Yes, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange still has asylum inside the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where he has resided for more than a year. That hasn’t stopped him from staging news conferences, issuing statements and making broadcast appearances — so many that Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa reportedly has sent Mr. Assange a letter requesting that he stop using the embassy as a backdrop while making fun of politicians in Australia, the whistleblowing activist’s home turf. He has founded his own political party and is running for office in Australia himself.
There must be some asylum cachet at work here. Along with being named a juror in an international film festival this week, Mr. Assange also appeared with former Texas lawmaker and presidential hopeful Ron Paul on the, uh, Ron Paul Channel, an online subscription-based news network that went live a few weeks ago. Via split screen in a two-part series, the pair discusses freedom of information issues, investigative journalism, government accountability and officials who pursue whistleblowers while war criminals “go unpunished.”
“This interview gives our subscribers an opportunity to see unfiltered and honest dialogue between two leaders in the freedom of information movement,” a spokesman tells Inside the Beltway. “They discuss ideas that are rarely brought up by the mainstream media. Ron Paul’s interview with Julian Assange is the type of conversation that folks come to the Ron Paul Channel to hear.”
The content — including a petition to President Obama to “Stay out of Syria” that drew 50,000 signature in three days — puts the channel “out front,” he says.
And landing Mr. Assange as a guest?
HEADLINE DU JOUR
“Obama’s Half-Assad War”
— from American Spectator contributing editor George Neumayr, who declares President Obama “has become the ‘armchair weekend warrior’ he once decried.”
THE VICTIM FACTOR
History is on the minds of Republican lawmakers who say U.S. military intervention in Syria is a bad idea. They have other notions when it comes to President Bashar Assad.
“The only thing that will prevent Assad from using chemical weapons in the future is for the Syrian people to remove him from power. The strike the administration wants us to approve I do not believe furthers that goal. And in fact, I believe U.S. military action of the type contemplated here might prove to be counterproductive,” Sen. Marco Rubio told his peers during Senate floor Wednesday.
“After a few days of missile strikes, it will allow Assad to emerge and claim that he took on the United States and survived,” the Florida Republican added.
“Let us not forget the failed efforts of former President Clinton in 1998. He sought to punish Saddam Hussein through a limited bombing campaign for violating U.N. sanctions over the development of weapons of mass destruction,” says Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican.
“After surviving four days of attacks, Saddam Hussein emerged unscathed and, in fact, stronger to continue his reign of brutality. Like Saddam Hussein, Assad is already portraying himself to the United Nations as a victim and to his people as a hero for standing up to the United States.”