Falling Out of Love with Julian Assange While Still Being Fond of Wikileaks

Nashville         Who’s on first, what’s on second?  The Justice Department seems to be the gang that can’t shoot straight, and, frankly, that’s even a scarier thing than we thought!

This time in the era of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, now departed, and what’s his name that they are trying to force into his job, a random professor, Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert who is deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University posted a messed-up court filing by the Justice Department in the Eastern District of Virginia.  They seem to have cut and pasted information from a potential indictment of Julian Assange and Wikileaks into the wrong court filing for some other miscreant.  Whoops!

Not surprisingly, the Trumpsters have Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, in their gunsights, as did the Obama team, as we all remember, or at least some of us recall.   I’ll be honest.  I admired the Wikileaks project.  I’ve written defenses of both Wikileaks and Assange.  Read books about them.  Tried to really understand what they were about, and what he was trying to do on the edge of radical transparency.  It wasn’t easy to defend him.  He’s often comes off as a Trump-level narcissist.  His sexual activity in Sweden was problematic even before the #MeToo movement.  As an organizer, his willingness to sacrifice his organization, Wikileaks, because of his obsession with saving his own skin, rather than facing the consequences and taking responsibility was repugnant.

And, that’s just me.  The Wall Street Journal notes:

An indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller that portrayed WikiLeaks as a tool of Russian intelligence for releasing thousands of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign has made it more difficult for Mr. Assange to mount a defense as a journalist. Public opinion of Mr. Assange in the U.S. has dropped since the campaign.

That’s likely an understatement.

His role in the Russian leaks almost seemed to have been triggered by a personal pique over what he saw as Hillary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State in his being ostracized and ending up in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012.  He has now sued Ecuador in yet another “biting the hand that feeds him” move over restricting his visitors and, god save us all, his internet access.

And, yet, even as Assange brings a kind of “yuck” to all of us now, that doesn’t settle the issue of whether or not the mission of Wikileaks should be protected for the service it brings to us all in a weird conflict of “ends justifying the means.”  The New York Times underscores that the…

…dilemma came down to a question they found no clear answer to: Is there any legal difference between what WikiLeaks was doing, at least in that era, from what traditional news media organizations, like The New York Times, do in soliciting and publishing information they obtain that the government wants to keep secret?  And such organizations, including The Times, have published many news articles based on documents that WikiLeaks published starting in 2010, including tranches of logs of significant combat events in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and diplomatic cables leaked by Ms. [Chelsea] Manning, and the Democratic emails in the 2016 election that were hacked by Russia.

We’ll see what happens next from Justice, but the Administration clearly is betting that the change of government in Ecuador may give them a chance at extraditing Assange to the US, and that the handling the Russian hacked Clinton emails to disturb the election will be a different issue than freedom of speech and journalistic protections.  For the rest of us, this may be a “hold our nose” moment, as we continue to support the Wikileaks mission and distance ourselves from its founder, Julian Assange, his obsessions, and excesses.

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Hillary for President is Fake News

New Orleans    Just when Halloween was over, we have to live through another ghost story.  As a distraction, some publicity hounds are drooling over speculation that Hillary Clinton could run for President in 2020, and even more improbably, would win the nomination.  This is what happens when too many people start watching movie and television shows about zombies, because if this were anything other than fake news, this would be the zombie campaign of all time.

A cartoon ran in my local paper.  In the top left of the panel was a newspaper with the headline, “Will Hillary Run Again?”  A lamp and chair were turned over.  So was an end table.  There was an outline of a donkey that had jumped through the wall in horror.  The cartoonist, Walt Handelsman with The Advocate, had perfectly captured the screaming madness of such a candidacy.

Frankly, it’s an insult to Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.  They know how to count.  Bill Clinton was invisible on the campaign trail for the midterms, except for some private fundraisers for people like Mike Espy, a former Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture in his administration, who is now in a runoff for US Senate in Mississippi.  Hillary Clinton was also virtually nowhere to be seen.  Donna Shalala, the Clinton’s former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and more recently a college president, upset a Republican congressman from the Miami area with 52% of the vote, and now finds herself part of the incoming congressional delegation.  Certainly, the Clintons were around that campaign, as they undoubtedly should have been.  So what?

Yes, they are booked on some kind of two-for-one tour next year.  As Hillary famously has said, they have to make money.  It’s what celebrities do.  It’s not what politicians running for higher office do.  My advice?  Either get over it, or buy a ticket and go see the show.

None of that says that they are now inhaling.  There is no way they see a path for another run at the White House.  These are professional politicians.  They talk to donors.  They take polls.  They know people.  They read the news.  They know the long list of contenders and pretenders for the Demo-nomination doesn’t mean “me too” for Hillary.

Zombies aren’t real.

Hillary is not running for president.  She knows better, and so does Bill.

***

Please enjoy Glenn Campbell’s Easy Come Easy Go.

Thanks to KABF.

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