IMPERILED JOURNALISM: THE SORRY STATE OF THE FOURTH ESTATE
Yet another journalist has been chained as the U.S. government attempts to silence his work. On the morning of October 25, a SWAT team surrounded Max Blumenthal’s house, threatened to arrest him, shackled him for 5 hours, and forbade him to contact his lawyers, effectively keeping from outside communication for over 24 hours, and eventually jailed him.
Originally, a warrant had been issued for his arrest in connection with his and other journalists’ coverage of the attempt by the US to take over the Venezuelan Washington embassy, an action strictly proscribed by international law, in connection with its clumsy coup attempt to elevate unknown Juan Guidó to the presidency and to effect “regime change” in Venezuela, a country among other Latin American countries which has embraced the Bolivarian Revolution.
At that time, Blumenthal had covered the actions of the Embassy Protection Collective, and the violent counter-reaction by Venezuelan goons who harassed the Embassy Protector Collective day and night, and provoked violent and abusive action in the surrounding streets. But that warrant had been rescinded over 5 months ago. Suddenly it was reactivated, and the SWAT team appeared without any prior notification to him. Why?
Kevin Gosztola writing for Shadow Proof raises the interesting point that Blumenthal was arrested literally hours after The Grayzone published an article on USAID paying the salaries of Guaidó’s team as they lobbied the US government.
“I am firmly convinced that this case is part of a wider campaign of political persecution using the legal system to shut down our factual investigative journalism about the coup against Venezuela and the wider policy of economic warfare and regime change waged by the Trump administration,” Blumenthal stated.
Following the persecution of Kiriakou, Sterling, Chelsea Manning., Snowden, and Assange, Blumenthal’s arrest is the latest assault on individuals determined to practice true journalism in contrast to regularly salaried people in the employ of the stenographic media: state organs such as the New York Times, and the Guardian among others, who take dictation directly from governmental sources.
In more recent developments in the US-lapdog UK, which following US interests, is actively supporting the extradition of Assange to a lifetime imprisonment by the US, journalist Craig Murray in a recently published book, In Defense of Julian Assange, describes the recent procedural irregularities in Julian Assange’s recent extradition proceedings before Judge Vanessa Baraitser. I quote in detail because there is no link:
“I was deeply shaken…by Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded, and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing….But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both….It was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his trend of thought.
“Until yesterday I had always been skeptical of those [claiming] his treatment amounted to torture. But…Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim…in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to asset free will thorough the fog of learned helplessness….
“To see my friend, the most articulate man, the fastest thinker I have ever known, reduced to that shambling and incoherent wreck, was unbearable….
“The charge against Julian is very specific; conspiring with Chelsea Manning to publish the Iraq War logs, the Afghanistan was logs, and the State Department cables….The purpose of yesterday’s hearing was…to detemine the timetable for the extradition proceedings. …
“James Lewis, QC, stated the government…opposed any delay being given for the defense, and strongly opposed any separate consideration of the question of whether the charge was a political offence excluded by the extradition treaty. Baraister stated categorically that the date…could not be changed.
“What happened next was very instructive. There were five representative of the US government present, seated at desks behind the lawyers in court. The prosecution lawyers immediately went into huddle with the US representatives, then went outside the courtroom with them, to decide how to respond on the dates.
In summary, Murray reports, “Baraitser…capped it all by saying that the Feb. hearing will be held, not at the comparatively open and accessible Westminster Magistrates Court where we were, but at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, the grim high security facility used for preliminary legal processing of terrorists, attached to the maximum security prison where Assange is being held (in 23/7 solitary]. There are only six seats for the public even in the largest court at Belmarsh, and the object is plainly to evade public scrutiny and make sure that Baraitser is not exposed in public again to a genuine account of her proceedings, like this one you are reading.”
Overlooking and deliberately ignoring that, according to Stuart Littlewood writing in the Oct. 26 Morning Star, any “political charge” is strictly prohibited in extradition hearings, the UK court plans to proceed full steam ahead.
Despite the US media having fully exploited Assange’s courageous reporting, now he’s behind the eight ball, the media has turned its back, perfectly willing to comply with the “official story,” and hang him out to dry. Do not ever look to any established media for loyalty, let along feelings of solidarity.
In Edward Snowden’s word, in a world of total surveillance, “the citizen is no longer partner to government, but subject to government.” In Snowden’s over two-hour- long interview by Joe Rogan, there is more than ample evidence of his mental clarity, ability to detail the most complex of issues, and none of the adolescent, smelly sneaker profile evident in the New Yorker’s recent hit piece, yet another example of the media deliberately vilifying true journalism, and readiness to criminalize dissent.
The book jacket copy for In Defense of Julian Assange makes the case that “It is critical now to build support for Assange and prevent his delivery into the hands of the Trump administration. That is the urgent purpose of this book. A wide range of distinguished contributors…here set out the story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, the importance of their work, and the dangers for us all in the persecution they face.”
A truism applying to all true journalists, including Max Blumenthal.
If Democracy is to be upheld, a free, ungagged press is the first requisite. A campaign must be mounted at once, a shaming campaign against all our compliant, complaisant, stenographic media. I have approached Medea Benjamin on this issue, and so far await a response.
Petition US AG Wm. Barr to dismiss charges against the anti-nuclear plowshares activists facing 25 years at:
PGE’s negligence has killed people, destroyed towns, an d is the caretaker of the Humboldt Bay nuclear site. It’s time for the state of California to take over at: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/831/330/126/?z00m=32099755&redirectID=2949189483,
Urge Congress to pass the Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Energy Conservation Act at: http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=11837&link_id=2&can_id=655968a96e1bce05c463b2f640bf633c&source=email-its-ban-nukes-call-in-day-in-the-us&email_referrer=email_653529&email_subject=its-ban-nukes-call-in-day-in-the-us,
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