Julian Assange, looking like a demented Santa Claus, was booted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Thursday in preparation to be extradited to the United States. Ecuador; tired of his antics, finally let the other shoe drop and kicked him out. Of course this was bound to happen eventually, which makes me wonder how Assange thought that remaining a prisoner in the Ecuadorian Embassy for years was actually better than serving a prison sentence (for whatever real or imaginary crimes) and then getting out.
The internet comments on Assange’s arrest don’t line up in the usual left/right way you would expect. Assange is an anti-American leftist and normally should expect support from…anti-American leftists. Although that still seems true for the international set, the domestic anti-American leftists are split. Most applaud his work in helping to severely damage US national security by releasing a treasure trove of classified information from the Manning leaks, but hurting Hillary and helping the Orange Man to win the Presidency? Unforgivable! On the right, the split is reversed. Some applaud Wikileaks in preventing a Hillary-Apocalypse, but others hate the national security damage he helped cause.
And where do I come down? I think he’s an anti-American leftist who hates the US and would do anything he can to bring it down. However, that’s no different than the Publishers and editorial staff of The New York Times, Washington Post, and many if not most US newspapers and media outlets. They also are anti-American leftists who hate the US and would do anything to bring it down. And all of those newspapers and TV news outlets have published or reported on all matter of stolen classified information from Manning, Snowden, and innumerable leaks over the years; all damaging to the US. And they are all, Assange included, protected by the First Amendment.
As a work around, the Department of Justice has made up a charge of conspiring to hack government computers, something I don’t recall ever being mentioned during Manning’s trial. You can read the indictment here.
A few years ago, I would have just swallowed that story and accepted it, however the past few years have worn away any trust I might have had in the DoJ. Simply put, I just don’t believe it. Manning already had access to the SIPRNET, the Secret level government classified network, and apparently had so few, or no duties while deployed in Iraq that he could sit in front of his workstation for his entire shift, for weeks and months on end, copying files to a CD. Manning didn’t need any extra passwords to unload a treasure trove of classified information.
If this case gets as far as discovery, I imagine his lawyers should demand some sort of evidence that the information was not already available on SIPRNET with the passwords and accesses that Manning already had. I have a sneaking suspicion though that it will never get that far.