(NationalSentinel) Espionage: It seems as though federal intelligence agencies have had enough of Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, exposing their deepest, darkest secrets.
According to CNN, the Trump administration may be set to issue an arrest warrant for Assange, who has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past five years:
US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN.
The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.
Prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of Assange, but now believe they have found a way to move forward.
During President Barack Obama’s administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and officials at the Justice Department determined it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn’t alone in publishing documents stolen by Manning. Several newspapers, including The New York Times, did as well. The investigation continued, but any possible charges were put on hold, according to US officials involved in the process then.
The US view of WikiLeaks and Assange began to change after investigators found what they believe was proof that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents.
The point about the media publishing many of those documents is a relevant one because they also played a part in the disclosure. Snowden, for example, had extensive help from the Washington Post and journalist Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian.
So why single out Assange? Because so far, everything he’s published has proven to be accurate, and the disclosures are beginning to inhibit U.S. intelligence agencies’ ability to adequately protect the country. And politically/constitutionally speaking, he’s a much easier target. Justice Department lawyers must believe that going after the Post and Guardian would involve a lengthy court battle the government isn’t sure it would win.
But there’s no guarantee the government will win an espionage case against Assange, given that he’s merely the recipient and publisher (so he says) of information, not the conspirator who steals and then discloses it.
And there is this: Some in the intelligence community have said they believe Assange has had help from Russian intelligence (he says that’s not the case). If true, how is the Justice Department going to hold Moscow accountable?
We’ll see how all of this plays out. As damaging as these disclosures have been to the U.S. intelligence community, there has been some public benefit in knowing that many intelligence activities in the past have not simply crossed constitutional boundaries, but have completely destroyed them.