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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Downfall of Julian Assange

One of my favorite quotes come from John Maynard Keynes, "when the facts change, I change my mind" (see Goodreads for a list of my favorite quotes).   This has now happened regarding my opinion of Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

1. When Assange and Wikileaks were releasing classified government documents, which detailed what our government was saying behind the scenes about our foreign policy maneuvers, I thought that was akin to what Daniel Ellsberg had done with the Pentagon Papers regarding our involvement in the Vietnam War - i.e., good for freedom and our democracy.  I noted that then Secretary of Defense Gates said those initial Wikileaks had not endangered any American lives, and that Ellsberg himself said he stood with Assange.

2. I took pause, and was certainly concerned, when Assange was accused of sexual molestation and "lesser rape" in Sweden shortly after (details here).  But I thought Michael Moore made a good point when he wondered if the CIA or some other governmental organization was conveniently trying to frame Assange, and I noted, as time ensued, that no further allegations (that I know of) were raised against Assange regarding his sexual conduct (unlike the egregious Bill Cosby, for example).  It was also possible that Assange was a personal predator but still doing the right thing as far as freedom of information and world politics.

3. All of that happened in 2010.  Earlier this year - 2016 - I thought Assange's release of DNC emails at the beginning of the Democratic National Convention was not shining a cleansing light on government secrecy, but a heavy-handed attempt to influence our Presidential elections.  This was especially grievous, given that the opponent of the Democrats is a fascist, Trump. the likes of which we have never seen get so far in America before.

4. But the straw that finally broke the camel's back for me regarding Julian Assange was his recent implication that Hillary Clinton may have had something to do with the murder of a DNC staffer in Washington DC in July.   With this suggestion, Assange has moved from disseminator of classified information and hacked DNC emails, to purveyor of sick conspiracy theories, in league with the arrant nonsense that Hillary killed Vince Foster, etc.  It's in league with what Trump has been spewing, and caters to worst elements of humanity.

So, as the Jerry Orbach character says in Dirty Dancing, "when I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong".  I was very wrong about Julian Assange.  He is part of the problem not the solution.  And I can only hope that, whatever happens with the rape charges, he and his business are quickly consigned to the dustbin of history.

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