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Remember all the way back in October when Trump's romance with Wikileaks was hot and heavy? Many people are saying that's why Melania stayed in New York -- who could compete with a pasty-faced Australian willing to rub an old man's prostate with all the leaked DNC emails he can handle? She always knew he'd come running back to her by spring, though. And, like clockwork Trump got his wingman CIA chief Mike Pompeo to bring the hammer down two weeks ago.

WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service, and talks like a hostile intelligence service. And it’s encouraged its followers to find jobs in the CIA, in order to obtain intelligence. It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of secret information. It overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations. It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.

Day-ummm! They are nevernevernever getting back together. Well, not unless Assange reaches into his cleavage and pulls out evidence of a Muslim terrorist vote fraud scheme in California. But assuming Trump and Assange are DUNZO, is the US government really going to prosecute Wikileaks and Julian Assange, like they claim? And if so, what are they going to charge him with?

Let's Lawspeculate!

The Espionage Act

The Espionage Act was passed during WWI, when spying was pretty low-tech. The sweeping 1917 law criminalized the theft, transmission, retention and publication of any classified documents. Which sounds like every major news outlet in the country is in deep shit, right?

Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;

Why isn't the New York Times in email jail right now with Hillary Clinton? No wonder Jason Chaffetz stomped off to get a pedicure!

Over the last century, "activist judges" have broadened the First Amendment's protection of speech and freedom of the press. These protections are in direct contradiction to the wording of the Espionage Act. If we had a competent Congress, they would draft a new statute on leaks. And if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass a-hoppin'. Instead, the government has generally confined itself to prosecuting the leakers of classified materials, rather than the journalists or publishers who receive them.

But Donald Trump is REAL MAN. Unlike that wimpy Constitutional Law professor from before. So now we're back to the Travis Bickle School of Diplomacy. Hooray!

Let's assume that Trumpland is serious about prosecuting Assange, not just strutting around waiting for an adult to 'splain them why this shit is actually complicated. And let's assume that we would succeed in getting him into US custody somehow. Maybe That Nitwit will park an aircraft carrier in the Galapagos Islands until Ecuador coughed him up?

If Assange were somehow sitting on Jeff Sessions's lap tomorrow, the government would have to decide whether to confront the First Amendment issue head-on, or dodge it. In essence, this is a decision about whether to go to war with the media, or not.

Plan A: Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!

Get Assange here, and charge him with violating the plain language of the Espionage Act. Aim for a sympathetic jury, and get Assange to testify. As Security expert Paul Rosenzweig put it:

Assange seems like he would be a pretty unappealing defendant. In his public appearances he comes across as self-righteous and arrogant. [...]

If he ever comes to trial, the jury will not like him. The obvious way to overcome it is to make him act more likeably — I wonder if that would be possible.

Hope that Roberts and Kennedy can convince themselves that the First Amendment doesn't apply, so they can side with Thomas, Alito and The New Guy. Succeed in scaring the shit out of the American media. Live happily ever after.

OR...

Lose at trial, lose on appeal, lose at the Supreme Court. Be humiliated by a keyboard jockey. Embolden hackers, who know they'll never be prosecuted. Make a permanent enemy of every journalist in the world. Look like a loser. Weak!

Plan B: Round Up that Asshole and Charge Him with SOMETHING!

Prosecute Assange for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act because he helped Manning hack into her own account to make it seem like an anonymous outsider was stealing documents. Add in solicitation to violate the Act. This is probably why Mike Pompeo claimed Wikileaks "directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of secret information." Hell, throw in hacking charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Even jaywalking! Rely on Assange to piss off the jury enough to ensure a conviction. Declare victory, make Eric Holder look weak, live happily ever after.

Plan C: Find New Ways to Fuck It All Up

This administration excels at finding new and different ways to turn gold into shit. Shootout at the Ecuadorean Embassy? Tweeting so much about Assange deserving the death penalty that it's impossible to impanel a jury? Beat the shit out of Assange and actually make him appear sympathetic to a jury. Somethingsomething Russia...???? Who the hell knows! But if anyone can fuck it up, it's this guy.

Plan D: We Do It Russia-Style

We at Wonkette are dirty hippies, so weak from our latest wheatgrass cleanse that we couldn't hurt a fly. But we have heard tell that some people in the CIA are not. We would not be FOR SHOCKED to read that some terrible accident befell the guy who posted the CIA's hacking toolkits online. Just sayin'...

[Just Security / NBC / Wired18 U.S. Code § 793 Espionage Act / 18 U.S. Code § 1030 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act / Steve Vladeck Twitter]

We left you the comments section to duke it out over whether Assange is a journalist! Maybe show us some love?

Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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