The danger of cheering on Julian Assange

Much of the leaked information which swallowed up the Democrats’ convention a month ago and continues to eat up the news cycle surrounding the presidential race came to us via Wikileaks. The site’s founder, Julian Assange, is still in some sort of twilight prison of refugee status in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has resided for the past three years. Unfortunately, so large has been the impact of his Democratic document dump that some conservatives seem to be slowly coming around to cheering for his exploits. I’ve fallen victim to that myself at times… a failure which I regret. But we need to keep something in mind moving forward which will hopefully prevent this phenomenon from coming back and biting us in the future: Assange is the guy with the windowless van offering tempting candy treats to children near the local playground. Sure, they look and taste great, but that doesn’t make the creep handing them out any better.

At National Review, Jim Geraghty provides a timely reminder of this fact.

[W]hy would any Republican turn over the floor to one of the few men on the planet who indisputably and deliberately did more to reveal sensitive American secrets than Hillary did?

Do Republicans hate the idea of classified information getting stolen because it’s inherently bad for American security? Or do they hate it because Hillary Clinton did it? If you’re rooting for Julian Assange now that he says he’s got “significant information” that “pertains to Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” you’re admitting that you’re okay with hacking and stealing information, as long as the hacks and theft target people that you don’t like. Assange won’t specify whether his remaining unrevealed “significant information” comes from the Democratic National Committee (which is not classified information) or whether it comes from government sources.

An anti-Hillary Republican might think of Assange as a temporary ally of convenience. But the problem with even a temporary embrace, or a short-lived amnesia about Assange’s long anti-American history, is that someday Assange will go back to his old tricks of revealing classified secrets and endangering the lives of Americans and their allies. And when that day comes, everyone will know that the Republican outrage against him is extremely conditional.

Geraghty is right. There is no way to avoid using the material which Assange has revealed once it’s out in the public sphere and driving conversations which are central to the election, but there’s a danger in hanging a blue ribbon on him for being the one providing it. If we fall victim to lionizing Julian Assange, who is the next “hero” to come down the line? Look no further than Oliver Stone’s new movie, Snowden. Have you seen the trailer?

Stone makes some really bad films which whitewash the sins of dubious characters to create anti-heroes, but this one really brings up the bile. There is little doubt in the mind of even the most jaded observer with an ounce of honesty in their bones that Snowden is a traitor. He took gigabytes of classified information and allowed it to wind up in the hands of the Chinese, the Russians and the gray aliens from Alpha Centauri for all I know. But suddenly his face is showing up on thirty foot high screens as a star crossed lover who had to sacrifice it all in the interest of the truth. If you can sit through five minutes of that tripe without retching you have a stronger stomach than I do.

If we’re not careful the next great American to be added to the list will be Chelsea Manning. These people are all criminals, and no matter how tasty the treats they are offering may be, we can’t lose sight of that.