Julian Assange personifies the best but, alas, lost traditions of American journalism, ex-Assistant to the US Secretary of Treasury Paul Craig Roberts said on July 31 in an interview with Internet journalist Jason Liosatos.
Roberts drew a parallel between the Wikileaks portal publishing classified US documents and the The New York Times’ publishing the Pentagon papers in 1971 regarding the facts around the US entry into the Vietnam war that were hidden from the American public, and regarding a number of assessment and decisions that US military leadership made after the invasion.
Unfortunately, the expert notes, The New York Times today would be unlikely to publish this kind of documents. Roberts regretfully concluded that “the American media has ceased to exist as an independent entity”. He believes that this fact is what makes Assange’s work so necessary.
The US Department of Defense confidential report United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study, which was partially published in US newspapers, created an uproar in American society, significantly strengthening the positions of the anti-war movement. The Nixon administration tried to ban the publication of the report, but the US Supreme Court took the newspaper’s side, calling the US administration’s actions unconstitutional and thus setting a judicial precedent.
The US authorities, in their prosecution of Julian Assange under accusations of divulging state secrets, are essentially ignoring their own case law. Similarly to The New York Times in 1971, Wikileaks does not collect any secret information; it instead only acts as a site for publishing of leaks. Therefore, according to the US Supreme Court’s decision in the case New York Times Co. v. United States, the Espionage Act cannot be used to restrict freedom of press.
In the event that the contemporary US courts convict Julian Assange, and the US Supreme Court upholds their verdict, this will, in effect, undermine the foundations of the American constitutional order, specifically the First Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1791.
Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency