Chris Hedges Original Rights

Hedges: The Most Important Battle for Press Freedom in Our Time

If he is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting.

By Chris Hedges / Original to ScheerPost

WASHINGTON, D.C – For the past two days, I have been watching the extradition hearing for Julian Assange via video link from London. The United States is appealing a lower court ruling that denied the US request to extradite Assange not, unfortunately, because in the eyes of the court he is innocent of a crime, but because, as Judge Vanessa Baraitser in January concluded, Assange’s precarious psychological state would deteriorate given the “harsh conditions” of the inhumane US prison system, “causing him to commit suicide.” The United States has charged Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of trying to hack into a government computer, charges that could see him imprisoned for 175 years. 

Assange, with long white hair, appeared on screen the first day from the video conference room in HM Prison Belmarsh. He was wearing a white shirt with an untied tie around his neck. He looked gaunt and tired. He did not appear in court, the judges explained, because he was receiving a “high dose of medication.” On the second day he was apparently not present in the prison’s video conference room.

If Assange is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material, it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting, allowing the government to use the Espionage Act to charge any reporter who possesses classified documents, and any whistleblower who leaks classified information, under the Espionage Act.

Assange is being extradited because his organization WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs in October 2010, which documented numerous US war crimes — including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the Collateral murder video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians that had approached too closely to US checkpoints. He is also being targeted by US authorities for other leaks, especially those that exposed  the hacking tools used by the CIA known as Vault 7, which enables the spy agency to compromise cars, smart TVs, web browsers and the operating systems of most smart phones, as well as operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux.  

If Assange is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material, it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting, allowing the government to use the Espionage Act to charge any reporter who possesses classified documents, and any whistleblower who leaks classified information.

If the appeal by the United States is accepted Assange will be retried in London. The ruling on the appeal is not expected until at least January.

Assange’s September 2020 trial painfully exposed how vulnerable he has become after 12 years of detention, including seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He has in the past attempted suicide by slashing his wrists. He suffers from hallucinations and depression, takes antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine. After he was observed pacing his cell until he collapsed, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall he was transferred for several months to the medical wing of the Belmarsh prison. Prison authorities found “half of a razor blade” hidden under his socks. He has repeatedly called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day.”

James Lewis, the lawyer for the United States, attempted to discredit the detailed and disturbing medical and psychological reports on Assange presented to the court in September 2020, painting him instead as a liar and malingerer. He excoriated the decision of Judge Baraitser to bar extradition, questioned her competence, and breezily dismissed the mountains of evidence that high-security prisoners in the United Sates, like Assange, subjected to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), and held in virtual isolation in supermax prisons, suffer psychological distress. He charged Dr. Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, who examined Assange and testified for the defense, with deception for “concealing” that Assange fathered two children with his fiancée Stella Morris while in refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He said that, should the Australian government request Assange, he could serve his prison time in Australia, his home country, after his appeals had been exhausted, but stopped short of promising that Assange would not be held in isolation or subject to SAMs.

The authority repeatedly cited by Lewis to describe the conditions under which Assange will be held and tried in the United States was Gordon Kromberg, the Assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Kromberg is the government’s grand inquisitor in cases of terrorism and national security. He has expressed open contempt for Muslims and Islam and decried what he calls “the Islamization of the American justice system.” He oversaw the 9-year persecution of the Palestinian activist and academic Dr. Sami Al-Arian and at one point refused his request to postpone a court date during the religious holiday of Ramadan. “They can kill each other during Ramadan, they can appear before the grand jury. All they can’t do is eat before sunset,” Kromberg said in a 2006 conversation, according to an affidavit filed by one of Arian’s attorneys, Jack Fernandez. 

Kromberg criticized Daniel Hale, the former Air Force analyst who recently was sentenced to 45 months in a supermax prison for leaking information about the indiscriminate killings of civilians by drones, saying Hale had not contributed to public debate, but had “endanger[ed] the people doing the fight.” He ordered Chelsea Manning jailed after she refused to testify in front of a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. Manning attempted to commit suicide in March 2020 while being held in the Virginia jail.

Having covered the case of Syed Fahad Hashmi, who was arrested in London in 2006, I have a good idea of what waits Assange if he is extradited. Hashmi also was held in Belmarsh and extradited in 2007 to the United States where he spent three years in solitary confinement under SAMs. His “crime” was that an acquaintance who stayed in his apartment with him while he was a graduate student in London had raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks in luggage at the apartment. The acquaintance planned to deliver the items to al-Qaida. But I doubt the government was concerned with waterproof socks being shipped to Pakistan. The reason, I suspect, Hashmi was targeted was because, like the Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian, and like Assange, he was fearless and zealous in his defense of those being bombed, shot, terrorized and killed throughout the Muslim world while he was a student at Brooklyn College. 

Hashmi was deeply religious, and some of his views, including his praise of the Afghan resistance, were controversial, but he had a right to express these sentiments. More important, he had a right to expect freedom from persecution and imprisonment because of his opinions, just as Assange should have the freedom, like any publisher, to inform the public about the inner workings of power. Facing the possibility of a 70-year sentence in prison and having already spent four years in jail, much of it in solitary confinement, Hashmi accepted a plea bargain on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism. Judge Loretta Preska, who sentenced the hacker Jeremy Hammond and human rights attorney Steven Donziger, gave him the maximum 15-year sentence. Hashmi was held for nine years in Guantanamo-like conditions in the supermax ADX [Administrative Maximum] facility in Florence, Colorado, where Assange, if found guilty in an American court, will almost certainly be imprisoned. Hashmi was released in 2019.

If the government will go to this length to persecute someone who was alleged to have been involved in sending waterproof socks to al-Qaida, what can we expect the government to do to Assange?

The pre-trial detention conditions Hashmi endured were designed to break him. He was electronically monitored 24-hours a day. He could only receive or send mail with his immediate family. He was prohibited from speaking with other prisoners through the walls. He was forbidden from taking part in group prayer. He was permitted one hour of exercise a day, in a solitary cage without fresh air. He has unable to see most of the evidence used to indict him which was classified under the Classified Information Procedures Act, enacted to prevent US intelligence officers under prosecution from threatening to reveal state secrets to manipulate the legal proceedings. The harsh conditions eroded his physical and psychological health. When he appeared in the final court proceeding to accept a guilty plea he was in a near catatonic state, clearly unable to follow the proceedings around him.

If the government will go to this length to persecute someone who was alleged to have been involved in sending waterproof socks to al-Qaida, what can we expect the government to do to Assange?

A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice. The battle for Assange’s liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher. It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era. And if we lose this battle, it will be devastating, not only for Assange and his family, but for us.

There is no legal basis to hold Assange in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the US Espionage Act.

Tyrannies invert the rule of law. They turn the law into an instrument of injustice. They cloak their crimes in a faux legality. They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality. Those, such as Assange, who expose that criminality to the public are dangerous, for without the pretext of legitimacy the tyranny loses credibility and has nothing left in its arsenal but fear, coercion and violence. The long campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations and the security and surveillance state.

There is no legal basis to hold Assange in prison. There is no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the US Espionage Act. The CIA spied on Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers as they discussed his defense. This fact alone invalidated the trial. Assange is being held in a high security prison so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the degrading abuse and torture it hopes will lead to his psychological if not physical disintegration.The architects of imperialism, the masters of war, the corporate-controlled legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and their obsequious courtiers in the media, are guilty of egregious crimes. Say this simple truth and you are banished, as many of us have been, to the margins of the media landscape. Prove this truth, as Assange, Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden have by allowing us to peer into the inner workings of power, and you are hunted down and persecuted.

Assange’s “crime” is that he exposed the more than 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians. He exposed the torture and abuse of some 800 men and boys, aged between 14 and 89, at Guantánamo. He exposed that Hillary Clinton in 2009 ordered US diplomats to spy on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and other U.N. representatives from China, France, Russia, and the UK, spying that included obtaining DNA, iris scans, fingerprints, and personal passwords, part of the long pattern of illegal surveillance that included the eavesdropping on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He exposed that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the CIA orchestrated the June 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya, replacing it with a murderous and corrupt military regime. He exposed that George W. Bush, Barack Obama and General David Petraeus prosecuted a war in Iraq that under post-Nuremberg laws is defined as a criminal war of aggression, a war crime, which authorized hundreds of targeted assassinations, including those of US citizens in Yemen. He exposed that the United States secretly launched missile, bomb, and drone attacks on Yemen, killing scores of civilians. He exposed that Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton $657,000 to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe, and that she privately assured corporate leaders she would do their bidding while promising the public financial regulation and reform. He exposed the internal campaign to discredit and destroy British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by members of his own party. He exposed how the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency permits the wholesale government surveillance of our televisions, computers, smartphones and anti-virus software, allowing the government to record and store our conversations, images and private text messages, even from encrypted apps.

He exposed the truth. He exposed it over and over and over until there was no question of the endemic illegality, corruption and mendacity that defines the global ruling elite. And for these truths alone he is guilty.

Chris Hedges writes a regular original column for ScheerPost. Click here to sign up for email alerts.

Chris Hedges
Chris HedgesChris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact. 

Copyright 2021 Chris Hedges


  1. Even more critical than ASSANGE and press freedom is the
    current suppression of facts allowing our corpulent masters
    to jab us and our children with a deadly jab and to pretend that
    the mandate regime is for the public good.
    This is a complete and proven lie as is the lie that masks and
    distancing can inhibit the spread throughout the world population
    of this typical corona virus. We will all get this alleged corona virus.
    Only the untreated die. Children are at virtually no risk except
    for the killer jabs.
    Hedges and company on the left are hopelessly deceived by the
    Big Pharma lie factory and appear to subscribe to mandate legitimacy.
    As I have said since the Ides of March, 2020 this is a Clampdown
    Masquerade and most of the “progressive” left will jab their own
    children. This should shock your conscience even more than the
    Non bodily invasive fascism of the JUSTUS imperialist legal system
    in the 6 Eyes empire.

    1. So you’ve been saying it since March 2020 but have not adjusted your thinking after 18 months of evidence to the contrary about the “deadly jab”? Good to know.

      1. Below I list the currently known scientific facts, no ideology or delusional conspiracy theories. I will not debate information from credible (i.e, not in the pocket of industry) scientists in the relevant fields, because I lack the factual foundation for doing so. Neither will I entertain any arguments from lay people for the same reason, nor from scientists under the influence of the pharmaceutical industry because they have a major conflict of interest:

        1. The inventor of the mRNA vaccine (in the U.S., Pfizer & Moderna) said in a long interview that it is wrong to advocate vaccinating everyone in the middle of a pandemic. He said that what should have been done was to vaccinate only the elderly and members of other at-risk groups, but to let everyone else get the virus in order to attain some sort of herd immunity. He said that vaccinating everyone in the middle of a pandemic (as opposed to before it, like is done with flu shots) causes the virus to mutate faster and form a lot of variants, which is exactly what has happened, and that all of the scientists in that field know this (they have a saying that “you can’t vaccinate your way out of a pandemic”).

        2. That scientist also said that the reason that the government and commercial media are pushing vaccines for everyone is that they get a lot of money from the pharmaceutical industry, and that industry is making hundreds of millions to billions of dollars from these vaccines. Fully 1/4 of Pfizer’s income is now from its coronavirus vaccine. There’s a major conflict of interest here, and you can’t believe the government or any commercial media (on this or any other issue for that matter) because they’re in the pocket of an industry whose interests are served by more people getting vaccinated.

        3. The most recent studies show that the vaccines don’t generally prevent people from getting the delta variant, which is now the predominant form of the disease. (What they DO generally prevent is death or hospitalization.) Recent studies also show that infected vaccinated people infect others who are exposed to them only 10% less of the time than infected unvaccinated people (57% compared to 67%), and that benefit only lasts for 3 months after being vaccinated, at which point there is no difference. Not a scientific fact, but the only logical conclusion to all this is that whether a person chooses to get vaccinated is nothing more than a personal choice, because it has little to no affect on others.

        4. The relevant scientific community now seems to agree that COVID-19 has gone from being a pandemic to endemic. In other words, we’re all going to get it at some point. Again not a fact, but the only logical conclusion is that we need to stop obsessing on vaccines and start figuring out how to treat infected people.

        The only logical conclusion that can be reached from all this is that vaccine mandates or “passports” have another, more nefarious purpose than trying to prevent people from getting seriously ill. Vaccinating school children for STABLE viruses like small pox and polio makes sense, because the vaccinations are virtually 100% effective and are permanent. Forcing or coercing everyone to get vaccinated for COVID-19 is for the purpose of making pharmaceutical companies even richer than they already are, and to create more of an authoritarian police state than already exists.

      2. What “evidence to the contrary”? If anything, the evidence points to the “deadly jab” as being just that. Have you even looked at the VAERS data? Good grief, give your head a shake.

      3. I have had that “deadly jab” and am not dead.

        The “suppression of facts” concerning coronavirus is not “more critical than Assange or press freedom.” Press freedom is critical in order to get out the facts. Your priorities are misplaced as you are putting the cart before the horse.

        I am not aware of Hedges and “company” — whoever that is — pushing for vaccine mandates. Perhaps, you are referring to Chomsky, who now comes across as borderline senile and is a shadow of the lefty he used to be. You are confusing true progressives with the fake ones at MSNBC. You don’t even understand what a true progressive is. Watch Jimmy Dore on YouTube to find out. Jimmy IS the left. Enough of your misinformed histrionics!

        Furthermore, “corpulent” means “fat.” The word you should have used was “corporate.”

    2. Covid is a disease of the aged and the seriously ill (95% of deaths globally are in those over age 60. An 80 year old has a 1 in 6 chance of dying if infected with Covid; that is about 10,000 fold higher risk than an 8 year old.) Therefore, the aged and the seriously ill benefit markedly from the vaccines; to them the spike protein vaccines and boosters can be life-saving. The young and healthy MIGHT have milder symptoms if vaxed. According to the CDC:
      the actual number of Americans who had had Covid is 4.2-fold the reported number (46.65 million) or over 180 million Americans; most now have natural immunity (if not disrupted by the spike protein (S1) vaccines). Israeli researchers have show natural immunity is much better than Pfizer vax immunity, “leaky” like all S1-vaccines immunity, at preventing infection and spreading of Covid. Singapore researchers showed that memory T cells are still active after SARS infection in 2004 (16 years and counting). The antibody titers to the spike protein of course fade quickly in the S1-vaccinated, in 2 to 6 months.
      Major differences between REAL immunity (from Covid infection) and S1-vax immunity is that infection with Covid produces immune responses to 25 proteins of SARS-CoV2; the S1-vaccines are to ONLY ONE protein, the spike protein, which produces high titers of antibodies specific to it. Natural immunity to coronaviruses is less dependent on spike protein antibody titers, or the rapidly fading antibody responses generally, but is very dependent on prolonged cellular immunity, with more general and longer-lasting protection than the S1-vaccines.
      So if IMMUNITY is the goal, half of Americans have (or had) better immunity than the S1-vaccines offer. Why is the State Media and the Biden administration, including many scientists who know better, pushing the S1-vaccines instead of natural immunity? There has to be another agenda; the vaccination registry/database?
      Other countries have figured this out. Iceland is a good example:

      1. Oh good to know that only the elderly can spread it to the elderly and that there are no lasting effects if you survive.

    3. I see the front lines of journalism, those beats I was given as a young journalist that I hated; the city council and the county commissioners a great deal differently. Our paper no longer covers those beats though they are integral to a local paper. Looked up who took over; a right leaning, Trump donating, wealthy multi paper owning republican. True all across America. We ain’t getting the new for our local sources like we should. It was part of their plan if you’ve read Dark Money or How to Kill a Democracy, Democracy In Chains or the like. Take over local government from city council to county and on up. That’s how.

    4. “Only the untreated die.”

      And it’s only fair that anti-vaxers coming down with Covid be untreated and left to die or recover on their own, no? Certainly they should at best be sent to the waiting room ‘back of the line’, priority zero.

  2. My heart physically hurts for Julian and the entire population of the US – for both surely will be profoundly wounded were the current US sociopathic governmental leaders et al to get him in their hands. Can they be understood to be anything other than “sociopathic.”? Sociopath – “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.” Lack of conscience? Brutalizing the man, free press, and so ultimately the reign of justice.

    1. I feel sorry for all the Americans, the many good Americans that have been given the short end of the stick for decades. I’m a Canadian living next door. Canada bows to most of your government’s demands because, frankly, Canada is afraid of you. Your government is powerful. It engages in wars around the world in the lofty name of ‘freedom’. Well who is free now? And uses their loyal citizens as fodder for their military agenda? Afghanistan. Iraq. Vietnam. Who is next?

    2. I understand our leaders to be not merely sociopathic but deeply evil. An out of fashion word comes to mind — “demonic.” I think that word needs to come back in order for us all to truly understand what we are up against. These people can’t be fixed. There is no conscience or soul to appeal to. I hate to think there is a Satan, but based on results, not only is it looking as though he does exist, just about everyone in power has given their souls over to him. His minions are the ones in charge and they are winning all over the world. They are out to destroy everyone acting as an agent of light: Assange, Donziger, Hale, Manning, Snowden, indigenous protesters, environmental journalists, etc. The demonic is destroying the planet and all life on it because the good don’t recognize it for the radical evil that it is.

      1. Using a false monotheistic religion to analyze these people is not only unnecessary, it’s ultimately harmful. Only fanatics and fools believe in only one god, and people who obsess on an “afterlife” or anything like that are as evil as anyone, because they have no problem destroying the Earth and killing every form of life here.

        Instead of treating symbolic figures as if they’re literal (Satan), just realize that the people you describe are highly unevolved. They obsess on ego, intellect, and materialism. More evolved people focus on wisdom, empathy, and expanding their consciousness, and have little in the way of material desires. The former describes most people on Earth, but the difference between the rich & powerful and average people is that the rich & powerful do far more harm because of their extreme consumption and their power.

      2. Your rant is nicely shorn of the poetic sensibility evoked by words like demonic. Evil. So dump out those words! While you’re at it, heave ho any thoughts of the daimon! Go moderno! Make rules! The analytical! the scientific! That’s the Truth! That whatever one worships – gives one’s all to – is God is foolish hash. That whatever deeper forces (id?) (collective unconscious?) (archetypes?) you allow to be captured and so, driven by, beyond all reason, could be deemed demonic – well, more fools’ rum. Throw it out! Throw it all out! Those after only money and power are just addicts and greedy. How paltry. Sterile. Bland.

      3. I am increasingly disinclined to contribute my two cents here. Getting this auto-mouth – “Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!” – is a bizarre experience on a post that vaunts itself as more on the side of humans and the human experience than robots and the walking dead.

      4. My problem with calling people demonic or saying that Satan exists is that it advocates belief in Christianity, a truly evil religion (Jesus seemed to be cool, and that’s what Hedges preaches, but Jesus’s teachings are pretty much the opposite of Christianity). Monotheistic religions are religious authoritarianism, and again only fanatics would believe in garbage like that. Hinduism was bad enough as Siddhartha pointed out, but the Middle Eastern monotheistic religions are much worse. If you want to get people to fall in line, brainwash them with a hierarchical monotheistic religion.

        I have no disagreement with you about how harmful and evil these people are, though many religious leaders are right up there with them. I don’t change my ideas because a lot of people think otherwise. No human can ever know what happens to us when we die except for dead people, so the afterlife stuff is strictly made up. Christian leaders use heaven & hell threats to keep people in line, as admitted by some higher up person in the Vatican in the excellent documentary film “One.” Same with Hindu & Buddhist leaders using reincarnation (several Buddhist monks confirmed to me in private that they just use threats of reincarnation into other species or bad situations “to keep people from killing each other”). So if most people are fools, so be it. I would like to change that, but I have no idea how to do so.

        I also find it wrong to psychologize behavior. For example, the ruling class and their military/intelligence/industrial complex don’t want to kill Julian Assange because he exposes the darkness within them; they want to kill him because he threatens their money and power.

        I fully agree with you about how evil these people are. Where we differ is that I recognize that they’re evil because they’re more egotistical and materialistic, which by definition is more mentally & spiritually unevolved. If their egos and desires were substantially reduced, they would no longer be evil. How to fix them, if that’s even possible, or what to do about them is another issue, but I strongly disagree that invoking the evil of a fanatic and also very destructive monotheistic religion is the right way to go about this.

        As to dogs: they are unnatural (bred by humans instead of evolving naturally) and therefore don’t belong in any ecosystem. Dogs have done great harm to wildlife by being allowed to run off-leash in natural areas (I was involved in trying to remove them from an urban national park system around here, and the evidence of all their harms was overwhelming). On a personal level, I can’t stand their condescending attitude toward humans — cats are far superior if you want pets — their barking, or their feces that are all over in some places (fortunately not so much where I live). Dogs have become just another human scourge. When I was young, maybe 10% of people had dogs. Now it seems that everyone has them.

    3. Instead of name-calling, address what I said. Name-calling is for those with no credible arguments

      I appreciate your poetic style, but I don’t see how that style is appropriate here. We’re discussing serious political issues, and the idea is to communicate as clearly as possible. It’s difficult to interpret some of your post.

      1. “Only fanatics and fools believe in only one god, and people who obsess on an “afterlife” or anything like that are as evil as anyone, because they have no problem destroying the Earth and killing every form of life here.

        Instead of treating symbolic figures as if they’re literal (Satan), just realize that the people you describe are highly unevolved.”

        Jeff, I left the church 35 years ago. I am disinclined to believe in Satan. I was pointing out that what is going on in the world fits the narrative like a glove.

        It is not enough to say they are “highly unevolved.” Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck wrote a book in 1983 called “People Of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil.” These people are the sickest members of society because of their refusal to confront the darkness within themselves. They lack humility. They project their own darkness onto others. They want to destroy anyone who exposes that darkness, hence the effort to kill Assange. They are actively destructive. But they DO know what they do is evil, because they work so hard to cover it up. They are not ignorant.

        People keep pleading with our leaders to do the right thing: COP26, Assange, Donziger, pipeline protests, earth protectors in Brazil. How is that working out? Evil cannot be reasoned with. Evil will only stop when they are afraid of us and/or when we are more powerful than them. (Jimmy Dore gets it.) That is the ONLY thing that will stop them. Evil only backs off when confronted with the more powerful. Nothing else. Not petitions, not writing to reps, not appealing to their sense of justice or morality, not asking them nicely, not simple common sense, not Greta shaming them. The tactics of the “evolved” are not working because the evolved don’t realize what they are dealing with.

        I don’t know what Hedges beliefs are, but I think you may have just insulted him. He IS a minister. You have painted a lot of people who do believe in God and an afterlife (which is most people) with a very wide, ugly, and biased brush.

        Except for your statement elsewhere about hating dogs, I usually find your posts to be some of the most intelligent, rational, well thought out, and worth my time to read. I think you went a bit off the rails this time in your response to me, but that is good. I did need to clarify and expand my point.

      2. One more thing. Perhaps if we viewed these people as demonic, we would stop wasting time pleading with them and trying to reason with them and appealing to a sense of justice, decency, righteousness, and morality. We would instinctively know it can’t be done with the most evil villain of all eternity. We would fight the war very differently.

        And what do you have against dogs, anyway? I have four and love them dearly.

  3. As usual, Chris Hedges is correct, but the whole “rules-based international order” whereby the USA rules us all, ignores sovereignty of other nations, attacks, occupies, sanctions any nation it decides is an adversary, allows this to happen so often.

    Any country which does not support the rules the USA insists upon, especially if it accepts the elected leaders who help the majority of the people ( eg in Venezuela, Chile, Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia -all at certain times in recent memory) is punished. Somehow the USA is able to convince so many that it is democratic, free and a model for others to emulate (but NOT be a rival ).

  4. Everything he says is true. And we have given up all justice. The war machine will grind on.

    1. Not until we find our feet in the street en masse, persistently and relentlessly, with our voices and wits.

  5. Suppression becomes oppression which becomes tyranny. What is so troubling to me is the constant drum beating for the dog and pony show that is our government when we have the facts that say otherwise. We have the massive MIC that gets tons of unaccounted for and uncontested for monies on a yearly basis while the crumbs are for the citizens to fight over. All of the spies and spooks are part of the MIC killing machine but you cannot afford to buy a loaf of bread. Spies everywhere and everyone is a suspect does not spell civilization, it spells tyranny. Another sign of terminal disease is the lack of accountability. Someone steals a loaf of bread to feed their kids get a maximum sentence. Someone defies an appearance before Congress to be questioned and just maybe held accountable and the issue quietly disappears. Everything is inside out, upside down and backwards and it is portrayed as being normal, say what? Wanna be a truth teller? Report the facts. Warning, you life expectancy will be greatly diminished.

  6. Battle? I have been thinking of it more like a massacre for quite some time.

    They have already gone a long way to sending their message, but those who rule won’t stop until it is fully driven home to all who might challenge their power. They will either kill Julian or break him so badly that forever after, anyone thinking about challenging the machine by publishing the truth will think twice…maybe three times before risking the same fate.

    I’m not sure they really need to do that since so few actually seem to care at all. Truth holds a back seat to bias and brainwashing. The truth only matters in a world that deals in truth. In a world of smoke and mirrors, illusion and delusion the truth hardly matters at all. At least that is how it can sometimes appear. But there are always consequences….to every action…..and every in-action too…..

    1. Are you aware of George Lakoff’s work, which shows that people act based on the way they feel, not what they think intellectually?

      “Truth” is a nebulous term that means different things to different people. For example, the truth to a hunter-gatherer living in the Amazon rainforest would be radically different than the truth to a modern human totally disconnected from the natural world, which would be radically different to a small farmer living in a rural area in China. I think what you mean to discuss are facts, and whether those facts are true or false. (As opposed to an opinion, a fact is something that can be proved or disproved, like whether the Earth is round or whether 2 + 2 = 4.)

      You’re quite correct that the vast majority of people have no idea what’s going on because they’ve been fed lies & propaganda masquerading as “news.” The problems are that 1) overpopulation causes there to be far too many people in a society, so that convincing them of something (aka brainwashing) is much easier with mass media than it would be if everyone knew and just talked to each other; 2) leaders in modern society are illegitimate. In Ancient Egypt, the leaders were in their positions because they knew useful things, like how the Nile River flooded & receded and how to plant crops accordingly. Our “leaders” just know how to accumulate wealth & power for themselves and to brainwash people into supporting them; 3) our media, which is supposed to inform us, is instead at the service of the rich & powerful, so it lies and propagandizes for the benefit of those people instead of informing the general public of what’s really going on; and 4) most people are worker bees. They have neither the interest nor the ability to get involved in decisions about how society is run, nor should they have to. If we had decent leaders, which we’d have a good chance of getting if our communities were a lot smaller (which requires much lower human population), regular people could just go on with their lives and not be bothered with this stuff. Alternatively, if we lived a lot more simply and naturally with a lot fewer people, the issues would be straightforward and everyone would be involved.

  7. Thank you for writing about Julian Assange, imprisoned in England and facing possible extradition to the US where he will undoubtedly be tried and convicted of espionage, and murdered. Assange is a citizen of Australia. This is such a painful subject. I hope that Hedges’ efforts renew public interest in CIA hacking and war crimes. I also pray that Assange regains his freedom and his health. I continue to consider him a hero.

    The issue is really about the ability of the govt. to charge under the Espionage Act any journalist having classified documents, and any whistleblower who leaks classified information. That would surely prevent anybody from researching possibly illegal government actions. All the govt. has to do to protect itself is classify its documents. And voila they are above the law.

    I was glad that Hedges mentioned Chelsea Manning but wonder why he did not mention Reality Winner; I have long felt that each person was abused by their govt.

    Why are we still not horrified by the acts that Assange published, including the war crimes of the Iraq War (itself a crime) and the details of Vault7 by which the US govt. spied on its own citizens? Are we not horrified by being spied upon?

    I pray that US attempts to extradite Assange fail and that their crimes that they are trying to cover up are redisplayed to a public tired of govt. overreach and abuse.

  8. Assange is an exemplar of heroic commitment to truth, for which he has been made an example by the empire of deceit, warning others the war on (of) terror makes enemies of any and all who transgress the right of might. But Hedges’ continued championing of his cause as “the most important battle for press freedom in our time,” while collaborating with what is an unprecedented imperial war upon human freedom and existence as nations across the world remain under states of siege to lies of a state of emergency, betrays both Assange and truth.

    Unfortunately, he is not alone among professional progressives who pretend to represent the left. Amy Goodman and “Democracy Now: The Quarantine Report” routinely echoing pandemic propaganda of corporate media, Naomi Klein following CIA psyop with her Great Reset Conspiracy Smoothie, Noam Chomsky in fascist form calling for forced isolation of the unvaxxed (aka untermenschen)…these and other partners in crimes against humanity are reminders of how lies have hijacked the left, leading the charge into totalitarianism and final solutions.

    It’s time for any and all who would reclaim the best of leftist traditions’ commitment to truth, freedom, and justice to leave these liars behind and rise up against the radical evil that has overtaken our world.


    The world is not sliding, but galloping into a new transnational dystopia. This development has not been properly recognized outside of national security circles. It has been hidden by secrecy, complexity and scale. The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation, has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen. The internet is a threat to human civilization.

    These transformations have come about silently, because those who know what is going on work in the global surveillance industry and have no incentives to speak out. Left to its own trajectory, within a few years, global civilization will be a postmodern surveillance dystopia, from which escape for all but the most skilled individuals will be impossible. In fact, we may already be there.

    While many writers have considered what the internet means for global civilization, they are wrong. They are wrong because they do not have the sense of perspective that direct experience brings. They are wrong because they have never met the enemy.

    -Julian Assange

  9. WHY have so many not cared about Assange? Distractions? We tune our young into consumerism, “star worship”, shit that don’t matter, and our pubic ed system does not teach how investigative journalism is of huge importance to our democracy. I live in a small town that saw its small town newspaper go from a paper that covered city and county council meetings to nil. And it happens to be run now by a corporation owned by a person who donated heavily to Trump. It is classic takeover of local media to dumb down the citizens who might object if they knew what their city and county were doing. Working plan by the Kochs and Reagon era politics.

  10. Here’s a hypo-(pun intended) thetical for you:
    If Wikileaks published an expose on the EXPERIMENTAL Vaccines (first tested on humans in 2020), would they still be the ‘good guys’ ?
    Just askin.
    Wikileaks weren’t really considered a problem by the ruling psychos, until they started exposing massive corporate malfeasance.
    Isn’t that what Big Pharma have been doing for decades?

  11. This brilliant essay reads like a knife in my heart….
    All those who run for political positions…….. should have to submit to a team of phycologists & be tested for psychopathic tendencies. This should be the first step to each election.
    Otherwise we are at the mercy of the vile & sick ..working for Avarice.

  12. A small correction: Chelsea Manning refused to testify IN SECRET to a grand jury, saying she would testify if the grand jury proceedings were open to the public.

  13. “The Most Important Battle for Press Freedom in Our Time” is not Hedges’ Neo Progressive attempt to reduce the press to the vigilante right of anyone with enough pull and skill to publish documents which democracies, namely all of us, deemed classified, regardless of the damage such an unrestricted exposure of information might cause. Rather, and as a direct result of the insistence of radical demagogues and propaganda buffs like Hedges from the left (and/or Tucker Carlson, and FOX News in general) to call their (highly) restricted set of ‘alternative facts’ (true for the most part, but severely, and deliberately, absent of context) the only truth, as well as the vigilante efforts of people like Julian Assange and Steve Bannon or Mike Lindell to circumvent democracy rather than improve it, “The Most Important Battle for Press Freedom in Our Time” is to reject the rising extremism that Assange and Tucker represent, and adopt a conciliatory attitude rather than their aggressively combative, winner-take-all, zero-sum pretensions.

    Put differently, ‘press freedom’ is meaningless when and where demagogues like Hedges and Tucker straggle to define truth as their exclusive domain – the one through a minimal and very selective set of ‘facts’, the latter through the invention of such a set.

    1. This is nothing but a meaningless rant with no evidence, facts, or arguments to support it. Your tone belies your right wing, pro-U.S. empire, pro-authoritarian attitudes and ideologies, but instead of name-calling and meaningless generalities, how about some facts, evidence, and direct arguments?

    2. Well put. I fully agree (except I think you’re going a bit too hard on Hedges).

      Assange is not a journalist. He’s someone who lucked into receiving a whole bunch of secrets and decided to dump them online more or less indiscriminately. I guess he was looking for a tussle with the big boys. He has since find out to his detriment that the big boys are not fooling around. He certainly does not deserve to be tortured to death, but his misery is entirely of his own making.

      Plenty of classified information is classified for a very good reason, namely to keep safe everyday working people who are helping to keep you and me safe (e.g. intelligence service operatives and their informants). The idea that everything should be out in the open at all times is lunacy.

      Moreover, if you need Wikileaks et cetera to figure out that the most powerful people in the world are psycho assholes, you are simply not paying attention.

      1. Anyone who published stories is a journalist. There is no official certification for being a journalist, nor should there be one. Assange certainly is a journalist, and in fact he’s one of the best ones on the planet, or at least was until he was unjustly imprisoned.

        Your authoritarian police-state attitude is appalling, but I suspect that most people have been brainwashed to feel this way, and/or feel this way because they’re cowards, or some combination. We don’t need murderous people and groups like the military and CIA to protect us; in fact, they’re the cause of other people wanting to do us harm, to the extent that they do. The U.S. military and intelligence community work to maintain and expand U.S. empire not only first and foremost, but almost exclusively. The Collateral Murder video released by Wikileaks certainly should have been publicly released, and everyone involved in this murder should have been tried & convicted. THAT’s the real reason that Assange is being imprisoned and tortured.

        Wikileaks is the best news organization around. It has never had to retract a story, because its credibility is as good as it gets. I notice that you didn’t address this undeniable fact.

      2. People who have nothing to hide hide nothing.

        Our secrets are secrets because they reveal our evil.

        Assange brought our evil secrets out of the darkness and exposed them to the light, revealing them to the world.

        Your argument that secrets are classified to keep us safe has no merit. Assange didn’t expose anything threatening our safety. He exposed war crimes and illegal and immoral activities. He never said, “everything should be out in the open at all times,” he did his best to not endanger innocents as the documents were published.

        Assange has acted as an agent of light and truth. You state that “his misery is entirely of his own making”, insinuating that he deserves what he is getting. You argue on behalf of evil. Your username suits you well.

  14. Sounds like Julian Assange has already been convicted and sentenced to torture and death. How do you assist in your own defense when you are being purposely tortured by your prosecutors and essentially losing your mind in the meantime. This is awful, sad, pathetic, and morally repulsive. My prays to Assange and his family run deep. Thank you Mr. Hedges for keeping us informed and aware of the tyranny before us.

  15. My heart is heavy for Julian…. and his family…..I am thankful for Chris Hedges and his outstanding reporting……..

  16. Since Wikileaks, under the complete and absolute control of Julian Assange, started publishing stolen classified documents the world had become less informed (consider, for instance, that the prevalence of fake news from both the radicalized left and right had gained unprecedented foothold in mainstream media, including the near-complete takeover of right-wing propaganda outlets like FOX), whistleblowers are prosecuted far more harshly and frequently than before, and the policies of classification remain, at best, unchanged. Furthermore, for all the noise it created, the entire trove of published material had change absolutely nothing, and Wikileaks was instrumental in the election of the most dangerous and damaging president to ever seat in the White House!

    Wikileaks, than, headed by Assange, had accomplished less than nothing, and had made things worth for the rest of us!

    The persecution of Julian Assange must stop on humanitarian grounds, not because it is essential for press freedom. On the contrary, his story must be used as a cautionary tale concerning the dangers and stupidity in trying to beat conservatism through the adaptation of its methodology, namely through divisive tactics and propaganda, as well as against the cynical and self-defeating usage of the freedoms we now have to undermine the very institutions that generate and protect them.

    1. Since I did a rain dance, it started raining. My rain dance must have caused the rain! That’s how ridiculous your claim is about Wikileaks causing fake news. Wikileaks is in fact by far more credible than any mainstream or establishment media, because it doesn’t work in the service of the rich & powerful like mainstream & establishment media companies do.

    2. If I were an oligarch or a tool of the CIA or MIC and wanted to infiltrate a lefty forum to gaslight and discourage critical thinkers and future potential whistle blowers I would write a convoluted post just like yours.

  17. Attn: Democracy Gone Astray correspondent:
    Maybe politics is not for you if everything equals everything else. Chris Hedges is very dear to the hearts and a light to the minds of the readership in Scheerpost, properly so.
    I thought I suffered from subordinate clauses, but as I look back through yours, you appear to believe that we should be emotionally reconciled with the government faction which seeks to require acquiescence in anything they decide to do in secret using anybody’s money.
    Meanwhile, Julian Assange is still in jail; I wrote twice to my British MP but he has no interest in helping him.

    1. Attn: Roland
      I have read through your message four times now and still cannot make sense of it.
      Subordinate clauses are truly a scourge of mankind. Simple sentences only, please! Nothing ever requires any qualification!
      I’m sure your MP’s intern had a good chuckle feeding your letter through the shredder.

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