Joe Biden v. Joe Biden on WikiLeaks

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Joe Biden v. Joe Biden on WikiLeaks

It's really not an overstatement to say that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are the new Iraqi WMDs because the government and establishment media are jointly manufacturing and disseminating an endless stream of fear-mongering falsehoods designed to depict them as scary villains threatening the security of The American People and who must therefore be stopped at any cost.  So often, the government/media claims made in service of this goal are outright false, which is why I have focused so much on the un-killable, outright lie that WikiLeaks indiscriminately dumped 250,000 diplomatic cables without regard to the consequences (on Thursday, The New York Times, in its article on Assange's release from prison, re-printed the lie by referencing "Mr. Assange's role in the publication of some 250,000 American diplomatic documents" only to delete it without any indication of a correction in the final version of the article, while the always-conventional-wisdom-spouting Dana Milbank in The Washington Post -- in the course of condemning "the absurd secrecy of the Obama administration, in some ways worse than that of George W. Bush" -- today wrote of "Assange's indiscriminate dump of American government secrets over the last several months - with hardly a care for who might be hurt or what public good was served").

But this new example from Joe Biden is extraordinary, and reveals how government officials are willing to say absolutely anything -- even things they know are false -- to demonize WikiLeaks.  First, here's Biden with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell -- on Thursday, December 16 -- happily insisting that the leak of the diplomatic cables has done no damage to U.S. relations (video below):

 

MITCHELL:  This is Vice President Joe Biden, who told me that the leaked cables created no substantive damage -- only embarrassment . . . .

BIDEN:  And I came in [to the U.N.] almost all to embraces - it wasn't just shaking hands - I know these guys, I know these women - they still trust the United States - there's all kinds of --

MITCHELL:  So there's no damage?

BIDEN:  I don't think there's any damage.  I don't think there's any substantive damage, no.  Look, some of the cables are embarrassing . . . but nothing that I'm aware of that goes to the essence of the relationship that would allow another nation to say:  "they lied to me, we don't trust them, they really are not dealing fairly with us."

But here's the very same Joe Biden, in a preview of an interview with David Gregory -- taped the following day, Thursday, December 17 -- to air this Sunday on Meet the Press, gravely lamenting that Julian Assange has harmed American foreign relations (video below):

 

This guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of other parts of the world.  He's made it more difficult for us to conduct our business with our allies and our friends.  For example, in my meetings -- you know I meet with most of these world leaders -- there is a desire to meet with me alone, rather than have staff in the room:  it makes things more cumbersome -- so it has done damage.

In one day, Biden went from giddily declaring that "I don't think there's any damage" to gravely warning that "it has done damage."  I have no idea whether Biden was told that his Thursday no-damage admission would severely harm the Government's efforts to prosecute Assange, but what is clear is that he was perfectly willing to march into Meet the Press the following day and say things that he knew were false in order to depict the WikiLeaks diplomatic cable disclosures as harming U.S. national security.  It's true that in the first clip, he was asked specifically about diplomatic cables, while the second interview may have encompassed all the releases, but in that second interview, he clearly claimed that the disclosures harmed relations with other countries:  exactly the opposite of what he said the day before.  Even his demeanor completely changed, from breezy, fun dismissiveness into serious, concerned leader talking about a True Threat.

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Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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