More so than any figure populating the political landscape, Julian Assange was the defining figure in this year’s 2016 Presidential election. An Australian computer programmer, publisher and journalist, he is editor-in-chief of the organization WikiLeaks, which he founded in 2006. He has won numerous accolades for journalism, including the Sam Adams Award and Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. He came to global prominence in 2010 when WikiLeaks published a series of leaks, allegedly provided by Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and CableGate (November 2010). Assange became even more globally recognized after WikiLeaks published the DNC leaks and the Podesta emails this summer, which ripped the lid off an unprecedented degree of corruption happening at the highest levels of government during the 2016 United States presidential election.
As the founder of WikiLeaks, he has signaled that our democracies are not democracies at all, but instead power structures disguised as such.
WikiLeaks and Assange exploded into the public consciousness in late July, 2010 when the site leaked 90,000 pages of classified information about the war in Afghanistan. The NSA condemned the leak as an affront to U.S. national security, but could not cite any wrongdoing. Julian Assange instantly became a pariah overnight.
For over six years now Assange has force fed the public information it seemed unwilling to stomach. Unlike Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, Assange’s revelations in 2010 were met with shrugged shoulders as opposed to a full-blown cultural revolution, despite President Obama’s fumbling Afghan war coupled with his unbelievable Wall Street pardon. And with the emails released about the DNC and Hillary Clinton this summer, encompassing everything from orchestrated campaigns to disenfranchise Bernie Sanders to pay-to-play scandals involving The Clinton Foundation, Assange’s spirited offense against the powers that be became a definite game-changer in this year’s Presidential election.
WikiLeaks has released earth-shattering memos from a trove of 250,000 confidential cables that reveal how the U.S. and the rest of the international community truly function and that demonstrated how the public discourse does not always resemble the private, showing that politicians, as a rule, mislead their constituents.
Julian Assange has done nothing illegal except reveal the truth as any journalist worth his salt is expected to do, and for that he is being demonized. The United States has successfully caused every vendor associated with WikiLeaks, from Amazon to PayPal, to withdraw their support of the site. Yet WikiLeaks remains operational, despite government oppression, Assange’s arrest, and concerns that the organization may have been compromised and infiltrated by the CIA.
Transparency is not evil. Journalists should not be the handmaidens of political impropriety. Not beholden to the regulations of a for-profit corporation or the endless search for ad dollars. WikiLeaks has done something novel: distributed the unvarnished truth. And one of WikiLeaks’ greatest feats is that it has revealed the crumbling machinery of power behind the shimmering artifice.
At the core of democratic government there is the dark feeling amongst average people that they have lost control of a game that is now but an obsession with the preservation of power. WikiLeaks reveals the architecture of power by amplifying these obsessions with control through the correspondence and words of the principal figures involved, such that it is all made visible through technology and in concert by way of international cooperation. All governments see Assange and WikiLeaks as a threat.
It is as if world leaders in politics and finance smell the vapors of their own power. Any threat to that power now — thanks to legislation and the power of words post-9/11 — can be made into a terrorist threat. Assange thus becomes cast as some kind of terrorist not because he is using the violent force of technology as a means of mass death, but because he’s using the subversive force of technology to reveal the truth. He has managed to pull back the curtain, like some master magician, on the hallucinatory spell of power, and the world’s leaders hate him for it.
In reality he is a true hero that should be pardoned and embraced instead of demonized and vilified; and perhaps it is naïve to think so; but ultimately it is only through the clarity of the truth that we can hope to be set free.
Here is a detailed list containing the Top 100 Most Damaging Wikileaks released in 2016, containing titles, indexing, links of proof, quotes from the links, and commendary from Reddit: