CIA director Mike Pompeo’s evidence-free assertion that Wikileaks is a hostile ‘Russian state actor’ last week has emboldened an anti-Whistleblower witch hunt at the CIA, alongside a fresh wave of legal efforts to arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who remains at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Wikileaks has been exposing the tools used by the CIA in order to access zero-day exploits in popular gadgets for purposes of surveillance through their ‘Vault 7’ leaks over the course of the last two months. Now the CIA are determined to find the identity of the leaker, who was described as an employee of a CIA contractor by Julian Assange.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the arrest of Assange is a ‘priority’ for the Trump Administration and that they would ‘step up [their] efforts’ to make him face trial in the US for accessing and distributing confidential US material.
Legal cases against Wikileaks have stalled in the past due to First Amendment rights protecting publishers in the US. In order to charge Wikileaks there would have to be evidence of them being involved in the unlawful hacking of government data rather than merely publishing it.
Having claimed during his campaign for President that he ‘loved Wikileaks’, Donald Trump is now trying to distance himself from the organisation that is routinely dismissed as ‘Russian propaganda’ by mainstream media outlets. The media ‘Russiagate’ obsession has become toxic, and Trump is choosing to wash his hands of it completely, which means taking a hard-line against Wikileaks.
Assange’s 10 years in publishing has highlighted the ugly face of partisanship in the United States. Starting as a darling of the anti-war left during the Bush administration, Wikileaks was then embraced by Republicans who once wished death upon its founder when they exposed the surveillance state that Obama had created, before finally airing the dirty laundry of the Democratic party and the Clinton Presidential campaign.
It has now come full-circle as top Republicans who last year happily tweeted emails from John Podesta will now increase efforts to stifle the organisation.
And likewise, following ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ logic, large media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post who portrayed it as a Russian Trojan Horse for a year are now allowing Wikileaks to make tentative steps back into being a permitted source of information.
Assange avoided eviction by the skin of his teeth earlier this year when a Ecuadorian Presidential candidate who threatened to expel him from their London embassy very narrowly lost the election. 2017 looks like it will continue to be a hard year for him.
Wikileaks Decrypted | CIA