There have been new developments today in the case of Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blower group WikiLeaks.
The government of Ecuador has granted Assange – who is now living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – asylum and permission to move to Ecuador, where he will be free to continue to fight extradition charges to Sweden that might end up placing him in the hands of the US government. Members of the US Government – Republicans and Democrats – have branded Assange and his supporters everything from “terrorists” to “a clear and present danger to America” who should be prosecuted under the draconian Espionage Act of 1917 , which has been used to imprison US activists and politicians who opposed the military draft during wartime. One of the act’s first victims was Eugene Debs, one of the founders of the International Workers of the World (IWW) , who had broken the law by making a speech in Canton, Ohio in 1918 in which he “urg[ed] resistance to the military draft. This was not a crime, but an act of heroic defense of the interests of the working class internationally; nevertheless, the US government obtained a conviction and sentenced him to 10 years in prison, 5 of which he served. So much for the US’ vaunted Bill of Rights and “Freedom of Speech”! When push comes to shove, the Bill of Rights isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, especially when the US capitalist class has war profiteering on its mind! In wartime especially – and remember, the “War on Terror” is a war that will never end – the “Bill of Rights” gets run through a shredder and wall-to-wall censorship becomes the order of the day.
The Obama administration has unleashed the Justice Dept. bloodhounds to track down whistleblowers at all costs in order to keep the worlds largest closet full of skeletons locked up tight. The Democrats – who like to call themselves the “friends of labor” – thus expose themselves once again to the entire world as being actually among the greatest enemies of labor, not just in the US but internationally!
Assange is in an extremely difficult position, as he has been facetiously indicted by Swedish authorities with various sex crimes under circumstances that clearly indicate that the charges are being made as part of a concerted effort to crush Wikileaks by imprisoning its founder on false charges. He was in the UK fighting his extradition to Sweden on multiple grounds and due to the strong belief – shared by many human rights lawyers – that the Swedish charges are simply a pretext to bring Assange to Sweden, at which time Sweden will turn him over to US authorities, who wish to prosecute Assange – an Australian national – under US espionage laws. The US government has been howling for Assange’s blood for years, furious at him and his organization for repeatedly exposing US corporate crimes as well as US military war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wikileaks’ release of over 250,000 secret emails from the US State Department as well as their publication of the leaked Afghan and Iraq War Logs, the distribution via Internet of a US Defense Department video of a US helicopter crew slaughtering civilians in Iraq, all aroused US government hatred and the allegation that the documents and video were “stolen” by former US Army intelligence operative Bradley Manning (who is now being held by the US military under conditions that amount to torture) and handed over to Wikileaks, in violation of US law.
As representatives of the working class of the world, we see these cases differently: “stealing” secret US government documents – which are kept secret only in order to hide the true nature of the hypocrisy and savagery of the US government from the working class of the United States – and publicly exposing them to the light of day is a tremendous service to the working class internationally and especially in the US. We do not see this as a crime, we see it as a heroic act of solidarity with the working class against the bloodthirsty US capitalist class and their bought-and-paid-for government. The phoniness of the US’ sham “democracy” is nowhere better illustrated than in the texts of the State Department cables, where candid “secret” US government assessments of the US governments “allies” around the globe are exposed as showing the vast gulf that exists between the US’ government’s public statements and what the denizens of “Foggy Bottom” really think. Exposing the duplicity of US “diplomats” who hide the bloody designs of the US ruling capitalist class behind velvety phrases created to blind the workers of the world to the true nature of US imperialism is a revolutionary act of heroism that might save the lives of millions of workers caught in the cross-hairs of – or economically drafted directly into the service of – the US war machine!
Likewise, WikiLeaks’ acquisition and public display of the US war crimes video dubbed “Collateral Murder” tears the mask off the State Department’s obscene claim that the United States’ military invasion and occupation of Iraq is intended to bring “democracy” to the people of Iraq. This video clearly shows the typical depravity of US soldiers after years of brainwashing by the US Military into believing that all Iraqis are “the enemy” and can be slaughtered with impunity. It shows how just a few years in the US military can turn a nice 18 year old youth into a murderous thug who kills men, women and children as if they were just animated figures in a video game.
The Independent Workers Party calls on the workers of the world to defend WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and all the brave people who seek to expose the vast and sordid history of US War Crimes and the US capitalist class’ systematic robbery and mass murder of workers all over the world. Protests should immediately be called to march to the UK’s embassies wherever they exist and to make clear the outrage the workers of the world feel at seeing the UK government’s brutal attacks on Mr. Assange and their flagrant flouting of international law by outrageously stating their intent to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to seize Mr. Assange and deport him to Sweden.
This entire case shows how far the supposedly hallowed “rights” of “freedom of speech” actually protect a citizen of a capitalist country like England or the US. Human rights in bourgeois democracies like these only exist so long as the people exercising their rights do not come into direct conflict with the basic functioning of the capitalist system. The moment a worker goes out on strike or starts to oppose military recruitment – or even tries to tell the truth about what is being done secretly by a capitalist government in the name of the citizens of that nation – it’s “goodbye “Bill of Rights”, hello jail!” – or worse.
This is why we must organize a working class party here in the US to create a coherent movement that fights against every attempt by the capitalist class to revoke even the smallest shred of the Bill of Rights. The attempt by successive US governments – led by Republicans and Democrats – to gag whistleblowers who heroically fight to get the truth out to the world about what horrible crimes are being committed by US corporations and the US government must be fought by the working class of the US with all our might. Today they attack Julian Assange and Bradley Manning and their supporters – tomorrow they will come after you, and your friends and your supporters! Your unions! Your political organizations! This might look to you, today, to be “someone else’s fight”; but if you allow yourselves to be fooled into believing that, you can be assured that tomorrow, it will be YOUR ASS that will be in the sling!
Workers of the World, Unite! UK, US Government hands off Julian Assange and WikiLeaks! Free Bradley Manning!