Opinion — WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange recently posted a harsh criticism of what he calls Trump’s “subservience to Saudi Arabia’s military adventurism in Yemen” and the explosion of civilian deaths caused by this administration’s greatly escalated drone assassination program. This received an angry backlash from many of Assange’s Trump-supporting Twitter followers, one of them exclaiming, “Has your account been taken over by the deep state? Seems like you are trying to turn us against Trump. I have lost a lot of faith in you Julian. I thought you were a Trump supporter but this seems to show otherwise. Keep this up and you can kiss that pardon goodbye, sir.
“My principles are not for sale,” Assange replied.
Over and over and over again you’ll see this exact sort of confusion about Assange and WikiLeaks coming from both sides of America’s illusory partisan divide. Democrats believe that Assange is a Trump-supporting Kremlin asset while Trump supporters believe Assange is a based MAGA hat-wearing ally to their cause, the former because they were told to believe that by CNN and the Washington Post and the latter because they’ve seen him championed by Fox’s Sean Hannity and the elaborate 4chan hoax “QAnon”. Neither could be further from the truth.
The *full* full transparency argument would be: release all tax returns, corporate records, campaign emails, and other documents relevant to Donald Trump’s Russia/WikiLeaks connections. https://t.co/WcIPej2p8b
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 1, 2018
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 1, 2018
Today Assange responded to a call for transparency on Trump “tax returns, corporate records, campaign emails, and other documents relevant to Donald Trump’s Russia/WikiLeaks connections” from toxic neocon David Frum with the words “Go for it” and a link to WikiLeaks’ leak submission service.
This is not the first time WikiLeaks has solicited documents on the Trump administration, and it won’t be the last. Since long before the election and continuing through to the present, WikiLeaks has been harshly criticizing the president’s refusal to release his tax returns and publicly asking for leakers to submit them. They are on record trying to persuade Donald Trump Jr to do the same in a conversation that has been spuriously criticized but which when examined impartially is plainly just a leak publishing outlet soliciting a potential source.
More importantly, WikiLeaks has already published Trump administration leaks. Its Vault 7 and Vault 8 leak drops exposing the CIA’s scary surveillance and hacking tools are comparable to NSA leaks from Edward Snowden against the Obama administration, and much like the Obama administration’s vindictive backlash against Snowden we are seeing similar retaliation from the Trump administration for the CIA leaks. Trump’s CIA Director has pledged to shut down WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” and his Attorney General has stated that Assange’s arrest is a priority, which Trump himself has said he would permit. Mike Pompeo’s increasingly vitriolic and threatening rhetoric about WikiLeaks is reminiscent of Joe Biden’s labeling Assange a “hi-tech terrorist” eight years ago.
DCIA Pompeo: WikiLeaks may think they are protecting those who provide them with classified information & other secrets, but they should not be certain of that.#RNDF
— CIA (@CIA) December 3, 2017
WikiLeaks, in reality, is not a friend of Republicans any more than it’s a friend of Democrats because WikiLeaks is and always will be first and foremost an enemy of corrupt power. The liberals who used to love Assange when he was dropping leaks about the Bush administration now hate him, and the conservatives who used to attack him as an enemy now celebrate him as a hero. This dynamic will necessarily switch again when more leaks drop and conservatives see clearly that Assange’s principles are not for sale.
Right now they still don’t get it, and the delusion that Assange is a Trump supporter is even more pervasive than the equally absurd claim that he is a tool of Russia, who WikiLeaks has also published documents against. Long before the Spy Files dropped last year covering Russian surveillance practices, independent journalist Suzie Dawson documented the thousands upon thousands of other critical Russia documents that WikiLeaks has published over the years and its other obvious signs of lack of sympathy for Moscow. The only thing linking WikiLeaks to Russia is the authoritative say-so of the notorious liars in the US intelligence community and their plot hole-riddled narrative which Assange unequivocally denies.
There is in fact no reason to believe that Assange is a Trump or Putin asset, and there are many reasons not to, but the partisan dynamics of America’s neurotic political feuds will continue to keep people blinkered for as long as the cognitive dissonance is more uncomfortable than keeping their heads up their asses.
My principles are not for sale.
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) January 29, 2018
Top Photo | Supporters watch a video conference of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the public university in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. (AP/Manu Fernandez)
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