Taylor Hudak is an independent journalist, activist and the co-founder of Action 4 Assange. She is one of four co-hosts on the #FreeAssangeVigil series, which airs live on Wednesdays at 10pm EST (US) on Action 4 Assange YouTube. Taylor focuses her work on issues related to Julian Assange, whistleblowers and the free press. She is currently an MA candidate at Kent State University.
Behind what appears to be the height of political tensions in the United States is a singular political party—a class of individuals who not only share a distinct and lenient set of rules and regulations exclusive to only them, but a great disdain for anyone willing to expose it.
Too often those who exist in this elite class infiltrate the election cycles—and sometimes, even rig them.
It is said that the correlation of a candidate’s campaign promises and his or her voting record and policy implementation can indicate his or her true intentions. But once the public becomes aware, it is too late.
Much can be revealed about a candidate’s intent based upon his or her perspective on how to treat the ultimate check on power or perhaps how to treat the world’s most persecuted journalist. They both are the same, and his name is Julian Assange.
REPRESENTATIVE TULSI GABBARD
(June 5, 2019) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard posted a video on Twitter in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
Gabbard: “Charging Assange under the Espionage Act will have a serious chilling effect on our most fundamental rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Every American, certainly every journalist, must strongly condemn this anti-Democratic act by the Trump Administration.”
Rep. Gabbard said she would drop the charges and pardon Snowden.
Gabbard: “There is not an actual channel for whistleblowers like them to bring forward information that exposes egregious abuses of our constitutional rights and liberties period.”
Gabbard: “What we’re really defending is freedom of speech and freedom of the press… if we don’t stand up for those freedoms and in this case, the freedom of the press, when they are under attack and when they are at peril, then each of us whether as journalists or as everyday Americans, are also facing that threat of having our own personal freedom undermined because really what’s happening with Julian Assange, as well as Chelsea Manning, Snowden and others is the government taking a position that if you are pushing transparency, if you’re putting out information that the government deems will make them look bad or that they don’t like, then they will use the force of law to come after you and make an example of you. And try to prevent anyone else from doing the same. And whether you agree or disagree with what Julian Assange has done or if he’s a good guy or bad guy or whatever these are all irrelevant points because really what we’re talking about is freedom of the press and what’s happening to Julian Assange will very well happen to any other journalist, whether with new media or with main stream media or with any American for that matter who speaks up and speaks out on the truth, our government is showing that if you do that there will be consequences and that’s very dangerous.”
Rep. Gabbard’s anti-war and anti-interventionist stance coupled with her outward support for Julian Assange allowed her to stand out among the other establishment candidates. As a result, Gabbard garnered a unique base of supporters many of whom are free Assange and First Amendment activists.
Moreover, Gabbard’s consistent respect for a free press and support for WikiLeaks publishing activities is an indicator of what America would look like under the leadership of a President Gabbard because unlike the majority of her opponents who support the prosecution of Julian Assange, Gabbard values and understands the vitality of there being an ultimate check on power.
Additionally, Gabbard did not have to issue a video in strong support of Julian Assange. In fact, his case, Chelsea Manning’s and Edward Snowden’s are not among the priority talking points in the mainstream media’s 2020 presidential election coverage. There was no alternative motive for her to release the video, therefore suggesting her authenticity to be the only true reason.
According to his 2020 presidential campaign website, Ian Schlackman supports whistleblowers—a stance shared universally among members of the Green Party.
On the website, Schlackman wrote: “We’re on a dangerous path. Not only have we criminalized whistleblowers exposing illegal acts of the US Government, such as Edward Snowden. We’re also criminalizing journalists & their sources. Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning & Reality Winner all imprisoned and all representing various parts of our nation criminalizing journalists. Human Rights Watch is warning Assange’s case will have dire consequences for press freedoms worldwide. All of these cases should be ended immediately & fully pardoned.”
(Aug. 7, 2019) Ian Schlackman appeared on the Free Assange Vigil Series and was asked if and how he would address Julian Assange on day one of his presidency.
Schlackman: “I think that you absolutely need to close the case with Julian Assange immediately and whatever the hell is going on with the grand jury and Chelsea and of course, I would pardon Reality Winner as well. Going back to Assange though, the case against him is so wildly dangerous because they’re not just charging him as a whistleblower… but first of all, he’s not even a US citizen and second of all, they’re charging him as a journalist. So where will this end? Will we be able to abduct journalists around the globe the US disagrees with and extradite them and basically Guantanamo them? I mean that’s why this precedent is so unbelievably dangerous.”
(Aug. 7, 2019) Adam Kokesh, member of the Libertarian Party, appeared on the Free Assange Vigil Series and was asked if and how he would address Julian Assange on day one of his presidency if he were elected.
Kokesh: “As for my campaign and Julian Assange, pardon on day one no question. In fact, a big part of this platform is that everybody in the United States who has ever been charged with a victimless crime will be immediately pardoned.”
(April 11, 2019) Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins published a statement on his campaign website providing his stance on Julian Assange following his arrest in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Hawkins wrote: “The freedom of all of the press is threatened by the US indictment of Julian Assange in connection with the publication of U.S. government documents. We must oppose Assange’s extradition to the U.S. because he is unlikely to receive a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, where the intelligence and defense industries are based. We must oppose Assange’s extradition to the U.S because he is likely to face cruel and inhumane treatment… Rather than prosecuting a publisher for reporting the truth, the war crimes and human rights violations exposed by Wikileaks should be prosecuted by US and international courts. Those who committed crimes should be prosecuted, not the journalist who reported them.”
Candidate Hawkins’ statements are a strong condemnation of the DOJ’s decision to charge a publisher. However, Hawkins fails to specify which action he would take to free Assange of these charges.
(Published June 1, 2019) In an interview with Primo Nutmeg, a reporter asks Hawkins if he thinks WikiLeaks was involved in this Russian plot.
Hawkins: “I don’t know if they’re working for Russia. Assange is working for himself. And I have to tell you, him giving the advise to Donald Jr.– you should protest the election if you lose– I mean he’s dealing with the son of a clansman to become our president an out and out racist who’s encouraging the right-wing who’s armed to come out and cause mayhem. I mean those politics are really bad. So you know, if he goes to trial we may find out more. I don’t think he should on this 2010 charge that’s a whistleblower thing and he was a publisher and he should be defended. But his politics in 2010, trying to give advice to Donald Jr. for the campaign, you know working with, you know that’s bad. I don’t support that at all… so that remains to be seen if he’s working with the Russians or if he’s biased with them. But he should not be prosecuted for publishing the leaks provided by Private Manning.”
Candidate Hawkins’ spoken words in comparison to his statements published on his campaign website are moderately contradictory. For instance, Hawkins provides the generic Green Party stance on whistleblowing and a free press, which is to support the journalists and prosecute the war criminals. However, this sentiment is not addressed in his response to the reporter’s question.
Instead, Hawkins begins with a smear against Julian Assange suggesting that he associates with racists and therefore is of poor character or withholds abhorrent political views. Following this admission, Hawkins proceeds to condemn prosecuting Assange for publishing the leaks provided by Chelsea Manning, but then manages to circle back to his taking advice from Donald Jr.
What is similar between his written word on the website and his spoken word in the interview, is that Hawkins fails to confirm if he would drop the case against Julian Assange. Furthermore, Hawkins is adhering to the false Russian narrative that Assange may have worked with the Russian government to benefit then-candidate Trump.
The reporter follows up and asks Hawkins if he considers it a crime to expose the DNC emails which revealed the primary elections were rigged against then-candidate Bernie Sanders.
Hawkins: “No, not for WikiLeaks. The crime is hacking. That’s a crime. Assange said he didn’t get it from the Russians. The intelligence community said the Russians did it.”
Candidate Hawkins is more supportive of WikiLeaks and Assange than the average establishment candidate, however his support may not be genuine. Hawkins responses indicate he most-likely receives the majority of his news from the mainstream media. This is apparent in his reciting of the Russia-gate talking points. Perhaps candidate Hawkins is attempting to appease the Green Party by appearing to be pro-Assange, while unconsciously interjecting his dislike and lack of support for the WikiLeaks founder.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS
(May 24, 2019) An article published in The Intercept examines Sen. Bernie Sanders tweets addressing Julian Assange.
Sanders: “Let me be clear: it is a disturbing attack on the First Amendment for the Trump administration to decide who is or is not a reporter for the purposes of a criminal prosecution.”
Sen. Sanders failure to strongly support Julian Assange and acknowledge his name has become a real irritant to his supporters, many of whom strongly support WikiLeaks and its founder.
Days following Julian’s arrest in the Ecuadorian embassy, Sanders held a planned rally in Michigan where he spoke about justice and equal rights. However, when speaking about LGBTQ rights he failed to address Chelsea Manning. Additionally, when speaking about justice he failed to address the war crimes that Julian Assange exposed.
When examining his campaign, one will find journalists who have endured censorship and media suppression. Journalists, including David Sirota and Biahna Gray, work for the Sanders campaign and at one time held positive viewpoints toward the existence of WikiLeaks. It is the duty of these journalists to ensure that Julian Assange’s case is an issue addressed by Sanders to the greatest extent– in every interview and at every rally.
(April 25, 2019) In an interview with comedian Jimmy Dore on The Jimmy Dore Show, Williamson is questioned about her stance on Julian Assange.
Williamson: “I go back and forth. I have a lot of ambivalence on the Julian Assange issue. Early on I saw him as any whistleblower and that he’s very important and the role he was playing and the function he was serving and I was very much aware of the fact that the system suppresses the whistleblower… In this last election it’s not as clear to me. Like who are you working for Julian? You’re just going down on that campaign and not the other campaign so I don’t know I see both sides (inaudible).”
Williamson: “The Julian Assange thing for many of us is a little not as black and white as you see it to be.”
Dore: “Well the Obama Administration’s Justice Department declined to prosecute him and The Washington Post editorial just a few years ago said the same thing—so what would you say the difference between Julian Assange publishing war crimes by the United States released by Chelsea Manning and the difference between Daniel Ellsberg and The Washington Post printing the pentagon papers—they’re both publishers, correct?”
Williamson: “I didn’t think there was any difference until this last thing happened with the election. Now that you’re saying that about the election and that’s where I’m still in process. Before this election, I saw no difference. Until this election and what happened with the election with Hillary Clinton I saw it exactly the same as Daniel Ellsberg.”
(Aug. 25, 2019) During a campaign event in New Market, NH, journalist Dack Rouleau asks Williamson to clarify her position on Julian Assange.
Williamson: “I’m tilting in the direction of if you’re going to stand for whistleblowers, you stand for whistleblowers. And I have to within myself, I have to discern, where is it Marianne that you just don’t like his personality, you know, because his personality is not an issue here. So there is a dangerous shutting down, and this was even true during the Obama Administration, there’s a dangerous shutting down of the whistleblowers. I realize that. And he’s a whistleblower.”
The mainstream media, most notably CNN, MSNBC, The Guardian and The NY Times, are responsible for disseminating false information regarding Assange’s personality in an attempt to discredit him and destroy his character. Williamson has never met nor spoken with Assange, therefore her aversion toward his personality being a factor in her lack of support for him is a result of effective mainstream media propaganda.
Alternatively, her ability to slightly evolve her stance on Assange is a result of accountability journalism. Comedian Jimmy Dore effectively takes Williamson’s responses, rephrases them, follows up and even corrects her falsehoods. Throughout the interview, the viewer can see Williamson gradually begin to realize she may need to re-examine her position on Assange.
FORMER CONGRESSMAN BETO O’ROURKE
(May 30, 2019) In an interview with a reporter from Citizen Source published on Medium, the reporter asks former Rep. Beto O’Rourke about his stance on Julian Assange.
O’Rourke: “I want to make sure that we don’t do anything that chills the ability to hold people in positions of public trust accountable to make sure that the public and the press have the facts to make informed decisions. Those are my values without commenting on a specific case.”
Former Rep. O’Rourke careful word choice and effort to avoid addressing Julian Assange’s case suggests he would most-likely do nothing to liberate Assange. Instead, O’Rourke is fixated on running an establishment-friendly campaign that would lead to a presidency that would allow the justice department and intelligence agencies to continue their abuses of power.
His statement is contradictory. He claims to support a journalist’s ability to hold the powerful to account, yet he chooses to remain silent on the one case that will directly impede on that ability.
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR
(Nov. 29, 2010) In a radio interview with WCCO’s Chad Hartman, Sen. Klobuchar encourages a tough punishment on WikiLeaks following the release of the State Department Cables.
In reference to the leak and its subsequent publication, Klobuchar said: “I think it’s an enormous story and it’s more than a story it’s actually an enormous security risk… It really undermines our efforts to work with other countries Secretary of State Clinton just went on noting that, and that it really tears at the fabric of our government when this kind of thing happens. And that’s what I’m concerned about, and that we have to make sure that the person who appears to be the original leaker here– this Private Manning who’s down the food chain here. First of all, why did she have access to all this information first of all I think that’s something we’re going to have to push but then obviously holding her responsible.”
In reference to Manning, Klobuchar said: “A lot of people believe she could get a prison term for the rest of her life, and I think that would be appropriate.”
Klobuchar: “The other piece of this is what responsibility, legal responsibility, WikiLeaks has with their website. If there’s any way we can push that to say that you can’t put illegally obtained documents up on your website, and I think that’s worth it… If we can show that the material on there was stolen that website can actually be taken down. What you do with something like WikiLeaks which has vast amount of material that’s legal and then they put on things that are illegal I mean that’s where were going to have to strike the balance and make sure that security isn’t jeopardized but this is devastating to our national security.”
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
(2010) In an interview with ABC News (Australia), then-Vice President Joe Biden was asked on Meet The Press if the United States should take any measures to stop Assange.
Biden: “We’re looking at that right now. The Justice Department is taking a look at that, and I’m not going to comment on that process.”
The then-Vice President is asked by the anchor if Assange is a criminal.
Biden: “If he conspired to get these classified documents with a member of the US military, that’s fundamentally different than if somebody drops on your lap—here David, you’re a press person, here is classified material.”
The anchor asks Biden if this case is more like the pentagon papers or a high-tech terrorist.
Biden: “I would argue that it’s closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the pentagon papers.”
For Julian Assange to be a high-tech terrorist, his activities and publications would have to induce wide-spread terror and fear. Instead, WikiLeaks’ releases informed the public of truthful information so voters could make better informed decisions that would result in a more moral and just society.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN
(2019) In an article published in The Washington Times, Sen. Elizabeth Warren provided her perspective on Julian Assange.
Warren: “Assange is a bad actor who has harmed U.S. national security—and he should be held accountable… But Trump should not be using this case as a pretext to wage war on the First Amendment and go after the free press who hold the powerful accountable every day.”
There is no evidence to suggest that any WikiLeaks publications harmed national security. Such a comment was a tactic adopted by the mainstream media to discredit the organization and downplay the significance of its journalistic work.
Warren refers to Assange as a bad actor, which is misleading because WikiLeaks has a 100% accuracy rate. To be a bad actor, it would imply that WikiLeaks was manipulating reports for some intended outcome, or that its staff was working with adversarial governments, for which there is not evidence.
Furthermore, Warren contradicts herself when she argues that Assange should but held accountable yet President Trump should not use this case to hinder the state of the free press.
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG
(2019) In an interview with CBS radio, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked about Chelsea Manning being imprisoned for a second time for her refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.
Buttigieg: “As somebody who was tasked with handling sensitive information, information that could get people killed I took an oath and made promises that I would handle it responsibly. And when you’re involved in divulging classified information that can harm American troops overseas that is not something to be taken lightly.”
CBS News Radio asked about former President Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence.
Buttigieg: “I’m troubled by that.”
CBS News Radio asked if NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is a hero or a villain in his (Buttigieg’s) perspective.
Buttigieg: “When you are trusted with classified information you have made a promise, and if you are not comfortable safe-guarding information that could get Americans killed, then you shouldn’t be in that profession. I certainly agree that we have learned things about abuses and one way or another that needed to come out. But in my view, the way for that to come out is through congressional oversight not through a breach of classified information”
There is no evidence to suggest that anyone was harmed due to the material leaked by Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden or any of the information published on WikiLeaks as Mayor Buttigieg suggested.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO
(Published Aug. 17, 2019) Journalist Dack Rouleau confronted Mayor de Blasio and asked if he supported Julian Assange.
de Blasio: “No I don’t honestly… because I believe very much that we have to address the issues that have been covered up, but I don’t think he did it the right way.”
Rouleau: “What do you think he could have done more effectively?”
de Blasio: “When it’s issues where people’s lives may be in danger or national security may be in danger, there has to be some kind of limit. So based on what I know, the impulse to get information out to the public that oftentimes that the government should provide but doesn’t– that’s a good impulse, but I think the way he did it is the wrong way. That’s my feeling.”
(Oct. 13, 2016) Politico published an article concerning WikiLeaks’ release of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.
Mayor Bill de Blasio provided his insight and perspective on the publications.
According to the article, Mayor de Blasio says to reporters: “I think all of us have private lives. All of us have things that are not, historically, subject to public review… And I think it creates a very, very troubling dynamic where there is no privacy of any kind anymore.”
SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND
Dec. 12, 2010) According to Sen. Gillibrand’s government website, she called on then-President Obama in an open letter to crack down on “cyber-criminals” following a cyber-attack on MasterCard, Visa and PayPal.
MasterCard, Visa and PayPal unlawfully prevented WikiLeaks supporters from donating to the organization in late 2010. In retaliation, Anonymous launched Operation Payback, which consisted of distributed denial-of-service (DDos) attacks on PayPal following its decision to discontinue the processing of donations to the whistleblowing website, according to a report from RT.
June 18, 2019) In a video published by journalist Dack Rouleau, Rouleau confronts Andrew Yang at a campaign event in Concord to question his support or lack of for Julian Assange.
Yang: “I think Julian Assange should stand trial. I’m generally pro-whistleblower and like pro-people trying to call out bad behaviors. But in that particular case he did disclose information that had really no useful purpose except for potential damage to our infrastructure (inaudible). So ya I think he should stand trial.”
There is no evidence to support Yang’s claim that WikiLeaks’ publications have or may have damaged infrastructure.
REPRESENTATIVE ERIC SWALWELL
(2019) In an interview with CNN that was later published on Breitbart, Representative Eric Swalwell provided his stance on Julian Assange.
Swalwell: “It will be heartening to see Mr. Assange be brought to justice, and I also want to respect the role of journalists and distinguish him from a journalist. He works with state actors to obtain our country and other countries intelligence information and interfere in elections. So I have no sympathy for Mr. Assange with respect to what he did.”
Swalwell: “He (Trump) doesn’t commend the British for working with us to extradite Mr. Assange.”
During the interview, Rep. Swalwell mentioned that the people want to know if Assange met with Paul Manafort in the Ecuadorian embassy. However, this story published in The Guardian by Luke Harding has been proven false. The Guardian never retracted the story.
Swalwell also claims that Assange is not a journalist, which is an irrelevant argument. Not only does the United States government not issue a licensure for one to practice journalism, but a journalist is not granted any additional protections under the First Amendment.
SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET
(2018) In an article published on the World Socialist Web Site, Michael Bennet was one of 10 Democratic senators who signed a letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence demanding that the Trump Administration call upon the Ecuadorian government to revoke Julian Assange’s asylum and expel him from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The letter was sent prior to Vice President Pence’s visit to Ecuador in 2018. The contents of the letter indicate that the 10 senators viewed the Vice President’s visit as a unique opportunity to encourage Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno to further persecute Assange in exchange for restored US-Ecuador relations.
Near the conclusion of the letter, the 10 senators ask Pence to please relay their condolences to President Moreno for the deaths of two El Comercio journalists who were abducted in Northern Ecuador by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) a few months prior.
SENATOR COREY BOOKER
(2016) In a video posted by Press for Truth, reporter Dan Dicks asks Sen. Corey Booker what he thought of the WikiLeaks revelations suggesting that the 2016 primary election was rigged in favor of then-candidate Hillary Clinton.
Booker: “Well, the WikiLeaks are awful and it was unfortunate and I’m glad that the DNC chair (inaudible) stepped aside.”
FORMER REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DELANEY
(April 11, 2019) According to a press release on former Rep. John Delaney’s campaign website, the following is posted:
“Julian Assange should be extradited to the United States and tried for the charge that he allegedly assisted in hacking into government systems. Journalists are free to publish information that they receive but they are not free to participate in obtaining information illegally. This is the central question in the Assange case. The U.S. government has alleged that Assange assisted in hacking critical and confidential government information and in doing so, endangered the national security interests of the U.S. citizens and the identity of U.S. intelligence assets.”
FORMER CONGRESSMAN JOE WALSH
(2019) The day following Assange’s arrest, former Rep. Walsh went to Twitter to post his perspectives on the week’s events.
The United States government, nor any individual, has the authority to determine who is and is not a journalist.
GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER
(2019) Sirius XM’s Olivier Knox interviews Gov. John Hickenlooper. During the interview, Julian Assange and the First Amendment were addressed.
Hickenlooper: “Well the first amendment is one of the most sacred rights we have in the country. But that being said we have clear laws that are designed to protect the employees of our government when they’re working in foreign countries. Oftentimes they are in very dangerous situations that can be compromised easily if information is leaked… But I think the country needs to see you know someone like Mr. Assange… let’s get the facts and see exactly what the decisions he made and what were the sacrifices, and what was he trying to get done? And what were the sacrifices made on that behalf?”
FORMER GOVERNOR BILL WELD
(April 16, 2019) According to an article published in the Boston Globe, former Gov. Weld spoke with voters while campaigning.
Weld claimed he would pardon Edward Snowden but is undecided on how to address the Julian Assange case.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
(2016) During the 2016 US presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump famously said, “I love WikiLeaks” while on the campaign trail.
(April 11, 2019) When the president was asked if he still held the same amount of admiration for the anti-secrecy website, he adopted a much different tone than what was portrayed two years earlier.
Trump: “I know nothing about WikiLeaks, it’s not my thing. I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange. I’ve been seeing what’s happened with Assange and that will be a determination I would imagine mostly by the Attorney General who’s doing an excellent job so he will be making a determination. I know nothing really about him. It’s not my deal in life.”
It is under the leadership of President Trump that the Department of Justice charged Julian Assange with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in addition to 17 other counts related to espionage.
President Trump is claiming to not know anything about WikiLeaks and is assuring the reporters that his Attorney General will handle the case. Therefore, he is distancing himself from the case and the decision to charge and prosecute Assange.
(June 2013) In an appearance on Fox & Friends, which was later published in the Huffington Post, Donald Trump revealed his thoughts on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Trump: “You know there is still a thing called execution.”
FORMER HUD SECRETARY JULIAN CASTRO
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SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS
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GOVERNOR STEVE BULLOCK
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GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE
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MAYOR WAYNE MESSAM
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FORMER CONGRESSMAN JOE SESTAK
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CONGRESSMAN TIM RYAN
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Readers are encouraged to view the original source articles.
By Taylor Hudak