Obama needs to speak out on the pending Assange indictment immediately.
Barack Obama, who rode a wave of progressive enthusiasm to the presidency in 2008, is sending the wrong message to his supporters by not speaking out on the Julian Assange indictment.
Obama’s policy decisions and recent acquiescence to Congressional Republican demands is confounding. The administration has been too influenced by the “what is politically possible” culture Rahm Emanuel set as chief of staff. We did not elect Barack Obama to enact what is politically possible. His cynical maneuvers have cast a shadow over his original message, nearly validating Sarah Palin’s demeaning “hopey-changey thing” rhetoric.
Barack Obama should tell Eric Holder to cease his investigation into Julian Assange immediately. The Department of Justice should not seek to prosecute Assange, under the Espionage Act or in any other manner.
1. First Amendment Rights
Were Assange, an Australian citizen, under our jurisdiction, which he’s not, the First Amendment would protect his right to free speech. Turning an Amendment into an issue of political convenience is a slippery slope for Barack Obama. Like Kennedy, Barack Obama is the rare counter-cultural President whose values are associated with human sentience instead of corporate submission. In fact, he cast soon-to-be Republican Majority Leader John Boehner as Corporate Submitter Number One during the midterm-election race. What has happened to Obama’s original message? Truth is as important as hope and change.
2. Turning His Back on the Young
Whether the U.S. Government likes it or not, Julian Assange is an icon. America has been devoid of any counter-culture in music, film and entertainment for over a decade, opening the way for Assange to become an exciting figure and a political lightning rod. Obama won the youth vote decisively in 2008, for his anti-war stance and unerring determination to right the wrongs of the Bush presidency. If Obama does not recognize the cultural power of Julian Assange and the righteousness of his Constitution-protected message, his finger is no longer on the pulse.
3. As a Harvard-educated Constitutional Law professor, he knows better.
As a Harvard Law graduate and former law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, Obama knows better. Unlike Bush, who studied business, Mr. Obama is no doubt deeply acquainted with the 1971 US Supreme Court decision “NY Times vs. The United States.” Failure to denounce an Assange indictment will erode Mr. Obama’s credibility on legal judgment and will send the message to an entire generation of law students that what they are doing doesn’t matter—that in the U.S., laws are absconded when they bump up against motivated self-interest.
4. Restoring International Respect for America
As a candidate Obama promised to restore America’s image abroad, tarnished by 8 years of the Bush Administration taking gross liberties with unjustified wars and sketchy law-bending to rectify torture and to detain people indefinitely without being charged. If Obama fails to speak out against the U.S. indicting Assange, he will allow the U.S. to be perceived abroad once more as a valueless nation that breaks its own laws and changes its own rules to match whatever fits its self-interest on a given day.
5. He was Supposed to be the First Internet President
Obama clenched the Democratic nomination and presidency through grassroots, Internet-fueled support. BarackObama.org, with its 8 million monthly unique visitors, was one of the most heavily trafficked websites in the world throughout 2008. The Internet is the most democratizing force ever created by man, and Obama leads the most powerful democracy in the world. For him to condone the notion that Assange is a criminal for exercising his rights to free speech, regardless of the political implications for the United States, is deeply disappointing. Assange’s message is clear: The U.S. and all world leaders need to clean up their act. They can start by exculpating Julian Assange.