April 11, 2019

Quick thoughts on the Julian Assange arrest —
and Russiagate and shitloads of whataboutism

Now that Julian Assange has been arrested, here’s a few quick thoughts of mine.

Before all else, the big picture. As Jonathan Cook notes, this has been a politically motivated witch hunt by the US intelligence establishment. And by elected political leaders as well. (That said, I don't think Assange will go down in history the way Cook claims. And, setting aside that Sweden didn't want him, as I've blogged before, per Daniel Domscheit-Berg et al, Assange is a character out of Greek myth — like Agamemnon, or even more, like Atreus, in his hubris.

There's also this question, addressed by me elsewhere: "Is Julian Assange a journalist?"

Next, a metathought.

Per our good friend Idries, from what I've seen in the Blue Wave from Hell called Twitter, there's already a certain amount of twosiderism and whataboutism on this issue.

Now, some thoughts.

First, per that first link above, he wasn’t arrested on Espionage Act charges.

Second, and related, if we do consider Assange a journalist, there is a difference between journalists receiving pilfered documents and materials and a journalist doing the pilfering, or ordering someone else to do so. (The second part of that second clause is not a crime itself, unless the person ordered follows through, of course.)

Related? Ethical journalists, when questioned about sources, simply say "I cannot reveal them," rather than lying about who they are, as I believe Assange and toady Craig Murray did in the DNC email hack, which I call a hack and I believe with good reason. I can indeed say that Assange is lying (as far as I can tell) on this issue, while at the same time his content has been factual. If you don't like that answer, that's your problem, not mine. When the lies are part of traumatizing a family, we're beyond bad journalistic ethics and into plain immorality.

As for that IF in the first paragraph of this section? Given that Assange has edited nothing (and a time or to, left in dangerous information on previous leak releases about the Afghanistan War), and has written nothing outside of Tweets and calls for more information about what he has leaked, I don't see that as quite so open-and-shut as many other members of the media do. If we do call him a journalist, then in my book, it's a journalist with a label.

And, that label is?

The "anti-Beltway steno."

I'll have more on this somewhere down the road.

And, as of April 30, that "somewhere down the road," at least a first pass, is now here.

Second, part two: Twitter "whataboutism" to Assange starts at this point, too. One Twitterer in conversation with me claimed it all would have been easier for Assange if (assuming it was a hack and Guccifer 2.0 is from Russia) he just would have said that right away.

NOT.EVEN.CLOSE. Since Assange's purpose was to defeat Hillary Clinton, with "reporting news" a distant second, admitting he got this stuff from a Russky would have probably made it too hot for even Trump to directly handle. It also would have opened the door for Obama to publicly investigate this during the election. It would have been worse for Assange and far worse for his mission.

I first tackled the "Russia connection" and Assange 18 months ago.

Update, July 9: Given that a new Yahoo News bombshell says Russian foreign intelligence was behind the Seth Rich conspiracy theories, even if the Espionage Act shouldn't apply to non-Americans, admitting he got these emails from Russia would hugely increase his legal liability.

The piece is by Michael Isikoff, who's had a fairly deep dive into Russiagate stuff, I know. But, as I've seen elsewhere, the timelines align with Google Trends information on when Seth Rich information started trending.

Second, part three:  This all said? Do I think he is a journalist? Yes (with reservations), as does the New York Times lawyer.

As a journo, do I think, like many Gnu Media Beltway stenos, that, in his own way, Assange is an opiner first, a news writer second? Yes. Well, by choosing to not seek out leakers from Russia, China, etc., then bullshitting about why he doesn't, and by the fact that he doesn't write anything himself, he's really an opiner/news releaser.

Third, that "hidden" DOJ indictment was clearly real, even if bullshit.

Fourth, we now know why Chelsea Manning was dragooned before a grand jury fishing expedition. That said, she said way back when that she acted on her own the whole time.

Fifth, we don't, yet, know what the payoff was to the President of Ecuador — if any. Belying his first name, Lenin Moreno has moved further and further rightward since being elected. But, there does still seem to have been some degree of coordination with the US government. Per the top link, the offense has an eight-year statute of limitations, and Assange was indicted under seal right at the end a year ago, and the plans have been there to take him at some time.

Sixth, if Assange had not been in the Ecuadorean Embassy, the US would have gotten somebody else to seize him on a legitimate warrant, even if for a bullshit or semi-bullshit crime. And that would be proper under international law. I’m not justifying the charge (nor am I not not justifying it), I’m just explaining.

If Assange wanted security, he should have followed Snowden and gone to ground in Moscow. Or Beijing. Oh, the irony of that. Assange has been called out repeatedly for not developing Wikileaks leakers in authoritarian countries. Russia now has a homegrown version of Wikileaks, no thanks to Assange and no kudos given it by Assange fanatics.

Seventh, this should further, if indirectly, refudiate (but won't) the idea that Trump is Putin's puppet. Because, if he were, he wouldn’t have let this indictment ever happen. Speaking of, for the #MAGA heads, Counterpunch (as many have done on Twitter) has a chronology of Trump weathervaning about Wikileaks.

Eighth, there are other things to chew on in that Counterpunch link, vis a vis points first and second above. Assange is still being targeted for being a journalist. At the same time, Assange's lawyer (as defense lawyers do when needed as part of strategy) misstates the charge.

Ninth, this hints back at reopening questions about just what Assange did or did not do in Sweden several years ago. It also reopens questions about his general recklessness and hubris both. Not that either are crimes, of course. But, they are “tells” of a sort.

Tenth, I'm surprised that Dear Leader didn't think of indicting on this charge, to try to avoid the "he's a journalist" issue, at least legally.

Eleventh, does gag-reflexive Assange flack Craig Murray still stand by his claim that the DNC emails were a leak, not a hack? If so, is he a Seth Rich conspiracy theory truther? Per The Nation, it kind of seems like it. And, now that Assange has been arrested, doesn't Sy Hersh have some obligation to provide more details about his talk with Ed Butowsky, as embarrassing as they may be to him?

As for that and whataboutism, there's Tweets like this:
Then there's the Seth Rich conspiracy theorists outing themselves:
Among ways I prove that wrong?

And, have already done so?

First, Google Trends.

(Breaking update, July 9: A new Yahoo News bombshell says Russian intelligence, specifically its foreign intelligence agency, the SVR, was behind the Seth Rich conspiracy theories.)

Second, the evidence related to the Russian 12.

Further, indirect proof the original emails were hacked not leaked? Even before Assange started releasing the first set, Joseph Mifsud told the Trump campaign about Russians having email "dirt" on Clinton.

Besides, timeline of person above has a fair amount of alt-ism and a fair amount of drinking the Tulsi Gabbard Kool-Aid. That's not to say she doesn't have some good thoughts, and on this issue, so far appears to be the only correctly thinking Democratic presidential candidate. It's just that she's wrong on a lot of other issues, including the Kool-Aid stuff where Olson thinks she's outside the Dem mainstream and ain't. And on Twitter, said person doesn't like me talking about this as a conspiracy theory, doesn't like me pointing out the Tulsi Kool-Aid and doesn't like me talking about Ray McGovern fellating Darrell Issa, or that he's a huge conspiracy theorist himself.

Said person chose not to directly answer my questions about whether they believed the same conspiracy theories as McGovern, so I dealt with them in one of the two normal Twitter ways.

Another person is now, though not going down the Seth Rich conspiracy theory rabbit hole about his death, still wanting to talk up Forensicator (or his ilk) with the idea that it wasn't a Russian hack, which I've already dealt with in detail, though said person said early on he didn't have high regard for Duncan Campbell. (I already issued the one counter that Campbell wasn't the only person to finger Forensicator fakery._ Stand by to see if this person starts throwing Jell-O at the wall of anything but Russia, when, per the link above about the 12, the evidence is solid.

Has it legally been cross-examined yet? No. And never will be. Concord may eventually cop a plea at the lowest cost it can and none of the Russians will ever be tried. See also Wikipedia.

Said person, whose Twitter handle is AmeriCancer and by said handle and comments, reminds me of Counterpunch at its worst, where it occasionally not only points out American faults but approaches the idea that America can almost never do right, was also removed from my Twitter conversational stream, for reasons as noted:
And that's that.

Conspiracy theory feints include:
  • Bringing up Tower 7 at the WTC, then withdrawing when I presented Popular Mechanics' follow-up to its original WTC piece, just about Tower 7, and saying maybe he'd read it if he thought it was worth time;
  • Saying Oswald claimed he was a patsy and never responding when I brought up Sirhan Sirhan lying every time he was up for parole;
  • Saying, can't people ask questions about Seth Rich:
  • Using "skepticism" in the way conspiracy theorist-lite people, at least, do.
Other feints include:
  • Fixating on Duncan Campbell vis-a-vis Forensicator after I pointed out twice that my blog post listed other people challenging Patrick Lawrence and Forensicator. Indeed, on this alone, he was acting like Adam Carter;
  • Claiming that, after I caught him talking about VIPS supported Forensicator and I pointed out that only half of it did, he didn't have room for that in his Tweet, then not responding when I noted he had 50 characters of Twitter space left;
  • Doing whataboutism on Wikipedia's Guccifer piece because I didn't have other links, when he damned well knows that Wikipedia piece itself has several dozen;
  • In a truly derp moment that shows he's a dumb ass and apparently thinks people listening to him are dumb asses instead, saying there's been no convictions on the IRA 12 Mueller indicted.
I wasted too much time on him as is.

Beyond that, the Assange genuflectors will accept at face value his answer as to why he didn't solicit leakers from authoritarian or totalitarian countries, above all, from Russia and China. (There ARE leakers there, at least in Russia, who have created their own system, with zero help from Assange.)

Unsurprisingly, Consortium News has jumped on the twosiderism and whataboutism, and extended it to doubling down on Patrick Lawrence's mendaciousness about Forensicator. Sadly, a person at CN like Daniel Lazare, whom I thought better, has joined the Armenian Chorus.

Twelvth: Related directly to the matter at hand, and non-journalistically? Don't forget Assange has committed password stupidity before.

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