Weller: Saving Democracy, Two Ways

Column By Justin Weller. Photo: Unsplash

Mr. Hines was one of those fantastic, immersive high school teachers that you never forget. He taught History in the IB program at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD.

He was a Civil War reenactor and when he covered that war, he came to class in full Union Army regalia. When we studied the Far East, he taught a class on Buddhism and Aikido (a martial art focused strictly on defending oneself from attack without injuring the attacker) as he was a black belt in the peaceful fighting system (talk about yin and yang!).

As we turned to studying the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, he played Tchaikovsky’s “The Year 1812, Solemn Overture, Op. 49,” while documenting the action along with the music on the chalkboard, without speaking. I haven’t seen him since High School, but I will remember his teaching forever.

Regular readers of this column will recognize my homage to his tutelage in my regular emphasis of the Greek word Demokratia, which he drilled into our heads during his review of Ancient Greece – the rule of the common people:

Demokratia (File)
Demokratia (File)

In order to have rule of the common people, the strongest bulwarks of democracy must include freedom of speech and of the press. In order for the common people to have ultimate authority, they must have nearly unlimited power to investigate their representatives in government. When inevitable maladministration, crimes or corruption are discovered (our elected and appointed leaders are human, after all), the people must likewise have nearly unlimited power to say so publicly, seek a redress with the bad actors and hold their representatives accountable.

This week, Julian Assange’s lawyers are engaged in their final hearing in the United Kingdom to determine if he will be extradited to the United States. At odds are the Press Freedoms every American should wholeheartedly support if they truly love freedom and democracy, against the want of our government’s representatives to tell us lies and keep their worst actions secret from our ears and eyes.

Mr. Assange is charged with assisting Chelsea Manning with a password to unlock some of the classified information Ms. Manning shared with Mr. Assange for publication. In reading the indictment, it is shocking to learn that it depends on an Executive Order (EO #13526) to establish the law-breaking; Executive Orders are not law, have not passed Congress, and can be rescinded at any time by the sitting President.

Importantly, The Supreme Court has already ruled that news organizations have the right to publish classified materials (New York Times Co. v. United States) so the US prosection’s case rests solely on the password issue. As the Intercept put it at the time of Assange’s indictment, “…the indictment seeks to criminalize what journalists are not only permitted but ethically required to do: take steps to help their sources maintain their anonymity.”

Read: Weller: Navalny And The Russian Moral Panic

Likewise, longtime Assange lawyer Barry Pollack tweeted: “The factual allegations … boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source. Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.”

The time is now, and the day is here. If Assange is allowed to be extradited by British courts, “American patriots should adopt this principle: No presidential candidate is viable until they commit to a pardon,”as Bret Weinstein laid out this morning.

We must elect a President who will end this fascist attempts to keep secret and to lie to the American people about the awful things their government does on their behalf, and to silence any critics of same. If this prosecution is allowed, we may as well give up the game – there is no democracy that can survive such totalitarianism.

Justin Weller is the Founder and Editor of The Country, and host of the podcast The Country with Justin Weller. Prior, he was a general manager and sales leader in startup and Big Tech firms, interned on Capitol Hill, and was a Contributing Editor at This piece is republished from The Country

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