Winston Churchill once said that “if Hitler invaded hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” So it’s not surprising that many conservatives are thrilled to see WikiLeaks and the Clinton campaign at war, as Julian Assange releases emails exposing the duplicity and potential self-dealing of the Clinton machine and the blurred line between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.
But in our excitement, let’s not forget: Julian Assange is no hero. He is the devil.
Some conservatives seem to have lost sight of this. Rudy Giuliani recently said, “I find WikiLeaks very refreshing.” And Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., declared on Twitter, “Thank God for Wikileaks — doing the job that MSM WON’T!”
These conservatives seem to have forgotten that before Assange was revealing Clinton campaign emails, he was serially leaking stolen, classified national security information that has endangered the United States and its allies across the world. In 2010, WikiLeaks dumped more than 76,000 unredacted, secret U.S. intelligence documents into the public domain, including the identities of at least 100 Afghans who were informing on the Taliban. At the time, Assange admitted in an interview that his leaks might harm innocent people (“collateral damage, if you will,” he declared) and that WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands,” but this was a price he was willing to pay for transparency.
In the years that followed, Assange continued his serial disclosures of stolen U.S. secrets. He released a trove of classified documents on Guantanamo Bay detainees, an unredacted archive of more than a quarter-million secret U.S. diplomatic cables, classified CIA documents exposing how CIA operatives maintain cover, secret details of European military operations to intercept refugees, and top-secret documents describing National Security Agency intercepts of foreign government communications, among others.
The cost of WikiLeaks’ disclosures to our national security is unfathomable. As former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden has put it, “We will never know who will now not come forward, who will not provide us with life-saving information” because of WikiLeaks, “but we can be certain that the cost will be great.”
For these and other crimes, Assange should be in jail. But instead, he’s being given sanctuary by the left-wing, anti-American government of Ecuador. Moreover, let’s not forget that Assange is attacking Hillary Clinton not because he thinks she is a corrupt liberal, but because he believes that she is too interventionist. “She’s palled up with the neocons responsible for the Iraq War,” Assange recently told Megyn Kelly, “and she’s grabbed on to this kind of neo-McCarthyist hysteria about Russia.” Assange wants the U.S. to pull back from Iraq and Afghanistan and stop criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin — not exactly conservative priorities.
While the conservative embrace of Assange is troubling, the hypocrisy displayed by some in the media in not fully covering WikiLeaks’ Clinton revelations are galling. They had no problem reporting on WikiLeaks’ revelations of highly classified national security information — publishing what amounts to espionage porn. But according to the Media Research Center, between Oct. 7 and Oct. 13, “the morning and evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC dedicated 4 hours and 13 minutes to discussing the recent allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Donald Trump’s campaign,” while “the continual release of the WikiLeaks emails from top Hillary staff [got] a comparatively puny 36 minutes of coverage.” That is a ratio of 7 to 1. And much of that has been focused not on the revelations themselves, but on how the emails were hacked and leaked.
The Clinton campaign has a clear strategy for tamping down coverage of WikiLeaks — to paint the revelations as an assault on American democracy.
If the media were willing to use WikiLeaks’ when it was releasing top-secret intel, then they should devote the same attention to WikiLeaks’ revelations about Clinton. And while conservatives are understandably appalled by what we have learned about Clinton from those emails, we should not forget the source. Assange is no friend of America. He does not belong in a pantheon of conservative heroes. He belongs in a jail cell.
© 2016 WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP