That’s the Wikileaks guy.

Believe it or not, there’s a poll! The act makes it a crime ” To convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies. This was punishable by death or by imprisonment for not more than 30 years or both, or to convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies when the United States is at war, to cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or to willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States. This was punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 fine or by imprisonment for not more than 20 years or both.”*

The poll is here. So far, it looks like he’s cooked, 380 to 167.

Comments

  1. #1 MacTurk
    November 30, 2010

    How does this apply to an Australian national who is non-resident in the USA?

    Did he at any time, actively or passively, pledge any allegiance to the USA? Where, in fact, is the juristiction?

    Not to mention the fact that any such prosecution would cause an international uproar, and would drive a truck through any claims by the US that it supports the concept of free speech.

    Or is this just another “law” aimed at anyone who is not fully supportive of the “War on Terror”? Macht mach Recht, anyone?

    The man should be congratulated, and encouraged to continue this with other governments.

  2. #2 Lassi Hippeläinen
    November 30, 2010

    I didn’t know Australia had a 1917 Espionage act…

    And the servers of Wikileaks aren’t in the USA. They aren’t that stupid. They know that shooting the messenger is the solution that first comes to mind to those who have limited attention span.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    November 30, 2010

    I’m pretty sure that a person can violate the laws of another country and be arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced on the basis of those laws, if he is extradited to that country. I’m also pretty sure that he is NOT protected by the First amendment for the exact same reason you are saying he is exempt from US law.

    The likelihood of an extradition may hinge on how badly he pissed off the state/foreign office of the country he happens to be in.

    But really, none of this is the point of the article.

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    November 30, 2010

    Huh. I thought we had a better process than an internet poll for figuring this stuff out. Did we lose that with Bush II too?

  5. #5 daedalus2u
    November 30, 2010

    I don’t think any charges will be brought. If you look at the act (I think this is it, the link from NPR didn’t work for me)

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000793—-000-.html

    The information has to benefit a “nation” to the detriment of the US. Al Qaeda isn’t a “nation”, so it doesn’t apply.

    The NYT and other media outlets that published this material are just as guilty as wikileaks is. If they are not charged, then wikileaks has an excellent case of selective enforcement.

    It also goes to intent. If the intent was not to weaken the US, but rather to expose the lies of the US military and actual criminal behavior of the US military that is not covered by the act.

    Actually, if this data-dump contains information about war crimes or crimes against humanity, then those who attempt to prosecute those who are disseminating it are guilty of crimes against humanity as well. Suppression of those who are publicizing war crimes is itself a war crime, even if done under cover of law.

    Why hasn’t this act been used against the Birthers? Against Rush Limbaugh? Against Glen Beck? They are certainly trying to weaken the US military by posting lies about the US Commander in Chief.

  6. #6 itzac
    November 30, 2010

    MacTurk and Lassi, the points you bring up are perfectly valid defenses against charges of treason. Espionage is quite a different charge, however, and as Greg points out, can be applied to foreign nationals.

  7. #7 bobh
    November 30, 2010

    I’ll vote guilty on the charge that he is a self-agrandizing anarchist with a huge ego.

  8. #8 MadScientist
    November 30, 2010

    @Stephanie Z: Didn’t you hear the news? Trials are now done by internet poll and only teabaggers are allowed to vote.

  9. #9 A teabagger
    November 30, 2010

    Repeal the 14th amendment!

  10. #10 Lassi Hippeläinen
    November 30, 2010

    If the USA wants Australia to arrest Assange, the charges of espionage must be based on Australian law.

    BTW, the US law quoted above uses the expression with intent to interfere quite a lot. Evil intent may be hard to show in this case. The Oz might ignore any requests.

    But of course there is the possibility that Assange changes planes in the wrong place.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maher_Arar

  11. #11 MadScientist
    November 30, 2010

    @Lassi#10: Not quite. There are various treatises between Australia and the USA and some treaty provision may allow Assange to be extradited fairly easily, as long as doing so does not violate local laws. For example, an Australian court may reject a request for extradition unless there are assurances that Assange will not be executed (although we don’t typically kill people for espionage – that’s usually bad news in diplomatic circles). Another problem is that Assange is probably not even in Australia at the moment, so there is no point in issuing a request to Australia. He does have to choose his flights carefully; if a warrant is issued for his arrest within the USA, he can be arrested at a port of entry of any US state or territory. In principle it is even possible to detain him on an aircraft registered in the USA or its territories but unless that aircraft is in a US port that would likely be a futile effort (but great stuff on a slow news day).

    At any rate, this story makes for a great setting for a conspiracy: USA allows “leak” of fake documents to frame wikileaks guy and get him out of the picture.

    Anyway, that’s nothing but a small diversion – we have far bigger problems thanks to the idiots back home. The last I heard the Retardicans were still promising to block the ratification of START2. The sooner the treaty is ratified the sooner we can get on with the job of helping to secure the Russian stockpile of nuclear materials (and of course we’ll also be reducing our own stockpile to help keep the Russians happy). How the Retardicans can claim they’re “anti-terror” and then block a treaty which would allow us to help ensure that Russian nuclear material stays away from terrorists is beyond me.

  12. #12 MadScientist
    November 30, 2010

    D’oh. Make that START3. I can’t get dem dang numburs rite…

  13. #13 MadScientist
    November 30, 2010

    Oh – and the “intent” stuff always gets lawyers rubbing their hands with joy. Unless you set up a sting and have people stating their intents, it’s pretty difficult to prove intent in court.

    For example, the shoe bomber is not disputed to have intent to detonate the explosives in his shoe, but did he intend to destroy the aircraft and kill everyone on board?

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    November 30, 2010

    Lassi, why do you keep ignoring extradition? Or just conking the guy on the head while he’s on vacation?

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    November 30, 2010

    “(although we don’t typically kill people for espionage – that’s usually bad news in diplomatic circles)”

    The specific law being discussed does not carry the death penalty.

    “arrested at a port of entry of any US state or territory. In principle it is even possible to detain him on an aircraft registered in the USA or its territories”

    All he has to do if fly Delta and that will happen anyway. The only airline with it’s own Special Rendition policy.

    “Oh – and the “intent” stuff always gets lawyers rubbing their hands with joy. Unless you set up a sting and have people stating their intents, it’s pretty difficult to prove intent in court.”

    But that’s actually the point of the article to which the OP points: He is making his intent clear with repeated statements that are right out of the “getting arrested and charged with the 1917 espionage act” playbook.

  16. #16 MadScientist
    November 30, 2010

    I don’t have time to play the interview. :( The intent thing is really tricky though – even in that case cited in the post.

    Assange does have to watch out for treaty obligations of various other nations as well – that can be a real minefield. Let’s say State A is a dictatorship which has a treaty with State B. State B isn’t big on human rights. The treaty obliges A and B to arrest anyone on their territory who poses certain risks to the other state. Even the USA is signatory to such treaties; for example we can arrest anyone in the USA who is planning a coup in France (purely hypothetical example of course). The only tricky thing with treaties is whether or not the government involved decides that they can act on some specific item in the treaty. At any rate the wikileaks guy certainly isn’t making any friends. He’ll have to keep an eye out for Bulgarian umbrellas.

  17. #17 DRK
    December 1, 2010

    “It also goes to intent. If the intent was not to weaken the US, but rather to expose the lies of the US military and actual criminal behavior of the US military that is not covered by the act”.

    Well, since the latest leaks seem to be candid assessments by American diplomats of foreign rulers, the stuff of behind-the-scenes diplomacy in any country, the intent does seem to be malice, at least. It is not corruption for US diplomats to be able to express candid opinions of world leaders to their bosses. And it is not helpful to have these opinions in a public forum.

    I am bothered by the effect of these leaks on intelligence sources. Several Afghanis who were working with the US have died as a result of Wilileaks’ loosey-goosey attitude to redacting names. Assnage is not a hero in my book.

  18. #18 daedalus2u
    December 1, 2010

    With Secretary of state Clinton saying:

    “I have certainly raised the issue of the leaks in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing,” Clinton said. “I have not any had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with and discuss matters of importance to us both going forward.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101201/ap_on_re_as/as_clinton

    It is going to be pretty hard to say in court that these leaks caused grave damage to the US when the secretary of state is saying otherwise.

  19. #19 MacTurk
    December 1, 2010

    “Or just conking the guy on the head while he’s on vacation?”. So kidnap/falsely arrest someone who points out that the emperor has no clothes, ignore due process, violate another state’s territory? That will really cement the idea that Aamerica is a state of law…

    Is attempting to extradite(and I am aware it would probably not work out) so anti-American?

    If memory serves correctly, during the recent uproar about the Russian spies in the US, the only charge being talked was “Failure to register as a foriegn agent”. If Mr Assange registers as such, where is the charge?

  20. #20 MacTurk
    December 1, 2010

    “Or just conking the guy on the head while he’s on vacation?”. So kidnap/falsely arrest someone who points out that the emperor has no clothes, ignore due process, violate another state’s territory? That will really cement the idea that Aamerica is a state of law…

    Is attempting to extradite(and I am aware it would probably not work out) so anti-American?

    If memory serves correctly, during the recent uproar about the Russian spies in the US, the only charge being talked was “Failure to register as a foriegn agent”. If Mr Assange registers as such, where is the charge?

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    December 1, 2010

    MacTurk, I’m not sure what you are getting at, but it is worth pointing out that that even if Assange is charged as a spy, he is not an official spy working for some country that we, in turn, spy on. I’m pretty sure that whatever spy wrangling you see among the usual countries is based in large part on those sorts of long established relationships. Assange would have no embassy or intelligence network or HQ somewhere making deals for him. Does that at least partly address your comment?

  22. #22 anandine
    December 1, 2010

    We arrested Manual Noriega, a Panamanian citizen, in Panama, for acts committed in Panama that violated American laws and put him in an American jail for them.

    I forget the cite, but the Supreme Court has ruled in one case that American law extends to the entire world, though, in another case, constitutional protections do not.

  23. #23 Doug Alder
    December 1, 2010

    @madscientist – Obama got a pickmeup today for Start3

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/boost-obama-belarus-nuke-material

    Belarus to shed nuclear material, giving boost to Obama anti-terror goal

    In a sudden turnaround, the former Soviet republic of Belarus announced Wednesday that it will give up all its weapons-grade uranium — fresh momentum for anti-proliferation efforts even as the U.S. welcomed Iran’s decision to resume talks on its controversial nuclear program.

  24. #24 daedalus2u
    December 1, 2010

    Also, Assange went out of his way to give the US government time to respond to the leaks ahead of time, and even offered to let the US go through them and redact names of people who might be harmed and maybe even other stuff too. The US refused. The US can’t now claim damage that they were unwilling to act to prevent when given the opportunity.

    It seems to me that goes pretty far in establishing that the intent was not to harm, and the US by its actions has stated that the harm wasn’t that great.

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    December 2, 2010

    Let’s look at a specific case: http://tinyurl.com/23ds5vy

  26. #26 Monado
    December 5, 2010

    The law, even if it did apply, concerns false reports; and these are true reports.

  27. #27 Iain
    December 8, 2010

    It is up to the UN Tribunal to decide, If a nation (United Kingdom and Sweden, where he actually started Stealing information) is involved in anyway in international incident with another country (The United States). In Legal term it would have to go to the UN Tribunal to decide if you had violated any international law or a nation to nation agreements. If the US wins, then after Assange spends years in jail in Sweden raping a little girl he must be sent to the US just like they did before involving the surviving terrorist of 9/11 who was nationality of Afghanistan. If this happens he could get charged with multiple accounts of Laws and Acts broken. Check this out. The leader of Wikileaks is in violation of the US privacy act of 1974, Classified Information Procedures Act, and Espionage Act of 1917. Under United States’, United Kingdom’s, and Sweden’s Constitution he is not protected under Freedom of the Press, or speech. Because Since it was the United states Governement who made files of classified Secret and the fact the leader of Wikileaks got it published and supported by Sunshine Press of sweden it is an act of Plagiarism and that is the reason he has no protection of the freedom of the press of either country. Since NATO is joint-operation of 28 Countries, this is International crime, not just on UK, US, and Sweden, it is them plus 25 differents countries. Those this may have to go to the UN Tribunal.