The Curious Case of Seth Rich

Updated

As a blogger who’s written about WikiLeaks off and on since 2011, I’ve tweeted with most of the “regulars” on the #Assange and #WikiLeaks hashtags. One of the most persistent defenders of Julian Assange is a fellow I’ll call Mr. Z, who has some inexplicable beliefs about Hillary Clinton, Seth Rich, and what really happened to the US election in 2016.

For months I sparred with Mr. Z, as he tried to convince me that Seth Rich was the Real Leaker, who had penetrated Podesta’s email by exploiting his work access to the Democratic Party systems. He swore that Assange knew this to be true. I pointed out that working for an organization doesn’t necessarily mean access to personal emails of the boss, and that forensic data corroborated by numerous allies confirmed it was two units of the Russian military who had hacked Podesta & the DNC.

Mr. Z’s insistence that the Real Leaker was Seth Rich never made sense to me, until yesterday’s report alleging that Rich had been emailing WikiLeaks before his still-unsolved murder. Assange has believed for years in “Clinton Body Count” conspiracy theories, so the death of anyone working for the DNC who had ever emailed him would automatically be seen by him as yet another Killary hit.

Obviously, people like the Clintons, who live under 24/7 Secret Service protection, don’t even have the opportunity to go around whacking people, especially people they could simply have brought up on charges instead. So who did kill Seth Rich, and why does Assange believe he was the Real Leaker against all forensic evidence?

What if the Russians exploited Rich’s death to make sure Assange thought someone besides the Russian military was responsible for acquiring the files they gave him? What better way to make sure Assange didn’t question the origin of the files than to claim you got them as a dead-man-switch backup sent by someone who can’t talk anymore?

I think any reasonable intelligence service from any nation would conclude Assange would not make a good willing asset. His pride wouldn’t stand for it. Much better to convince him he received material from a desperate friend of someone who was murdered by Hillary for knowing too much. About Podesta’s pizza orders.

That would explain Assange’s recent decision to begin using servers in Russia. He firmly believes Russia is innocent, they’re all being unfairly accused by murderers, who of course wouldn’t hesitate to also fake up forensic evidence. This is useful to Russia because it means that even when threatened with arrest by the US Department of Justice, an incentive to try to cooperate for a good deal, Assange will be terrified to even set foot in America, land of “Killary.”

Whatever happened, it certainly was a very beneficial series of events for Putin. As Russian bodies pile up in the wake of the attack on our election, is it a stretch to wonder whether Seth Rich wasn’t just in the wrong place at the wrong time, a botched robbery? What if his death was useful and necessary to those who needed a fast way to get a lot of files to Assange without any questions asked?

UPDATE May 17, 2017: Seth Rich’s family disputes the Fox affiliate’s report that they hired the private investigator and support his findings. The investigator was hired by a third party and the family does not support his efforts. Which explains why the story was released yesterday, in an apparent effort to distract from Trump’s unprecedented security lapse — the GOP’s had this allegation for a while, ready to deploy as needed.

SECOND UPDATE May 23, 2017: The original Fox 5 claim that WikiLeaks and Seth Rich had emailed each other was found to be sourced to only one person: a Fox news reporter who told it to the private investigator hired by “third parties” who might also have been Fox. Therefore, it’s possible Assange may simply believe some anonymous person who emailed him was Seth Rich with no proof whatsoever.

The Fox News network has retracted the story, and Sean Hannity, most aggressive mouthpiece for the conspiracy theory, has agreed to stop discussing it, despite his tweeted tantrum about the retraction. This will be my final update too, as I hope the family can get some peace from being unfairly drawn into a political football game.