Gore Vidal’s ‘Security State’ Book: Why Is Julian Assange Carrying It?

Gore Vidal Julian Assange

Getty American novelist and playwright Gore Vidal, during an interview with Melvyn Bragg for the television programme 'The South Bank Show'.

Gore Vidal’s “History of the National Security State” was in Julian Assange’s hands as he was arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on April 11.

Assange, 47, had been in exile in the embassy since August 2012. The founder of Wikileaks had his asylum status withdrawn by the Ecuadorian government, which led to his arrest. Assange will be extradited to the United StatesAssange is accused by the Department of Justice of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer. Assange’s legal team has promised to fight the extradition.

As Assange was removed from the embassy, a copy of Vidal’s 2014 book could be seen in Assange’s hands. The book is transcribed conversations that Paul Jay, the editor of The Real News Network. Those conversations occurred in 2007. Vidal passed away in July 2012 at the age of 86. Coincidentally, Assange took up residence in the Ecuadorian embassy in August 2012.

During the conversations, Vidal discussed the events in U.S. History that he believes led to what he calls the “Imperial Presidency.” Among the quotes from the book, via GoodReads:

The Federalist Papers are very clear. Whenever one of the founding fathers and one of the people who was inventing the Constitution, they start to get apoplectic at the mention of Athens, the mention of Pericles, the mention of democracy. They go on and on about mobs, and we don’t want this, and we don’t want that. We’re an oligarchy of the well-to-do. We were at the very beginning when the Constitution was made, and we’re even more so now.

I’m not joking when I refer to our country as the United States of Amnesia, although I was corrected recently by Studs Terkel out of Chicago. And he said, “Gore, it’s not the United States of Amnesia; it’s the United States of Alzheimer’s.” I stand corrected.

I was born eighty years ago in a country called the United States of America and now I live in a Homeland—an expression we haven’t heard since Hitler.

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