George Orwell once wrote, “Truth is treason in an empire of lies.” This statement has become increasingly truer over the last decade with Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Chelsea Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Stephen Kim, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden having been charged with violating the Espionage Act during the Obama Presidency.
John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer who was the first to confirm specific torture methods used by the CIA, said “You can either go through proper channels and risk prison, or you can go to the press and risk prison. Or you can just keep your mouth shut. And the powers that be are banking that you’re just going to keep your mouth shut.” To date, Kiriakou is the only government agent connected to the CIA’s use of torture to be incarcerated in connection with the CIA’s use of torture.
Of the aforementioned whistleblowers charged, and convicted, of a criminal offense Manning was given the longest sentence. Originally sentenced to 35 years in prison, Manning will be released on May 17 after serving almost 7 years behind bars – Manning was arrested May 20, 2010. And it now appears the Trump Administration is going to continue this War on Whistleblowers, with reports stating, “Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization.” The UK Independent reports, “Prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange, but now believe they have found a way to move forward.” However those ways to move forward have not been revealed.
One of Assange’s attorneys, Barry Pollack, said officials with the Department of Justice have not discussed the status of any investigation with either him or Assange. Pollack said there was “no legitimate basis for the Department of Justice to treat WikiLeaks differently than it treats other journalists,” adding, “however frustrating it might be to whoever looks bad when information is published — WikiLeaks is a publisher, and they are publishing truthful information that is in the public’s interest.”
WikiLeaks has come under scrutiny for publishing the Vault 7 leaks, which revealed “secret cyber-tools used by the CIA to convert cellphones, televisions and other ordinary devices into implements of espionage.” WikiLeaks also published the leaked emails from the DNC during the 2016 election cycle, and thousands of diplomatic cables, leaked by Manning in 2010, revealing potential war crimes.
In the book A Clash of Kings (the 2nd book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire), Tyrion Lannister says, “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” Instead of eliminating its corruption and illegal operations, the US government wants to tear out the metaphorical tongue that has not been deterred from speaking the truth. And criminal charges against Assange, will very likely have the opposite intended affect, and may actually embolden others to reveal the secrets of those who claim to be in power.