Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents
An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.
The Age newspaper in Melbourne Australia is reporting that documents obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act from the Pentagon disclose that an investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, a counter-intelligence unit, of a military cyber systems analyst based in Britain who had reportedly expressed support for Wikileaks and had attended a demonstration in support of Assange, refers to the analyst as having been “communicating with the enemy, D-104.” The D-104 classification refers to an article of the US Uniform Military Code of Military Justice which prohibits military personnel from “communicating, corresponding or holding intercourse with the enemy.”
This is pretty dangerous language, referring to an Australian citizen who many consider to be no more than a working journalist who has been receiving information leaked by whistleblowers and disseminating that information to the public. As David Cole, a civil liberties attorney in the US associated with the Center for Constitutional Rights, notes, “The US military is not at war with Wikileaks or with Julian Assange.”
Certainly if a member of the US military were to go to a news organization like the New York Times -- or the Melbourne Age for that matter -- and leak some kind of damaging secret information exposing US military war crimes, it is hard to believe that the military would call that “communicating with the enemy” (though reportedly the Bush/Cheney administration considered, but then dropped the idea of bringing espionage charges against Times reporter James Risen for publishing in his book secret information about the government’s bungled effort to pass faulty A-bomb fuse technology to the Iranians). In any case, a military leaker could easily be charged under the military code with offenses like revealing national security secrets or some other serious charge, which would not involve charging any media organization that received the information.
The decision by the Pentagon to instead use the D-104 code to classify Assange as an “enemy” in this context is dangerous because since 9-11-2001, the US government, with the general consent of the courts, has been treating “enemies” of the state in some very frightening extra-judicial ways. Enemies of the US these days can be summarily arrested and carted away to black-site prisons or to a place like Guantanamo without even a requirement that any notice be given to friends or relatives. They can be locked up indefinitely and denied access to a lawyer. They can even be subjected to what is euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation,” which most people, and which international law, call torture, as was done to Private Bradley Manning, charged with providing hundreds of thousands of pages of secret documents to Wikileaks.