Assange is No Free Speech Hero
Trump-like narcissism and activities as a Russian Intel operative indicate Assange is free-riding off the transparency movement
I used to have enormous respect for Julian Assange and Wikileaks because I do not like being lied to by my own government, and Assange was leaking the truth in the face of US government lies. I followed the Snowden leaks very carefully, and was outraged at our government’s mass-surveillance of US citizens that Snowden revealed through Wikileaks. I was particularly disturbed by the Chelsea Manning leaks, which showed a systematic killing of Iraqi civilians, seemingly for entertainment purposes of some American troops. I know war is not pretty, but damn! When you get so desensitized to human life that you think killing innocent human beings is fun, then this is over-the-top.
But when the 2016 election started ramping up, Assange and Wikileaks suddenly changed. They were openly one-sided in the presentation of the material that was leaked through Wikileaks in an attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton’s chance of being elected. At first, I almost fell for Assange’s cover story that he was only trying to boost the cause of the Green Party and Jill Stein, but when I considered that Stein had ZERO chance of winning, it became apparent that he really was boosting the candidacy of Donald Trump. Assange’s one-sided Wikileaks of Podesta and DNC emails was calculated to get Bernie Sanders’ supporters so angry at Clinton and the Democratic Party that they would either stay home and not vote, vote for Stein, or do the unthinkable — vote for Trump.
12 percent of Sanders’ supporters did vote for Trump, and this made a difference in the outcome in WI, MI, and PA. Yes, Hillary screwed up her own campaign by her mishandling of the email episode, tarmac visits with Lynch, and failing to campaign in WI, MI, and Western PA. But to deny the fact that the tension created between Bernie’s supporters and Clinton that was exploited and exacerbated by Assange and Wikileaks had a significant impact on the outcome of the election is dishonest.
So what happened to Julian? How did he go from exposer of US war crimes in Iraq and NSA mass surveillance of its own citizens to being a Trump booster, and why? Trump represents the antithesis of everything the Green Party and Jill Stein stood for, they don’t believe in any of the science that concludes that climate change is real. So if you really are pro-environment, why on Earth would you want to boost the candidacy of someone hellbent on destroying the environment? Assange was rightfully afraid of what might happen to him if Clinton became president, but what would give him confidence that he would not face the same fate with Trump? Most Republican 2016 contenders other than Trump, and the vast majority of Republicans in Congress despise both Snowden and Manning as traitors for their leaks through Assange, and view Assange in particular as a threat to US national security.
The other troubling aspect of Assange’s Wikileaks is, like the one-sided, Trump-boosting leaks, there also appears to be a one-sided approach when it comes to the United States versus Russia. Even though Wikileaks was founded in 2006, there has not been even one Wikileak on Russian government abuse until late 2017, and even that leak was fairly weak and did not tell us much more than what was already known from public sources. This dearth of Wikileaks on Russian abuse is incredible given the stories of abuse we get all the time over the years. Where are the Wikileaks on the missing Muslim Tatars in Crimea? What about war crimes in Chechnya? Mysterious deaths of Russian journalists? What about a Wikileak hack and release on the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter? Nothing! Not a single hack and release to clarify what Russia did in any of these cases. This one-sided approach to hacks and releases only makes sense if Assange himself is part of Russian Intel.
If you are working for Russian Intel and part of their hacker network, you probably would know that Russia has kompromat on Trump. You would therefore feel more secure with Trump as president because Russia could make sure Trump does not do anything drastic that is not approved by the Kremlin. You are starting to see that in Venezuela, in which the US was signaling that they might use military muscle to oust Maduro, and the Kremlin said, no. Therefore, Assange seemed secure holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy, at least for a while. It is a sure bet that Assange read Trump’s public statements during the election that praised Wikileaks as some sort of signal that Trump would not aggressively seek his extradition to the United States if he was elected president.
If it were not for Julian’s narcissism, he may have escaped being handed over to the British to eventually be extradited to the United States. Who in their right mind leaks embarrassing photos of the Ecuadorean president who is protecting you in ‘his’ embassy? It’s like a house guest rummaging through your private papers and belongings and then posting photos of the most titillating and damaging ones for the entire world to see. How long would that person stay in your house? Not very long. One of the common delusions of those suffering from narcissism is that they feel more powerful than they actually are, and are prone to threaten people who may not do what they want. Being able to instruct a worldwide network of hackers to hack into anyone’s phone or computer gave Julian a sense of immense power, but instead of using this power for good as he did initially with the Snowden and Manning leaks, he began using it for self-preservation.
Adding it all up — one-sided Wikileaks to boost Trump’s candidacy for president, one-sided leaks against the US but not against Russia, and self-preservation, narcissistic leaks against a sitting Ecuadorian president, it paints a picture of Assange as someone who was merely free-riding off the free- speech/greater government transparency movement, not its champion. It was just another cover story — “I am a protector of free speech and promoter of government transparency, so anyone opposing me is against these cherished values.” When the reality is that he was simply doing what he was told by the Kremlin to undermine US democracy and sow division in the country to adversely affect US leadership in the world. When Trump calls Charlottesville white-supremacists “very fine people”, it undermines US leadership in the world comprised of mostly non-white people. And to think that Julian had a hand in giving us Donald Trump should draw the ire and scorn of the entire world upon him, not the off-the-cuff praise that does not seem to be very well considered.