The war on journalism: The case against Julian Assange

The War on Journalism, a documentary film on Julian Assange,1 is scheduled to be viewed at All Souls UU Church, 4501 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64111, Oct. 22, 7 PM, followed by a discussion with Gabrial Shipton and Halo Benson. Shipton is a half-brother of Assange and the producer of Ithaka, another documentary on Assange. Benson is a long-time Assange solidarity activist from Tulsa. This event is organized by the Heartland Peace & Justice Network including Cris Mann and others with support from Radio Active Magazine regular Spencer Graves.
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has been imprisoned the past four years in London as U.S. officials push to have him extradited to stand trial allegedly for committing espionage. In 2006 WikiLeaks began publishing troves of classified files and diplomatic cables provided by anonymous sources, including many revealing likely war crimes and other malfeasance. Media outlets have regularly reported on WikiLeaks’ revelations worldwide. If convicted, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and 20 other leading organizations have asked Attorney General Garland to drop the charges against Assange, saying that prosecuting Assange “would set a harmful legal precedent and deliver a damaging blow to press freedom by opening the way for journalists to be tried under the Espionage Act if they receive classified material from whistleblowers.” They noted that the Obama administration had refrained from prosecuting Assange, and this prosecution was initiated under the Trump administration, and it “undermines the country’s ability to defend journalists against repression by authoritarian and other rights-abusing regimes abroad.” Other organizations supporting this letter include the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and Free Press, to name only three.2
Jack Goldsmith, a conservative legal scholar at Harvard and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, said, “Assange is being unduly vilified … it is not obvious what law he has violated. … The U.S. Justice Department, if it pursues a case, will have to answer the question: If WikiLeaks is a criminal organization, what of its media partners, like The New York Times.” Assange himself said, “Once a media group is powerful for long enough … it starts to stop seeing itself as a group that holds powerful groups to account and starts seeing itself as part of the social network of the elite.”3
A related topic was discussed on Radio Active Magazine seven months ago, when Columbia University History Professor Matthew Connelly summarized research documented in his new book on The Declassification Engine: What History Reveals About America’s Top Secrets: Connelly said that the ability of the US government to keep secrets actually threatens US national security, because it encourages administration officials to provoke actions by foreign entities that can then be denounced as unprovoked to stampede the public and Congress into supporting ill-advised and likely counterproductive military actions. Connelly noted, in particular, that the vast majority, though not all, of the official secrets of the US government exposed by Assange and WikiLeaks were not secret at all; the secret was that US government officials had access to that information.

Graves (2014) made a similar claim, that, “US actions have often …  manufactured enemies … . Although downplayed by the mainstream media, there is ample documentation that the US helped destroy democracy in several countries and supported tyranny in others.”3

Copyright 2023 Halo Benson, Spencer Graves and Cris Mann, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 international license.
1. Consortium News (2020-08-28) “WATCH: The War on Journalism: The Case of Julian Assange” (, accessed 2023-10-15).
2. “CPJ, partners send letter calling for US to drop charges against Julian Assange”, 2022-12-08, Committee to Protect Journalists and 20 other partner organizations (, accessed 2023-10-15).
3. Wikiquote, “Julian Assange” (
3. Spencer Graves (2014-07-18) “Restrict secrecy more than data collection”, San José Peace and Justice Center Blog (

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