Just as the first casualty of war is said to be the truth, the first casualty of the New Cold War is irony. Our most prominent journalists seem to have missed the Orwellian irony of Senator John McCain asking Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper at Friday's Senate hearings if Julian Assange has any credibility. Assange has maintained that the hacked or leaked emails of Democratic Party officials did not come from the Russian government, or any other government.
As is well known, Clapper lied to Congress about a serious violation of the constitutional rights of tens of millions of Americans. This lie is a crime for which he actually could have been prosecuted.
In March 2013, Clapper falsely answered, "No, sir" to the question, "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?" He later admitted that his answer was untrue.
Clapper lied again in Friday's testimony, saying that Assange was "under indictment" for "a sexual crime." In fact, Assange has not been indicted for anything, and the government of Sweden has never even charged him with a crime. In reality, he is a political prisoner, and the United Nations Working Group on arbitrary detention has found that he has been arbitrarily detained since 2010 by the UK and Sweden, and ordered his release and compensation. He has offered from the beginning of his political persecution to co-operate with the Swedish authorities in any investigation, and to be interviewed at any time in London. He could not safely return to Sweden without guarantees that he would not be sent to the US, where he currently faces a high likelihood of imprisonment (even before any trial) for having published leaked documents that exposed US war crimes and other embarrassments. For years, neither Sweden nor the UK would agree to that because, it appears, their foreign ministries are collaborating with the US government to keep him imprisoned.
For anyone on a jury who had to weigh the testimony of Clapper against that of Assange, it would be a no-brainer. Not only is Clapper a proven and serial liar, but in 10 years of WikiLeaks revelations, Assange has never been shown to have lied about anything.
This op-ed was originally published by The Hill on January 9, 2017. Read the rest here.
Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and the president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the new book "Failed: What the 'Experts' Got Wrong About the Global Economy" (2015, Oxford University Press). You can subscribe to his columns here.