I have been tired of the professional left’s lionization of Julian Assange for a long time now. It sometimes seems as if Assange has been a shit-stirrer for decades, even though he’s only been a prominent shit-stirrer for just over a decade.
Last night, I was making my occasional foray into the professional-left waters when I came across a prominent fake “progressive” discussing why Julian Assange is a “hero” and likening the indictment of Assange for posting stolen documents to an indictment of the New York Times or Washington Post for the same.
The failure to see a clear difference is why a lot of the liberal punditry and so-called “progressive” journalists have to be read or watched with an entire mountain of salt. Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are not heroes, and people like Glenn Greenwald, Cenk Uyger and their ilk are not really journalists, except in their own minds. This is why they off-handedly think Julian Assange is a journalist; their definition isn’t actually one born from precision, after all.
Let’s make something clear; Manning and Snowden are thieves. They lied and obfuscated to get access to classified material they were not cleared to have and gave it away without even knowing what it meant. Manning’s was just a document dump; she had no idea what was in the documents before he just gave them to Assange to post, and it’s also clear that Assange didn’t know what they were before he posted them for others to determine.
In Snowden’s case, he stole all kinds of shit from NSA computers by lying to NSA workers and at no time did he ever attempt to determine what he had before he started dumping them off to blogger Glenn Greenwald. At no time did anyone who received any of these documents work with experts on intelligence and/or the NSA to find out what they meant; instead, Greenwald and Snowden tried to self-interpret what they were seeing. In many cases, what I thought I was seeing were sales pitches from prospective vendors, while Greenwald was sure he was seeing some sort of new and frightening capability the NSA had, which could turn all of our lives upside down. I will readily admit that I am no intelligence expert, but neither is Greenwald.
In other words, what makes a journalist valuable is their ability to speak truth to power, and that takes a lot more than guesswork. I have friends who work at the NSA, and I know two things about them. First, most of the people who work there are just regular people who want to do something for the American people. The other thing I know is that they will never tell me what they do or how they do it. I learned a long time ago never to even ask.
I also know a third thing, related to electronic document production; it is not possible to look at any document and know anything about it without more context. You have to know the history of the document, who had it and what folder it came from. For instance, if Greenwald shows me a Snowden document touting a new type of technology to make surveillance easier, where it came from matters. If it came from someone selling new technology they wanted to sell to the NSA, but the NSA rejected them during the sales pitch, I can’t accurately say “the NSA has new technology that can make it easier to spy on you.” And yet, “certain journalists” will say shit like that. Likewise, if an NSA specialist wrote a proposal for a new type of surveillance program, I would have to know what happened to it in order to determine how dangerous the proposal is. If it’s in his recycling bin, it’s a non-issue, for instance. If it’s in a folder entitled “accepted proposals, or I find out it was stored in an encrypted folder on the NSA Director’s hard drive, it could be worrisome.
However, there is no evidence that anyone among the professional left self-described “journalists” ever attempted to determine the context of the documents they released.
Julian Assange has been indicted for good reason. I know, as a lifelong liberal, I am supposed to hate the intelligence community, but let’s get real; while some “spooks” in the past have overstepped, for the most part, the people who perform intelligence functions for our country are doing so for a patriotic reason. They are genuinely trying to keep the country safe. Also, there are many more legal safeguards than there used to be, so the tendency to overstep has been lessened significantly in recent decades.
If Julian Assange was a journalist, and took responsibility for screening the documents he posts, or he simply made them available for other journalists too to their jobs, I might have a different view of the indictment. However, he doesn’t do that; someone dumps some documents to him and Assange posts them, sans context and available to anyone with an Internet connection, including hostile foreign powers. It’s clear he works closely with Putin and Russia and he also played a critical role in strategically dumping stolen Democratic emails in a way that was meant to harm Hillary Clinton and elevate Donald Trump’s chances to steal the election.
So, forgive me if I don’t have a positive view of Julian Assange, and if I hope that he and Eddie Snowden get their own cells at Leavenworth. The problem with Snowden is, by his own admission, only about one percent of the documents he stole have been publicly released and he has been holed up in Russia for more than five years and is now living in “an undisclosed location” in Moscow.
As a country, we cannot tolerate any sort of hacking or security compromises, no matter how little regard we have for the victims. Assange should be arrested and tried ASAP.