The Theory of Prosecution You Love for Julian Assange May Look Different When Applied to Jason Leopold

The WaPo confirmed something Seamus Hughes disclosed last night: Sometime before August 22, EDVA had filed a sealed complaint (not indictment) against Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal, prosecutors inadvertently revealed in a recently unsealed court filing — a development that could significantly advance the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and have major implications for those who publish government secrets.

The disclosure came in a filing in a case unrelated to Assange. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, urging a judge to keep the matter sealed, wrote that “due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” Later, Dwyer wrote the charges would “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.”

Dwyer is also assigned to the WikiLeaks case. People familiar with the matter said what Dwyer was disclosing was true, but unintentional.

The confirmation closely follows a WSJ story describing increased confidence that the US will succeed in extraditing Assange for trial.

The confirmation that Assange has been charged has set off a frenzy, both among Assange supporters who claim this proves their years of claims he was indicted back in 2011 and insisting that charging him now would amount to criminalizing journalism, and among so-called liberals attacking Assange lawyer Barry Pollack’s scolding of DOJ for breaking their own rules.

I’ve long been on record saying that I think most older theories of charging Assange would be very dangerous for journalism. More recently, though, I’ve noted that Assange’s actions with respect to Vault 7, which had original venue in EDVA where the Assange complaint was filed (accused leaker Joshua Schulte waived venue in his prosecution), go well beyond journalism. That said, I worry DOJ may have embraced a revised theory on Assange’s exposure that would have dire implications for other journalists, most urgently for Jason Leopold.

There are, roughly, four theories DOJ might use to charge Assange:

  • Receiving and publishing stolen information is illegal
  • Conspiring to release stolen information for maximal damage is illegal
  • Soliciting the theft of protected information is illegal
  • Using stolen weapons to extort the US government is illegal

Receiving and publishing stolen information is illegal

The first, theory is the one that Obama’s DOJ rejected, based on the recognition that it would expose NYT journalists to prosecution as well. I suspect the Trump Administration will have the same reservations with such a prosecution.

Conspiring to release stolen information for maximal damage is illegal

The second imagines that Assange would be charged for behavior noted in the GRU indictment — WikiLeaks’ solicitation, from someone using the persona of Guccifer 2.0, of material such that it would be maximally damaging to Hillary Clinton.

On or about June 22, 2016, Organization 1 sent a private message to Guccifer 2.0 to “[s]end any new material [stolen from the DNC] here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.” On or about July 6, 2016, Organization 1 added, “if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tweo [sic] days prefable [sic] because the DNC [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.” The Conspirators responded, “ok . . . i see.” Organization 1 explained, “we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary . . . so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.”

After failed attempts to transfer the stolen documents starting in late June 2016, on or about July 14, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent Organization 1 an email with an attachment titled “wk dnc link1.txt.gpg.” The Conspirators explained to Organization 1 that the encrypted file contained instructions on how to access an online archive of stolen DNC documents. On or about July 18, 2016, Organization 1 confirmed it had “the 1Gb or so archive” and would make a release of the stolen documents “this week.”

Significantly, WikiLeaks (but not Roger Stone) was referred to in the way an unidicted co-conspirator normally is, not named, but described in such a way to make its identity clear.

This is a closer call. There is a Supreme Court precedent protecting journalists who publish stolen newsworthy information. But it’s one already being challenged in civil suits in ways that have elicited a lot of debate. Prosecuting a journalist for trying to do maximal damage actually would criminalize a great deal of political journalism, starting with but not limited to Fox. Note that when the founders wrote the First Amendment, the norm was political journalism, not the so-called objective journalism we have now, so they certainly didn’t expect press protections to be limited to those trying to be fair to both sides.

Such a charge may depend on the degree to which the government can prove foreknowledge of the larger agreement with the Russians to damage Hillary, as well as the illegal procurement of information after WikiLeaks expressed an interest in information damaging Hillary.

Mueller might have evidence to support this (though there’s also evidence that WikiLeaks refused to publish a number of things co-conspirators leaked to them, including but not limited to the DCCC documents). The point is, we don’t know what the fact pattern on such a prosecution would look like, and how it would distinguish the actions from protected politically engaged journalism.

Soliciting the theft of protected information is illegal

Then there’s the scenario that Emma Best just hit on yesterday: that DOJ would prosecute Assange for soliciting hacks of specific targets. Best points to Assange’s close coordination with hackers going back to at least 2011 (ironically, but in a legally meaningless way, with FBI’s mole Sabu).

This is, in my opinion, a possible way DOJ would charge Assange that would be very dangerous. I’m particularly worried because of the way the DOJ charged Natalie Mayflower Edwards for leaking Suspicious Activity Reports to Jason Leopold. Edwards was charged with two crimes: Unauthorized Disclosure of Suspicious Activity Reports and Conspiracy to Make Unauthorized Disclosures of Suspicious Activity Reports (using the same Conspiracy charge that Mueller has been focused on).

In addition to describing BuzzFeed stories relying on SARs that Edwards saved to a flash drive by October 18, 2017 and then January 8, 2018, it describes a (probably Signal) conversation from September 2018 where Leopold — described in the manner used to describe unindicted co-conspirators — directed Edwards to conduct certain searches for material that ended up in an October story on Prevezon, a story published the day before Edwards was charged.

As noted above, the October 2018 Article regarded, among other things, Prevezon and the Investment Company. As recently as September 2018, EDWARDS and Reporter-1 engaged in the following conversation, via the Encrypted Application, in relevant part:

EDWARDS: I am not getting any hits on [the CEO of the Investment Company] do you have any idea what the association is if I had more information i could search in different areas

Reporter-1: If not on his name it would be [the Investment Company]. That’s the only other one [The CEO] is associated with Prevezon Well not associated His company is [the Investment Company]

Based upon my training and experience, my participation in the investigation, and my conversations with other law enforcement agents familiar with the investigation, I believe that in the above conversation, EDWARDS was explaining that she had performed searches of FinCEN records relating to Prevezon, at Reporter-l’s request, in order to supply SAR information for the October 2018 Article.

Edwards still has not been indicted, two weeks after her arraignment. That suggests it’s possible the government is trying to persuade her to plead and testify against Leopold in that conspiracy, thereby waiving indictment. The argument, in that case, would be that Leopold went beyond accepting stolen protected information, to soliciting the theft of the information.

This is the model a lot of people are embracing for an Assange prosecution, and it’s something that a lot of journalists not named Jason Leopold also do (arguably, it’s similar but probably more active than what James Rosen got dubbed a co-conspirator in the Stephen Jin-Woo Kim case).

Charging Leopold in a bunch of leaks pertaining to Russian targets would be a nice way (for DOJ, not for journalism) to limit any claim that just Assange was being targeted under such a theory. Indeed, it would placate Trump and would endanger efforts to report on what Mueller and Congress have been doing. Furthermore, it would be consistent with the aggressive approach to journalists reflected in the prosecution of James Wolfe for a bunch of leaks pertaining to Carter Page, which involved subpoenaing years of Ali Watkins’ call records.

In short, pursuing Leopold for a conspiracy to leak charge would be consistent with — and for DOJ, tactically advantageous — the theory under which most people want Assange charged.

Using stolen weapons to extort the US government is illegal

Finally, there’s the fourth possibility, and one I think is highly likely: charging Assange for his serial efforts to extort a pardon from the US government by threatening to release the Vault 7 (and ultimately, a single Vault 8 live malware) files.

This post shows how, starting in January 2017, Assange (and Oleg Deripaska) representative Adam Waldman was reaching out to top DOJ officials trying to negotiate a deal and using the release of the Vault 7 documents as leverage.

This post shows how, the second time Assange tweeted Don Jr asking for an Ambassadorship, he included a threatening reference to Vault 8, WikiLeaks’ name for the actual malware stolen and leaked from CIA, the first file from which Assange had released days earlier.

[B]ack in November 2017, some outlets began to publish a bunch of previously undisclosed DMs between Don Jr and Wikileaks. Most attention focused on Wikileaks providing Don Jr access to an anti-Trump site during the election. But I was most interested in Julian Assange’s December 16, 2016 “offer” to be Australian Ambassador to the US — basically a request for payback for his help getting Trump elected.

Hi Don. Hope you’re doing well! In relation to Mr. Assange: Obama/Clinton placed pressure on Sweden, UK and Australia (his home country) to illicitly go after Mr. Assange. It would be real easy and helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to DC “That’s a really smart tough guy and the most famous australian you have! ” or something similar. They won’t do it, but it will send the right signals to Australia, UK + Sweden to start following the law and stop bending it to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons. 12/16/16 12:38PM

In the wake of the releases, on November 14, 2017, Assange tweeted out a follow-up.

As I noted at the time, the offer included an implicit threat: by referencing “Vault 8,” the name Wikileaks had given to its sole release, on November 9, 2017 of an actual CIA exploit (as opposed to the documentation that Wikileaks had previously released), Assange was threatening to dump more hacking tools, as Shadow Brokers had done before it. Not long after, Ecuador gave Assange its first warning to stop meddling in other countries politics, explicitly pointing to his involvement in the Catalan referendum but also pointing to his tampering with other countries. That warning became an initial ban on visitors and Internet access in March of this year followed by a more formal one on May 10, 2018 that remains in place.

Notably, Ecuador may have warned Assange back then to stop releasing America’s malware from their Embassy; those warnings have laid the groundwork for the rigid gag rules recently imposed on Assange on risk of losing asylum.

Immediately after this exchange, accused Vault 7/8 leaker Joshua Schulte had some Tor accesses which led to him losing bail. They didn’t, however, lead BOP to take away his multiple devices (!?!?!). Which means that when they raided his jail cell on or around October 1, they found a bunch of devices and his activity from 13 email and social media accounts. Importantly, DOJ claims they also obtained video evidence of Schulte continuing his efforts to leak classified information.

The announcement of that raid, and the additional charges against Schulte, coincided with a period of increased silence from WikiLeaks, broken only by last night’s response to the confirmation Assange had been charged.

I think it possible and journalistically safe to go after Assange for releasing stolen weapons to extort a criminal pardon. But most of the other theories of prosecuting Assange would also pose real risks for other journalists that those rooting for an Assange prosecution appreciate and rely on.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

75 replies
  1. cw says:

    Is there a 1st amendment difference between an American journalist attempting to inform the public and a foreign “journalist” proven to be working with Russia attempting to damage the US? Not a rhetorical question.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’ve tried to lay out some of the possible distinctions here. “Proven to be working with Russia” would fall under those conspiracy categories, though Assange would argue he was saving us from evil Hillary Clinton, which 40% of voters agree with.

      • cw says:

        I don’t see how many voters agree with him matters, or his candidate preferences. If he conspired with a Russia to disrupt the election, it seems like that is illegal. Plus he’s not an American citizen himself.

        I understand your concerns though.

    • Michael Keenan says:

      Proven? Based on Mueller taking testimony from Assange? How about some interrogatories from Mueller for Assange and Assanges answer and  then we can go from there? “In the U.S. government’s motion to seal a child pornography case unrelated to the WikiLeaks founder, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen Dwyer wrote in Assange’s name instead of the child porn defendant’s name.” This smells already. I call it theory five.

  2. Trip says:

    I hope to dog that if they do charge him, it is for the extortion relating to the Vault tools and not anything to do with publishing the other leaks, (as much as I think Julian went off the rails in supporting Trump).

  3. SteveB says:

    The fourth theory of criminal culpability necessarily implies as a precondition a belief by Assange in a viable theory of prior criminality warranting a pardon, unless the pardon request was for the crime in progress alone.

  4. harpie says:


    4:34 AM – 16 Nov 2018 .@ACLU: Prosecuting Assange for @wikileaks publishing operations unprecedented and unconstitutional. …. sets dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.

    Matt Tait:

     8:31 AM – 16 Nov 2018 This would be true only if they do actually charge him for that, which they probably won’t. / Even DOJ isn’t crazy enough to force every single news agency in America to file amicus briefs in support of Assange

    • harpie says:

      Tait adds:

      When you have logs like this you don’t need controversial Espionage Act charges. 

      …which I guess links back to the Emma Best article Marcy links to above in the first place…

      I always seem to be playing catch-up…uggg!

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Rambling Man preznet is demanding more decorum from the press if he is to let them cover him from the White House.  He is the last man in America, apart from Roger Stone, who has hands clean enough to argue for more decorum from others.  The Don is so funny, it hurts.

    Oh, and there was no conclusion. Bobby Mueller has wasted many millions of dollars – apart from the $46 million he is about to recover from Paulie.

    • KG says:

      The “wasted millions” you referred to have caused the charging and subsequent guilty pleas, sentencing, and/or charging of:

      George Papadopoulos
      Paul Manafort
      Rick Gates
      Michael Flynn
      12 Russian nationals
      3 Russian companies
      Richard Pinedo
      Alex van der Zwaan
      Konstantin Kilimnik
      12 GRU officers
      Michael Cohen

      Doesn’t seem wasted to me.

  6. orionATL says:

    soliciting theft of documents seems reasonable grounds for prosecution efforts until you comnsider that the guardian, intercept, and probably many others establish advertised ways in which a person can send documents surreptitiously. if it were applied, this possible doj criterion would shut these down.

    it would be possible to establish a “protected area” within this category, but an authoritarian political structure like trump has encouraged in congress and has set up in doj (immigration) would blow right thru these like a 0.50 caliber thru a house.

    in general, political speech has to be treated specially because it is much more liable to suppression by political opponents of the speaker.

    • bmaz says:

      No, there is a very real distinction between being receptive to having them handed to you and actively directing their illicit acquisition.

      • Desider says:

        “in which a person can send documents surreptitiously” – for one, just because documents are sent surreptitiously doesn’t mean they’re stolen or illegal in some fashion – it could be simply to protect the identity of the whistleblower or those around him/her – not necessarily even for legal purposes, but simply for maintaining reputation within whatever circle.

        Or like one Chinese blogger who’d privately divulged she was bi or lesbian to a western publication, and they didn’t comprehend that making that info public brought serious problems with it under her laws & customs. Anything else was fine to publish.

  7. orionATL says:

    it probably would not be a good precedent either, but evaluating assange’s actions based not on what he publishes per se, but on damage to national security of the corpus published, e.g., the vault seven affair, or his (possible) pattern of collusion or cooperation with russia over time with several releases. this approach would have to be very tightly constrained since national security often functions as the “open sesame” to government/prosecutorial abuse.

  8. Trip says:

    Adam Klasfeld‏Verified account @KlasfeldReports

    Wrinkle in the case of accused WikiLeaker Joshua Schulte. Last month, Schulte allegedly leaked more classified info using cell phones smuggled in federal prison. A newly public transcript states that those new leaks went beyond the “Vault 7” and “8” tranche of CIA files….Prosecutor Karamaju emphasized the “CIA did not provide Mr. Schulte with additional information once he became detained.” But the info “that has been disclosed” since he landed at the MCC is additional information of what was produced by WikiLeaks” in Vault 7 & 8 leaks.

    @Marcy or anyone. I know you mentioned that he continued to leak more info while incarcerated. Do we have any idea what it was, and where he got it from? Was it saved on one of these phones? Or did Wikileaks pass it to him? It’s a little confusing with the wording “produced by Wikileaks”, rather than simply alleging “disseminated by” Wikileaks.

    • Trip says:

      It’s amazing that a guy who put so many personal details in one place (not password protected, for the world to access), was able to hide additional documents, only to leak them while in jail/prison.

      Alleged CIA Leaker Joshua Schulte Has Some of the Worst Opsec I’ve Ever Seen
      Joshua Schulte uploaded CIA code to a personal website linked to his real name, archived versions of the site show.

      In addition to Project Wizard, Schulte also uploaded screenshots of his Gmail inbox, which have his name as well as emails that show information about his bank, his OKCupid account, his cell phone provider, his friends’ and families’ names, and more….There are narrated video tours of the inside of his house, screenshots of emails he sent to activists advocating for concealed handgun carry permits in Texas, saved IRC chats of “Josh” saying the n-word over and over, and yet more screenshots of his Gmail inbox, which—in the same screenshot—prove that we are looking at “Joshua Schulte’s” inbox and also reveal the pseudonym he used on several different websites. Other files he uploaded tie this pseudonym to a Blogger where he wrote extensively about his libertarian politics. The pseudonym is also present in logged-in screenshots he took of an online quiz that tested his “Brain Performance Index” on a site called Lumosity; he also uploaded a screenshot of the score he got on a MENSA practice test.

      Did he even need to bother submitting anything to Wikileaks directly? He could have just sent them a link, it seems.

      • Trip says:

        “Prosecutor Karamaju emphasized the “CIA did not provide Mr. Schulte with additional information once he became detained.” Strange wording.

      • bmaz says:

        SLF, How the hell did you get back in here? If you understand the concept of actual unauthorized access, you might want to answer that question to yourself. I mean, you understand access law, right?? You claim to all the time. If you really have a clue, step back.

      • bmaz says:

        What a load of incoherent horseshit by Schulte. If you send that bunk directly to the judge and not through your lawyer, you are asking to be treated like the idiot you are.

        • Trip says:

          I haven’t read the full letter, but all of this makes me wonder how rigorous vetting is for employment in the CIA. That is, if this guy wasn’t simply playing a nutball role. He comes across as incompetent, exceedingly careless, a rageaholic racist asshole and lastly, a complete nutball. That type of persona online would surely draw in other like-minded nutballs.

  9. @Undetermined_US says:

    We don’t actually know what event or events  induced the DOJ to charge Assange with a crime or crimes.

    What actions taken by Assange, that we know of, are unambiguously crimes as defined under US law?

    I have a strong suspicion that the US has additional facts known only to them that challenge the assumptions people are making regarding Assange.

    Personally, I suspect he has been acting as an agent of a foreign power for quite a while now.

  10. cat herder says:

    “…ingratiate themselves with the Clintons” while begging for a job from the guy he helped the Russians elect as President. What a class act he is.

  11. Eureka says:

    I understand the broader concerns for journalism if Assange were to be charged for what could amount or shade in to standard practices.  But I am wondering about the implications* going the other way, especially considering other hack and dump type operations.  Like what protects individuals’ rights to privacy in regard to having their info hacked – directly or via third party data breach- and dumped and having no recourse.  Is it merely an argument as to whether the released info is considered to be of public interest?

    Obviously I am thinking of what may be considered an intermediate or pivot case, that of low-level DNC (or was it DCCC) staffers having their private info “published.” But what if someone mounts a clear and convincing argument that, e.g., we (the people) need to know who shops at Target?  Or we the people need to know who liked certain posts on facebook? 

    *These could be considered as the implications of Assange being called a journalist. 

    Also, I don’t recall the post (possibly the troll accountant complaint post; circa the early October Roger Stone/Podesta hacks related ones; maybe DNC emails one), but there was an argument about the hacked emails being political speech.  But as I recall arguing at the time, the email contents were rendered unto political speech mainly by the relentless efforts of Roger Stone and friends.  Ex post facto public needs to know!

    • Eureka says:

      *after the fact BUT for the fact of Stone and friends apparently _anticipating_ some of the contents (e.g. Joule).  Gotta note such important exception(s).

    • orionATL says:

      i think this is a very important point that needs a lot more discussion than it gets.

      i understand this discussion is about theft of institutional documents, but as you point out it is no step at all to hacking personal info from equifax or target, et al.

      personally, i take great care with my identity even using devices that are strictly for a single purpose, but i understand i really have little electronic protection despite that effort and the “sand boxes”, the anti-virus, anti-trojan, identity-protection products, i have even less legal protection, and no police-type protection at all.

      we only have to observe what happens to personal financial info from equifax, or to a christine b. ford, to see that there is little governmental concern for theft of private information and less concern for harrassment.

  12. Kenneth Michaels says:

    The mis-filed paragraph reads “Assange” and not “defendant.” If there were only one defendant in the complaint, then the paragraph would have said “defendant” and not “Assange.” The fact that “Assange” is used and not “defendant” suggests there is more than one defendant to distinguish between.

    Or am I going too far?

    • bmaz says:

      Sorry, was on the phone for first answer and in a hurry. The real answer is, while that is technically maybe a possibility, it appears the charging document here is a direct complaint, not an indictment, and those are usually just for a single defendant.

  13. Eureka says:

    The confirmation that Assange has been charged has set off a frenzy, both among Assange supporters who claim this proves their years of claims he was indicted back in 2011…

    So I guess this explains WikiLeaks’ retweeting those old articles re 2011 before going silent ca. the eighth.  Perhaps their re-cuing those articles was them pointing to this apparent August complaint or the typo referencing same?

  14. Trip says:

    POLITICO‏Verified account @politico

    George Conway on why he decided not to join the Trump administration: “It’s like the administration is like a shit show in a dumpster fire, and I’m like, I don’t want to do that.”

    He also cried “tears of joy” when Trump won (and who he voted for), and he gives his wife kudos and credit for that shit show in a dumpster fire win. He’s a dick wrapped in a blanket of idiocy. Please don’t make him a “resistance hero”.

  15. Trip says:

    PSA, in case you missed it:

    Salmonella contamination in turkey is widespread and unidentified as Thanksgiving approaches

    …In recent days, consumer groups have called on the USDA to identify the brands of turkey that have been linked to the outbreak and to disclose the names of the companies that operate the 22 slaughterhouses and seven processing facilities where the bacterial strain has been found. The strain in those samples is closely related to the strain found in sick people, providing more evidence that people were sickened from preparing raw turkey products, according to the CDC…The states with the largest number of cases are Minnesota (17), Illinois (16), California (13), New York (12) and Texas (11). In February, a pet food manufacturer in Minneapolis, Raw for Paws, recalled about 4,000 pounds of its ground turkey pet food after two children became sick after the pet food was fed to pets in their home. One child’s infection resulted in a painful and serious bone infection, and the child was hospitalized, according to health department officials.

    Wear gloves, clean surfaces like a lunatic and make sure everything is well-cooked.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Note the following from the CDC Investigation Notice page: “A single, common supplier of raw turkey products or of live turkeys has not been identified that could account for the whole outbreak.”

        Maybe serve ham this thanksgiving?

    • orionATL says:

      dip the turkey in clorox water. no, wait.

      may be better to brine the turkey in a heavier than usual salt-and-sugar water solution. normal solution is about 1/2 cup of table salt to a gallon of water, plus whatever sugar you like, say 1/4 cup. be careful though about time else you may end up with a bacteria free turkey that is mush-meat. 😂

      or just take your chances, you’re an american, right?

  16. harpie says:

    Since bmaz just tweeted about this subject, just want to note:

    Ben Rhodes: 4:05 PM – 16 Nov 2018
    We are faced with the real possibility that Trump has had info from his own intel community that MBS was responsible for murdering a journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and lied about it / tried to help MBS get past it. Must be investigated.
    Justin Hendrix 5:19 AM – 17 Nov 2018
    It’s the same as Russian interference in our elections. Donald is willing to blatantly lie despite having the facts in order to advance a narrative that benefits him, and in this case quite likely benefits his family’s business interests.

    • BobCon says:

      It would not be out of character for Trump to start throwing people overboard to lighten his load as the pursuit closes in, and it will be interesting to see if he does that with Kushner. Or if Kushner decides to jump first before the ship enters shark-infested waters. Or if the ship runs aground first and then the efforts to jump ship and to lighten the load all happen too late to matter.

      One thing I’m pretty sure about, though, is that Kushner’s lawyers will be extremely busy over the next couple of years trying to keep all of his stories straight while also staying in sync with the things Trump says and the things Trump wants Kushner to say.

    • harpie says:

      …and now from Shane Harris [WaPo]

      7:33 AM – 17 Nov 2018  [WaPo] New: “We haven’t been briefed yet” about CIA’s findings on Khashoggi killing, Trump said. That’s not true. He has been shown evidence of the prince’s alleged involvement in the killing, and privately he remains skeptical. / “This is a situation where everyone basically knows what happened,” said one adviser who talks to Trump often. This person said Trump has repeatedly criticized how Mohammed has handled the situation and has said it is clear they are hiding facts. / “It is possible that this took place without his knowledge,” Trump said in an interview last month with the Post. That also contradicts the CIA’s findings that Mohammed, who exercises absolute authority in the kingdom, would have to know about an operation of this scale.

  17. harpie says:

    Ryan Goodman

    5:51 PM – 16 Nov 2018 Yochai Benkler [in NYT] who testified at Manning’s court-martial saying WikiLeaks played a watchdog journalism role said if there’s evidence Assange “knowingly coordinated” with Kremlin trying to undermine democracy, “‘I don’t think you have the same kind of protections from prosecution’” / “Actively implying that Seth Rich is your source, which is essentially a conspiracy to cover up Russian hacking — that is not within the normal of what a media organization does,” Mr. Benkler said. “They changed a lot.”

    Today, NYT has this: How the Trump Administration Stepped Up Pursuit of WikiLeaks’s Assange 

    […] Senior Justice Department officials pushed in 2017 to declare internally that WikiLeaks was not covered by special rules governing how investigators interact with journalists. The regulations require higher-level approval to obtain journalists’ records, like phone logs and emails, as part of investigations into leaks of classified information. By releasing hacking tools and playing a role in disrupting the election, Mr. Assange, the senior officials argued, was acting more like an agent of a foreign power than a journalist. […]

    • Trip says:

      I wonder if the US government interviewed Craig Murray. He was the one stating that the source wasn’t Russian. He said that he was the one who picked up the package of leaks in a DC park, IIRC, that he was the intermediary in all of this. He claimed the person who gave him the info wasn’t the hacker either, but another intermediary. Then he went on to say something bizarre like the Russians could have hacked the servers too, in addition to these “whistleblowers”, who handed him the goods, but that he gave the stolen emails to Assange, not Russians.

    • harpie says:

      All I’m trying to say is that Asha Rangappa tweeted the following in response to the NYT article:

      [quote] Organizations that steal and collect “dirt” on people and selectively leak them to maximize damage, [AND] encourage people to commit espionage in U.S. agencies, AND knowingly further the goals of foreign military intelligence services aren’t news media. / I argued in this piece from a while ago that the government should be able to designate entities that meet certain criteria as “non state intelligence services.”
      We do something similar in terrorism. Looks like that’s how the CIA has approached Wikileaks.

      The 9/8/17 Politico article she links to:
      How Facebook Changed the Spy Game I fought foreign propaganda for the FBI. But the tools we had won’t work anymore.

      • harpie says:

        This is why maybe [I hope] Wikileaks might be treated differently than Jason Leopold, who most likely does not meet those criteria.

      • Trip says:

        But that description could cover a lot of ground with existing publishers in the US and elsewhere. Marcy mentioned some of this above. As far as organizations “stealing” dirt, we don’t yet have any evidence of Assange directly hacking, or stealing from anyone. I’m not trying to be a Wikileaks advocate. I just don’t want a future where freedom of speech is severely curtailed, after precedent might be set with Assange.

        If anything he did could establish a kind of malice against the country, it would be when he was extorting conditions for himself, and then releasing the Vault tools as punishment for a non-agreement.

        • harpie says:

          [The reason for my “all I’m trying to say” is that I had tried about 8 times to post that getting a 404 error each time]

          I think they wouldn’t be able to credibly accuse most journalists of:

          [AND] knowingly further the goals of foreign military intelligence services

          …I’m probably being over optimistic.

          She notes in the article that,

          [Pompeo’s] first speech as [CIA] director came a month after WikiLeaks published the archive of hacking tools stolen from the C.I.A., seriously eroding the agency’s ability to conduct electronic espionage. // Mr. Pompeo laid down a gauntlet. “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” he said last April.

        • Trip says:

          The “knowingly” part might be different than intent. I mean, I would hope they’d have to prove that his motive was to help Russia destroy democracy in the US. That there was evidence of directives from Russia or some such thing. Otherwise, there might be leaks originating from someone within a foreign gov’t, with reporter(s) asking in follow-up if the leaker has supporting documents. They may knowingly realize that whatever the info is might be beneficial to the person (or country) leaking it, but they might publish it as a piece on the public’s right to know, for the greater good, rather than the motive to publish being “to destroy” one’s own country or another country, KWIM?

          It just seems like that language gets sticky when there is a true justification for publishing, and then the gov’t wants to shut it down because it looks bad in the process. Especially under an administration that calls the press the enemy of the people.

        • bmaz says:

          “Knowingly” is one of the way points, i.e. levels, on the scale of mens rea, or “intent”. The problem is that in criminal law, there are gradations of “intent” that lay people never recognize.

        • Trip says:

          Ah, I did not know that “knowingly” was a legal term, defined as intent.

          FWIW, my points aren’t in support of Assange, but how this could effect publishers and journalists in our country, especially with an administration hostile to any bad news.

        • Trip says:

          People leaking, divulging secrets, may not all be pure of heart altruists. They might have an ax to grind or it could provide some benefit for themselves. But the information may be valuable to the public. The publisher’s goals, motives or values may not align at all with the leaker’s, even if they know the leaker’s motives.

          Look at the Trump WH as an example. Backstabbers and blabbermouths.

      • harpie says:

        Going back to my comment at 11:41:

        Ryan Goodman links to this Charlie Savage article: Julian Assange Charge Raises Fears About Press Freedom, 

        Yochai Benkler who testified at Manning’s court-martial saying WikiLeaks played a watchdog journalism role said if there’s evidence Assange “knowingly coordinated” with Kremlin trying to undermine democracy, “‘I don’t think you have the same kind of protections from prosecution’” / “Actively implying that Seth Rich is your source, which is essentially a conspiracy to cover up Russian hacking — that is not within the normal of what a media organization does,” Mr. Benkler said. “They changed a lot.”

        The article has this sentence between those two quotes:

        And in particular, Mr. Benkler pointed to WikiLeaks’s offer in 2016 of a reward for information about the killing of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staff member who was the subject of a false conspiracy theory that he, not Russian hackers, was WikiLeaks’s source.

        • harpie says:

          More about the Charlie Savage article:

          The public does not know why Mr. Assange has been charged. But it is most likely related to one or more of four categories of activities that have drawn notoriety.

          1] 2010/2011 Manning- -archives of secret military/diplomatic files 
          2] 2013 assistance that WikiLeaks provided Snowden [post leak]
          3] 2016 [RU govt. hackers] archives of Democratic Party emails 
          4] March 2017  Schulte [?] “Vault 7” 
          Savage hypothesizes:
          If 1, 2 or 4, then: “could mean prosecuting Mr. Assange for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, which bans the dissemination of secret national security information to someone not authorized to receive it.”
          If 3, then “could mean prosecuting Mr. Assange for joining in a conspiracy to illegally hack computers or defrauding the government in its duty to administer election law.”
          Savage does not say what the charge might be for offering a reward for information about the murder, and“Actively implying that Seth Rich is your source, which is essentially a conspiracy to cover up Russian hacking”.

  18. Trip says:

    This will piss off bmaz (as it should anyone), but this is what passes as a legitimate news take- away?

    Chuck Todd‏Verified account @chucktodd

    Sometimes I wonder if our entire political world is just a bad movie plot… Realize that our current POTUS is meeting with the ex-husband of his son’s girlfriend, who, btw, used “Trump bashing” to glide to the CA GOVship.

    Chuck lost the plot long ago, if he was ever able to follow along in the first place. How TF does this guy get a high paying gig on a “news” channel? This is what he digs out as import, with 1011 people missing, nearly 100 dead so far. He criticizes the guy whose constituency are dead/missing.
    Meanwhile, like some kind of awkward verbal tic, Trump keeps repeating sweeping or raking.

  19. nsacpi says:

    Simply charging Assange with publishing or disseminating stolen material is problematic. But engaging in a conspiracy (with either the Trump campaign or Russian intelligence) might sidestep some of these difficulties. Imagine a scenario, where the NY Times gets a hold of something embarrassing about the Nixon White House in October 1972. And that the information is provided by someone who stole it. Publishing it is not a problem. Sharing the information with the McGovern campaign or coordinating its dissemination with the McGovern campaign is an entirely different matter. It would be even more problematic if the party providing the stolen information worked for the McGovern campaign or was paid by the McGovern campaign. News organizations should be prosecuted if they engage in this sort of conspiracy to weaponize stolen information.

  20. Michael Keenan says:

    bmaz in your best sense of horse shit why would this be deleted?
    2018-0058.pdf Court Deletes Joshua Schulte Letter on Prison Mistreatment October 29, 2018

    • Trip says:

      From the Sy Hersh episode, he said someone read a report to him. Since he never identified the FBI source, there’s no way to corroborate it. There’s also no way of knowing if the person who “read the report” was part of the “Trump Nation” inside the FBI (ie: leaks and disinformation passed to Guiliano before the election). And then there’s the possibility of this being a ruse, in the first place, being an episode of braggadocio on insider scoops. But all of the people at Fox have zero credibility.

Comments are closed.