“Can’t we just drone this guy?” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reported, by several sources, to have asked in a meeting at the State Department in 2010. The “guy” in question was WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and after the stunt he pulled in the early morning hours of October 4, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may finally have found something on which they can agree.
For on that morning (at 3 a.m. EDT, to be exact), in a video broadcast from the Ecuadoran embassy in London (where he sought asylum four years ago when threatened with arrest and extradition to Sweden on sexual-assault charges), Julian Assange took a page from Donald Trump’s own playbook: Like Trump University, Trump Steaks, and Trump Wine, WikiLeaks overpromised and underdelivered. Or perhaps a better analogy would be to Trump’s repeated claims of years past that he would deliver the goods that would prove that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, because what Assange and WikiLeaks had hinted at was an October Surprise that would put an end to Hillary Clinton’s dreams of being able, once again, to throw the Bible at Bill Clinton in the Lincoln Bedroom.
What Assange and his fellow WikiLeakers delivered instead was a two-hour Song of Myself celebrating ten years of WikiLeaks, begging for donations, damning the Western media (the simplest of tasks), and promising weekly deliveries of “significant” documents over the next ten weeks, some of which would—of course!—likely affect the U.S. presidential election.
Which should put an end, once and for all, to the notion that Julian Assange, whatever his flaws, is at heart a single-minded devotee of the truth. Some of what WikiLeaks has released over the years has had salutary effects, tearing through the cloak of secrecy, so destructive of republican government, that surrounds the political class in Washington, D.C.; some has been deliberately destructive of American national security; and much has been simply meaningless—information for information’s sake.
But all of it has been released not for the public good but for the greater glory of Julian Assange, who in this is no different from the politicians, businessmen, cultural figures, and media personalities whom he targets. Whatever good use to which any future revelations from WikiLeaks may be put, that reality needs to be kept foremost in mind.