On October 4, The New York Times reported a new war. The combatants are WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange on one side and Google, mass surveillance, war, oil, the United States election and Hillary Clinton, on the other.
Speaking from his Berlin bunker (aka, the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he’s been living since 2012. Assange sought refuge after Sweden said it wanted him for questioning on allegations of rape, an accusation that he has denied. He feared that if he were sent to Sweden, he would then be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges.) Assange, The Times continues, “…vowed that his organization would continue to provide a platform for the release of classified documents held by the United States and by other governments and institutions in positions of global power.
“ ‘We hope to be publishing every week for the next 10 weeks, we have on schedule, and it’s a very hard schedule, all the U.S. election-related documents to come out before Nov. 8,’ said Mr. Assange… ‘Our upcoming series includes significant material on war, arms, oil, Google, the U.S. elections and myself.’ ”
Speaking via satellite, Assange “dismissed speculation that the documents related to the United States election would contain information intended to damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. The idea that ‘we intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I intend to harm Hillary Clinton, or I don’t like Hillary Clinton, all those are false,’ Mr. Assange said.”
Really? That seems to be greatly at odds with the thousands of stolen e-mails from Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta.
“Mr. Trump,” The New York Times writes (Oct. 12), “his advisers, and many of his supporters are increasingly seizing on a trove of embarrassing e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign that WikiLeaks has been publishing — and that American intelligence agencies said on Friday came largely from Russian intelligence agencies, with the authorization of ‘Russia’s senior-most officials.’ …
“Those e-mails,” The Times continues, “began to appear on Friday afternoon, just hours after the director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement attributing previous hacks to the Russian government. Officials on Wednesday said it may take weeks to establish whether Mr. Podesta’s e-mails were also hacked by the Russians — though they said the attack on his Gmail account fits the pattern of previous Russian-sponsored e-mail thefts.”
The Podesta e-mails don’t really reveal much beyond strategy, the usual sausage-making stuff of political campaigns.
“…the e-mails made public by WikiLeaks,” The Atlantic’s writer Russell Berman writes (Oct. 12), reveal little about her as a person. These were hacked from the accounts of John Podesta, her campaign chairman, and very few of them are from Clinton herself. But they do shed light on Clinton as a candidate by showing just how carefully her closest aides crafted the message she presents to the world, down to the wording of her tweets and the jokes she does—or doesn’t—choose to tell.”
On October 13, CBS News reported that “The e-mails from Podesta’s gmail account reveal the ego-stroking and horse-trading involved in courting top supporters. In one 2015 e-mail entitled, ‘Needy Latinos,’ Podesta urged Clinton to call former Energy Secretary Fedrico Pena, who is ‘close to committing but carrying some baggage,’ and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, ‘notwithstanding the fact that he can be a d***.’ ”
None of the e-mails released by WikiLeaks come from Clinton, herself. However, The New York Times reports (Oct. 15), that “In April 2012, representatives from Qatar were apparently hoping to get ‘five minutes’ with former President Bill Clinton while in New York to present him with a $1 million check for his foundation as a birthday gift from the previous year.
“While it is unclear whether that meeting ever took place, the offer, mentioned in one of thousands of hacked Clinton campaign e-mails … was an example of the complex ethical issues the Clinton Foundation faced in managing relationships with foreign governments when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. It also raised questions about whether the foundation had fully followed procedures it had voluntarily agreed to in order to avoid those very issues.”
I will be examining more of this as I study more of the hacked e-mails from WikiLeaks.
Clearly, though, with the release of these and thousands more promised each day in October, Assange’s actions prove that he’s disingenuous in claiming that he does not want to harm Hillary Clinton and begs the question, what axe does the WikiLeaks founder have to grind against Clinton?
VOX, a digital media company explains (Oct. 11).
“WikiLeaks’ overriding ideology, at least publicly, is one of ‘radical transparency’: a deep belief that modern politics is undemocratic, with the important decisions made behind closed doors by elites and bureaucrats, and that the public deserves to know what’s actually going on.
“But there’s always been another consistent element of the group’s thinking: suspicion of the United States and its role in global politics. This stems from the thinking of its founder and leader, Assange — which helps explain why the group seems to despise Clinton.
“Assange sees the United States as a malign empire,” Vox writes, “one that has spent the decades since World War II unjustly interfering in other countries and killing their citizens. He sees the work of WikiLeaks, particularly publishing classified US documents, as a way to expose the inner workings of imperialism.
“ ‘Trump is a completely unpredictable phenomenon,’ Assange writes. ‘You can’t predict what he would do in office. Hillary was overriding the Pentagon’s reluctance to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi. … She has a long history of being a liberal war hawk, and we presume that she’s going to proceed.’
“Assange clearly sees Clinton as a representative of the worst parts of the American empire. Moreover, he thinks that she, personally, would use the power of the US government to go after his organization.”
Actually, both Republicans and Democrats have railed against Assange after obtaining more than 700,000 classified documents and video from Bradley Manning. In 2013, Manning was found guilty of 20 counts, six of them under the Espionage Act and sentenced to 35 years.
While the idea behind WikiLeaks – (“we open governments” is their slogan) to reveal a level of transparency about what goes on inside governments to the people – is a noble one, the problem is that Assange, himself, is the final arbiter of who the good and bad government “actors” are.
In short: I don’t trust his motives. He is willing to recklessly put hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives at risk in foreign countries for the sake of his “noble” cause.
“The U.S. Justice Department,” The New York Times wrote in December, 2010, “began a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange soon after the leak of diplomatic cables began. Attorney General Eric Holder affirmed the investigation was ‘not saber-rattling,’ but was ‘an active, ongoing criminal investigation.’ ”
Regarding the latest tranche of “leaked” information, The Times notes:
“When Mr. Snowden’s disclosures about the scope of the N.S.A. spying were brought to light, it touched off a feverish debate over government invading people’s privacy, and many Republicans denounced Mr. Snowden as a traitor. The e-mails from Mr. Podesta were also the result of an illegal hack — but of a private e-mail account or campaign e-mails, not a government agency.
“Among the Trump supporters who have most vocally praised WikiLeaks is Sean Hannity, the Fox News host who excoriated the site’s editor, Julian Assange, years ago.”
So, when it benefits “their” political cause, Hannity and Fox ride with Assange. When it doesn’t, they don’t.