Patrick Cockburn · Julian Assange in Limbo · LRB 18 June 2020

Lost is the fact that he and WikiLeaks did what all journalists should do, which is to make important information available to the public, enabling people to make evidence-based judgments about the world around them and, in particular, about the actions of their governments.

Given the constant drum beat of attacks on Assange from so many directions it can be hard to remember that in 2010 WikiLeaks won a great victory for freedom of expression and against state secrecy, and that the US government and its allies have made every effort to reverse it.

The early attempts to discredit Assange focused on trying to prove that the WikiLeaks disclosures had led directly to the deaths of US agents and informants. The Pentagon put a great deal of effort into substantiating this allegation: it set up an Information Review Task Force headed by a senior counterintelligence officer, Brigadier General Robert Carr, which studied the impact of the revelations and sought to produce a list of people who might have been killed because of the information the cables contained. Carr later described the extent of his task force’s failure, in testimony given at Manning’s sentencing hearing in July 2013. After long research, his team of 120 counterintelligence officers hadn’t been able to find a single person, among the thousands of American agents and secret sources in Afghanistan and Iraq, who could be shown to have died because of the disclosures.

Carr told the court that at one point his task force seemed to be getting somewhere: the Taliban claimed to have killed a US informant identified in the WikiLeaks cables. It was a sign of desperation on the part of the counterintelligence officers that in seeking evidence against WikiLeaks they were reduced to citing the Taliban as a source.

Source: Patrick Cockburn · Julian Assange in Limbo · LRB 18 June 2020