‘Low-level Bush propagandist’ calls for Wikileaks founder to be kidnapped
Should the founder of one of the world’s most important Web sites be spirited away from his home country by the U.S. military? That’s what one so-called “low-level Bush propagandist” advocated on behalf of in Monday’s Washington Post.
Marc Thiessen, a former Bush speechwriter, claimed in a Post op-ed that because Wikileaks has published classified information, they should be considered in violation of the espionage act and taken down using “military assets,” even if that means kidnapping founder Julian Assange from an undisclosed location within the European Union — which would be a violation of international and domestic laws.
Assange is a non-U.S. citizen operating outside the territory of the United States. This means the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business.
The first step is for the Justice Department to indict Assange. Such an indictment could be sealed to prevent him from knowing that the United States is seeking his arrest. The United States should then work with its international law enforcement partners to apprehend and extradite him.
Assange seems to believe, incorrectly, that he is immune to arrest so long as he stays outside the United States. He leads a nomadic existence, operating in countries such as Sweden, Belgium and Iceland, where he believes he enjoys the protection of “beneficial laws.” (He recently worked with the Icelandic parliament to pass legislation effectively making the country a haven for WikiLeaks). The United States should make clear that it will not tolerate any country — and particularly NATO allies such as Belgium and Iceland — providing safe haven for criminals who put the lives of NATO forces at risk.
With appropriate diplomatic pressure, these governments may cooperate in bringing Assange to justice. But if they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval.
This is the same individual who once criticized the Army’s field manual rules for interrogations because anyone can read it. He made the bizarre claim while simultaneously promoting the abuse of detainees through torture.
In a February appearance on MSNBC, he repeated the fallacious claim that torture helped prevent a terrorist attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles — a building which President Bush once famously called the “Liberty Tower,” sparking confusion that ultimately led to the claim of preventing an attack being thoroughly disproved.
Thiessen’s latest campaign was an attempt to mislabel the lawyers who defend Guantanamo Bay inmates, painting them as terrorist sympathizers. Comedy Central host Jon Stewart challenged Thiessen on that point during an interview in March, asking whether any defense attorney who represents a pedophile also qualifies as a pedophile sympathizer. Thiessen did not directly answer the question.
Time Magazine was quick to fire back over his latest screed calling for the kidnapping of Julian Assange:
To be clear, Assange’s crime, according to Thiessen, is intentionally receiving and republishing classified information, something that is done with some regularity in the United States by respectable and responsible reporters working for top flight news organizations. To adopt Thiessen’s view, one would effectively have to reject the Supreme Court’s opinion in New York Times Co. v. United States, the so-called Pentagon Papers case from 1971.
Concurring in that case, Justice Potter Stewart observed, “In the absence of governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the area of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry — in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government.. . . . Without an informed and free press, there cannot be an enlightened people.”
As Salon writer Glenn Greenwald summarized in mid-July, “When The Washington Post hired torture advocate and low-level Bush propagandist Marc Thiessen as an Op-Ed columnist, it got exactly what it apparently wanted: a regular dose of falsehood-filled neoconservative tripe.”