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Assange Arrested in Stunning Blow to First Amendment and Journalism

If this is how we intend to treat the truth seekers among us, I fear for the future.

Today, a shockwave rippled through American society that will likely produce raucous reverberations for years to come.

It came in the form of an arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Wikileaks figurehead Julian Assange was dragged from his room and arrested.

Assange is now facing charges in the United States stemming from an incident years ago involving controversial fellow whistleblower Chelsea Manning.  It is expected, however, that more charges will be filed should Assange be successfully extradited to the United States, with the Manning incident providing a well-suited charge for the extradition itself.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was charged Thursday with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for aiding Chelsea Manning in the cracking of a password to a classified U.S. government computer in 2010, the U.S. Justice Department announced hours after Assange’s arrest in London.

Assange is accused of engaging in a conspiracy with Manning, the former U.S. Army analyst, in breaking a password stored on a U.S. Defense Department computer connected to a U.S. government computer network for classified documents and communications, the Justice Department said. Manning later transmitted a trove of classified government files to Assange, whose website posted the materials to a worldwide audience. Cracking the password allowed Manning to use a different username “rather than her own,” officials said.

There are concerns about what Assange’s arrest means for journalism, the First Amendment, and the truth.

Wikileaks and Assange have long been publishing government “secrets” and state-held information, something that made him a bit of a folk hero in conspiratorial online communities, but have drawn the ire of those who wish to keep their positions of power.

While Assange may have broken the law in order to expose these morsels of malfeasance, the ends have often justified the means in the eyes of the global community.  He, along with Wikileaks, have exposed corruption and evil at all levels of government, in all corners of the globe.  He is doing the work that no one else could, and for that he will be tried.

Were Assange a news reporter, the publication of these secrets would be heralded as unprecedented journalism and put him in the crosshairs of the Pulitzer Prize committee.

Instead, we have the mainstream media looking to vilify the truth seeker simply because he chose the “wrong” targets.  The enlightened among us would counter that there are no “wrong” targets when it comes to exposing corruption and greed, thus again nullifying the lawlessness of Assange’s work.

If this is how we’ll treat those who show us the truth, what hope is there for humanity’s escape from the grip of overgrown government?


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