The Washington Post commentary that was the centerpiece of the front page of the April 28 Insight section – “Assange: Not a whistleblower, not a journalist” (Page D1) – is ill informed at best, disingenuous at worst. Your About the Author sidebar fails to mention that since October 2009, the author, Allison Stanger, has been employed as a part-time consultant to the U.S. Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff.

This overlooked tidbit obscures Stanger’s position at the State Department under Barack Obama’s Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s Mike Pompeo. To expect anything but a regurgitation of State Department sloganeering and rhetoric is unconscionable.

Daniel Ellsberg has described Assange as a journalist and publisher of the highest order. In an interview the day after Assange’s arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy, Ellsberg said:

“If he is extradited to the U.S. and convicted, he will not be the last. The First Amendment is a pillar of our democracy and this is an assault on it. If freedom of speech is violated to this extent, our republic is in danger. Unauthorized disclosures are the lifeblood of the republic. …

“He is also charged with having encouraged her (then-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning) to give him documents. That is criminalizing journalism. I can’t count the number of times that I have been asked for documents by journalists or for more documents. She had already given hundreds of thousands of files to Assange and he wanted more. This is the practice of journalism.”

The mainstream news media castigate Assange for disclosing inconvenient truths while others in the media pander in exchange for access. A failure to unite behind Assange’s right to publish, regardless of the source or content, is the real threat to our democracy.


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