Further to my open letter on those inciting murder upon Julian Assange, this op ed style post again responds to those who say that Julian Assange should be kidnapped, executed, murdered or otherwise be "whacked", to use a favourite Hollywood gangster expression. It is a much expanded variant of the open letter to the inciters at Wikileaks Central.
The CIA and/or US military forces have been invoked by some, as the agents who would carry out such extra curial "services" of which it must be said, such actions both incitement and carrying the incitement out, are undoubtedly unlawful. Doubtless the early December Assange-illegal-posturing Prime Minister of Australia would not officially, take kindly to the latter course of action.
The web roll of inciters or borderline inciters is growing.
Bob Beckel American political commentator and an analyst on the Fox News Channel said: “…illegally shoot the s-o-b.”
Tom Flanagan ex senior adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: “I think Assange should be assassinated, actually.” (Since retracted and that will help him if he is charged and convicted.)
Jonah Golberg is among the less inciteful. A US syndicated conservative columnist and author who asked: “Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?” To be fair to Goldberg, he also said he didn’t expect the US government to kill Assange, merely “to stop him.”
“Can we have a CIA agent with a sniper rifle rattle a bullet around his skull the next time he appears in public as a warning? You bet we can…” said John Hawkins, professional blogger.
Representative Peter King said: “I mean, they are assisting in terrorist activity” while requesting the administration to have Wikileaks declared a terrorist organisation.
William Kristol wrote an article: “Whack Wikileaks” citing Mark Thiessen and asking: “Why can't we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are?”
Jeffrey T Kuhner, columnist at the Washington Times wrote under an article “Assasinate Assange”
He is aiding and abetting terrorists in their war against America. The administration must take care of the problem - effectively and permanently….Mr. Assange is not a journalist or publisher; rather, he is an enemy combatant - and should be treated as such…. we should treat Mr. Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets.
And so on. There are many more, bordering on incitement, including Vice President Biden’s response to an interview question:“ (He is) closer to being a high tech terrorist.”
One could assume, to be generous, that the VP was pandering to much more extreme inciters and perceived political weakness on the subject of Wikileaks, but the implied crucial question behind this reminds us of an historical setting, and result, with the question, traditionally interpreted as: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”
Rhetorically meant statements, as Henry II readily understood, belatedly, can so easily become perceived imperatives among the minions.
While not all of these utterances and writings would necessarily satisfy the required elements of a charge of incitement, and notwithstanding the use of euphemisms such as “whack” or “permanently neutralise” and allusions to assassination by descriptions such as “terrorist organisation” and “enemy combatant”: it leaves an objective reader with little doubt as to what some of the authors want: Assange dead. And otherwise, some would not be sorry to see it happen.
One other common thread that runs through all of the statements, are mistaken assertions, or at the very least, premature assertions of illegality. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out recently and eloquently on a CNN broadcast, Mr Assange is doing no more, or less, than what the New York Times is doing.
That in any event is a matter for a court to decide, if and only if Mr Assange is charged with an offence, and if and only if, he is then extradited to the USA, a tall order by many accounts, especially the latter.
Even if Julian Assange is charged, the presumption of innocence applies and certainly there cannot be a presumption that he deserves death, without trial: a form of hysterical presumption unknown to law that one might reiterate.
A slightly tidier version of the law as before:
Inciting a crime was once a common law offence:
(1) Common law
In English criminal law, incitement was an anticipatory common law offence and was the act of persuading, encouraging, instigating, pressuring, or threatening so as to cause another to commit a crime....The inciter must intend the others to engage in the behaviour constituting the offence, including any consequences which may result, and must know or believe (or possibly suspect) that those others will have the relevant mens rea."
Many nations or states have since codified Incitement Law, a few examples are as follows:
(2) Australian Commonwealth
(1) A person who urges the commission of an offence is guilty of the offence of incitement.
(2) For the person to be guilty, the person must intend that the offence incited be committed.
464. Except where otherwise expressly provided by law, the following provisions apply in respect of persons who counsel other persons to commit offences, namely,(a) every one who counsels another person to commit an indictable offence is, if the offence is not committed, guilty of an indictable offence and liable to the same punishment to which a person who attempts to commit that offence is liable; and
In the United States, there is no automatic 1st Amendment protection per Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969):
Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action
While such prima facie incitement by way of utterances and writings we have seen may well go unpunished, presumably for political reasons, they will not necessarily go unpunished in other countries, and especially so should the inciters have the courage of their convictions to repeat those unlawful incitements in other jurisdictions. The gentleman from Canada appears to be in some legal hot water with a complaint, although he has not yet been charged it seems.
The inciters may well contemplate this writing of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who taught the British Empire a thing or two about the exercise and effect of non violent non cooperation, a concept not unknown to Mr Assange, we can readily assume:
The truth is that Julian Assange is no terrorist; he is not a war defined "belligerent" acting with intent against the United States; he cannot be treasonous to the USA since by definition he is not a citizen of the United States.
And lastly, on truth, as Ron Paul put it so well:
In a society where truth becomes treason, however, we are in big trouble. The truth is that our foreign spying, meddling and outright military intervention in the post-World War 2 era has made us less secure, not more, and we have lost countless lives and spent trillions of dollars for our trouble. Too often it’s the official government lies that have given us endless and illegal wars resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties.
The original works above are copyright. Apart from any use including fair use, under the Copyright Act Australia 1968 (Commonwealth), and apart from full attribution to Wikileaks Central with web link: no part may be produced by any process, nor may any other exclusive right be exercised without the express permission of the copyright holder Peter H Kemp.