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Hullabaloo


Sunday, April 14, 2019

 
This is what happens when you help to put authoritarians in power

by digby

The Trumpies are starting to use this "joke" defense more and more. They said he was kidding when he told the border patrol to tell judges that "the country is full." Now this, which is 100% prime bullshit:





He wasn't joking. He used Wikileaks as the oracle of Delphi during the last weeks of the campaign.





His son was personally corresponding with Assange about strategy and tweeting out links at their behest.

This article from Robert Mackay at The Intercept shows how Wikileaks became Trump's opposition research arm:
Before his private messages to Trump Jr. were leaked, Assange himself had categorically denied that he or WikiLeaks had been attacking Hillary Clinton to help elect Donald Trump. “This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election,” he wrote in a statement released on November 8 as Americans went to the polls.

Even though Assange had by then transformed the WikiLeaks Twitter feed into a vehicle for smearing Clinton, he insisted that his work was journalistic in nature. “The right to receive and impart true information is the guiding principle of WikiLeaks — an organization that has a staff and organizational mission far beyond myself,” Assange wrote. “Millions of Americans have pored over the leaks and passed on their citations to each other and to us,” he added. “It is an open model of journalism that gatekeepers are uncomfortable with, but which is perfectly harmonious with the First Amendment.”

The same morning, WikiLeaks tweeted an attack on Clinton for not having driven her own car during her decades of public service.




For Brown, and others who have been critical of Assange for using the platform of WikiLeaks to fight his own political and personal battles, his secret communication with the Trump campaign was damning because it revealed that he had been functioning more like a freelance political operative, doling out strategy and advice, than a journalist interested in obtaining and publishing information, concerned only with its accuracy.

James Ball, a former WikiLeaks volunteer who has described the difficulty of working for someone who lies so much, was also appalled by one post-election message to Trump Jr., in which WikiLeaks suggested that, as a form of payback, it would be “helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to DC.”

That request for payback, on December 16, 2016, came three weeks after Trump’s father had called on the British government to make his friend Nigel Farage its ambassador. “This should be it, game over, end of it, for anyone who tries to suggest Assange looks out for anyone except himself,” Ball observed on Twitter. “That’s his cause, and plenty of good people have been played, badly.”

There was also criticism from journalists like Chris Hayes of MSNBC, a network Assange accused of being, along with the New York Times, “the most biased source” in one note to Trump Jr. Pointing to a message from WikiLeaks sent on Election Day, advising Trump to refuse to concede and claim the election was rigged, Hayes asked how, exactly, offering that sort of political advice squared with the organization’s mission to promote transparency.




Still, many of Assange’s most vocal supporters stuck with him, calling even secret communication with the Trump campaign to undermine Clinton entirely consistent with his vision of WikiLeaks as a sort of opposition research group, dedicated to “crushing bastards” by finding dirt in the servers of powerful individuals or organizations.

As Raffi Khatchadourian explained in a New Yorker profile of the WikiLeaks founder in 2010, “Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.” To Assange, Khatchadourian wrote, “Leaks were an instrument of information warfare.”

Unfortunately, Assange came to believe that outright authoritarians are somehow more "just" than a mainstream politician like Hillary Clinton, which is a sign that his own psychological issues were the real motivations.  The result of his malevolent crusade is that he helped put this monster Donald Trump, who calls the free press the "enemy of the people,  into the most powerful job on the planet. By empowering Trump and his most authoritarian minions he has put the free press in danger. Good job, Julian. Excellent.

Now Trump's Department of Justice is trying to extradite Assange and Trump is saying he was just joking and that Wikileaks is "not his thing." It's poetic justice for the reckless egomaniac that Assange has become in recent years, but bad news for the First Amendment. What a cock-up.

But hey, it was all a "joke." No big deal.


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