Michael Weiss writes: There is no one more zealous than a convert.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo previously welcomed WikiLeaks’ disclosures about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee when these proved helpful to the Republican nominee. Now he has experienced a road-to-Damascus moment.
“WikiLeaks,” Pompeo said at a think tank event last week, “walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service.” Pompeo also regards Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks and the lonely maintainer of its hyper-active Twitter account, as a “fraud.”
In a rather folksy fly-over metaphor, the former Kansas representative likened the albinoid antipodean anarchist to the Wizard of Oz, perhaps forgetting that the man behind the curtain turned out to be an all-right guy in the end rather than a helpmeet of European dictatorship and a purveyor of conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds.
Pompeo isn’t the only one who’s changed his mind about the man holed up for five long years at the Ecuador embassy in London. The U.S. Justice Department, headed by Jeff Sessions—a man who conveniently forgot while testifying before Congress that he twice met with the Russian ambassador to the United States—now considers arresting Assange a “priority.” [Continue reading…]
Arresting Assange is a “priority” of an undisclosed magnitude — I’m doubtful that it can be particularly high.
No doubt at a time when this administration is going out of its way to create the appearance that it has no ties to Russia, a tough-on-Wikileaks stance might seem desirable.
But let’s not forget that Assange himself has repeatedly claimed that he is willing to accept extradition to the United States.
So is it just a matter of time before the cable news networks will be able to feast on 24/7 coverage of the trial of the century?
Ignoring the question of whether the Justice Department can actually construct a legal case against Assange, I seriously doubt that the White House would welcome seeing him testifying in court. Indeed he might not even make it to his own trial if he sought and received immunity as an FBI witness.
The message that the U.S. wants to get its hands on Assange may have had less to do with challenging his ability to remain in refuge than it has with making sure he remains where he is. Likewise, he will probably remain a problem Moscow doesn’t need to solve so long as he stays put.
The irony is that if Assange had complied with Sweden’s request to question him in 2010, whatever the outcome of that interrogation, it is quite likely that by now he would be a free man. Instead he endures a self-imposed prison sentence for which there is no end in sight.