How might the US react, or overreact, this time? WikiLeaks was afraid of legal or extralegal consequences against Assange or other staff. WikiLeakers were angry at US corporations creating a financial blockade against the organisation with no court ruling or judgments – just a press statement from a US senator.
And the figurehead of this whole response was none other than Hillary Clinton. For Assange, to an extent, this is personal…
Assange would not, in my view, ever knowingly be a willing tool of the Russian state: if Putin came and gave him a set of orders, they’d be ignored. But if an anonymous or pseudonymous group comes offering anti-Clinton leaks, they’d have found a host happy not to ask too many awkward questions: he’s set up almost perfectly to post them, and push for them to have the biggest impact they can.
The poet Humbert Wolfe wrote, “You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”
Such is Russia’s good fortune with Assange. If it is indeed Russia behind the leaks, as US intelligence have reported, he will need no underhanded deals or motives to do roughly as they’d hope. He would do that of his own free will.