There’s a simple answer to the question posed in the title to this post. Either he did or he didn’t. The question was raised directly to Julian Assange last summer by a Dutch TV interviewer, and it has become “relevant” (as far as relevancy goes these days) again because of a sputtering non-story that broke on Fox News this week that nevertheless lit a fire under conspiracy theorists on left and right.
Seth Rich, if you don’t know, was a young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C, as the Voter Expansion Data Director, focusing on creating an application that would help voters locate their local polling place, according to Wikipedia. He lived in the Bloomingdale neighborhood in the NW quadrant of the city. He was also killed there, on July 10, 2016, in the middle of the night about a block from his home, shot in the back with at least two bullet wounds. His family later said he was excited about the prospect of moving to Brooklyn to work on the Clinton campaign,
The Rich murder is a baffler. It is still unsolved. Police originally suspected robbery as a motive, but oddly, nothing of value was taken from the victim–not his wallet, nor his cellphone, nor his watch (although its band had been broken–again, see the Wikipedia article linked to above). So why did police suspect robbery? According to an article from last August in the Daily Mail, “The ten-block radius around where Rich was killed had seen a significant spike in armed robberies with guns, with eight reported in the six weeks leading up to his murder.” Furthermore, “The armed robberies notably stopped after Rich was killed – although only for a few weeks.”
The Rich murder might have passed largely unnoticed if not for the fact that one month later, Julian Assange seemed to imply in an interview on Dutch television, without ever actually stating it definitively, that Seth Rich was the source of a DNC data dump WikiLeaks released on July 22, just before the Democratic national convention.
If you don’t have a stake in believing in the purity of Julian Assange’s motives, you might feel as I did that the interviewer unnerved the usually unflappable and often inscrutable founder of WikiLeaks. In other words, he seems to me to have caught Assange in a ridiculous lie.
The dead giveaway comes after the interviewer asks flat out: “Is he [Rich, to this point unnamed in the interview] one of your sources?” Assange replies, “We don’t comment on who our sources are.” “Then why make the suggestion about a young man murdered on the streets in Washington?” Assange is asked. “Because,” Assange answers, “we have to understand how high the stakes are in the United States. Our sources, you know, take serious risks. That’s why they come to us, so we can protect their anonymity.”
“But it’s quite something to suggest a murder,” the journalist counters. “That’s basically what you are doing.”
“Well others have suggested that,” Assange replies. “We are investigating to understand what happened in that situation with Seth Rich. I think it is a concerning situation. There is not a conclusion yet. We wouldn’t be willing to say a conclusion yet, but we are concerned about it. More importantly, a variety of WikiLeaks sources are concerned when that kind of thing happens.”
How can anyone see this exchange and not note the blatant hypocrisy of Assange’s assertions? We don’t comment on our sources to protect their anonymity, Assange asserts, or they might wind up like Seth Rich, whom I just named out loud. Who may or may not have been a source. We can’t say. We’re investigating. We’re concerned. We’re don’t comment.
What a crock of shit!
So rank was this performance that WikiLeaks had to put out a cover-your-ass clarifying statement via Twitter:
Assange’s weasely, waffly insinuation has been taken as gospel truth by right-wing conspiracy theorists, but also quite a few lefties of varying degrees of level-headedness, from the usually no-nonsense Jimmy Dore to Debbie of Sane Progressive.
I understand what drives the need to believe Seth Rich was the DNC leaker, especially among those on the left. Full disclosure: I was a lifelong Democrat until the day after the election when I switched to the Green Party. I’d beyond had it with the Democrats and their phony pose as the working people’s party. I voted for Jill Stein in 2012 and was ready to vote for her again when primary season began. I did vote for Bernie Sanders in the New York primary, but I did not expect him to win and I don’t know if I would have voted for him in the general, but I was certainly vastly more likely to vote for him than for a Clinton. I am inclined to believe the DNC fucked with the primaries to seal the deal for Hillary who (my recent reading of Shattered confirms) was a rotten candidate who should have been dissuaded from running before the first Democratic debate.
I am also below tepid on the Russian hack question temperature gauge. I tend to agree with Jimmy Dore that it’s a red herring that gives the Democratic Party’s side of the Resistance™ cover for not focusing like lasers on single-payer health care, the fight for $15, sustainable energy policies, student debt, etc.
So I think I understand why this is an important belief for some progressives. If Seth Rich is the leaker, the DNC was not hacked by the Russians; it just got its comeuppance from a disgruntled Sanders mole in the system.
Lefties did not invent this conspiracy theory. They borrowed it from right wingers who have spent decades wanting to believe the worst about Hillary Clinton–specifically that she murders people who get in her way.
But this boils down to the question posed in the title: Did Seth Rich leak to WikiLeaks? Or did he not? The answer to the question does not have any bearing on whether the DNC was the victim of Russian hackers or an inside leaker. It might have bearing on whether Hillary is a murderer, but I personally believe this issue is another red herring. Another excuse to get lost in someone else’s weeds. Solving this won’t get us closer to single-payer, or free tuition, or $15 minimum wage or sustainable energy.
It would be nice, though, if Julian Assange, who presumably does know the answer to this question, stops playing coy and spits it out.What possible reason could he have for protecting a dead man? Is he really entitled to his secrets? We need a WikiLeaks staffer with a conscience to spill the beans.