Back in April 2017, then CIA Director Mike Pompeo delivered a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In this speech, he made some very pointed comments about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange that provide us with a glimpse into the mindset that currently inhabits the Department of State in particular and Washington as a whole and why the events of April 11th, 2019 occurred.
Here are some key quotes from the rather lengthy speech which looked at America's intelligence community. Early in the speech, he makes this comment:
"As a policy, we at CIA do not comment on the accuracy of purported intelligence documents posted online. In keeping with that policy, I will not specifically comment on the authenticity or provenance of recent disclosures.
But the false narratives that increasingly define our public discourse cannot be ignored. There are fictions out there that demean and distort the work and achievements of CIA and of the broader Intelligence Community. And in the absence of a vocal rebuttal, these voices—ones that proclaim treason to be public advocacy—gain a gravity they do not deserve." (my bolds)
It is important to note that Mr. Pompeo will not comment on the authenticity of documents that are disclosed by whistleblowers but that, in the next breath, he states that these documents are part of a false narrative that demean and distort the work of America's intelligence community.
Here's what he has to say about WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange:
"And that is one of the many reasons why we at CIA find the celebration of entities like WikiLeaks to be both perplexing and deeply troubling. Because while we do our best to quietly collect information on those who pose very real threats to our country, individuals such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden seek to use that information to make a name for themselves. As long as they make a splash, they care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.
WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It has encouraged its followers to find jobs at CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information. And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations.
It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia. In January of this year, our Intelligence Community determined that Russian military intelligence—the GRU—had used WikiLeaks to release data of US victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia’s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.
Now, for those of you who read the editorial page of the Washington Post—and I have a feeling that many of you in this room do—yesterday you would have seen a piece of sophistry penned by Mr. Assange. You would have read a convoluted mass of words wherein Assange compared himself to Thomas Jefferson, Dwight Eisenhower, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning work of legitimate news organizations such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. One can only imagine the absurd comparisons that the original draft contained.
Assange claims to harbor an overwhelming admiration for both America and the idea of America. But I assure you that this man knows nothing of America and our ideals. He knows nothing of our third President, whose clarion call for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness continue to inspire us and the world. And he knows nothing of our 34th President, a hero from my very own Kansas, who helped to liberate Europe from fascists and guided America through the early years of the Cold War.
No, I am quite confident that had Assange been around in the 1930s and 40s and 50s, he would have found himself on the wrong side of history.
We know this because Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators today. Yes, they try unsuccessfully to cloak themselves and their actions in the language of liberty and privacy; in reality, however, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. Their currency is clickbait; their moral compass, nonexistent. Their mission: personal self-aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.
Clearly, these individuals are not especially burdened by conscience. We know this, for example, because Assange has been more than cavalier in disclosing the personal information of scores of innocent citizens around the globe. We know this because the damage they have done to the security and safety of the free world is tangible. And the examples are numerous." (my bolds)
Actually, when it comes to Russia and the "pass" that it has been given by WikiLeaks, Mr. Pompeo could not be more wrong. On September 19, 2017, WikiLeaks published its "Spy Files Russia" documents which provided insight into Russia's surveillance contractors. In the case of Russia, Russias communication providers are required by law to install components for surveillance which is provided by the FSB which are linked to the FSB, Russia's Federal Security Service. And, perhaps we can attribute WikiLeaks ability to release information on America's intelligence community because it is far more prone to leaks than the intelligence communities of other nations.
Mr. Pompeo also provided his audience with a direct link between WikiLeaks and terrorism:
"As for Assange, his actions have attracted a devoted following among some of our most determined enemies. Following a recent WikiLeaks disclosure, an al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula member posted a comment online thanking WikiLeaks for providing a means to fight America in a way that AQAP had not previously envisioned.
AQAP represents one of the most serious terrorist threats to our country and the world. It is a group that is devoted not only to bringing down civilian passenger planes, but our way of life as well. That Assange is the darling of terrorists is nothing short of reprehensible." (my bold)
Here is Mr. Pompeo's three part solution to the Assange "problem":
1.) It is high time we called out those who grant a platform to these leakers and so-called transparency activists. We know the danger that Assange and his not-so-merry band of brothers pose to democracies around the world. Ignorance or misplaced idealism is no longer an acceptable excuse for lionizing these demons.
2.) There are steps that we have to take at home—in fact, this is a process we’ve already started. We’ve got to strengthen our own systems; we’ve got to improve internal mechanisms that help us in our counterintelligence mission. All of us in the Intelligence Community had a wake-up call after Snowden’s treachery. Unfortunately, the threat has not abated. I can’t go into great detail, but the steps we take can’t be static. Our approach to security has to be constantly evolving. We need to be as clever and innovative as the enemies we face. They won’t relent, and neither will we.
3.) We have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now."
Let's close with two brief items. First, here's what the ACLU has to say about the arrest and potential American prosecution of Julian Assange:
Second, after Assange's arrest, Donald Trump had this to say about WikiLeaks:
"I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing and I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange. I've been seeing what's happened with Assange and that will be a determination I would imagine mostly by the Attorney General who is doing an excellent job."
Here's what the President had to say about WikiLeaks during the 2016 Presidential election cycle:
While it may have taken a few days less than two years to complete his dream of getting rid of Julian Assange, it is abundantly clear from the CIA Director's speech that Mr. Assange's fate was sealed once Mike Pompeo had direct access Washington's power brokers no matter what Donald Trump had to say about WikiLeaks back in 2016. Fortunately for those of us on the outside that rely on WikiLeaks to learn more about the hidden secrets of governments and the corporate world, the group will continue to exist with or without its founder.
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