Journalist Arrested in Washington

Max Blumenthal arrested

Free speech hypocrisy abounds as the left ignores mistreatment of another newsman.

By S.T. Patrick

On Oct. 25, Max Blumenthal, the editor of independent news website “The Grayzone” and a frequent contributor to “Consortium News,” was arrested in Washington, D.C. It was a five-month-old arrest warrant levied in conjunction with a protest at the Venezuela embassy. Blumenthal had tried to bring food to the protestors inside the embassy, which had been under siege by protesters and Washington, D.C. police. For this, he was charged with simple assault. Blumenthal has been one of the leading voices in the alternative press, speaking out against the U.S.-backed coup d’etat that has brought the rise of Juan Guaido in Venezuela.

Blumenthal was detained for two days and was not permitted to call an attorney for over 36 hours. He had been unaware that a warrant had been issued, believing it had initially been rejected, which it had, only to be revived later without Blumenthal’s knowledge. A Guaido supporter, Naylet Pacheco, claims Blumenthal kicked her in the stomach in the middle of a chaotic scuffle between the opposing sides.

“If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arraignment,” Blumenthal said. “Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the D.C. police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney.”

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In a statement shortly after his release, Blumenthal denied the charges and explained what he believes is the motivation for the warrant and arrest.

“This charge is a 100% false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie,” Blumenthal said. “It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and ‘The Grayzone’ for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption, and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition.”

Blumenthal had been working on a series for “The Grayzone,” exposing the direct U.S. intervention in the rise of Guaido. The Trump administration had always claimed that a grassroots uprising was occurring in what was once one of Latin America’s richest oil-producing nations.

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The Trump administration rejected the election results of May 2018, in which Venezuelan voters re-elected President Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. was backing Guaido, a largely unknown Venezuelan figure. Polls showed that 80% of Venezuelans had never heard of him. In January, Guaido declared himself the president of Venezuela. The U.S. and 60 other puppet-nations instantly recognized his ascendency. The Department of State demanded all former Venezuelan diplomats leave the U.S. immediately. Those remaining at the Venezuelan embassy invited peace activists inside in order to protect their diplomatic home. In April, Guaido attempted to take Venezuela’s presidential palace by force. In those moments, Guaido supporters also attempted to storm Venezuela’s embassy in D.C. Attempts to starve out the original embassy employees were met with U.S. activists, who attempted to bring them food and supplies.

Who or what is this opposition that is so financially and militarily supported by the U.S. and its interests? Alan Mcleod of “MintPress News” wrote, “Far from the wholesome image they enjoy in much of the press, the Venezuelan opposition has a long and exceptionally violent history of attacking political opponents, including journalists. Their many campaigns to oust President Maduro from power have  included beheading innocent passers-by and roasting Afro-Venezuelans alive in the street in an attempt to terrorize the population into surrender.”

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The mainstream media and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that purport to protect journalists from governmental abuse have been silent on Blumenthal’s arrest, just as they continue to poorly cover or fully ignore the plights of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. But Blumenthal was not the only high-profile figure who had attempted to bring food to the Venezuelans opposing U.S. intervention. Jesse Jackson Sr., former Green Party candidate Ajamu Baraka, Veterans for Peace president Gary Condon, and activist Ben Rubenstein had all been met with physical force when trying to feed those left inside.

What else can we call it? We may disagree on its name, but unlike The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, and Reuters, we can’t ignore it. To paraphrase theologian Martin Niemöller, first they came for Max Blumenthal. . .

S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]. He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.