This weekend we got another fat load of WikiLeaks, based on purloined diplomatic cables to and from the U.S. State Department. As happened when Julian Assange’s muckraking endeavor leaked U.S. military data from Iraq earlier this year, conservatives are outraged, and some call, as before, for the expeditious arrest of Assange, or fantasize about his assassination.
Rightbloggers generally take a two-pronged approach to the leaks: They believe the new document dump is an unpardonable breach of U.S. security — except to the extent that it may be used to denigrate the Obama Administration, it which case they feel it deserves wider dissemination.
It’s not as if rightbloggers have been alone in denouncing Wikileaks, as mainstream media outlets from the New York Times on down have attacked Assange from all directions — while sopping up his revelations on the basis of their newsworthiness.
But that is an old, time-honored form of journalistic hypocrisy: Using hot news to draw readers with one hand, and tut-tutting its shameful provenance with the other. Rightbloggers have added a few new wrinkles to the game.
Back when Assange leaked the Iraq War data, for example, they dismissed the revelations of bad behavior by our Iraqi allies (“they appear to illustrate the inherent — and forseeable — problems with the nation-building strategy we pursued in Iraq and are still pursuing in Afghanistan,” soothed The American Spectator), and cheerfully plucked the bits that supported their own interests.
The documents suggested to them that a previous, speculative accounting by The Lancet had overestimated real Iraqi casualties of the war, and that the discovery of some old chemical weapons proved that Saddam had WMDs after all. Counter-arguments could be made that The Lancet was measuring different kinds of casualties than the leaked documents addressed, and that the discovered chemical weapons did not constitute a real threat to the United States (“Later investigation revealed those contents to be vitamins“). But for rightbloggers the message was clear: “… the two biggest scoops from the latest document dump are that the infamous Lancet study was bogus, and that WMDs were found in Iraq in quantity.”
They apparently thought Assange had made these revelations by accident or out of self-sabotage, as he was of the “Left” and thus was leaking on his own cause. “I delight in the unintended consequence Assange’s revelations has produced,” said Melanie Morgan. “It seems to be the Left contradicting itself in the propaganda arena,” said Right Pundits. “The WikiLeaksters seem to have inadvertently done history a bit of a favor in the their obsession,” said NewsBusters, in dispelling “leftist folklore.”
None of this altered their feeling that by leaking this info Assange was aiding the enemy, and possibly guilty of murder.
“Gosh, isn’t it nice that the enemy will be able to identify Iraqis who died by name and whose side they were fighting on, so they can go after their families, either to kill them or recruit them, depending on the circumstances?” said BizzyBlog. “What a guy this Mr. Assange is.” “Julian Assange: Jerkoff troop killer,” wrote The North Star National.
National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg asked, “Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?” Goldberg asserted that the leaks were “going to get people killed, including brave Iraqis and Afghans who’ve risked their lives and the lives of their families to help us.” Nonetheless, he lamented, “Even if the CIA wanted to take him out, they couldn’t without massive controversy. That’s because assassinating a hipster Australian Web guru as opposed to a Muslim terrorist is the kind of controversy no official dares invite.”
(Goldberg tried to hop out of his own overheated logic train at the end — “Ultimately, I don’t expect the U.S. government to kill Assange, but I do expect them to try to stop him” — and complained, when called out on his homicidal fantasy, that “there’s nothing in the quote at Balloon Juice to justify the claim I call for [Assange’s] murder.” To shore up his position, he challenged a writer at Gawker to a fistfight.)
Last weekend the diplomatic leaks was released, and with them came the usual calls for Assange’s death and/or detention. “Julian Assange, Why is He Still Breathing?” asked Paladin’s Page. “Assange should be looking at the inside of a container on a ship doing lazy racetracks around the Indian Ocean,” said Blackfive. “I won’t think twice if Julian Assange meets the cold blade of an assassin,” said Donald Douglas. Etc.
The Obama Administration denounced the leaks but, having not the stones to send a cold-bladed assassin to preempt Assange, failed to prevent them, which rightbloggers declared proof of the Kenyan Pretender’s malfeasance or worse.
“WikiLeaks About To Leak Again and The Obama Administration Is Limp,” wrote Chandler’s Watch, further claiming that the White House “responds to the WikiLeaks bunch with cookies and milk” and suggesting its “possible complicity in this WikiLeak matter.”
Weasel Zippers was outraged that the State Department sent Assange and his lawyer a “nice, sincere letter” (telling them, in part, that Assange had “endangered the lives of countless individuals”) instead of a bomb. (It seems not to have occurred to them that the denial of service attack Wikileaks suffered might be government-generated.) Weasel Zippers also complained that “thanks to the NY Times, The Guardian and three other lamestream media publications – portions of the classified material are being published anyways,” before disseminating more of the leaked information itself.
The State Department letter was sent under the signature of legal adviser Harold Koh, which Allahpundit thought might be “an attempt by the Obama administration to trade on Koh’s leftist credibility in rallying U.S. public opinion against Wikileaks… Having him publicly warn Wikileaks about the damage they’re doing to U.S. interests might temper progressive enthusiasm for Assange from three cheers to, say, one.”
That Left — always playing both ends against the middle! Which may be why Allahpundit was moved to wonder, “What’s the ‘anti-war’ motive, though, in releasing a few hundred thousand diplomatic cables? Progressives are forever telling us that we need to rely less on Defense and more on State, and yet it sounds like today’s leak will do much greater damage to the latter than the previous leaks did to the former.” Sounds like someone got his signals crossed. (Moe Lane of RedState concurred: “The Left should keep this in mind when trying in the future to boost State at Defense’s expense: Assange just made that harder for you.” But isn’t Lane aiding the Left by giving them this valuable advice? Wheels within wheels, people!)
Allahpundit did find things to like about the leaks, including “a fun one” about Hillary Clinton trying to get U.S. diplomats to spy on other diplomats: “Let the outrageously outrageous progressive outrage begin!” Also, “If there’s a big winner thus far from the leaks, the emerging consensus is that — irony of ironies — it’s Israel.” And of course you know what that means: “Wikileaks Upends U.S. Arabists (and Obama Too),” said Doug Ross.
Melissa Clouthier had the foresight to flail in both directions: Of the leaks, she said, “Well, this Wikileaks release of information doesn’t seem particularly surprising, just confirming what most who pay attention believe about things.” Then she complained about “the cavalier nonchalance of some on the left,” who were presumably dismissive for treasonous reasons, rather than her patriotic ones.
Similarly, Roger L. Simon complained that State Department officials are apparently unaware that “there are no shredders for emails and Word docs. Are these people nitwits or do they have the impulse control of a two year old?” Then he admitted that “like most of us, I’ve done it myself — hit ‘reply all,’ when I meant ‘reply,’ and spent days cleaning up my mess. But I don’t work for the government.” (Well, comes the revolution, comrade…) Later Simon updated, “there still does not seem to be anything extraordinary here [in the leaks],” then read about North Korea allegedly sending nukes to Iran and demanded to know, “Why was this hidden from the public – that is the most important of this… Was the administration afraid someone would want to do something about it? Sounds that way to me.” Clearly what’s needed is someone dedicated to uncovering this kind of wrongly-concealed information. But who?
Legal Insurrection claimed that “Wikileaks Completes Obama’s Transformation Into Jimmy Carter.” How? Well, Koh sent that letter, instead of one that promised Assange, “we will hunt you down no matter the cost, and you either will be killed while resisting arrest or you will spend the rest of your lives in solitary confinement in a Supermax prison,” etc.
Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit read the part where the Saudis tried to get America to attack Iran, and took it to mean that “Wikileaks Report Reveals Obama’s Flawed Assessment of Iranian Nuclear Threat… Obviously, this shows that Barack Obama and the far left were on the wrong side of history once again.” Robert S. McCain was pleased: “When it turns out Saudi royalty is on the same page with Bill Kristol vis-a-vis the need to bomb Iran, you know Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime is in trouble.” Well, it’s not like the interests of the House of Saud aren’t identical to those of the United States.
Almost uniformly, these folks were outraged that the leaks occurred and that newspapers collaborated with WikiLeaks to put them in print. (A cheering exception was Karen Kwiatkowski, who was happy that in this dark age of TSA intrusions “in blatant violation of both the Constitution and laws against sexual and physical abuse,” WikiLeaks is getting our leaders to “experience what we experience, to feel what we feel.”) But they were cool with using the leaks to blast the Administration and to support their own particular hobby-horses. Maybe WikiLeaks thrives, not because Obama is too chicken to kill Julian Assange, but because whenever they drop a document dump, everyone, one way or another, gets a piece of the action.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 28, 2010