will have its pound of flesh ~ or maybe a bit less than that ~ we don't really know do we!

Posted by: muawiyah | December 7, 2010 10:42 AM

There are high crimes that have occurred in this country that have gone unpunished. Why start now?


Posted by: kucy1 | December 7, 2010 11:10 AM

Or maybe he should be brought up on war crimes before the World Court for reckless anarchy seeking to undermine world diplomacy.

Posted by: TeddyRoosevelt | December 7, 2010 11:17 AM

US laws apply only on US soil. Assange is not a US citizen and he doesn't operate in the US.

Even if he was, freedom of the press would apply. Otherwise the media outlets which republished any of this information would be equally guilty. Note that the same cannot be said for the people who actually leaked the documents, as they would have been under agreements to keep classified documents secret. Going after Assange instead would just turn him into more of a celebrity.

Whether what Wikileaks does is a "valuable public service" or just irresponsible is a different question.

Posted by: afpre42 | December 7, 2010 11:51 AM

With respect to the question of whether the US should prosecute Assange- at this point, it really doesn't make any difference. The WORLD is ALREADY VOTING.
I just checked, and at this point the WikiLeaks Website is alive and well and living mainly in Europe, but more broadly all over the planet. At this moment Wikileaks is currently being mirrored on 748 sites worldwide (updated 2010-12-07 08:33 GMT). (That is up from 208 just yesterday.)

Over 929 of the "Cablegate" Embassy cables have now been released. And they really do make for some interesting reading. I heartily recommend that people really should go and CHECK OUT THE MATERIAL FOR THEMSELVES (rather than relying on "legitimate" sources --- e.g. the Guardian, der Spiegel, the NY Times) to "filter" the truth for them. Just visit, for example, WikiLeaks.de (.de = Deutschland)

And the file "insurance.aes256" has at this point been propagated throughout Cyberspace. Moreover, if Julian Assange&Co. themselves do not end up releasing the encryption code, it sems likely that the ingenious and industrious community of computer enthusiasts will, if an actual challenge persists, sooner or later, "crack" it in any case. (So the clock is ticking!)

The INTELLIGENT thing for "our" government to do now would be to "capitulate" (as it does with so much else of an ECONOMIC sort these days) and CONSTRUCTIVELY JOIN IN with WikiLeaks in EXPOSING reality --- but CONTRIBUTING to the process of "redacting out" selected names and details that would truly endanger GENUINELY INNOCENT people who might be susceptible to reprisals, and perhaps offering or arranging them asylum elsewhere.

But it is unlikely that “we” will actually deal with a problem very intelligently. I fully realize that such a notion probably comes across as ANATHEMA to MANY people who might read this. But the FACT of the matter is that the ALTERNATIVE is LIKELY TO BE EVEN UGLIER.

In any case, propagation of the "leaks" is certainly NOT "treason" on the part of Assange, and probably not MOST of the WikiLeaks consortium, who are so far as I know NOT Americans --- and hence owe NO allegiance to the government of THIS nation. PERIOD.

The noton that the leadership of WikiLeaks is somehow obliged to subordinate itself to "ours" is certainly an arrogant and insidious absurdity. And those who are "sensitive" about supposed “lofty legalistic principles” in all of this should reflect on the sheer hypocrisy implicit in "our" seemingly getting exercised about the mere EXPOSURE of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, while remaining strangely silent about much more basic and clear-cut substance clearly evident in what has been exposed --- ESPECIALLY, for instance, the self-validating, UTTERLY DAMNING indictment of "our" society that is so clearly seen in the Collateral Murder video that was the "first shot across the bow" of this whole entire "information exposure campaign"!

Many people are now attempting to "change the subject".

Posted by: BirdsAbound | December 7, 2010 12:25 PM

While I am unsure of the fairness of the sexual misconduct charges against Assange, I applaud him and Wikileaks for exposing the morally and strategically bankrupt policies of the US government. Even by the standards of a country that attack and invades other countries and topples overseas government, stealing the DNA and credit card numbers of UN diplomats is a cheap shot.

Posted by: suhail_shafi | December 7, 2010 1:34 PM

The latest release of "presumed" companies and organizations doing intel work shows how dangerous these actions are. Al Q is probably thankful that someone did research and posted sites for them to target, whether the organization or company is actually working for the Government or not!

Posted by: mh10 | December 7, 2010 1:40 PM

This poll is just plain silly.
Assange is a lighting rod and will be Person of The Year. Wikileaks is giving the World the information that the "mainstream" media isn't.

The First Internet War is finally here and the US government is powerless to do anything about it.

Posted by: grannymiller1 | December 7, 2010 1:58 PM

Most American CITIZENS regard Julian Assange as a hero and a martyr to the cause of Liberty, Truth, and Justice.

Three things the Supreme Court tossed out the window when they invented the legal fiction that Corporations are People.

People you can't draft, can't hang by the neck until dead, and can't imprison.

History will judge this the same way it did the fake lies in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Posted by: WillSeattle | December 7, 2010 2:39 PM

typical left bias in this poll from a left leaning paper.

This guy is providing no value. Needs to be in jail the rest of his life.

Posted by: password11 | December 7, 2010 3:38 PM

Posted by: jdsolano | November 30, 2010 10:59 AM

He should "disappear".

---------------

Just remember jdsolano .. If he can be 'disappeared' so can YOU .. are you sure you want to head down that slippery slope?

Posted by: TightWhiteRight | December 7, 2010 4:14 PM

There are too many people here who fail to realize that HE DID NOT COMMIT A CRIME - he published a document no different than thousands of people before him, many of whom the government lauded.

To the first comment, which stated that the law should be changed if we don't like it... I'd ask, how many government policies do you believe you could influence over the course of a decade? I'd be surprised if that number exceeds zero.

Why are the people of the United States so afraid to reign in their government. I say "they," even thought I am a born citizen, because I do not feel comfortable being attributed as typically American at the moment.

I am proud of all those who stand up for a man who took a risk. Let's call ourselves NEWMERICANS.

For all those who find what he did to be wrong, I am confident that years down the line he will be justified and you will reap the benefits of his work and sacrifice.

A final word: I spend a significant amount of time in China and was recently under intense scrutiny by the government for taking a photo on a street - they took my camera and laptop for a week and erased my hard drive - even accused me of working with the CIA?!

I AM VERY CONCERNED THAT THE UNITED STATES IS HEADING DOWN THE SAME PATH AS CHINA.

Please consider deeply that the United States was founded by a group of people who acted towards Britain the same way Wikileaks is acting towards corrupted entities. Wikileaks is just balancing the world. Let that sink in.

Posted by: registerjj | December 8, 2010 8:07 AM

I'm in the camp that says Assange should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as possibly the only living journalist left on earth.

Posted by: rbaldwin2 | December 10, 2010 12:39 AM

Yes, by all means. That way when he's acquitted for the same reasons the AIPAC spies were acquitted after he's been held in jail under harsh conditions for months or even years the U.S. will appear even more pathetic and he'll be elevated to the status of martyr.

Posted by: politbureau | December 10, 2010 1:44 AM

If Assange is prosecuted then all the newspaper publishers should also be prosecuted for publishing classified information. After all those that disseminate illegal information are just a guilty as those that stole it... like trafficking in stolen goods.

Posted by: mrlewish | December 10, 2010 2:03 AM

@JG08- Exactly what law/s did WikiLeaks break?
@Password11-No value to you, maybe, but immense value to free society and a true democracy.
@If the "victims" of so-called r-pe were so distressed, how come they bragged about sleeping with Assange next day, and how come one of them threw a party for him?

Posted by: faithb | December 10, 2010 5:29 AM

The Washington Post must be prosecuted for doing exactly what did Wikileaks, i.e. publishing leaks.

Which law, exactly, forbide Washington Post or Wikipedia to publish hidden information ?
That's why, after three months, no prosecutor could find a single account of lawbreaking against Wikipedia !

Posted by: morelweb | December 10, 2010 6:35 AM

If he smoked marijuana in Sweden can the US prosecute him for violating US laws that prohibit possession?

Has the American Empire grown so much that we believe every person on the planet are subject to US laws regardless of where they are?

Why don't we charge Vladmir Putin with espionage? There's no doubt in my mind that he directed espionage against the US at one time or another.

Putin has likely lied to US Secretaries of State or Sec Defs or Presidents can we charge him with lying to Federal authorities?

Posted by: James10 | December 10, 2010 7:36 AM

Only half of those responding to a media organization's own poll (and they're probably other journalists who rely upon pilfered documents for their livelihood) would not prosecute Assange.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 10, 2010 8:17 AM

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning the sodomite, on the other hand, can be tried for treason.

Gsy in military = Bradley Manning = Wikileaks traitor

Posted by: screwjob23 | December 10, 2010 8:34 AM

Why sure Dick Cheney should be prosecuted for outing a CIA agent.

AGreed 100% Would recommend A+++ Great buyer.

Posted by: OmmpaLoompa7 | December 10, 2010 8:44 AM

People are forgetting he's been arrested on charges of sexual assault -- against at least 2 women. His arrest has nothing to do with leaking confidential documents.

Posted by: ccs53 | December 10, 2010 9:19 AM

I bet this poll has already been tweeted to all of Assange's silly little band of idiots. What brave heros attacking the United States. That's right, on a planet with countries like China, North Korea, Russia and Saudi Arabia, you attack the U.S. for your juvenile crusade, using the U.S. as a pros ti tute for your ego. What a hero, you and your "Assangavistas." Let Russia extradite him, we know what they do to journalists. If you think the U.S. is such a big enemy, why give you the benefit of our court system? Extradite him to a country with Sharia law.

Posted by: DPoniatowski | December 10, 2010 9:41 AM

Oh,

I'm sorry- I thought this was the Jesus and Homosexuality article on the WAPO.

Such quality material - and then all those Chevron, Shell and CIA ads to pay for it all.

I guess the Jesus and Homesexuality article on Faith was right below this one on the front page.

I'd much rather read about UBS and Nazi gold - but that ones not released yet.

Posted by: OmmpaLoompa7 | December 10, 2010 9:46 AM

JG08 writes: "Regardless of whether he is providing an "important public service," he broke the law. You don't like the law, then change it, but the fact remains that he violated federal law."

What law?

Posted by: pcarlson1 | December 10, 2010 10:13 AM

RE: sex charges. Those seem too conveniently fabricated. From "rape" to "having sex without a condom"? If the CIA offered me money I'd claim the same.

Posted by: alarico | December 10, 2010 10:31 AM

I think if the US arrested Julian ?

The only option as a matter of national security would be a commute.

It all depends on how honest the US Department of State and US Department of Justice and US Department of Defense has been with the acting President.

If President Obama KNOWS ? then a commute will result. If President Obama DOESN'T KNOW ? Then at the least a whole lot of people are going to be S-canned at DoS, DoJ and DoD - and all in all ?

Unlike Larry Di Rita over at the Pentagon before he decided to go become Bank of America's leak spokesperson ? Where Larry made SURE the flushing of the Koran was publicized ? I think the FLUSHING sound at the State Department would be welcomed by most US citizens providing they gain REAL intel on just what the HELL I'm referring to.

I'm not talking 3rd party EITHER DoD.

The FINAL end game will be through mechanism of Bank of America.

Go ask former General - chief architect of the Bush war in Afghanistan - General Tommy Franks.

Wasn't my idea, but the HELL if I'm going to let these mothers get away with it.

Remember people- to turn your back on your nation state when it's corrupt ? is one criminal

But to turn your back on the species ?

That's taboo.

Ask yourself which takes priority...

Humanity ? Which is what allowed you to exist at all ?

Or some half baked bump up from feudalism trying to hold on while the global economy emerges, the global media share emerges...

Nationalism STOPPED serving humanity on Augest 7th, 1945. Note I corrected the DATE for what it was in JAPAN.

For God sakes, let's at least respect the people who were obliterated by using the proper date.

If you think use of a nuclear weapon is justified by ANY person for ANY reason ?

Your not part of the future of humanity.

Not nationalism- HUMANITY.

YOU PICK the long term model you think wins.

I choose humanity first.

Again, turning your back on your species ? You can go no lower.

Nation states come and go- virtue and species live on - and well ? my model of eternal life is through the species, and investing into the future of children.

Besides, thanks to Towell and Bush ?

Good luck US Department of Justice- the server AND the admin is in Paraguay !

Can go live - ANY DAY.

TWO WAY STREET.


Posted by: OmmpaLoompa7 | December 10, 2010 10:49 AM

The government should go after those that actually leaked the material to Assange. They are the ones who broke the law.

Posted by: morryb | December 10, 2010 10:51 AM

Hillary Clinton should get on the bullhorn to Timothy Towell and ask what he had in mind lobbying the Paraguayan senate in 2005 to block extradition of ' explicitly stated ' US war criminals.

The only thing is ? Thanks to Towell and Bush ?

Server AND Admin are protected.

And it goes out by satellite.

GUESS WHO's ?

US probably needs to unwind Bank of America sooner than later.

Somehow ? I don't think the FDIC has the budget for 2.x trillion collapse, not that the 1 in 3 households in the US that bank with BOAML comprise anywhere NEAR that amount.

Gee- I don't even think BOAML knows what's on their books. Amazing isn't it ?

Sure was a good idea making them EVEN BIGGER by forced merger with Merrill Lynch ? eh ?

And Homeland Security signs a deal with Walmart to put up monitors telling the US citizens what they need to do to stop terrorists meanwhile Bank of America can end this entire national economy in HOURS on any given day - let alone wreck the stock market.

And WHO IS THE REAL THREAT ?

Mysterious men with bears from the hills of Afghanistna or Yemen ?

Or the KNOWN BANK OF AMERICA ?

Very interesting General Tommy Franks decided to up and leave the war on terror in Afghanistan he architected and go sign on at Bank of America on the Board of Directors. With no prior banking experience ? I'm sure he was qualified ?

Makes ya wonder eh ?

Like I said, a commute will be in store for Juian I'm sure.

Worked for Scooter.

No one seems to have issue with that.

Posted by: OmmpaLoompa7 | December 10, 2010 10:57 AM

Libby went down like this:

I get a commute or I talk.

And if I show up dead in the Potomic ? Everyone will know.

Libby got a commute.

Julian will get a commute before US congress gets a chance to say -

instead of Dude Where's my car -

Dude - where's my job ?

What percentage of US congress would work pro bono ?

Rockefeller said it best...

"Control the currency, control the nation state..."

Whoops - wrong quote

"A nation state without an economy is not a nation state for long".

Who would have guessed the director of the movie The Manchurian Candidate DROVE Kennedy to the airport the day he was shot.

Who would have guessed Cheney and Rumsfeld were in charge of burying the Frank Olsen murder in New York City - over 30 years ago.

Gee, we probably don't want to know what Frank knew.

no WONDER there was a 'red scare' - gee, the CIA was feeding enough people LSD - the poor US citizens who didn't know they were being drugged.

Frank was drugged days before he was murdered.

Cheney knows it, I know it, Rumsfeld knows it - Frank's family knows it - I wonder what ELSE anyone knows.

Now, back to Julian... and the commute.

News at eleven !

Posted by: OmmpaLoompa7 | December 10, 2010 11:07 AM

WiKiLeaks = Freedom for people who care about the TRUTH and what IS and ISN'T a moral behavior on a part of US Gov.
( or we are going to argue that spying on UN Diplomats is "ok" too ??? )

Not too many of you here ever lived under Communism and corrupted Governmental System so most of you don't even know what is means to HAVE that Freedom to begin with, sorry to say.

It's sad that instead of being concerned about the TRUTH and what your Gov is really doing, 99% of you simply ignore that fact under the cover of "Top Secret Classification" nonsense.

I even wonder how many of these "prosecute Assanage" guys are really WANT this Country to actually BE a Free Nation .... not TOO many from what I see in comments, shame on you for not being on a right side of this issue ....

Posted by: DevilsSummit | December 10, 2010 2:12 PM

Americans, the only reason that Assange has been detailed is because he is going to expose the banks for the scandal of the century. The banks committed corruption and fraud and swindled the taxpayers, federal government and investors out of billions. Once Assange announced that he had confidential documents of a major US bank, the efforts to shut him down began. The banks have committed the scandal of the century and Assange is about to expose them, if he lives long enough. The release of this information will results in criminal investigations, mega lawsuits and major revision of banking legislation. Even a few political heads will roll. The securities and mortgage fraud is going to make the Madoff scandal look like peanuts. The DOJ and SEC are aware of these felonies and have mildly slapping the banks on the wrists. But, once Assange drops the bomb, they will be forced to give the impression that they are trying to handle their responsibilities. Congress and the DOJ must ordered a National Foreclosure Moratorium today; order the cease of destruction of any documents by the banks, MERS, investment firms bank servicers. This will allow to thoroughly investigate and prosecute these crimes before the billions and the crooks disappear.

Posted by: awesomelm | December 10, 2010 6:19 PM

Hello, JG08, you said that Assange broke FEDERAL law. He isn't a US citizen and he doesn't reside in the USA. He is not subject to US state and federal laws. Did he break international law? That's the question. The main "law" he broke is telling the truth and exposing dirty secrets. If the US government were transparent and honest, they would not be after Assange.

Posted by: tikkun_usa | December 11, 2010 3:20 PM

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