A Trump Christmas pardon for Assange and Snowden would be best gift ever.
By Phil Giraldi
President Donald Trump is continuing to fight against the presumed results of the November national election with his only remaining option appearing to be a vote in Congress when it reconvenes on January 6 to throw out the results due to fraud in certain key states. Many have noted how the registration and electoral processes in the United States, varying as they do from state to state, were and are vulnerable to fraud. This is particularly true of the vote-by-mail option, which was promoted by leading Democrats and which empowered literally millions of new voters with only limited attempts made to validate whether citizens or even real people were voting. The bigger question is, of course, whether the fraud that did undoubtedly take place and is being denied by officials up and down the food chain of government was substantial enough to change the results in the election. Mr. Trump would argue it did while Joe Biden would insist that there was no fraud whatsoever.
As of this writing it would seem that the lights are going out on the Trump administration no matter how the next month plays out, and the president is using his power of pardon to reverse judicial injustices and to protect his remaining allies. The most notable example of a miscarriage of justice was in the case of presidential national security advisor designate Michael Flynn, who was wrongly accused of collaborating with Russia. If anything, he was actually cooperating with a request that came from Israel, which Congress and the media apparently do not regard as wrongdoing.
For sure, there have been some highly questionable pardons in the past, to include Marc Rich under Bill Clinton and Elliot Abrams under George W. Bush. There remains a long list of possible candidates for Trump to sign off on, to include a possible self-pardon, and pardons for family members Ivanka, son-in-law Jared, and two of his sons as well as his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Ken Paxton, Texas’s attorney general who is under an active FBI investigation. Other possible pardon recipients are individuals who have been involved in the Trump campaigns. Pardons are a particularly attractive option currently, as a number of leading Democrats have been calling for “truth commissions” and punishment of Trump supporters and officials.
The process of issuing presidential pardons will undoubtedly continue up until Inauguration Day on January 20, but sources are uncertain whether Trump will be courageous enough to pardon the two individuals whose freedom would most definitely be sending a powerful message for integrity in government. They are Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Both men’s names have been coming up frequently in the alternative media, together with the development of active lobbying groups that are seeking their freedom. Assange, a journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, is currently languishing in a British prison, where he has been for 21 months, awaiting a decision on whether he will be extradited to the United States or not. The Department of Justice has claimed that he violated the Espionage Act of 1917 by receiving classified information from Chelsea Manning, which he then published. Reportedly, Assange’s mental and physical health have deteriorated sharply, as he is being held in solitary confinement with only short periods of exercise and without access to reading or writing material to occupy his time. The British judge appears to be completely unsympathetic to Assange, and it is generally believed that she will order his extradition if he does not die in prison before that could take place.
Snowden, meanwhile, is living in Russia and has been granted citizenship, a country to which he fled by way of Hong Kong in 2013, after revealing to journalists details of a vast and illegal surveillance program run by the National Security Agency (NSA) against American citizens, something he discovered while he was employed as a NSA contractor. He had attempted to raise his concerns with supervisors but was rebuffed and he eventually became a self-declared whistleblower and fled the country. He has repeatedly offered to return to the United States to face trial but has also insisted that a fair hearing would be impossible under the current circumstances.
It should be observed that Snowden is absolutely correct to assume that he would be convicted both on grounds of espionage and of compromise of classified information. The federal court in Alexandria, where national security cases are usually tried, always finds for the government even if evidence is questionable or even non-existent. A recent conviction involved ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who was sent to prison for 42 months even though it could not be demonstrated that he had actually done anything wrong. The court concluded that “it had to be him.”
To be sure, revealing classified information is a serious matter, even though many former government employees would agree that much material that is classified does not actually damage national security if it is revealed. Frequently, classification is used to keep the government from being embarrassed or to shut down any revelation that it has acted illegally. Both Assange and Snowden would argue that they had acted appropriately in revealing war crimes, illegal acts, and even violations of the Constitution as consequences of the so-called “global war on terror.”
Assange, who regards himself as a journalist, published details of a notorious massacre of civilians committed by the crew of a helicopter gunship in Iraq and also was involved in the exposure of the Hillary Clinton emails. Snowden, as noted above, claims to be a whistleblower and has sought protection under relevant laws in the United States, so far to no avail.
The illegal and otherwise unconscionable acts by various elements in the U.S. government that were exposed by Assange and Snowden include war crimes, so they are not trivial. And there is, as is often the case, an interesting aspect to the story that is worth paying attention to.
Trump, as is widely conceded even by some Democrats, was targeted by the Deep State even before he was nominated, an effort to destroy his presidency that persisted for years through the completely contrived mechanism of Russiagate. Given that, it would behoove Trump to strike back in his waning days in office. Both Assange and Snowden exposed illegal activities and cover-ups by the Deep State, almost certainly to include the active participation of the very people who have sought to bring the president down.
If Donald Trump seriously seeks to strike a blow against his enemies, it would be both fitting and just to pardon both men on that basis alone. Let us hope that President Trump has both the wisdom and fortitude to take that step in his last days in office.
Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. His other articles appear on the website of “The Unz Review.”