Julian Assange, once a liberal hero and friend of the Republican Party, is now a political bogeyman.
The crime Assange is accused of is simply providing citizens of the world with information that he argues would help people make better decisions. I can think of no other act more patriotic than the publication of documents the government is attempting to hide from its citizens. Assange is not even charged with anything dealing with the publication of documents harmful to the governing class, he is being charged with hacking.
Had he published something damaging to Trump, he would receive applause from the left and many Democrats (likely myself included.) This was the case when it was revealed that WikiLeaks had published documents showing war crimes were being committed in the name of the American people. This including the extrajudicial killing of American citizens suspected of terrorism.
Republicans stopped cheering when the United Kingdom decided that they would extradite Assange to the United States. Hell, it is as if the only thing that unites both Republicans and Democrats in this nation anymore is their blind hypocrisy so long as it benefits them in the moment.
The greatest concern is that Donald Trump, who has a fascination for wanting to unilaterally change the Constitution, would use the Assange extradition to go after the media. Donald Trump has previously stated he believes it is OK to target members of the media and he thinks we should reexamine our nation’s First Amendment laws protecting members of the press. This is why the issue of an Assange extradition is tricky, because while what Assange did was wrong and while I don’t believe him to be a journalist. He is more a facilitator of the truth.
Assange is more of a publisher, which is what they are going to try to argue in court. The fact remains that government transparency should always come before the government’s need to keep secrets from their citizens.
We should be willing to commend the actions Assange took to release what our own government sought to hide from us, and no citizens of the United States or any other nation should fear speaking the truth, even if that truth damages the power structure.
Trump should do what President Barack Obama should have done when he was leaving office, Trump should pardon Julian Assange.