Background Briefing: April 11, 2019
The Danger in Celebrating Assange’s Arrest
We begin with the arrest today in London of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange who was dragged out from the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought refuge and political asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges that have since been dropped. Timothy Karr, the Senior Director of Strategy for Free Press joins us to discuss the issues involved following the unsealed indictment from a U.S. federal court charging Assange with conspiracy to disclose classified information in helping Chelsea Manning break the password to the Department of Defense’s computer network in 2010. Although Trump has praised Assange and Wikileaks 141 times at 56 events in the last month of his presidential campaign, the president is now disavowing him. But while it is clear that Assange helped elect Trump, Free Press warns that “prosecuting journalists – even unconventional ones – for publishing leaked material from government whistleblowers is wrong, dangerous and unconstitutional. If this case goes forward, any reporter attempting to cover the most important stories of government wrongdoing, from corruption to war crimes, would fear extradition and prosecution”.
As Bad as Barr Is, Trump’s Nominee to Replace Rosenstein is Even Worse
Then with growing concerns that the Attorney General William Barr is acting as Trump’s lawyer rather than the top law enforcement official acting on behalf of the people of the United States, the Deputy Attorney General Trump has nominated to replace Rod Rosenstein at DOJ, Jeffrey Rosen, may be even worse. Mike Zubrensky, the Chief Counsel at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights who served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice where he also worked in the Civil Rights Division, joins us to discuss the alarming reluctance of Rosen to answer the simple question in his confirmation hearing of whether the landmark civil rights decision Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided.
Will the Removal of Sudan’s Dictator Be the Beginning of Democracy or a Transition to Another Dictator
Then finally we speak with Steve Howard, a sociologist whose work focuses on social change in Africa and social movements in the Muslim world who recently returned from Sudan where he was a Visiting Professor at the Ahfad University for Women. He joins us to discuss whether the removal of the dictator Omar al-Bashir by the Defense Minister after 30 years of brutal rule marks the beginning of democracy in Sudan or a transition from one dictatorship to another – or something worse if different elements in the security forces and militia turn their guns on each other.