In 2016, Julian Assange was offered the up-to-date text of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership [TPP] treaty, which was being sneaked through behind our backs by Democratic President Barack Obama and a Republican Senate led by Mitch McConnell, in consultation with global corporations and financiers but not with the US people. It among other things sets up corporate tribunals at world level, able to judge and punish nations. When NO other news outlet had the guts and enterprise to bring us the facts of that crucial story, Assange published and kept publishing. He not only nailed the original draft of the treaty but kept us supplied with updates on the secret edits in time for us -- rising as a people on both the right and left -- to stop the TPP from passing under Obama/McConnell.
Public pressure from his followers then made withdrawing from the TPP President Donald Trump's first act, impossible if the line had not been held until he got into office. Assange, one of the few journalists remaining, is a publisher whom all ideologies have great reason to respect and have hailed. How quickly however we forget if he gores one of our own.
Now he has been charged -- the charges as yet unclear -- in the Mueller investigation, arrested, and dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy. Julian Assange does not publish opinion. Working with whistleblowers throughout the world, Assange passes along only documents authenticated in painstaking detail. In over ten years under mindbending pressure, out of millions of pages, Assange has not published a single inauthentic story, indeed a single inauthentic page, paragraph, sentence or phrase.
The great powers and bigwigs have often cried foul, taken Wikileaks to court, and never found an inauthentic phrase.
They lost every time.
Name me a news organization with a comparable record.
In another instance, Assange was offered proof -- in Hillary Clinton's own words and those of her campaign manager Podesta and the Democratic National Committee operatives [DNC] -- that with DNC collusion, presidential nominee Clinton had committed money laundering and fraud to win the 2016 Democratic primary, while rigging the 2016 Republican primary, through among other things controlling the news outlets.
Assange first verified the authenticity of the huge cache of emails (none of the people in those emails have ever denied that they're theirs and real).Then Assange scrambled to publish before the 2016 US general election. Appropriately. That was crucial knowledge for a voter.
Assange is Australian. Does Assange or any foreign reporter have a "right" to "meddle" in an election by publishing carefully verified authentic documents before a key US vote? Did he have any right to withhold them? The US is not just a country; it's a world empire. How we vote affects the whole world. Getting accurate information to us was not "meddling": it was getting facts before us when the US media were nothing more than slick bits of a propaganda machine.
There is solid evidence in the metadata on the DNC download that the DNC portion of the emails was an (insider) leak, not an (outsider) hack. Let's say though for the sake of argument that it was not just a hack, but a Russian hack. It's still true that Assange was getting authentic documents checked for any evidence of doctoring and revealing to the US public strong evidence of potential crimes on the part of a US presidential nominee. Would Assange's publishing make the Russians happy? Sure. Did US voters have a right to know anyway and quickly, before our general election? Yes.
Does Assange detest Hillary Clinton? Yes, and he's made no secret of it. Objectivity in journalism or for that matter in social science or life includes revealing one's bias.
Is he arrogant? Very. One guy standing up this long, taking the bow waves in an age of tyrants, as most of us cower, would have to be supremely confidant and dedicated, indulging under gale force pressure in some screaming boasts and fist-shaking into the wind. He has still stood unwavering for eleven years.
The most controversial Wikileaks story was Assange's publication of the downloads by Bradley/Chelsea Manning including one from the onboard camera of a US army helicopter showing what is unquestionably a war crime -- a gleeful US military helicopter gunner killing civilians, then his equally delighted gunning down of those who tried to rescue the wounded, as the pilot swoops in and circles and encourages so he can get off the shots. In spite of hype, neither that tape nor any of the files accompanying it have been shown to have harmed the US invasion of Iraq or endangered US soldiers, although yes the video unquestionably increased Iraqi outrage just as the pictures of the war crimes of Abu Ghraib did. War crimes will do that.
The prosecution and imprisonment of Pvt. Manning for getting the files to Assange has obscured the simple fact that it was the US war crime, not Assange's publication of evidence of it, that was wrong. Journalism is not treason; quite the contrary; if you're not angering the hell out of power, you're not doing your job. Julian Assange moreover cannot be a traitor to the United States. To be a traitor, one must first be a citizen of the country in question. Julian Assange is an Aussie.
Like most of the world he was appalled by the unprovoked US invasion of Iraq. (Even Bush who ordered it later admitted that no one in Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 and there was no "yellow cake" no WMD.) The fact that so many US citizens still think that Saddam Hussein had Al Queda ties or that a 9/11 pilot went to Iraq to get orders, etc., speaks to the paucity of real reporting as opposed to a sea of propaganda in the United States.
Full disclosure: My oldest son, a Navy hospitalcorpsman with the Marines, was in Iraq, treated the horrible wounds on both sides. No one has any right to misuse the courage and loyalty of our kids or destroy other countries on the basis of lies -- or to give the abysmal level of political, military and media leadership in evidence there, and if they do, I want to know about it, stat.
So where was Walter Cronkite when we needed him? Cronkite was the avuncular, trusted CBS anchor who aired -- published -- not only regular evening news but the fabulous investigative journalism coming out of the newspapers we used to have: the Pentagon Papers, Seymour Hersh's NYT reporting on the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam, Watergate. Alll of that came from whistleblowers, that is, from people anguished by what they knew, unable to change things through channels, and therefore going to the press.
Do you really believe that any of the fundamental information in those stories could have been gotten any other way than from whistleblowers? If so, would you please explain how? Publishing carefully verified information about the governments, corporations and politicians that rule us is one of the key jobs of journalists, because the governments and corporations spy on us 24/7.
We the people need to know what they're doing.
So I don't know what Mueller has on Assange or if it's indeed Mueller after him. I do know that I've got Assange's back until I see a tremendously strong reason not to. Even if I think him wrong on that score, that will change none of what I've just written.