From Consortium News
President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress to discuss Syria in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 3, 2013.
(Image by (White House, Pete Souza)) Details DMCA
As WikiLeaks continued its document releases, and as major news organizations continued to publish fulsome accounts and analyses of these releases, the media's stance toward Julian Assange and his organization began to turn: What had begun as collegial collaboration was transformed into criticism and denigration this in accordance with the hardening attitudes of the U.S. and allied governments.
The key events in this shift were WikiLeaks' publication in October 2010 of "Iraq War Logs," comprised of 392,000 Army field reports, and, a month later, the phased publication of "Cablegate," a collection of 251,287 State Department emails. "Cablegate" was the first major release of U.S. diplomatic traffic in WikiLeaks' "Public Library of U.S. Diplomacy." At writing, this continually expanding collection makes available more than 3 million documents spanning the 1966-2010 period.
With these publications, along with "Collateral Murder" and "Afghan War Diary," released earlier in 2010, WikiLeaks penetrated more deeply into the citadels of official secrecy than it had since its founding in 2006. This new reality stunned the Obama administration and the national-security apparatus invisibly but formidably behind it.
Official policy shifted. Washington began actively to pursue avenues through which Assange could be arrested, charged, and tried for one or another offense, however far-fetched, trivial, or unrelated to WikiLeaks' work. It was at this time that Sweden alleged that Assange had raped two women during a visit to Stockholm for a media conference -- allegations based on falsified police reports and concocted evidence.
The media's treatment of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange faithfully reflected Washington's newly activated hostility toward both. Myths arose; fallacies were disseminated as self-evident truths. One of these held that WikiLeaks favored America's enemies or those Washington deemed enemies and declined to publish documents pertaining to them. High on this list were Russia and Syria.
Another myth had it that WikiLeaks, for obscure reasons, was soft on Israel, the record supposedly showing it had never published documents reflecting unfavorably on the Middle East's apartheid state.
On April 13, 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump named him director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo addressed the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Washington think tank. Pompeo devoted a remarkable proportion of his speech to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. This reflects the timing of Pompeo's C.S.I.S. presentation.
Less than a year earlier WikiLeaks had begun publishing mail stolen from the Democratic National Committee's computer servers. By the time Pompeo spoke, the convoluted, devoid-of-evidence conspiracy theory we call "Russiagate" was fixed in the American consciousness.
Pompeo's Ire, Clinton Liar?
What had surely incensed Pompeo as CIA director was WikiLeaks' release from March to September 2017 of Vault 7, described by The New York Times as "catastrophic" for the agency as the "largest" leak in its history.
"It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia," Pompeo asserted. The press and broadcasters turned these remarks into headlines, and another groundless fabrication was on its way to being accepted as fact.
Not only had Russians given Wikileaks the emails they had supposedly pilfered from the Democratic Party apparatus; more than this, Wikileaks' founder was "an agent of the Kremlin," they said. The conjured connection was key. It licensed the press to abandon Assange entirely, so finishing what it had begun in late 2010.
Six months after Pompeo's speech, Hillary Clinton asserted in an October 2017 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Assange had never published documents on Russia. "If he's such a martyr for free speech, why doesn't WikiLeaks ever publish anything coming out of Russia?" the recently defeated Democratic candidate asked. "You don't see damaging, negative information coming out about the Kremlin on WikiLeaks."
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