I have friends on both sides of the political camp who have differing opinions about Julian Assange. Some say he is a troublemaker who put people’s lives at risk; others say he is a ‘beacon of freedom of the press.’ In both sides and where they agree, no one seems to dispute that Assange embarrassed a lot of people, and there can no doubt he was the primary influencer of the 2016 elections. Had Assange not exposed John Podesta’s emails and created an expose on the DNC during the last part of the 2016 campaigns, Hillary Clinton would have sailed right through and won the presidency. I am convinced of this fact. Even today, because of Hillary Clinton’s email server issue, which was exposed when one of Podesta’s email contained malware which allowed someone to hack his account, the world might not have ever had known Hillary was using a separate email server. It’s what got the whole thing rolling on supposed Russian collusion; it’s what Trump joked about on the campaign trail (“Russia, are you listening…?”).
Assange might not have started it, but he was a central figure in facilitating the process.
But the same could also be true of the Watergate tapes, the ones who exposed Nixon. Were these exposers also not “meddling.” And what about every news story ever published about someone getting their hand caught in the cookie jar, were these people a threat to national security?
And what about Chelsea Manning, the soldier who gave the information to Assange on the military secrets in the first place, something that did put people’s lives at stake, but equally important, exposed the U.S. as the not-so-nice-guy you thought he was when it comes to U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities? From our own citizens, to our alleys in foreign governments, it seems the U.S. is spying on everyone.
All of this really kicked in after 9/11. We know this. We know the world changed on that day and overnight, governments assumed a red alert approach in security and surveillance – and haven’t backed down since. It’s why we have accepted TSA and long-lines at airports, and DHS with its infinite tendrils in all law enforcement; it’s why we have a billion-dollar spying facility in the middle of the Nevada desert that no one seems to care about, and it’s why every other country is also spying on us.
Assange is a push back to this surveillance overreach, he is a necessary player in a world where governments do need to be watched – just like everyone else, including our own government, nice as it is, free as we are. They need to be watched because of the #1 rule of human behavior: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. No one, and especially no government, is exempt from corruption when they become too powerful – even the liberty-loving United States government, as we can clearly see from the past two years of the Trump investigation where Department of Justice officials and the FBI used resources to oust a sitting U.S. president simply because they didn’t like him.
Assange was watching.
How do the people make sure there is no government corruption without people like Assange, who for the most part, put his own life in jeopardy for doing so? Many people, like them or hate them, put their lives on the line to whistleblow, and if the perps get to them first (before truth can be exposed) then we all suffer.
I want to know if my government is torturing people in my name. I want to know if a person running for president has shady dealings, and especially if the current government has shady deals being done in my name. But who is going to tell us these things? NBC News? The folks at CBS or CNN? Fox? Are you kidding me? There hasn’t been truly investigative journalism for 10 years in this country, and if there has been, you can bet many of them got squashed just because it was it exposed the wrong people.
Chelsea Handler was eventually pardoned for her crimes, so Obama, perhaps because of his own personal reasons, felt a life sentence was too harsh for treasonously giving away military secrets to Assange.
I don’t know what will happen to Julian Assange, but I do know that right now, there is not anyone on the planet watching the watchers, and if they are, what happens to Assange will determine if any future whistleblowers will want to come forward.
This is a clear signal and don’t misunderstand it. All governments do not want to be spied on, especially our own. because the fact is we all have something to hide.
And this is why Assange may spend the rest of his life in prison.
Are you WOKE yet?
Jim Watkins is a social media critic, radio journalist, author and host of the wildly popular podcast Candidly Speaking.