A thousand years of English law whooshed out the window with what this courtroom travesty inflicted on Assange, and scarcely a peep in our cowardly corporate media.
Writing yesterday in CounterPunch on how Washington’s deeds show its true regard for the rule of law – its own, or that of an international community invoked when it suits – Eve Ottenberg begins:
Years pass, and journalist Julian Assange languishes in a British jail. His crime? Truthful reporting of U.S. military atrocities in Iraq, reporting that sparked a lust for vengeance among U.S. politicos and military men. With Assange, the American empire would manage what imperialists couldn’t with whistleblower Edward Snowden, who slipped through their fingers by wisely fleeing to Russia – namely, torture him to death in prison.
For whatever reason, perhaps a mistaken belief in the rule of law, the power of a free press and the force of public opinion, Assange did not take refuge in Russia, China or Venezuela. This was a fatal mistake. Legal niceties simply fall like matchsticks in the wind when the empire takes offense. Its gaudy invocations of truth and justice are then exposed as mere words.
If you doubt that, recall U.S. military jets forcing the grounding of Bolivian president Evo Morales’ plane in Vienna in 2013, because Obama hacks were convinced Snowden hid on board en route to Latin America. The U.S. didn’t hesitate to violate international law, not for a second. Eight years later, the West hollers its outrage over the authoritarian government of Belarus doing the same thing. But it’s useless to call out this hypocrisy, because the U.S. does what it pleases almost anywhere in the world, and the first law of its precious, thoroughly mendacious rules-based order is that those rules never apply to IT.
That so-called rules-based order very damagingly replaces international laws and United Nations agreements. If the U.S. abided by a system of laws applied to all countries equally, it would not impose criminal sanctions on countries it deems too independent; hunger would not stalk Venezuelans, plague would not sicken Iranians, because without sanctions, both would have access to food and medicine. If the U.S. abided by international law, it would not so easily snap its fingers and have a vassal state like the UK assault its own hallowed legacy of press freedom by locking up a journalist in a dungeon.