The web of Russiagate is becoming even more tangled. The journal The Atlantic managed to add several more elements that make it even more difficult to understand the true extent of the meddling by Putin’s Russia into American political life.
The magazine published a long article that reconstructs the exchange of messages between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump’s eldest son in the summer of 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign that saw the real estate magnate run for the White House against Hillary Clinton. And in recent days there have been calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to shed light on the sale of a uranium mining enterprise that involved Clinton during her time as Secretary of State in 2010.
It is not clear whether this web will ever be unraveled completely. But it is certain that Russiagate is undermining the legitimacy of the White House. And furthermore, the news just published by The Atlantic might also destroy the credibility of Julian Assange and his organization.
The messages revealed reference documents put together by Russian sites close to Putin to discredit Clinton. WikiLeaks asked Trump’s entourage if they knew about these, hinting at the mutual benefits that would be brought by a collaboration between them. The adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is apparently still held in high regard. And Assange has always considered Clinton an “enemy,” ever since, during her time at the head of the State Department, she urged the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder for his political responsibility in the publication of Pentagon videos of the slaughter of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops. It was not a big problem, then, for him to make an alliance with a hyper-conservative like Donald Trump.
What is most striking about the exchange of tweets highlighted in The Atlantic is not the particular incriminating facts. What is incriminating is the fact that from the tweets we can see WikiLeaks as part of a mechanism intended to systematically misinform the public through a stream of news specially crafted to obfuscate reality. It is thus a contributor to the so-called “post-truth” world: a worldview founded on confusion and enforced by manufactured consent. And all of this is supposed to sit well together with the hacker spirit so often trumpeted by Assange.
It is not the first time Wikileaks has shown itself to be an unscrupulous organization ready to work with anyone, so long as it garners publicity — or gets Assange out of trouble. In recent months, online rumors have suggested informal contacts between Assange and Trump’s staff, with a view to putting on ice the charges of undermining U.S. national security that are hanging over his head. In exchange for that, Assange committed to make certain documents public that would exonerate Trump of the accusation of having asked favors from Putin in order to be elected president. These are only rumors, without confirmation — but also without denials by the relevant parties.
Moreover, the unscrupulous Assange himself has had relations with Putin. In fact, when the founder of WikiLeaks was still free to roam Europe, he moved to Moscow to head a television station that Putin set up to counter the power of the U.S. media and Rupert Murdoch over the airwaves. Many media activists asked for, and never received, explanations from Assange on his choice to work with a politician who could hardly be considered a champion of free of speech and expression.
Assange has always shrugged off such questions. After all, the end can justify the means, at least according to the basest Machiavellianism, and so he continued on his way. He didn’t make it very far: He remains stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. But he is not at the end of his road. The documents in the possession of WikiLeaks involve many powerful people. They have obtained this information thanks to their reputation as an anti-system organization. And Assange is now able to use this information exactly how and when he chooses.
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