Assange Detained Just as Mueller Report to be Released

One wonders if Hillary Clinton had been elected president what Julian Assange’s status would have been among left-wing journalists who are now denouncing him as a criminal who’s getting his due in court as soon as he’s extradited to America. Yes, Wikileaks was no friend of the Clinton campaign since at least the summer of 2016, but would he have been prosecuted anyway?

Yes, he likely would have.

And the reason is that Assange made enemies of the intelligence community by being an accomplice to leakers like Chelsea Manning, who may have gotten spies killed and certainly did a lot of damage to the intel communities of the countries whose confidential documents (s)he leaked. And Assange was by Chelsea's side (cybernetically speaking) helping to do the dirty work.

But the righteous deference to intel norms by raging progressives - especially in the media - has been one of the oddest consequences of Trump's presidency. Hacking is now an outright crime, the way it was over 20 years ago. The golden age of information theft - information just wants to be free etc. - has been shut down by the shared hostility of spooks and lefties towards a populist President.

They might tip toe around concepts like freedom of expression, but the deference to intelligence agencies and their goals is unprecedented. Here's Joe Uchill of Axios:

Why it matters: That the indictment focuses on Assange the hacker, not Assange the reporter, blunts a long held press freedom argument not to charge him with crimes. All journalists rely on leaks, and many relied on classified information publicized by WikiLeaks, making a river of journalists guilty of whatever Assange was guilty of.

Why it matters (to my mom): If charges had been focused on being an intelligence asset of Russia by publishing leaks (they aren't), that'd be a blow to, well, me specifically. I directly received and reported on documents from Guccifer 2.0, the avatar of Russia's hacking efforts in the 2016 election.

Go deeper: Assange's previously reported upon activities appear to have gone far beyond journalistic practice into what most reporters would consider criminality. He potentially:

• Hacked a website of an anti-Trump PAC and shared the password with the Trump campaign.

• Directed hackers to attack a specific target -- transcripts show that a request was brought to those hackers by an intermediary they believed was sent by Assange.

• Provided hackers with technical assistance in the form of a search algorithm to sift through hacked documents.

How things have changed from just a few years ago when the goal of embarrassing George W. Bush's administration for their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan justified prying open state secrets by any means necessary. Not anymore. Here's the Washington Post's James Hohmann writing in his Daily 202 newsletter and explaining to us why it's different now:


Technically, Assange appears to be in immediate legal jeopardy over something he did nine years ago. His lawyer Jennifer Robinson says he was indicted under seal by the United States in December 2017 on charges of conspiring with Chelsea Manning in 2010. Manning, formerly a soldier named Bradley Manning, provided secret cables to WikiLeaks, which the group posted on its website.

But his starring role in the 2016 election has been top of mind for the people in the government who have been pursuing him. WikiLeaks released hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, something the U.S. intelligence community said was orchestrated by the Russian government. When special counsel Bob Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers, he alleged that they "discussed the release of the stolen documents and the timing of those releases" with WikiLeaks "to heighten their impact on the 2016 presidential election."

Once again, we have the Russia-gave-Trump-the-election narrative gleefully recounted, whatever the evidence of voting patterns back in 2016 actually proves.

So, for the opposition the added benefit of Assange's arrest by British authorities on a process crime (seeing the Swedish authorities have dropped the sexual assault charges against him) is that the Russia story becomes front and center headline news again. At least in the beltway. One can imagine Democrats demanding that Mueller open his investigation again and grill Assante as a witness to any possible collusion. Or start yet another investigation in say the House Intel Committee.

It would be surprising, however, if Mueller hasn't already gone through Wikileaks actions with a fine comb handed to him and his prosecutors by the NSA and every other intel agency in town. But there may be some interesting evidence regarding Wikileaks that has yet to be, well, leaked. Funny how Assante gets arrested just as the Mueller report (or parts of it) are to be made public. You'd think there was a conspiracy to damage Trump's presidency or something.

Posted by Keeley at April 12, 2019 4:40 PM
Comments
Comment #441567

IF Assange assisted in cracking the password for Manning, then Assange may indeed be found guilty of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which is punishable by up to life in prison.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 14, 2019 12:43 PM
Comment #441570

Nothing like that was mentioned in Manning’s case, was it? Assange acquired the material the same way the Times did.

He is being charged with embarrassing the Democratics. Hillbilly wanted to drone him. How many people deserve getting droned for hacking?

Posted by: Weary Willie at April 14, 2019 1:07 PM
Comment #441576

Apparently, our Liberal/Progressive/Socialist Pals are too embarrassed by AG Barr’s summary of the Mueller report to show up on WB any more.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 14, 2019 3:09 PM
Comment #441577

I’ve noticed that. There’s a calm absence of emotion, insinuation, hypocrisy, inaccuracies,and outright lies lately. Perhaps they’re outside screaming at the sky.

Posted by: Weary Willie at April 14, 2019 3:25 PM
Comment #441581

So far, I’ve seen no proof that Assange helped Manning crack the password (i.e. using the hashed/encrypted password string). However, Assange admitted (in a text message to Manning) that he knew how to do that, which is somewhat incriminating.

Many systems now store passwords in a hashed format, which is difficult (not impossible) to decrypt. Decrypting software can run many different algorithms, and potentially come upon a decrypted string that contains some recognizable words or sequences.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 14, 2019 5:13 PM
Comment #441582

Manning was an intelligence analyst and had access to the information. He also contacted the New York Times and the Washington Post before he contacted Wikileaks.
https://www.biography.com/activist/chelsea-manning

He didn’t need Assange’s help to gather this info. His job was to examine it. Why would he contact the 2 fake newspapers? He certainly wouldn’t ask them for help hacking anything. He already had the info and said it was “horrifying”. Manning had the motive and opportunity. He didn’t need Assange until no one else would listen.

Posted by: Weary Willie at April 14, 2019 5:57 PM
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