By now, most of you are aware of the leaked emails between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Junior. While it’s hardly the most important issue in the world today, it’s a bit personal for Barrett Brown, who has provided a statement on the situation.
“For Brown, and others who have been critical of Assange for using the platform of WikiLeaks to fight his own political and personal battles, his secret communication with the Trump campaign was damning because it revealed that he had been functioning more like a freelance political operative, doling out strategy and advice, than a journalist interested in obtaining and publishing information, concerned only with its accuracy.”
The mainstream media has of course picked the story up, and as usual, for all the wrong reasons. Echoes of “Russian collusion” are regurgitated across corporate-Left outlets. The Right appears to be focusing on the fact Trump Jr. willingly handed the emails over to authorities, with the emphasis that no laws had been broken. Meanwhile, more Progressive outlets are shrugging it off to the fact it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
The same could be said of many who are guilty of some form of wrongdoing – Roger Ailes being the first to come to mind. His behavior had been known for years, too. One may fail to see what this argument has to do with anything.
Others throughout the media are now criticizing Assange, and to make matters worse, the Freedom of the Press Foundation has stated they are ready to cut ties with WikiLeaks. The Freedom of the Press Foundation is “a nonprofit established as a censorship-proof conduit for donations to WikiLeaks after PayPal and U.S. credit card companies imposed a financial blockade on the site.” (source)
Journalist and free speech advocate, Xeni Jardin, who was a founding member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, stated the following of WikiLeaks behavior during the election season:
“Suddenly the voice of WikiLeaks seemed to be all about questioning one candidate – Hillary Clinton – and doing so in a way that was designed to benefit the other. The tone also seemed to echo some of the language on the far right. So when the guy in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, who is normally of the extreme left, is echoing Nazi publications, something is wrong.”
To be fair, it is well known that Julian Assange dislikes the Clinton family (most of us do), and it’s no secret that he holds disdain for the U.S. government (again, most of us do). However from Barrett’s perception – and indeed others within the Anonymous movement – it comes down to principles. That seems to be the one factor many are purposefully ignoring.
With regard to WikiLeaks asking Trump Jr. for tax returns, Barrett brings to attention that this could only have been done in a dishonest way. WikiLeaks doesn’t release the names of sources, therefore there would be no reason for them to announce that they had received the tax returns directly from the Trump family.
WikiLeaks would have pretended to receive the documents through normal channels. This is significant due to the fact WikiLeaks’ release of the tax returns would have given the impression they are not pro-Trump, and that was exactly part of the plan.
How do we know this? Barrett states:
“Because Assange himself and these messages explains why. Among several reasons; it would be good for Trump and Trump’s campaign that he’s trying to help. And it would help WikiLeaks. It would help to nullify the quote ‘perception’ unquote, that Assange is pro-Trump and pro-Russian. As I’ve noted, it’s very ironic that he would take issue with the allegation that he’s pro-Trump, and make conversation with Donald Trump Junior. In which, he’s offering him advice, information, and proposing strategies for their mutual benefit.”
The simple fact that WikiLeaks had exchanged communications during the election, after previously claiming they were not and had not, is deceptive. In the dictionary sense of the word, this is considered collusion.
Finally, Barrett responds to the argument that Assange should not be criticized for his actions in light of all that he has done. Assange has most definitely done a lot, but this is a double-standard some within the Anonymous movement would have a hard time justifying – to renounce the wrongdoings of some, but approve it for others.
Barrett also responded to the argument that he, in particular, should not be criticizing Assange. This is not because what Assange did is considered to be ‘okay,’ but because Assange had defended Barrett, and reported on his case. Barrett retorts:
“I should note – without getting into a big catfight here – that I went to prison and was investigated from the very beginning because of my support for WikiLeaks, and my defense of WikiLeaks.” Barrett continued that this involved “operations to identify and punish members of the government, and members of private companies, that had been exposed by Anonymous hackers …as having conspired to go after Assange.”
The various operations that were undertaken in WikiLeaks’ defense were actually listed on the search warrant issued to Barrett. The Stratfor case, under which Barrett was charged, provided WikiLeaks with a lot of emails. He states:
“So the idea that I was a little lost kitten, and Julian Assange picked me out of the gutter and raised me, and I’ve bitten the hand, is nonsense.”
Faced with these arguments, Barrett clarified what his obligations to the organization he went to prison for are, or are not. The great work Assange has done, including the attention that was given to Barrett’s case, has not gone unappreciated by Barrett or those within the Anonymous movement. He hopes Assange appreciates the risks he exposed himself to as well.
“Suffice to say that an organization or a movement can start out with a noble purpose, and then eventually over time, start making compromises with those principals and with other principles. And get to a point where it demands allegiance, even from people who don’t necessarily owe it allegiance.
“You get to the point where they demand people sacrifice their principles in support of some secretive, long-term plan that we don’t get to hear about. Until they’re exposed by email leaks.”
This is a familiar pattern that we see mirrored in the U.S. government, and in particular the Democratic Party. The best way to avoid this, according to Barrett, “is to allow reasonable criticism and questions, particularly from people who have done their fair share to protect this movement and move it forward.”
Those within the Anonymous movement come from all around the world, and hold various ideologies. These ideologies can sometimes conflict; however, there has always been an underlined sense of what the movement stands for, and that is ‘truth and justice.’
In the opinion of many, these are not the qualities we have seen displayed from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in this situation. It has undeniably left some feeling confused, and even slightly betrayed.
The work WikiLeaks does is important to the world, and needless to say, we hope it continues. However, it will take some time for them to build back the trust of a large portion of their following, who will now be watching Assange’s actions intently.
Watch Barrett Brown’s full response to the situation here:
Note to Barrett Brown: We’d love to have you on the team, Barrett. Feel free to contact us further, if you like. At your discretion, of course.