A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Wikileaks Has Committed No Crime

By Trevor Timm

A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” –Judge Murray Gurfein, June 1971.

Since August, when Wikileaks first published 91,000 classified documents relating to the Afghanistan War, and in October, when they published approximately 400,000 more relating to the War in Iraq, many conservative commentators have been clamoring for the Justice Department to prosecute Wikileaks for publishing classified information.

But in the United States, generally publishing classified information is not a crime. The sort of information that a news organization can be prosecuted for publishing is limited to: nuclear secrets (Atomic Energy Act), the identities of covert agents (Intelligence Identities Protection Act), and certain forms of communications intelligence (Section 798 of the Espionage Act).

Perhaps lamenting that the U.S. does not have an Official Secrets Act like the United Kingdom, right wing columnists have consistently misinterpreted these Acts, or have cited other provisions of our espionage laws which almost surely do not apply to Wikileaks.

The most commonly cited statute by those who advocate prosecuting Wikileaks is Section 793(e) of the Espionage Act. In August, former Bush speechwriter Marc Theissen linked to this section in an article for the Washington Post when he wrote that Wikileaks is “a criminal enterprise” whose founder, Julian Assange, should be arrested by U.S. forces on foreign soil, international law be damned.

But this provision does not apply to those who publish information.

Section 793(e)reads “Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document…relating to the national defense…willfully communicates… the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it…[s]hall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

As made clear in the Pentagon Papers case, the word “communicates” was never meant “to encompass publication” or to affect the press. Congress included the word “publish” in three other sections of the Act but intentionally left it out of 793. As the legislative history of this provision states, “Nothing in this Act shall…in any way to limit or infringe upon freedom of the press or of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.”

Justice Douglas referenced the legislative history in his concurring opinion, when he wrote of Section 793, “it is apparent that Congress was capable of, and did, distinguish between publishing and communication in the various sections of the Espionage Act.”

Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley wants Wikileaks charged under a similar provision in the Espionage Act, Section 794(b), which does include the word “publish.” Yet this statute applies only to information that is published with intent to deliver it to the enemy, a fact any prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. While Wikileaks admits it intended to affect U.S. public opinion of the war (as Daniel Ellsberg did with the Pentagon Papers), this is far different than intending  the information for the enemy. The documents were first disseminated to only domestic and allied country newspapers to effect public opinion of the war, and Wikileaks redacted names and other information in the Iraq War logs. And while Wikileaks was criticized for not redacting names in the Afghanistan files, it had asked the government for help redacting names from the documents through an intermediary—the New York Times—and the government declined to help.

Further, Section794 sets out specific information that is prohibited such as troop and ship “movement[s]” and military “plans,” emphasizing future missions, while the Iraq and Afghanistan leaks consisted of after-action reports about what had already taken place. In other words: history.

Regardless of the specificity of Section 794, there is no proof the documents have led to any harm of U.S. soldiers. Although Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said Wikileaks will have “blood on its hands,” the Pentagon later admitted, “We have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the Wikileaks documents.”  Admittedly, that U.S. forces haven’t be harmed by the publication of these documents yet is not guarantee against a harm yet to come.  Still, it is worth noting that despite the hysteria of the conservatives, and their predictions of disaster resulting from Wikileaks’ leaks, we know of no ramifications from the publication whatsoever.

Other commentators have cited Section 798 of the Espionage Act, a provision that has previously alarmed journalists because it has no intent requirement like Sections 793 and 794. In other words, someone can be prosecuted under this act, no matter the motivations behind publication or the audience it was intended for. But these commentators do not seem to have analyzed the law beyond that point. If they did, they would realize, as Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald points out, Section 798 covers “only very narrow categories of information (i.e., cryptography, signals communication intelligence, or interception of foreign governments’ communications) which plainly do not encompass the leak of the Afghan [or now Iraq] war documents.”

No media outlet has ever been charged under Sections 793, 794 or 798. The Bush Administration—not exactly a friend to the pressconsidered prosecuting the New York Times under Section 798 for its story on the NSA’s most likely illegal warrantless wiretapping program, which fits more squarely under the definition of communication intelligence. Yet even then, the Justice Department declined to do so.

Perhaps realizing these realities, during the most current leak of Iraq War documents, many commentators seem to have dropped the pretense that Wikileaks could be charged under a specific statute at all.

Jonah Goldberg openly wondered in the Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers last week, “Why wasn’t Julian Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago? It’s a serious question.” Mr. Goldberg most likely knows the answer is because assassination is illegal (Er, at least it used to be).

The New York Sun, after asking “What would our greatest leaders expect President Obama to do in respect of Julian Assange?” suggested FDR or Lincoln would have tried Assange for treason.  The Sun probably knows Assange is a foreign citizen, making a treason charge impossible.

And former Bush State Department official Christian Whiton said the Wikileaks organization should be deemed “enemy combatants, paving the way for non-judicial actions against them.”  Judging by Whiton’s refusal to elaborate on his comments, he probably knows that will never happen either.

All of this evidence suggests that the Justice Department’s statement saying they are “exploring possible criminal charges” against Wikileaks is just posturing.

As Timothy Matusheski, a lawyer working with Wikileaks and Mr. Assange, said, “They accuse him of breaking the law. But they haven’t said what law.”   Perhaps because they can’t find one.

Comments

106 Comments »

106 Responses

  1. […] Assange accused of breaking the law. but which law? Wikileaks Has Committed No Crime https://nylssites.wpengine.com/lasisblog/2010/11/12/wikileaks-has-committed-no-crime/ In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth. in a society where truth becomes treason, […]

  2. Frank & Free says:

    No war crimes – no WikiLeaks. No disruptive behaviour – no need for WikiLeaks as well.

    America’s power, formerly based on moral superiority, has become collaterally damaged, not-just-yet-shooting messengers of dumbfounded or dead victims of U.S. war crimes. Dumbheads govern the U.S. now – even the otherwise respected Mrs. Clinton disgraces herself verbally shooting the messenger of war crimes and diplomatically stupid behaviour.

    I hope WikiLeaks will not have anything to do but dismantle itself really soon, the world being a better place to live in and WL not being needed anymore.

    Until then: bon courage! Good health to all people of WikiLeaks, and a relaxing massage and the power to speak honestly to those fighting them. Truth will prevail, no matter how much it is obscured.

  3. Lennart in Sweden says:

    Wikileaks just does in a broader scale against governments, what other media has done towards private citizens for ages:
    Dig up and publish letters and other documents that where not meant to be publicly known. This, of course, causes some discomfort for a writer who says one thing officially, but an other behind closed doors.
    Well, it’s a brave new world now, and there are no closed doors anymore. And that’s a good thing. It’s time to apply the proverb:

    Watch your opinions, they might develop into thoughts.
    Watch your thoughts, they might develop into statements.
    Watch your statements, they might develop into actions.
    Watch your actions, they might develop into other peoples opinions.
    Which might develop into war.

    If you put a leach on your administrations opinions, the incriminating letters that Wikileaks publish will never be written.
    That’s the solution.

  4. […] Although these companies have said that their terms of service forbid the support or facilitation of illegal activity, such pronouncements about Wikileaks are debatable. While it is a crime to leak classified information, receiving and publishing it is not. […]

  5. […] make about the illegality of the leaked documents, it’s not clear that Wikileaks has broken any law. It is clear that some politicians and pundits wish it to be so, most often invoking the Espionage […]

  6. […] belonged to the U.S. government — something that may be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but is not obviously illegal (even the Justice Department doesn’t seem too sure about whether WikiLeaks is guilty of […]

  7. Bob says:

    Jon said: (Tuesday 16 November, 2010 )

    @ Kevin, whether some people believe the war “illegal” or not is irrelevant in the real world. What matters is whether the US courts find the war illegal. Which they haven’t and they won’t. (See AUMF, Boumediene, Hamdan, Jacksonian tripartism, etc.)

    As a “legal” war under US law, then the Espionage Act’s 18 USC 793 is still applicable to leaks involving Iraqi and Afghani operations.

    Jon – I am sorry but you are absolutely 100% wrong here. This world doesn’t strat and end with the USA. I love my country, don’t get me wrong, but the principles you are speaking of are more of Socialism. What the others are saying is that this is what the reality of the situation in the Middle East is to everyone BESIDES us. This was the purpose of 99% of the leaked information from last week. How many people have egg on their face and are embarrassed because they are representing Americans. Shame on them for being so unprofessional. Everyone outside of here knows this already and just continue to laugh at us.

    You can talk about what this and that is, but people outside of our country don’t care. Legalities are relative, morality isn’t, and perception IS everything. It’s not what it is but what it appears to be. If you stick to your interpretation of what’s in black and white and you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot much sooner than later. Tread carefully sir….

  8. […] festgenommen wurde. Aber auch dies scheint, glaubt man bestimmten Quellen, wohl eher von bestimmten, betroffenen Stellen gewollt. Sogar manch deutscher Rechtskundiger sieht zum Thema für Wikileaks in Deutschland kein Problem. […]

  9. John Chow says:

    As long as we have the Majority of Interlectually challenged, whistle blower sites like WikiLeaks will face undue hardship.

    We are all FOOLS in failing to question/protest/correct our govt to get things open & transparant. Have we had a transparant govt, there wouldn’t be any whistle blower website to embrass our government.

    Under the name of 9/11, we murdered thousands in Irag & Afganistan. They are also human beings like us. Don’t they? Collectively we should stand up to make our government countable to US. Obama is just a good Orator cut from the same cloth as BUSH? or another …

    Eric Holder should start digging Oil Companies to discover more corruption in govt.

    We ALL, Citizens are responaible for the MURDER committed by our forces, crime committed by our government. Our hands are covered with innocent people’s blood

  10. Clem says:

    What Wikileaks did was to provide existing infomation and documentation which is not normally available to the public. I still do not understand what crime Wikileaks has commited.
    Furthermore how can the US government put an Australian citizen up for treason.
    Wikileaks just provides the information – everyone else can make their own judgement on the situation.

  11. Marius says:

    @Jon said: (Tuesday 16 November, 2010 )
    @ Kevin, whether some people believe the war “illegal” or not is irrelevant in the real world. What matters is whether the US courts find the war illegal. Which they haven’t and they won’t. (See AUMF, Boumediene, Hamdan, Jacksonian tripartism, etc.)
    As a “legal” war under US law, then the Espionage Act’s 18 USC 793 is still applicable to leaks involving Iraqi and Afghani operations.

    Now this is really interesting. So the legality of the war outside US soil is supposed to be judged based on US laws, is this right?
    I wonder what does the international community think of this.
    The same goes with accusations of treason/espionage by applying US laws outside US against non-US citizen.
    The USA is a one-sided legal world police?
    Common, the hypocricy is at a pathetic level, look, the emperor has no clothes!

  12. joey says:

    It’s the virtue of US democracy to allow disagreements among commentators, though we are arguing now on the Internet. It’s not the case in P.R. China or North Korea, you know. However, that is true unless we do not kid around with special toys like domestic laws and a constitution for arguing for/against matters originated in another sovereign state’s citizen in yet another sovereign state. Do they really understand the meaning of the word “sovereign state”?

    If a lady was asked by a senior person living with a rebellious youth in a nearby house to kill the youth after believing the declaration of the senior that the senior controls everything in his house and his statements are the law of his house, what should she does? If she actually killed the youth according to the request, it’s a crime in whatever modern sovereign states I know of. Abetting her crime from far away is also a crime. Revealing their criminal acts by appropriate means thereby preventing further criminal acts is right things to do unless it harms others. How many thousands of Americans have been killed by Wikileaks that revealed massacre in Iraq, by the way?

    I just wish if we would have John Chow in our country, not Jon.

  13. […] Wikileaks n’a commis aucun crime. Ils ont reçu une information et il la publie, tout comme Radio-Canada, New York Times, The Guardian etc. qui publient tous les infos de wikileaks. Pourquoi Mastercard et Paypal punissent Wikileaks sans même l’ombre d’une réelle accusation légale dépasse l’entendement! […]

  14. […] with the legal issues involved in this case, and why none of them apply to Wikileaks, is by reading this wonderful article by the New York Law School’s online blog. In short, publication of classified information is generally not a crime (the exceptions, as […]

  15. […] make about the illegality of the leaked documents, it’s not clear that Wikileaks has broken any law. It is clear that some politicians and pundits wish it to be so, most often invoking the Espionage […]

  16. […] Being lost in “shock and awe” of the United States and its Allies attack against WikiLeaks is the simple fact that neither it nor its founder have broken any law. […]

  17. sad says:

    It is simply ridiculous to even think WikiLeaks has done anything criminal. If WikiLeaks is criminal, then CNN, and BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and many others would have to be considered criminals too as they publish the same information. Nobody even tries to touch them though. You can still buy a New York Times subscription and pay with your credit card I guess.

  18. Nico says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I was just reading this article, and i think that it is NOT directly a crime, and it does not directly put people in harms way.
    The only thing that i find wrong about wikileaks is their timing as the info comes on a very bad moment considering the possible conflicts in the middle east and asia.
    The US Goverment does have a point about national security but imo they created a beast and now it blows up in the their faces.
    All goverments around the world do cover up things from time to time and they tell us nice bedtime stories without telling the truth.
    This happens not only in the US but here in the Netherlands as well.

    For example: If i tell something wich aint right because i lie? or hide facts then who am i to judge the person who finds out about my scam?
    So evetually it will blow up into my face.
    The media is putting those wikileaks into context and they WILL leave out the serious dangerous leaks as noone will be that stupid to release the really juicy stuff.
    So in that regard the national security of the involved nations is pretty mutch secured.
    However they way how the US does try to solve this huge issue is just lame.
    If the US and other nations want the trust and support from the public for their actions than the least thing the should do is cut the crap and tell the truth.
    So don’t come crying if someone finds out that you did tell us a “story”

    So wikileaks does not put people in harms way…the goverment already did that at the moment they spread a lie using the public mass media.
    Wikileaks does not break the law because wikileaks just points out that the goverment organisations do not always tell the truth.
    Its the goverments job to inform their nation with correct data thats why we vote for them that why we want them to lead our nations.
    We did not vote for them so they can give us bull*** stories.
    So just a matter of fact the goverment is the one who is doing the crime stuff.
    However the US does have some laws that limit press freedom insane or not but those laws can cause trouble for wikileaks.
    Still the way how the US tries to minimize the damage done is just ridicilous as it does not contribute to the trustwortyness and national security of the US.
    Infact the US is crying like a child who got caught while stealing a candy bar out of the kitchen.
    People all over the world share this opinion and people all over the world will see the US with differend eyes, because the way how they paint Julian Assange on the news is just to dumb for words.
    Traitor, Espionage, Treason? and he should be shot? you got to be kidding me.
    Iam no fan of Julian Assange and iam not a fan of the US infact iam neutral so iam not flaming anyone.
    But if Julian Assange did commit Treason and Espionage according to the US goverment then what do you call it if you break every law written in the First Amendment? because thats exactly what they do by calling JA a traitor and such.

    So mutch for the land of the free.

    Kind Regards Nico

  19. Nico says:

    Forgive me if my writting is not perfectly eglish as it is not my native speak, and sorry if i sound harsh that was not my intention.
    Wikileaks does some great work by sharing info, but wikileaks should also filter out the really bad stuff.
    Yesterday on the dutch television on major news paper said that they did read every single file that wikileaks has and they filter out the really juicy stuff.
    As noone wants everything to be public.
    Secrets are secrets and have to be handled as secret.
    And from what i have seen so far and what the media did publish are not really security leaks….its just info where certain goverments / diplomats did screw up by saying stuff about other diplomats or people during a convo.
    I agree that info does not contribute to the public, but info about certain events that has become public knowlegd thx to wikileaks is very great info.
    Because it does tell exactly the truth about those events as the goverment did not tell us the truth, about some events…and now they got some explaining to do about for example iraq, afganistan and so on.
    So i perfectly well understand that they want to contain the info asap.
    As the bush administration did harm the trustworthyness and public opinion of the US seriously.
    And Obama is trying to solve this…….the only thing is that those wikileaks do not help in that proces.
    Julian Assange should not be handled like the US goverment does…that aint fair.
    Regardless if he did break laws, and in that regard the US is making fun of theirselfs.

    Cheers

  20. Outraged says:

    The very premise that anyone or any organization on this earth has the God-given right to reveal to the world secrets of any nation is on the face of it patently absurd. Nations, corporate entities and individuals have a right to privacy and to protect their secrets. This puerile fantasy that somehow ‘government transparency’ in and of itself will make the world a better place is not only harmful, but dangerous placed in the hands of techno-empowered anarchists.

    I don’t know about the sexual charges in Sweedn, but sincerely hope Assange will face justice in America for the harm he his organization and its adolescent crusade have imparted to diplomats around the world, regardless of their nationalities…

  21. Nico says:

    @outraged,

    Iam not saying that leaked info cannot be dangerous in the wrong hands, as the info does create a certain danger i will not deny that.
    But i believe we both can agree upon the fact that if we look how Assange is painted in the US media that this is just ridicilous and that the US goverment has completly missed the ball here.

    The sexual charges from sweden are based upon hot air as several europian lawers already pointed out.
    By nailing Assange for sexual charges they can use the interpol system and other legals systems to catch him wich they could not do as they only would charge them for the wikileaks thing….as there is no legal basis for it in the EU or Asia.
    This has already been pointed out by other goverments and legal organisations.
    So that legal issue will be going away soon….no doubt there.

    However the charges that might come from the US about the wikileaks are far more concerning as they wanna charge Assange with treason and spionage.
    True or not its the US who should have seen to it that noone gets those cables in the first place.
    But regardless of that the US will charge Assange with all kinds of stuff, some might be true and some might be bull…
    But fact remains that the US goverment did tap europian diplomats and people around the world wich is infact spionage as there is not a single legal basis for it.
    This now becomes public knowlegd so the US will have some explaining to do themselfs.
    Nations around the world are pretty mutch pissed about all kinds of facts released by the leaks as it points out that the US did not play the game by the book.
    And IMO this creates a far more bigger danger then wikileaks ever could.
    For example Bin laden and other “madman” they have a field day with all this info…
    And they will get alot more support as they just point out…..see i told you so and refer to the leaks.
    Imo Bin laden and those kinds of people are madman….but they will use this info iam sure.
    So in that regard wikileaks does create some degree of danger by releasing the info.
    But every normal thinking person will agree that regardless what the US media and Goverment bring out about those leaks….that some leaks are eye opening as they do point out that the US did not play the game by the rules agree?
    And to make matters even more heavy….other goverments fall victim to wikileaks as well…but exept for the US noone makes a big fuss out of it…and you know why?
    Because there is no point to deny something if its proven…so this is a classic case of burn your ars and sit on it…..no more no less.
    If you take actions than you agree rightaway to accept the results of it.
    And regardless what wikileaks has done the US should accept the fact that they stuffed things up and that they have to act mature and explain things to their own people as iam sure alot of you will have serious doubts and questions.

    Fact also remains that the US legal system is powerfull, but in the EU and ASIA as well the Middle east no goverment will honor the charges that the US has layed down on Assange….as there is no legal ground for it.

  22. Nico says:

    @ Outraged

    One other thing, everyone has the right to have privacy this does for every single soul on this planet.
    But noone is above the law this applies also for every person around the world.
    The leaks by Assange are not even top secret they are lower level cables wich has been pointed out by nearly everyone around the world that has knowlegd about these matters.
    And regardless or Assange has done something stupid yes or no…..you have to agree that the info leaked is not working for the good and trust of the US right?
    I mean it does show that the US violated nearly every single law and agreement they have ever made……and thats something to think about.
    And iam sure that the US does have its reasons for doing so and iam sure that this info they have gathered does benefit the national security but if they want to plain assange as a bad person for leaking this stuff…then i think that Obama and his staff would have to sit next to Assange as they have been standing above the law them selfs when they ordered certain actions and events…wich now is public knowlegd.
    So my question to you is: Do you not find it ridicilous to paint Assange a state enemy….if the US does break their own laws and infact betray their own people and allies wich in fact did happen on a mass scale.

    Now do not get me wrong as iam not a anti-us person infact i served 7 good years of my life with them and i would do it again any time….
    But what the US is doing is Hypocrite and not for the good of its great nation and its great people that life in it this has been pointed out by millions of people worldwide and many lawyers and goverments.

    Cheers M8

  23. […] on a very similar issue. Trevor Timm, from a New York Law School-associated blog, has posted an excellent article defending WikiLeaks against claims of illegality. The following are excerpts from that piece. Since August, when Wikileaks first published 91,000 […]

  24. Warren Lorenl says:

    Stay alive. Only those who have something to hide want you to DIE
    WE WANT YOU to publish all you have faster. we can also provide you with web sites to back up and publish. When we will have 2 M wikileaks website, noone will be able to shut it down

    When will you release the information about 9/11 WE WANT THE TRUTH

  25. […] Da mutet die Frage von Bob Beschizza letzte Woche auf boingboing.net plötzlich gar nicht mehr so absurd an, wie an dem Tag, als er sie stellte (Hervorhebung von mir): Books about Wikileaks and these events will soon appear: will Amazon refuse to sell those which include text from the cables? Indeed, is it even the case that the government has the rights Amazon speaks of? According to the Copyright Act, Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government: there is no state copyright in documents made by government employees. They belong to you. […] Bear in mind that while leaking classified information is a crime, receiving and publishing it is not. […]

  26. […] think you all should stop and read this>>> What Crime? It explains that the guy is actually not violating the Espionage act Section 793, since […]

  27. Sail Bad the Sinner says:

    Governments around the world claim that secrecy is necessary for the efficient conduct government business which is presumed in the interests of their respective publics. What the wikileaks detail is that many games are being played out by both our elected and appointed officials that is not always clearly in the public interest. For example the world is close to a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs the Convention on Cluster Weapons and yet US/UK officials are desperately trying to manipulate the rules to provide for exemptions (delays) in in applying the bans to foreign forces usually US forces in UK territories/bases (Diego Garcia). That this information has become public exposes the extent to which our military establishments believe that the law does not fully apply to them. Politicians are shown to be obsessive about managing the message even its untrue, it appears we have to varying degrees and interpretations freedom of speech/press but not a right to know or a right to the truth. The great irony is that the better the data the decisions. The public has a right to the best data available to use in judging the performance of both our elected and unelected officials cahrged with exercising power on our behalf!

  28. King Reggin says:

    Time for all these government fools to quit me thinks.

  29. PA Australia says:

    We all need information to make difficult choices and often there is no clear line. Otherwise our opinions are ignorant, our identity’s lost along with the personality of the countrys we live in!

  30. shrikant (india) says:

    Looking at big picture,wikileaks have done something wrong,But when it comes to the besic human instinct&right, wikileaks is breath for those suffocating in the dark of unknowning!

  31. Pat says:

    From reading the above article alone, I would be under the belief that all published documents were appropriately censored/redacted so as not to unnecessarily endanger lives. I would have a hard time opposing such a leak, as the government of the United States has not been even a fraction as transparent as US President Obama claimed it would be. However, it does not seem to be the case that the documents were appropriately redacted since WikiLeaks most certainly published names, coordinates, etc. in their leaks.

    I think the idea and spirit of what WikiLeaks is trying to do here is great: Expose those who would keep their unjust activities a secret. The execution has been flawed in my opinion, though, as WikiLeaks has also exposed those who are trying to do good as well as activities which were neutral or positive in nature. I assume, of course, that Assange’s goal was to get the United States to cease operations in Iraq/Afghanistan that caused harm to innocent persons, and that he was not simply trying to be injurious the United States military operations as a whole. In that case, the responsibility was on his shoulders to ensure that what was released only served to further that goal. I cannot claim to have read the thousands of documents in question, but the summaries that I have seen indicate to me that this was more along the lines of a fire-hose blast of documents rather than carefully selected documents that were gone over with a fine-toothed comb.

    Now, I realize that if you only release a handful of documents, your opposition will assuredly claim that they are without context, but I believe Assange to be an intelligent enough individual to be able to provide the right amount of information. I again must assume that he wants to expose enough information to cause the American public to demand the withdrawal of troops, not to expose so much information as to get those soldiers (and assisting civilians) killed.

  32. jboy says:

    @Jon Carter and Reagan funded and trained the Afghan populace to terrorise the Russians in the 1980’s. Them’s just chickens coming home to roost, sonny.
    Thank-you Trevor you’ve restored my hope that sanity may prevail in the US.

  33. People are naturally afraid of change, and in a time where change on a global scale is happening constantly in financial, political and environmental spheres it is easy to understand why so many journalists and political commentators display knee-jerk reactions in an attempt to silence organisations that stand for nothing but freedom of speech and information, and higher government accountability.

    Insecurity is to blame for this behaviour and the latest organisation to be ostracised for its progress towards the above ideals is of course Wikileaks.

    It is refreshing to read something logical and steeped in legal fact, from a fellow legal mind in another country.

  34. ttownbeast says:

    old documents are old documents.

    Think of it like this, if the tactics have been used on the battle field already they are already eventually known by the enemy without the documents. The enemy will eventually adapt and eventually using the same plan will not work if old battle plans still worked against trained combatants repeatedly then there would be a need to keep them secret.

  35. Davey UK says:

    Hi all,

    Just passing by as this whole Wikileaks has created so many questions the whole world in general would like to see answered, but I guess they won’t.

    I enjoyed Trevor Timm’s article and some excellent back ground on US legal law written in a way non US readers can understand the basics of.

    It’s hard to say whether I personally think harm will come to anyone as a result of the publications. Having worked in an undercover role for the US State Dept’s Diplomatic Security Service in another country, I was worried about the “Walk in’s” process being published. But I doubt it’s not that hard for any terrorist to get that sort of information from dummy runs anyway.

    I am sure all these events would have taken a different turn according to what nationality Mr Assange was if he were not an Australia. That I believe is a very important note!

    What if he were Russian? Argentinian? British? Irish? Turkish?
    What if he wasn’t in the UK at the time the Swedish sent out a warrant for his arrest?

    It seems to me, it is not what he did that is determining the actions the US and Swedish want, but where he is from! And that is discrimination I think.

    Anyways, I hope the US government review their espionage laws and communications systems. And hey!………….. the leaks could have been a damn site worse!

  36. JOhn says:

    Julian Assange has showed all the world the ugly face of america…something the Islamic people have been trying to show the world for decades!…… Well done Julian…..well done…..

    DO NOT STOP PUBLISHING…do what the american people will not do….which is take responsibility for spreading terrorist acts the world over….For not stopping war crimes…for not stopping the federal government……for not stopping the funding of terrorist organizations all over the world…

    There are more supporters of Julian Assange in america than the US press will admit……

  37. […] PayPal’s announcement will certainly result in a loss of donation dollars for Wikileaks. But it also marks an important symbolic loss for the organization as well, as it represents yet another major private tech company that has closed its doors to Wikileaks. In addition to those who’ve refused to provide Wikileaks with hosting and financial services, the visualization company Tableau Software also expunged all Wikileaks content from its site. Although these companies have said that their terms of service forbid the support or facilitation of illegal activity, such pronouncements about Wikileaks are debatable. While it is a crime to leak classified information, receiving and publishing it is not. […]

  38. Someguy says:

    Hey. I’ve never studied law in my life but this is my opinion.

    People have and will always fight for freedom, that’s just the nature of being a human being, we always fight for what we THINK is right.

    Sadly due to the great trust us people give to our governments, information has been hidden from us, we have been lied to, and we have been litterally tricked into going to war, based on false information or hidden facts.

    It’s due to greed. Fact is, the US and other MEDC’s of the world have huge consumer problems, we consume so much that we need to take away from LEDC’s, we are sucking the planet dry, and if you don’t beleive me, watch this video! you will be shocked!

    http://forum.city-driving.co.uk/showthread.php?tid=13296

    At the end of the day, this is our world, not the governments. Clearly they can-not be trusted to do there job.

    Pushing the world to become transparent leads to a brighter future, we are ending the possibilities for greed and ignorance. The people need to be able to understand our world to help it.

    No more fear! Take our world back, look after it for generations to come!

  39. […] Assange accused of breaking the law. but which law? Wikileaks Has Committed No Crime https://nylssites.wpengine.com/lasisblog/2010/11/12/wikileaks-has-committed-no-crime/ In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth. in a society where truth becomes treason, […]

  40. […] “La Transparencia y el Estado de Derecho serán la base de mi presidencia.”, aseguraba Obama el día de su investidura. Apenas dos años después, Wikileaks inicia la publicación de 251,287 cables diplomáticos de EU La respuesta del “Gobierno de la Transparencia” condena de las filtraciones, persecución y censura. Todos sus argumentos se apoyan en la ilegalidad de la actividad de WL. Sin embargo, gran parte de la opinión pública no lo ve claro y considera que la reacción de EU es un ataque directo a la libertad de expresión y un desprecio a la transparencia y el O-Gov. “Les acusan de violar la ley. Pero no han dicho que Ley.” Declara el abogado de WL, T.Matuseheski“. La NY law school, también defiende la legalidad de WL. […]

  41. […] Assange accused of breaking the law. but which law? Wikileaks Has Committed No Crime https://nylssites.wpengine.com/lasisblog/2010/11/12/wikileaks-has-committed-no-crime/ In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth. in a society where truth becomes treason, […]

  42. smithclare says:

    Even assuming this is true (which I’m not so sure about) does he propose that we therefore sit back and let the terrorists have their way? insane.

  43. josefclare says:

    It’s hard to say whether I personally think harm will come to anyone as a result of the publications. Having worked in an undercover role for the US State Dept’s Diplomatic Security Service in another country, I was worried about the “Walk in’s” process being published. But I doubt it’s not that hard for any terrorist to get that sort of information from dummy runs anyway.
    ———————–
    642-524 dumps | 646-046 dumps | 000-105 dumps

  44. Sammy says:

    Just saw that this guy Timm is having a Wikileaks event on march 21st. Thinking of checking it out.

  45. […] Bear in mind that while leaking classified information is a crime, receiving and publishing it is not. […]

  46. thank you fo this geat article.

  47. Maverick says:

    Friends,

    The real question here should be how wikileaks gets confidential information to put up on their website and whether that method is legal or not. Its not about whether their cause is legal or just because I see no reason to doubt that they stand for a great cause. But the method, quite possibly is illegal, whether it be by hacking into govt systems or soliciting information from outsiders, who in turn obtain the information illegally or leak it illegally. Also, wikileaks needs to draw a line somewhere to decide what information they should publish and what they should not. Wikileaks indeed has uncorked many controversies and they have brought out the corruption in many governments worldwide. They have also challenged the inhumanity met out to prisoners of war. Those who say that these are things wikileaks should be punished for must have a whole lot of dirt on their collars ! Also, everyone would like to know whether there is an alien spaceship really hidden in area 51 and wikileaks feeds the public’s imagination and fuels their wildest beliefs ! Assange no doubt has brought out a new side of journalism here. But then leaking out secrets key to a country’s security or leaking out information that could well be a spark that could start the next world war, are not exactly what I would call creative journalism. They can either use justifiable methods of obtaining information (it most likely wouldn’t be possible to gain access to such information by other methods though) or at least restrain themselves with regards to sensitive issues, and they will soon receive the support of the masses and even the very institutions who have started banning them, because they too would like to know the truth about a lot of things.