22 March 2019

Jailed for Refusing to Fink on Julian Assange

Free Chelsea Manning!

Former Army intelligence analyst and truth-teller Chelsea Manning has been jailed again by the vindictive U.S. capitalist state. Tortured in prison for seven years by the Obama regime for exposing U.S. imperialist war crimes, Manning was thrown back behind bars on March 8 because she refused to testify before a grand jury in a secretive star-chamber inquiry against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Manning declared: “I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.” Held in contempt of federal court for her principled stand, Manning was sent to jail, where she could remain for a year or more as the investigation proceeds. Release Chelsea Manning now!

In 2010, WikiLeaks published files leaked by Manning that cast a spotlight on the bloody work of U.S. imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The best-known of these is the graphic aerial video, dubbed “Collateral Murder,” which shows a U.S. Apache helicopter gunship massacring at least 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007 while the Army pilots gloated over the carnage. After releasing the video, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and classified documents recording more murder, torture and rape carried out by the imperialists.

Manning was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years, the most severe punishment ever inflicted on any whistle-blower. Torture at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, solitary confinement at the prison barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the relentless stress of having to fight for treatment while gender transitioning drove her to attempt suicide twice. Obama’s granting clemency for Manning on his way out of the White House in 2017 was a ploy to pose as a defender of transgender rights and conceal his true “legacy”—one of persecuting whistle-blowers and ramping up drone strikes and mass surveillance.

The cruel persecution of Manning is directly tied to Washington’s vendetta against Assange. The founder of WikiLeaks has been trapped for nearly seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. British cops posted outside stand ready to seize him for extradition to the U.S., where he faces a potential life sentence for the “crime” of publishing the truth about U.S. imperialism. For the past year, the new Ecuadorean regime, under pressure from the U.S., has made his life unbearable, cutting off his internet access for six months and even forcing him to give away his cat. Meanwhile, Assange’s health continues to deteriorate.

In November 2018, a mistaken court filing revealed that U.S. federal prosecutors had secretly filed charges against Assange, most likely multiple counts of espionage. The charges were filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, known as the “Espionage Court,” where no national security defendant has ever been found not guilty.

Obama’s Justice Department, which used the 1917 Espionage Act against leakers and whistle-blowers more times than all prior administrations combined, had for years looked to indict Assange for a criminal offense. The Feds found it problematic to prosecute him for publishing classified documents without also prosecuting the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and others, which had also published these documents. Thus, the Justice Department is aiming to frame up Assange as a co-conspirator with Manning in the unauthorized disclosure of national defense secrets. This would give the government a means to prosecute Assange, an Australian citizen, under the Espionage Act, which has repeatedly been used to criminalize dissent and opposition to U.S. wars but has rarely been applied to non-citizens. Hands off Julian Assange! Drop all charges!

The witchhunt against Assange comes in the context of the anti-Russia hysteria pushed by the Democratic Party ever since the dirty maneuvers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 election campaign were revealed by WikiLeaks. With U.S. spy agencies claiming that Russian operatives hacked DNC emails, Democrats and their media mouthpieces have branded Assange a Moscow agent. Although the Democrats have sought to place Trump at the center of an alleged Russian conspiracy to throw the election in his favor, his administration has itself continued the vendetta against Assange. Referring to a 2017 WikiLeaks release exposing CIA hacking and cyberwarfare exploits, Vice President Mike Pence vowed to “use the full force of the law and resources of the United States to hold all of those to account that were involved.”

Imperialists always accompany their depredations around the world with gag orders and secret dealings. Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky observed in November 1917: “Imperialism, with its dark plans of conquest and its robber alliances and deals, developed the system of secret diplomacy to the highest level.” The American masters of war, enraged at any light being shed on their machinations, are determined to send the message to potential whistle-blowers that they will incur the most severe punishment. Witness former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, forced to live in exile in Russia as the price for having revealed in 2013 the sweep and scope of U.S. global electronic spying.

By unmasking the bourgeoisie’s lies and intrigues, brave individuals like Manning, Assange, Snowden and others have carried out a service to workers and the oppressed throughout the world. It is in the interests of the working class to defend them and to fight against the attempt to silence opponents of imperialist war and occupations. But leaks and revelations by whistle-blowers will not fundamentally change this rotten system. The manifold discontents engendered by endless war, racial oppression, economic misery and state repression must be directed against the capitalist class enemy, with the social power of the multiracial proletariat mobilized on behalf of all the exploited and oppressed. Our aim as Marxists is to build a revolutionary workers party that can lead the working class in sweeping away capitalist class rule and replacing it with proletarian-socialist rule. Only then will U.S. capitalism’s spying, lying and violence at home and abroad come to an end and the full extent of its bloody crimes and secrets be laid bare to the world.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1151, 22 March 2019)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.