Here’s a sentence that you won’t hear very frequently outside of an absolute nutroots convention: “Julian Assange is right.”
And yet, that very sentiment (with minor variations) appeared on the pages of The Corner at National Review today. Perhaps it’s a bit better if we put it in context.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a textbook case of Alexander Pope’s famous observation that ”a little learning is a dangerous thing.” He is relentlessly wrong in virtually everything he says. But he is right about this:
Today the President of the United States validated Edward Snowden’s role as a whistleblower by announcing plans to reform America’s global surveillance program. But rather than thank Edward Snowden, the President laughably attempted to criticize him while claiming that there was a plan all along, “before Edward Snowden.” . . . As Snowden has stated, his biggest concern was if he blew the whistle and change did not occur. Well reforms are taking shape, and for that, the President and people of the United States and around the world owe Edward Snowden a debt of gratitude.
Assange is right. The president’s assertion that the announced surveillance reforms have nothing to do with Snowden is laughable. Whatever his words, the president’s actions inescapably imply that Snowden is a legitimate whistleblower.
The author, Mario Loyola, leaves me in a bit of a difficult position. I’ve written about Assange more times on these pages than I can count, and I don’t think I’ve once had even a marginally positive thing to say. I’ve also never felt a bit of sympathy for him, though being trapped with the Ecuadorian embassy eating leftover guinea pig is still too good for him. But I have to admit that Loyola’s sentiments have the ring of truth to them.
Sure, there could be a review of NSA programs where appropriate, while not totally abandoning our nation’s ability to keep secrets where required. But this was certainly not the time to announce it. Assuming that we somehow get our hands on the guy and bring him to trial, this is pretty much a golden gift to the defense. It would be better than pretty much anything else short of granting Bradley Manning a full pardon.
Then again, I haven’t written that possibility off entirely yet either.