By Caitlin Johnstone
February 24, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - Tomorrow
in the UK a judge will start the process of
answering a very important question. It’s a question
that many of us knew was the heart of this debate
back in 2010, ten years ago, when this all
started. It’s a question that they have been
obfuscating, bloviating, huffily denying, smearing,
gaslighting, and distracting from–basically doing
anything they can to hide it from view.
It’s a question that they don’t want the public
to know that we are answering. A question that goes
to the heart of democracy, and to the heart of the
role of the fourth estate, journalism. And that
question is this:
Should journalists and publishers be punished for
exposing US war crimes?
And, ancillary to that question: should we allow
them to be punished by the very people who committed
those war crimes?
Is that something that we want for our world,
ongoing? Because our answer to this question is
going to shape our society, our civilization, for
generations to come.
There is no coming back from this for a very long
time should the answer be, “Yes! Yes, it’s fine, war
criminals should go ahead and punish journalists for
publishing true facts about their war crimes.”
If we allow the answer to be yes, then we’re
stuck with the endless stupid wars that everyone
wants done with, from Melbourne to Kabul, from
Sydney to Syria–right across the world people are
done with these stupid wars for profit.
Even the people like us who are very
insulated from the effects of war want
them over with, let alone the children
of Pakistan who fear a sunny day because
drones only fly in a blue sky, or the
children of Syria whose country is being
terrorized by “moderate rebels” armed
and funded by the US war machine, or the
starving children of Yemen who are being
bombed constantly by munitions made in
the good ol’ U S of A.
No one wants war except those who make big bucks
from it. It’s the most evil thing that humans are
capable of. It is murder. It is theft. It is rape.
It targets and traumatizes and displaces our
planet’s most vulnerable populations. It destroys
the environment. It leaves behind cancer-causing
It’s like as if the worst serial killer is going
on the worst killing spree while dumping
planet-killing chemicals behind him, but instead of
running from the cops, he’s been given a
trillion-dollar budget and immunity from
This is already happening. This is the world we
have currently. The question that is being posed in
Assange’s case is, should we be allowed to question
this? Should we be allowed to expose it? Should we
be allowed to stop it?
Julian Assange’s case is a nexus point of where
I was thinking on the way over here what I would
most like to say to Julian if I had the chance. If I
could tell him anything right now it would be, “Rest
now, mate. You’ve done all you can. We’ve got you.
Let us take it from here.” Assange acted as a kind
of lightning rod for all this bullshit for all those
years, and through what they did to him, we saw
their true face. We saw their true evil. We know
what they are now, and we know how they do it, we’ve
seen enough to know how they operate. And in the end
it’s never about one man, it’s always about the
movement. It’s our job now to stand up now and say
as one “We do not consent”, and carry him out of
there ourselves if we have to.
This is where we’re at. We need to decide, do we
evolve, or devolve? Do we pivot towards utopia, or
The persecution of Assange is so blatantly,
obviously wrong that the only thing stopping people
from seeing it is empire propaganda. You don’t have
to be well-read. You don’t even have to be smart.
You just have to have to have eyes that are
unfiltered by narrative manipulation.
Anyone with common sense and a beating heart in
their chest can see this is wrong. Should
journalists be tortured and imprisoned for life when
they expose war crimes? The answer is not
complicated. It’s obvious to anyone who hasn’t been
propagandized out of their own clarity.
Assange’s plight only looks complicated when you
add on layers of narrative and verbiage. “Ah but
Sweden stinky, stink man, hacker not a
journalist! Mueller sexist Trump poop on the walls,
Without all the spin it’s very obvious he’s being
torturously, unjustly persecuted. It really is an
“emperor has no clothes” thing. The court
propagandists fill our ears with fancy words about
what a bad man Assange is, and why he must be dealt
with, they’re trying to tell you that the emperor’s
clothes are invisible to those aren’t educated.
But the unpropagandized just yell “Hey! Why is
the emperor ass-dick naked? Dude, I can see him! I
can see his willy! ”
This is why there are no counter protests here
today. There are no regular, every day citizens
taking to the streets with signs saying “Jail all
the journalists! Endless war for all!” Some people
still have strong feelings about Assange, but
they’re just feelings, and you’ll find that it’s
usually about only one or two of the smears, and if
they turn and try to find evidence for the
particular smears that have snagged them, they find
That’s why Nils Melzer, the UN’s Special
Rapporteur on torture, is such a courageous figure
to me. When people first approached him to look in
to Assange’s case,
he was reluctant because he too had been
affected by the smears. When he turned to the
he found no substance there.
Because of his honorability, though, he felt
through the embarrassment of being duped, and being
wrong, he swallowed his pride and he changed course.
And he very quickly became one of our most powerful
allies in the fight to expose war crimes, expose
propaganda, expose the modern-day mobbing and
torture tactics used against Assange, and expose the
precedent that Assange’s prosecution will set for
journalists and publishers world wide.
And you know what? I think the power behind his
testimony comes from the fact that he realized that
he had been duped, and if he, a very intelligent,
well read, worldly, informed and educated person
could be duped, then anyone can be.
No one is immune. Human minds are hackable. We’re
all very busy with our lives. We’re all kept busy by
capitalism, and very few of us have the time to do
what he did and sit down and take a look at the
facts and assess them. And even if they did that,
even fewer of them have had the courage of their
convictions to put up with the social consequences
of changing course.
Being manipulated isn’t immoral, being a
manipulator is. People feel ashamed when they’ve
been conned, but it’s not their fault; it’s always
the fault of the con man. That’s why fraud is the
crime, and being defrauded is being a victim of that
In order for people to see this question that
we’re asking ourselves–the question of whether
journalists should be punished for exposing war
crimes–clearly they have to admit that they have
been victims of propaganda. It’s not their fault,
but they will be embarrassed to admit it. This shame
underpins a lot of reluctance to join us here today,
so I think it’s important to outline.
So when you’re talking to your friends and
family, keep in mind that they’re hurting. They’re
afraid of feeling the shame of having been duped,
because in our crazy, ass-backwards culture, being
duped is considered shameful while duping people
just makes you a productive member of society.
Be gentle with them. Reassure them that it’s not
going to be the end of the world if they change
their mind. In fact, it may be the end of the world
if they don’t.
That’s why I find Nils Melzer’s testimony to be
so powerful: because it exposes the abusive nature
of propaganda, and he modeled how to act when we
find ourselves on the wrong side of the debate. His
very existence gives me hope because it means that
there are others like him waking up all over the
Actually, I’ve seen it already myself. There’s a
huge movement in Germany
gaining traction supporting Assange. It was
the prisoners of Belmarsh who organized three
separate petitions and got Julian out of solitary
(how’s that for grassroots activism?). Just
Alan Jones posted a poll on Facebook that posed
the question “should the Australian government do
more to help Julian Assange and bring him home?”.
Thousands of people answered and there was a 75
percent “Yes! Yes we should bring him home.”
Underneath the poll there were hundreds of comments
in support of Assange.
So the tide is changing. Is it enough? I reckon
it might be. But we have to keep pushing on it like
our lives depend on it, because they do.
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