Thursday, September 1, 2016

Julian Assange and Wikileaks: The Ultimate Wild Card of 2016?

How an “October Surprise” Could Blow a Hole in This Election
  By Charlie Musgrove

Yes, the ominous “October surprise” – the very mention of which can send presidential candidates reaching for their anxiety medication – looks like it’s set to make a comeback. And this year it’s Hillary Clinton who’ll need to have her Xanax at the ready.

An October surprise – the name of which sounds deceptively fun-filled – is the political equivalent of an improvised explosive device, timed to detonate right before voters start heading for the polls, thus providing maximum impact at a moment when the time left for meaningful damage control has all but run out.

Julian Assange, the founder and editor-in-chief of the WikiLeaks media organization, isn’t particularly fond of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He’s called her a “war hawk with bad judgment” who gets an “emotional rush out of killing people.” And earlier this year he tweeted: “A vote today for Hillary Clinton is a vote for endless, stupid war.”

For her part, Clinton has long called for WikiLeaks to be shut down and for Assange to be extradited to the U.S. on espionage charges (the mishandling of sensitive information, of course, being something the former Secretary of State knows a great deal about).

Earlier this summer, Assange offered a foretaste of what he had in store for the Clinton cabal when he released a host of hacked DNC emails – timed precisely to coincide with the start of the convention – which ultimately resulted in the forced resignation of controversial DNC chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, along with several other DNC staffers. Assange had even foreshadowed that release several weeks prior in an interview with Britain’s ITV network.

So Assange’s warnings of a slew of further damaging leaks to come should be dismissed by only the most foolhardy.

So far we’ve been given no indication of when those new leaks will take place, but except for a potential drip-drip of revelations over the coming weeks, perhaps timed to coincide with notable moments such as the presidential debates, it’s safe to assume that the most damaging information will hit the media sometime in October – early enough for the damage to resonate but late enough to thwart any attempt at recovery.

While this new material is certain to contain further revelations from hacks into the DNC, Clinton’s unauthorized private email server, and the Clinton campaign itself, perhaps the most explosive disclosures are likely to come from its hacks into the Clinton Foundation.

Judicial Watch recently released 725 pages of new State Department documents that have already shown a glaring number of examples of apparent “pay-to-play” influence from special-interest donors to the Foundation during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.

In the case of the Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, for instance, we know that Clinton had declined to meet with him after he’d requested an audience with her through “normal channels” at the State Department. However, after longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin then appealed through Clinton Foundation executive Douglas Band for the meeting to take place, it was miraculously arranged within a mere 48 hours. The Kingdom of Bahrain has reportedly given between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, while the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program, set up through the Clinton Global Initiative, has contributed $32 million to the CGI.

This, however, may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Since we’ve yet to discover just what Assange has up his sleeve, the impact it may have on November’s election is impossible to gauge. But with the controversies over the private email server and the Clinton Foundation already hanging like an albatross around the neck of one of the most disliked presidential candidates in a generation, any further bombshells are likely to be crippling.

Furthermore, if these new revelations prove to be cataclysmic, we could very well find ourselves in uncharted territory. Were they to be damaging enough to preclude her from continuing on as the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency it would result in a situation that is without historical precedent – unless you count Ross Perot abandoning his independent bid during the 1992 presidential race, before jumping back in again a couple of months later. But his was a third party (the Reform Party) effort, meaning the election of a Democratic or Republican president that year was inevitable even if he’d remained out of the race.

The Democratic Party’s charter and bylaws state that the DNC is responsible for filling vacancies in the nomination for president and vice president (though in reality, of course, thanks to Assange’s previous leak, we now have proof that their current remit also includes filling the presidential slot from the outset).

But while many establishment cronies might lean instinctively toward a Joe Biden, an Andrew Cuomo, or perhaps even an Al Gore as an alternative, it would be inconceivable that they could deny filling – or at least offering – that vacancy to the man who came so very close to claiming it for himself to begin with. With over 13 million votes, victory in 23 states, and more than 1800 delegates awarded, anything but a straightforward handover to Sanders would likely be met with open revolt.

And considering that the Vermont Senator polled consistently better against Trump than Clinton did throughout the primary race, such an eventuality should in fact be met with unbridled enthusiasm by the party elite.

The upshot:

Clinton has said of WikiLeaks that it “tears at the fabric” of responsible government. But let’s be honest, it does nothing of the sort. What it does do is tear at the fabric of corruption and collusion that so often lurks in the dark corridors of power. It unveils the most base and underhanded practices of those whom we have placed our trust in. And the bottom line is, if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.

WikiLeaks has already revealed that the DNC had plenty to hide, and Clinton – one of the most distrusted political figures of the modern era – must surely have a closet full of skeletons that’s stuffed to bursting point.

Just what Julian Assange’s October surprise will be is…well, a surprise. But however much political havoc it may wreak upon the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton and her party, they’ll only have themselves to blame.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

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