2018-07-13

Once more on Julian Assange

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by Neil Godfrey

I know. Julian Assange is not easy to like as a person.

From Peter Van Buren’s Why I Stand With Julian Assange (The American Conservative)

Assange is challenging to even his staunchest supporters. In 2010, he was a hero to opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others called him an enemy of the state for working with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Now most of Assange’s former supporters see him as a traitor and a Putin tool for releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee. Even with the sexual assault inquiry against him having been dismissed, Assange is a #MeToo villain. He a traitor who hides from justice inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, or a spy, or some web-made Frankenstein with elements of all the above. And while I’ve never met Assange, I’ve spoken to multiple people who know him well, and the words “generous,” “warm,” and “personable” are rarely included in their descriptions.

But none of that matters. What matters is that Assange has ended up standing at a crossroads in the history of our freedom . . . .

Then in conclusion

Wikileaks’ version of journalism says here are the cables, the memos, and the emails. Others can write about them (and nearly every mainstream media outlet has used Wikileaks to do that, some even while calling Assange a traitor), or you as a citizen can read the stuff yourself and make up your own damned mind. That is the root of an informed public, a set of tools never before available until Assange and the internet created them.

If Assange becomes the first successful prosecution of a third party under the Espionage Act, whether as a journalist or not, the government will turn that precedent into a weapon to attack the media’s role in any national security case. On the other hand, if Assange leaves London for asylum in Ecuador, that will empower new journalists to provide evidence when a government serves its people poorly and has no interest in being held accountable.

Freedom is never static. It either advances under our pressure, or recedes under theirs. I support Julian Assange.

 

 

9 Comments

  • Ross Cameron
    2018-07-13 10:45:01 UTC - 10:45 | Permalink

    It just goes to show you can`t trust the Australian government—Assange, Timor-Leste, Centrelink, etc., etc.,etc.

  • proudfootz
    2018-07-13 12:38:33 UTC - 12:38 | Permalink

    Political partisans hate Assange like magicians hate those guys who reveal how their tricks are done.

    • 2018-07-16 09:34:27 UTC - 09:34 | Permalink

      I don’t care which political party is running the government. The government, no matter who is running it, has certain jobs to perform that are the reason for the existence of any government, and some of those jobs require the keeping of certain secrets. If we the people decide that anyone with access to those secrets may, without fear of consequences, divulge those secrets to the world, then we as a nation will not much longer exist.

      Of course the power to keep secrets, like any other power, is subject to abuse. Police power is a prime example. But no sane society will try to solve the abuse of police power by abolishing its police forces.

  • 2018-07-13 12:55:41 UTC - 12:55 | Permalink

    “[Former Assange supporter, “Iain”] finally found what he sees as a kind of Rosetta Stone into Assange’s thinking in a leaked email Assange wrote way back in 2007 while soliciting support for the nascent WikiLeaks concept. One of the goals for WikiLeaks, Assange wrote, “is total annihilation of the current U.S. regime and any other regime that holds its authority through mendacity alone.”

    The “total annihilation of the current U.S. regime” line, which got some attention during the Chelsea Manning leaks, explains everything, said Iain, including Assange’s curious embrace of alt-right conspiracy theories and memes during the 2016 election season and beyond.

    WikiLeaks baffled some supporters when it started seeding or promoting fake news about Hillary Clinton’s health, Pizzagate, and even Democrats engaging in satanic rituals at the same time it was releasing genuine material stolen from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

    This was not, as it might appear, a cynical bid to garner Donald Trump’s favor; nor was it simple pandering to a new funding base, argues Iain. It was part and parcel of Assange’s alignment with Russian President Vladimir Putin against their common adversary, the United States.

    In retrospect, the shift was apparent way back in 2013, during Assange’s failed bid to win a Senate seat in Australia, Iain said. To that end Assange established the country’s WikiLeaks Party, with a platform built on government transparency and libertarianism. But just weeks before the election the party was roiled by a controversy over its ranking of other political parties in Australia’s ranked-choice voting, preferencing, in two races, the white-nationalist Australia First Party and the right-wing Shooters and Fishers Party above the liberal favorite, the Australian Greens.

    The WikiLeaks Party blamed the choices on an “administrative error,” and Assange took to Australian TV to deny any role in the scandal, saying he was too preoccupied helping Edward Snowden to pay attention to what was happening in the party he led.

    But as soon as the election was over, the WikiLeaks Party transformed. Its website was suddenly overrun with posts that would have been at home on Kremlin outlets like RT and Sputnik. “The puppet politicians who Washington intended to put in charge of Ukraine have lost control,” read a post on the Ukraine conflict. “The government of Crimea, a Russian province… has disavowed the illegitimate government that illegally seized power in Kiev and requested Russian protection.” Posts on Syria described the 2013 Ghouta chemical-weapons attack by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad as “unsubstantiated” and “staged.” ”

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/defector-wikileaks-will-lie-to-your-face

  • Ross Cameron
    2018-07-16 01:49:19 UTC - 01:49 | Permalink

    Jeff, why do we insist our heroes are squeaky clean? Even JC, who may never existed and I`m sure he didn`t, wasn`t perfect. Why not weigh up a person`s contributions, the good and the bad, and judge accordingly?

    • 2018-07-16 09:22:30 UTC - 09:22 | Permalink

      In my weighing-up of Assange’s contributions, the good outweigh the bad.

  • 2018-07-16 09:03:18 UTC - 09:03 | Permalink

    When you are posting stories about how Hillary is holding secret pedophile meetings in a pizza parlor basement that doesn’t exist, then you are a propaganda network, not a news network. Why don’t we just start calling every brain-dead conservative blogger whining about cultural Marxism a “news organization” while we’re at it? I will never understand the Liberal obsession with saving the guy who handed the election to Trump. His “Collateral Murder” video was not THAT instrumental in protesting the Iraq War, okay? Frankly I’m surprised anyone thought it was at all informative given what we already knew, but I guess videos sometimes force people to accept realities they would normally brush away. What else did he do that was so important? Neil just posted his concern that Trump is going to start building concentration camps. Well, he wouldn’t be worrying about that if it wasn’t for Assange. I’m not that worried about that, but I am extremely worried about climate change, which could possibly bring about the end of human civilization. Wikileaks released stolen emails just before the Copenhagen Conference in order to undermine it to help oil and methane producers destroy the only viable atmosphere that all life on this planet needs, then he did the same thing with the DNC emails knowing that Trump would undermine the Paris Accords, so as far as I am concerned, he is a traitor against all life on this planet, just like every Republican is. The Nazis at least wanted the Third Reich to last 1,000 years. These guys could care less if the world ends the day after they die. They basically want to destroy all coastline cities, farmland, and the oceans in the next century so that a few billionaires who will never gain or lose enough money to change their extravagant lifestyle can look at a computer screen and see bigger numbers next to their bank account numbers. If he discovered the cure for cancer tomorrow, I would still say let Trump rescue his sorry butt. There are thousands of people wrongfully being held in prison for victimless crimes right now. Why give up time and blog space defending them to help a guy who will probably just go right on undermining the last tiny shreds of chance we have at stopping the Mad Max series from being a prophecy?

  • Bumb
    2018-07-18 00:45:44 UTC - 00:45 | Permalink

    For sure. Assange himself might not come across as particularly likeable to a lot of people and some of the shit the accounts associated with Wikileaks have posted is bizarre. Of course any potential compromise on his part is interesting to know/probe about and undoubtedly a lot of the support he gets from Russian strongmen is due to disempowering some of the US propaganda, not a genuine love of transparency from some of the most corrupt entities around but he should clearly be supported by anyone who cares about keeping those in power honest. I personally come to his support from a wholly different perspective than his right-libertarianism.

    Had the Democrats offered a better, more appealing package, this sort of thing would have been a blip. Greater turnout would have buried the small lead the Republicans got due to myriad potential factors, the e-mails being one of many. It shouldn’t even be a factor, unless you’re the sort of centrist Democrat that wholly supports the state apparatus, no matter what, and hence are against whistleblowers in general.

    As for “Climategate”, Wikileaks wasn’t even the primary, or at least oldest, conduit of dissemination and I recall Assange at least paying some lip service to the fact that the leaked e-mails were thoroughly misused by all sorts of right-wing hack journalists and going by his usual defense of transparency. In general, I don’t recall him personally being some climate skeptic either but rather the opposite.

  • 2018-07-18 06:58:10 UTC - 06:58 | Permalink

    Yes, the election was close so there are multiple factors that caused them to lose. That doesn’t change the fact that Assange’s propaganda system is one of the most prominent and undeniable reasons for the failures of the climate conferences, which means many more years of permanent exponential damage to the stability of the planet’s ecosystem.

    I wanted Bernie to win. I believe in the Nordic model. I hate what Hillary did centralizing power in the party and I think Bill Clinton is a rapist and a mass murderer of Sudanese. I think Bernie had a better chance at winning, but when I hear people on the Left say they want Oprah to run for president, I am far less confident than Glenn Greenwald and Kyle Kulinski are in believing it’s the issues that drive the election.

    Like Glenn Greenwald and Kyle Kulinski, I take a great deal of my political stances from Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is one of the few political commentators who is able to put things in perspective and constantly point to climate change as an existential danger that the vast majority of news, both left and right, ignores. Where I differ on Chomsky, Greenwald and Kulinski is they think that the danger from nuclear war with Russia is on the same level as climate change, so they are actually on the same side as Trump and Putin in wanting to scale back and disarm NATO. I think Putin is only suicidal from a climate change perspective, not a nuclear holocaust perspective, so I think stopping any further hindrances to the climate conferences should be the absolute top priority for the species.

    I know that Assange hasn’t put himself out as a climate denier. I don’t think that matters. Like the vast majority of people, he just doesn’t consider the issue to be important. Like Putin, his goal seems to be to destroy the current global alliance system, I think perhaps because he thinks there will be a lot less violence if America lost it’s dominance. It was Bush and McCain’s Republican party that wanted to go to war with Russia and murder Assange outright over his reporting on the Iraq War, and yet both Putin and Assange both ended up allying with the leader of that party against centrist Democrats. Reading his secret conversation with Trump Jr. and his subsequent excuses afterwards have convinced me he’s just a complete bullshitter. It’s not just that he’s “unlikeable”. He’s fundamentally at war with the continuance of human civilization. I would much rather have had Hillary in power supporting the climate talks than to let Republicans scrap them for four years for a slightly better chance at changing the party platform.

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