I was only half watching but this exchange between Julian Assange and George Stephanopoulous literally made me Laugh Out Loud this morning. Literally. Three times.
George Stephanopoulos interviewed Julian Assange about NSA leaker Edward Snowden, on This Week this morning, 'grilling' him, and interrupting his comprehensive answers by saying 'excuse me' and asking new ones before Mr. Assange had a chance to finish the previous ones. Stephanapoulos brought the subject from NSA and Snowden to Mr. Assange, wanting to know if Julian's goal was 'still the total annihilation of the current US regime' insisting it had to be true because TIME said so. What followed is probably the most hilarious rebuttal to such a question, ever:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring this back to Julian Assange. Back in 2010, an email that was revealed from you by Bart Gellman in "Time" magazine, said that you hoped the revelations from Wikileaks would bring about, quote, "the total annihilation of the current U.S. regime." Is that still your goal, and what did you mean by that?"Yes well I mean TIME magazine" doesn't convey the disdain with which Assange dismisses TIME's reporting. You have to see his expression and hear him in the video which starts around the 12:00 mark.
ASSANGE: I did not say that and there is no such email. That is simply false.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's quoted in "Time" magazine in December 2010.
ASSANGE: Yes. Well, I mean, "Time" magazine. But this is -- it's very interesting that you raised such a thing like that. We are in a situation where we have these extraordinary revelations that are causing great embarrassment to a new national security state that is arising in the U.S. It's not just the U.S. Similar national security states are rising in other countries, but it is trying to evade democratic will. It's treating Congress like a bunch of fools. And we saw Clapper up there lying, bald-face lying to Congress. We have secret interpretations of the law. What does the law mean if there are secret interpretations in secret courts?
I think TIME's credibility, if it had any, has just been vaporized. LOL.
I will hand it to This Week and ABC for having Jesselyn Radack on with Assange and letting this be said:
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not what he's saying, sir. He has also broken the law. Let me bring that now to Jesselyn Radack, who is also here with me right now. Julian Assange mentioned Edward Snowden's father, who has also written -- his attorney has written a letter to Eric Holder, the attorney general, saying that he believes that his son would be willing to come back to the United States if he would not be detained or imprisoned prior to trial, if he would not be subject to a gag order, if he would be tried in the venue of his choosing. Do you think it would make sense for Snowden to return under those circumstances?I know I have been getting on TIME's case lately, but it's not as if it's not deserved.
RADACK: I actually don't. I have represented people like Thomas Drake, who was an NSA whistle-blower, who actually did go through every conceivable internal channel possible, including his boss, the inspector general of his agency, the Defense Department inspector general and two congressional committees, and the U.S. turned around and prosecuted him. And did so for espionage and threatened to tie him up for the rest of his life in jail. I think Snowden's outlook is bleak here, and instead of focusing on Snowden and shooting the messenger, we should really focus on the crimes of the NSA. Because whatever laws Snowden may or may not have broken, they are infinitesimally small compared to the two major surveillance laws and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution that the NSA's violated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But these surveillance programs, as the president has pointed out, were passed by the Congress, are overseen by a court.
RADACK: Well, both of those are incorrect. Congress has not been fully informed. Only the--
STEPHANOPOULOS: They passed the laws, there is oversight, or there is (inaudible).
RADACK: OK, but there is a secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which nobody knows, except for the Intel Committee of Congress, and even they say that they think most Americans would be appalled by that. And to say that it's been approved by the courts is a misnomer, because it gives the impression that federal courts have approved this, when in reality, it's the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has rubber-stamped every single--
STEPHANOPOULOS: Which is a federal court.
RADACK: No, it is a secret court set up at the Justice Department that has federal judges on it. But last year, it approved 2,000 out of 2,000 applications. They hear only the government's side, and they have never -- they have rejected an application one time since 1978.