by Ann Garrison
In 2010, former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning leaked the “Collateral Murder” video and the Iraq and Afghan War Logs, which implicate the Pentagon in war crimes and crimes against humanity. She leaked them to WikiLeaks, and for that she was court-martialed, sentenced to 35 years in prison, then released after seven because President Obama commuted her sentence
Now a grand jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has jailed Manning again, this time for refusing to testify in their investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. She refused to comply with the secret grand jury’s subpoena, saying it violated her First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights.
She also said that she’d already testified to everything she knows about what she leaked and how she leaked it during her own trial. So what is this grand jury looking for? We can only speculate since it’s a secret proceeding.
The other Assange investigation
Meanwhile, Russiagate skeptics and supporters of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange should take particular note of Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie’s exchange with Michael Cohen during Cohen’s Feb. 27 testimony to Congress:
Rep. Thomas Massie: You said – and this is also in your testimony – in the days before the Democratic Convention, you became privy to a conversation that some of Hillary Clinton’s emails would be leaked. Is that correct?
Michael Cohen: Correct.
Rep. Thomas Massie: OK. Was that in – you said late July. Do you know the exact day?
Michael Cohen: I believe it was either the 18th or the 19th, and I would guess that it would be on the 19th.
Rep. Thomas Massie: But it was definitely July?
Michael Cohen: I believe so, yes.
Rep. Thomas Massie: Do you know that was public knowledge in June? This was Mr. Assange, and I’d like to submit this [Guardian article quoting Julian Assange in June 2016] – unanimous consent to submit this for the record.
Rep. Elijah Cummings: Without objection, so ordered.
Rep. Thomas Massie: Mr. Assange reported to the media on June 12th that those emails would be leaked. So, I’m not saying you have fake news; I’m saying you have old news, and there’s really not much to that.
Finally, a U.S. Congressman stated what should have been obvious all along and read it into the Congressional record. The Russiagate-faithful press has since been spinning it desperately because after two years, the House, the Senate and Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller have all failed to produce hard evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians – or Julian Assange – to defeat Hillary Clinton. (The Mueller investigation cost $25 million, and no one seems to have reported the cost of the House and Senate investigations.)
Democracy Now! reported what Massie said, but only within an interview with Marcy Wheeler, who responded: “Julian Assange said publicly that he had material on Hillary Clinton. What Julian Assange never said publicly is ‘I’m going to drop it at the beginning of the DNC’ [Democratic National Convention].
“And so, what is interesting about Cohen’s story – and, to be clear, it’s unlikely that he really did speak directly with Julian Assange – we know from a bunch of Stone’s other claims that when he claimed to be speaking directly with Assange, he instead was speaking with a cutout, like Jerome Corsi or like Randy Credico.”
Wheeler said that Assange did not publicly reveal the timing of the release, yet Stone (through Corsi or Credico) knew the timing, implying, according to Wheeler, that they had communicated with WikiLeaks about it. However, there’s no hard evidence of that and the timing was entirely predictable given the date of the Democratic National Convention.
Wheeler’s among the worst of the Russiagate-faithful embroidering the facts. Is she saying that journalists should not publish for maximum impact? Or simply that WikiLeaks should not? Would she impose the same standard on the New York Times, the Washington Post or her own aptly named blog, EmptyWheel.net?
Neither releasing information nor knowing the date that it would be released is a crime. And even if Donald Trump did know the release date, what impact could that possibly have had? How was Trump supposed to have used prior knowledge of the date on which WikiLeaks would release the DNC and Podesta emails? They were guaranteed to be the day’s biggest headlines whether he knew their release date or not, so even if he did, it would have had absolutely no impact.
Any earnest journalist is going to release whatever they’ve got for maximum impact at whatever time and in whatever outlet they can. Any earnest news outlet is going to rush to publish a big story as fast as it can. And the DNC and Podesta emails were guaranteed to be a huge story no matter who knew about them or their publication date in advance.
Russiagators too flustered to admit failure
Admitting that they’ve propagandized Americans into a state of mass psychosis about Russian interference and infiltration could embarrass the Russiagate-faithful press as much as admitting that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq should have embarrassed that claim’s proponents. It should be remembered, however, that New York Times reporter Judith Miller neither acknowledged being embarrassed nor apologized for leading us into that criminal war of aggression, and neither did Robert Mueller, the special Russiagate prosecutor now lionized by Trump-hating liberals.
During the run-up to the March 20, 2003, attack on Iraq, Mueller told Congress, “As Director Kennedy has pointed out, Secretary Powell presented evidence last week that Baghdad has failed to disarm its weapons of mass destruction, willfully attempting to evade and deceive the international community. Our particular concern is that Saddam Hussein may supply terrorists with biological, chemical or radiological material.”
In the United States of Amnesia, however, this is all long past, less significant than sportscasters’ speculation as to who will win the NBA Finals and the NBA MVP award in coming months. Disengagement is the most fundamental fact of American political life, and propagandists know they can count on it.
The record of Mueller’s Iraq War lie has not been played on cable TV. No journalist, media outlet, or public official has gone to prison for the war crime of spreading lies to justify war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Iraq, and none will go to prison for Russiagate lies even if they lead to nuclear war. Who’ll be left to prosecute? However, unless and until that eventuality, exposure could be embarrassing for the Russiagate-faithful press. It could damage whatever credibility they have left with anyone listening, so they’re scrambling.
Someone may even put their narrative at risk by mounting an edit challenge to the Wikipedia entry titled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Elections,” even though it has almost 500 footnotes and is so long that Wikipedia includes an editorial note that “this article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably.” It would be a good start to challenge the opening sentence, which reads as though it were established fact: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with the goal of harming the campaign of Hillary Clinton, boosting the candidacy of Donald Trump, and increasing political discord in the United States.” (See Wikipedia: Editing policy for instructions on its collective knowledge creation practice.)
Why haven’t recorded phone calls been submitted in evidence?
Regarding telephone calls between Julian Assange, Randy Credico, Jerome Corsi, Roger Stone, Donald Trump or anyone else, they no doubt would have been recorded and therefore readily available as evidence. On Feb. 27, Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and associate of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, tweeted: “Anybody who believes that Julian Assange was able to phone Roger Stone [or Randy Credico or Jerome Corsi] from inside the Ecuadorian Embassy with neither the GCHQ, NSA, CIA, MI5 or FBI intercepting the call is severely deluded. The combined budget of those agencies is 41 billion U.S. dollars. Michael Cohen’s testimony is obvious nonsense.”
Shout-out to Congressman Thomas Massie from Across the Partisan Divide
Northern Kentucky’s Republican Congressional Representative Thomas Massie deserves huge thanks for finally stating the obvious last week in the Hall of Congress and having it read into the Congressional Record. By doing so he demonstrated that Donald Trump’s polarizing election doesn’t inform every political decision, alliance or coalition from that date forward.
Massie is a libertarian Republican and member of the Liberty Caucus; readers no doubt disagree with him about a long list of core positions on taxation, limited government and “free markets,” but not on Russiagate, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. On Aug. 16, 2018, Real Clear Politics published his editorial, “Russia Hysteria Undercuts Our Values, Impedes Relations.”
Shortly before his exchange with Cohen, Massie voted with the Democrat-majority House of Representatives to overturn President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration, then tweeted: “‘If we violate the Constitution to build a wall, then the wall protects nothing. If legislators always vote with the president, we have a king. If legislators always vote with the prevailing wind, we have mob rule. If legislators always vote with the Constitution, we have a Republic.”
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.