The Biden family is both a national joke and a national disgrace. The epitome of corruption and not an ethic among the entire group. But to use the F.B.I. to hunt down the president's daughter's diary? We should all be appalled. Legal expert Jonathan Turley notes:
There is, however, one allegedly stolen item that did bring a full-scale FBI investigation: the missing diary of Ashley Biden, daughter of President Joe Biden.
The question is why tens of thousands of dollars of purses stolen in cities like Chicago are treated as purely local matters while a single missing diary in Florida is a matter of an ongoing federal effort.
The Justice Department could use laws like the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act. Indeed, federal RICO charges have been brought in prior such cases. RICO was created after local prosecutors failed to combat organized crime and the federal government stepped in with new tools to combat mob organizations. I have long preferred that crimes like these smash and grabs to be handled locally. The federalization of crime removes the primary responsibility and accountability of local leaders for crime. That is why I opposed the use of federal charges to combat rioting in cities like Portland.
I am more concerned that for over a year, the FBI has been conducting raids, issuing subpoenas, and questioning witnesses across the country — not in response to smash-and-grabs proliferating around the country, but for one woman’s missing diary. The investigation led to a rare raid on the home of a publisher, seizure of computers and cellphones, and the targeting of conservative figures. According to the New York Times, the investigation is looking into “whether there was a criminal conspiracy among a handful of individuals to steal and publish the diary.”
If that is true, the most obvious federal crime would be a provision like Section 2314 of the National Stolen Property Act, which criminalizes the transportation of illegally obtained goods valued at $5,000 or more across borders in interstate or foreign commerce by persons knowing the goods to be stolen, converted, or taken by fraud. Even assuming that the diary is worth $5000 or more, why would the federal government create a team and take these extraordinary actions rather than rely on local authorities to investigate such a crime?
Mr. Turley is correct to be appalled and Congress should be investigating why the F.B.I. and its resources have been diverted from their rightful focus to instead focus on hunting down a diary?
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
This Christmas may well be the last that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will spend outside US custody. On December 10, the British High Court ruled in favor of extraditing Assange to the United States, where he will be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information. It is clear to me that the charges against Assange are both baseless and dangerous, in unequal measure — baseless in Assange’s personal case, and dangerous to all. In seeking to prosecute Assange, the US government is purporting to extend its sovereignty to the global stage and hold foreign publishers accountable to US secrecy laws. By doing so, the US government will be establishing a precedent for prosecuting all news organization everywhere — all journalists in every country — who rely on classified documents to report on, for example, US war crimes, or the US drone program, or any other governmental or military or intelligence activity that the State Department, or the CIA, or the NSA, would rather keep locked away in the classified dark, far from public view, and even from Congressional oversight.
I agree with my friends (and lawyers) at the ACLU: the US government’s indictment of Assange amounts to the criminalization of investigative journalism. And I agree with myriad friends (and lawyers) throughout the world that at the core of this criminalization is a cruel and unsual paradox: namely, the fact that many of the activities that the US government would rather hush up are perpetrated in foreign countries, whose journalism will now be answerable to the US court system. And the precedent established here will be exploited by all manner of authoritarian leaders across the globe. What will be the State Department’s response when the Republic of Iran demands the extradition of New York Times reporters for violating Iran’s secrecy laws? How will the United Kingdom respond when Viktor Orban or Recep Erdogan seeks the extradition of Guardian reporters? The point is not that the U.S. or U.K would ever comply with those demands — of course they wouldn’t — but that they would lack any principled basis for their refusals.
The U.S. attempts to distinguish Assange’s conduct from that of more mainstream journalism by characterizing it as a “conspiracy.” But what does that even mean in this context? Does it mean encouraging someone to uncover information (which is something done every day by the editors who work for Wikileaks’ old partners, The New York Times and The Guardian)? Or does it mean giving someone the tools and techniques to uncover that information (which, depending on the tools and techniques involved, can also be construed as a typical part of an editor’s job)? The truth is that all national security investigative journalism can be branded a conspiracy: the whole point of the enterprise is for journalists to persuade sources to violate the law in the public interest. And insisting that Assange is somehow “not a journalist” does nothing to take the teeth out of this precedent when the activities for which he’s been charged are indistinguishable from the activities that our most decorated investigative journalists routinely engage in.
This kind of sincere, credulous, smug, and gloating inquiry is just the most recent, just-in-time-for-Christmas, example of in-the-flesh-and-in-the-word bad faith, presented by media professionals who are never in worse faith than when they report on — or pass judgment on — other media.
On December 22, Doctors for Assange released an open letter, published below, to Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, imploring him to seek the WikiLeaks founder’s urgent release on medical grounds. The letter makes that request based on Joyce’s recent statements suggesting that the US extradition request against Assange should now be dropped.
That hundreds of doctors have again written, warning of Assange’s dire medical situation, underscores the grave dangers he faces as he spends yet another year behind bars with extradition hanging over his head and the prospect of being incarcerated for life on trumped-up US espionage charges.
US authorities accuse Assange, 50, of 18 counts relating to WikiLeaks' release of vast troves of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables, which they said had put lives in danger.
On December 10 the WikiLeaks founder moved a step closer to facing criminal charges in the United States after Washington won an appeal over his extradition in London's High Court.
The court said it was satisfied with a package of assurances given by the US about the conditions of Assange's detention, including a pledge not to hold him in a so-called "ADX" maximum security prison in Colorado and that he could be transferred to Australia to serve his sentence if convicted.
The Supreme Court is the United Kingdom's final court of appeal.