By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Former Moscow-funded television host and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may have hurt Rand Paul’s chances to win the presidency by stating that he is a “big admirer” of the Republican senator from Kentucky.
“In relation to Rand Paul: well, I’m a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul for their very principled positions in the U.S. Congress on a number of issues,” Assange said during an online forum. “They have been the strongest supporters with the fight against the U.S. attack on WikiLeaks and on me in the U.S. Congress.”
Senator Paul’s foreign policy views and support for NSA leaker Edward Snowden have already been strongly criticized by such Republican figures as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Rep. Peter King (NY).
On Fox News Sunday, King said that Paul and others who seized on a Washington Post story about alleged “violations” of NSA rules were guilty of “a grab bag of misinformation and distortion.” King explained, “Take Rand Paul’s own numbers. He says there’s billions of phone calls being collected—it’s not even true, but let’s assume he’s being right for once. You juxtapose that with 2,800 violations, which were self-reported by the NSA, not violating anybody’s rights—you’re talking about 1,900 being foreigners, and when they came to the U.S., their foreign mobile phone wasn’t immediately transferred over the way they were supposed to be.”
King added, “Whatever mistakes were made were inadvertent, and if you have a 99.99% batting average, that’s better than most media people do, most politicians do.”
The figures were taken from an NSA audit stolen by Snowden and turned over to Post reporter Barton Gellman for a story plastered across the top of the front page of the paper on August 15. He waited until the seventh paragraph of the story to note that “most [of the violations] were unintended.”
Snowden, who has been granted political asylum in Russia, donated to the 2012 presidential campaign of the senator’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). WikiLeaks staffer Sarah Harrison currently functions as an adviser to Snowden.
Assange also praised Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report for being “a news media innovator” and “breaking a lot of the censorship.”
Assange supporters fear that he is the target of a sealed indictment for espionage in the U.S., stemming from his receipt and publication of classified information from former Army analyst Bradley Manning. Manning has been found guilty of espionage for the disclosures and has apologized for the damage they did to the security of the United States.
Assange is living under the protection of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, fearful of being extradited to Sweden to face sex-crime charges, and then being sent to the U.S. after that.
Assange’s comments in support of Rand Paul came during a forum to promote his run for the Australian Senate as a candidate of the WikiLeaks political party he founded. They led to such headlines as “Julian Assange calls Rand Paul the ‘only hope’ for US politics” in the Daily Caller, a conservative on-line news source.
Assange made these particular comments in response to questions from Josiah Ryan of Campus Reform, a conservative organization sponsored by the Leadership Institute, which is headed by Morton Blackwell. The exchange is featured on the home page of the group.
Ryan, a 2007 graduate of Hillsdale College and the director of communications for the Leadership Institute’s Campus Leadership Program, referred during his questioning to Assange as being the head of an “open government” movement.
In an email exchange with AIM, he said that while Assange and his organization WikiLeaks “have flaws that that are impossible to ignore,” it’s undeniable that “his actions have lead [sic] to more open global governance on a breathtaking scale.”
But anti-communist analyst Trevor Loudon has commented that “While claiming to be even-handed, interested in exposing corruption and government secrecy, without fear nor favor, wherever it is found, the WikiLeaks phenomenon has mostly benefited anti-American causes and governments—which is why it has been so staunchly defended by the left.”
It appears that Ryan and some other conservatives do not understand how figures like Assange, Snowden, and Manning have played into the hands of Moscow and Islamic terrorist groups by disclosing classified information, some of it related to counter-terrorism. One of the charges against Manning was that his disclosures to WikiLeaks were used by al Qaeda for attacks on Americans, based on testimony that Osama bin Laden had asked his terrorist associate to obtain some of the leaked material.
In terms of Russia, Assange once promised disclosures about corruption under the Putin regime, but they never materialized. In fact, the Russian intelligence agency, the FSB, a successor to the Soviet KGB, had warned WikiLeaks not to release anything embarrassing to Russia.
In Russia, journalists who try to expose the Putin regime regularly get killed. A dissident KGB officer, Alexander Litvinenko, was reportedly murdered in London on orders of Putin.
When he launched his television show on behalf of Moscow, Assange said the best channels in the world were Russia Today—a creation of Putin himself—and Al Jazeera, the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood banned in Egypt for inciting terrorism.
As a host on Russia Today, he interviewed such figures as Hamas terrorist leader Hassan Nassrallah and Marxist academic Noam Chomsky.
But Assange clearly has supporters in the U.S. on the right side of the political spectrum. During the forum he went on to praise “an interesting phenomenon in the United States,” in the form of the “Libertarian Republican,” who promotes “non-violence” in foreign affairs and other areas.
He explained, “…the Libertarian aspect of the Republican Party is presently the only useful political voice, really, in the U.S. Congress. It will be the driver that shifts the United States around. It’s not going to come from the Democrats. It’s not going to come from Ralph Nader. It’s not going to come from the co-opted parts of the Republican Party. The only hope, as far as electoral politics are concerned in the United States, presently, is the Libertarian section of the Republican Party.”
Assange’s comments were undoubtedly a reference not only to Senator Rand Paul, but also to Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who has teamed up with far-left Democratic Rep. John Conyers to try to gut the terrorist surveillance powers of the National Security Agency (NSA).
Amash has said that he considers NSA leaker Edward Snowden a whistleblower.
While singing the praises of Snowden, Assange also insists that the Russian intelligence services have not interrogated the former NSA and CIA employee, a claim featured by a Russian media organ, RIANovosti.
Despite the Russian connections of both Assange and Snowden, Kelley Beaucar Vlahos reports in a magazine called The American Conservative that the NSA leaker has “started to become a conservative hero.” She quotes political consultant Craig Shirley as saying, “Support for Snowden is actually consistent with the tradition of American conservatism.”
Shirley is also quoted as saying, “I think Snowden might end up being the John Brown of the 21st century—reviled and unpopular, but unleashing a debate that led to the rebirth of freedom.” John Brown was a leader of the movement to abolish slavery.
Shirley, president and CEO of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, confirmed to AIM that these quotes are accurate.
The Vlahos bio notes that she has appeared on the Al Jazeera and Russia Today channels, the far-left outlets Pacifica Radio and Democracy Now!, and writes regularly for FoxNews.com. She claims an “appeal across the political spectrum” and her Twitter page features a “Big Brother is Watching” graphic image at the top.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].