From the Puff Ho
WASHINGTON ― WikiLeaks timed the release of thousands of embarrassing internal Democratic National Committee emails to coincide with the party’s 2016 convention extravaganza, Julian Assange, the group’s founder and editor-in-chief, told Democracy Now! in July. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Assange supportsDonald Trump — or Russia, which Hillary Clinton’s campaign has claimed was behind the theft of the emails.
Here’s the truth: WikiLeaks makes editorial decisions like any other media outlet. Those decisions generally reflect the priorities of Assange, who is a determined critic of Clinton and the U.S.-led global order and argues WikiLeaks tells the unvarnished truth about the world. And a Huffington Post review found that overwhelming majority of the primary source documents WikiLeaks has published are embarrassing to the U.S., not other world powers such as China and Russia.
Most — 33 of the 35 — categories of documents on WikiLeaks’ full contents page relate to alleged misdeeds by the U.S. or its allies. That includes thousands of U.S. government documents, mostly from the Defense Department, and files from U.S. partners like the European Union, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as American-linked organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the Italian spying firm Hacking Team.
Assange’s political views do not impact WikiLeaks, said a spokesperson fromSunshine Press, of which WikiLeaks is a project, who wrote that comments sent to The Huffington Post were “the formal positions of WikiLeaks.”
“WikiLeaks is uniquely resistant to the political views of its staff since we publish pristine primary source archives,” the spokesperson told HuffPost in an email on Tuesday. “All our analysis is backed [by] our full publication of primary source archives. This is called ‘scientific journalism’ ― which we invented.”
Although most of WikiLeaks’ actual leaks are embarrassing for the U.S. and its allies — and Russia may well have been behind WikiLeaks’ DNC leak — that doesn’t mean Assange wants to see the Russians running the world. (U.S. intelligence officials and cybersecurity experts say the Russian government was likely behind the theft of the DNC documents. Assange will not reveal his source, and it’s unknown whether the source was the same entity behind the hack.)
“I have never seen a pro-Russia bias in him or in WikiLeaks,” said Tangerine Bolen, founder of RevolutionTruth, an organization that defends WikiLeaks and whistleblowers. She said Assange may appear to be focusing on the U.S. only because he is trying to critique “a dangerous power asymmetry” that allows Americans to commit major abuses, like those in the name of the War on Terror.
Assange’s interest in courting the broad audience of skeptics of America — and his personal fixation with the U.S. — are more relevant to understanding his motivations than any pro-Russia bias, according to former WikiLeaks volunteer spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
“It’s an economic consideration: what will keep you in the news the most, your number of Twitter followers,” Domscheit-Berg said.
He added that Assange has become so fixated on leaks relating to U.S. foreign policy that he is “suffering from the lack of shades of gray when it comes to judging governments or judging things that are happening in the world.”
Domscheit-Berg left the organization after a falling-out with Assange. WikiLeaks told HuffPost it considers his statements “false” and said he is a “disgruntled former (2009) volunteer and media hoaxer” and a “discredited source.” (He responded by saying he spent three years there starting in 2007, and was a volunteer for WikiLeaks the way all others at that time were. “It all sounds so funny like a statement any organization would give as a response to someone blowing the whistle on some [of] their internals,” Domscheit-Berg wrote.)
The anti-U.S. slant in WikiLeaks’ published material could also be attributed to the fact that WikiLeaks is an English-language platform, and naturally may receive more leaks on the U.S. and its friends. Like other media outlets, the organization can’t control who is leaking to it, and its lack of transparency means it is impossible to determine what proportion of the material it receives is published. Domscheit-Berg said the documents the group received during his time there came “disproportionately” from the Anglo-American sphere ― a boon for the organization’s public profile.