The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Problem with Temporarily Embracing Julian Assange

In response to Obama’s Campaign Promises, As Fragile As Tom Brady’s Knee

Chewing over Ramesh’s question…

Sure, it’s somewhat pleasing to see Assange scoffing at Hillary Clinton’s claim that she didn’t know that “(c )” on a document meant it was classified confidential and pointing to memos she wrote to demonstrate she clearly did know what it meant. But anyone with any familiarity with handling classified information already thought Clinton’s claim was unbelievable crap before Assange popped up on Hannity’s show. How much does Assange holding up classified documents live on Fox News change the dynamics of this argument?

One of the primary arguments from Republicans this season is that Clinton’s failure to keep classified material in proper systems is a criminal act and unforgivably bad judgment. The thinking goes that failure to protect secret information on such a massive scale endangered American lives and should disqualify her from the presidency.

So why 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.

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