The whistleblower website WikiLeaks has published a massive cache of some 20,000 internal Democratic National Committee emails, reportedly provided by the Romanian hacker Guccifer 2.0, proving party officials discussed ways to discredit Bernie Sanders’s campaign and contain a journalist who called on DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign over allegedly favoring Hillary Clinton over Sanders.
Although the DNC repeatedly denied favoring any candidate throughout the primary campaign, an email from Mark Paustenbach, the Democratic Party’s national press secretary and deputy communications director, to other staffers, titled “Bernie Narrative,” asks if there is “a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess.”
Paustenbach then cited what he claimed was the Sanders campaign’s unresponsiveness to inquiries regarding last year’s DNC data breach before asserting that any potential effort to portray Sanders’ campaign in disarray is “not a DNC conspiracy, it’s because they never had their act together.”
Another email, titled “No Shit” and sent by DNC CFO Brad Marshall to DNC CEO Amy Dacey, DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and Paustenbach on May 5, apparently aimed to stymie Sanders’ surging campaign by questioning his religious beliefs:
It might [make] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.
Dacey’s one-word response to Marshall’s inquiry proves a willingness to explore tarnishing Sanders for his religious beliefs. “AMEN,” she wrote. According to numerous opinion polls, around 40 percent of Americans reject atheist presidential candidates — lower than the percentage who would vote for a Muslim, LGBT or Mormon candidate. In the deeply religious “Bible Belt” states, which include Kentucky and West Virginia, distrust of atheists is even more pronounced.
Another email chain reveals Miranda and MSNBC political reporter Chuck Todd discussed ways to contain MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski after she called on Wasserman Schultz to resign for allegedly favoring Clinton over Sanders.
“I’d appreciate it if you passed along the following to the Morning Joe team,” Miranda wrote to Todd on May 18. “I understand Joe and Mika will say whatever they’re going to say in terms of opinion, but at a minimum they should consider the facts on some of the key allegations they’re making… The DNC Chair has repeatedly said on the air and otherwise that it’s not her job to tell either candidate to get out and has never called for anyone to get out of the race.”
An apparently infuriated Wasserman Schultz did not appreciate Brzezinski’s claims. ”This is the LAST straw… This is outrageous. She needs to apologize,” she wroteto Miranda on May 18. Minutes later, the Florida congresswoman sent Todd an emailtitled “Chuck, this must stop” imploring him to reach out to Miranda for further discussion.
In an April 25 email apparently demonstrating pro-Clinton bias, DNC Deputy Communications Director Eric Walker discusses a “problem brewing in Rhode Island,” where Sanders supporters criticized state officials, particularly Gov. Gina Raimondo, for only opening one-third of the state’s polling locations ahead of the Democratic primary. Walker mocks “the Bernie camp” as overly prone to complaints and tellingly refers to Raimondo as “one of ours” — strongly suggesting they are both pro-Clinton.
Wasserman Schultz also displayed what some Sanders supporters claim is a pro-Clinton bias in a May 21 email in which she scoffed at the democratic socialist, who said he would remove her as head of the DNC if he was elected president.
“This is a silly story,” she wrote. “He isn’t going to be president.”
Although many Sanders supporters welcomed what they claim is irrefutable proof of anti-Sanders bias among DNC officials, others slammed WikiLeaks for publishing hundreds of emails containing what appears to be voters’ personal information, including full names, addresses, phone numbers and in some cases, passport and social security numbers.
Since it was launched by exiled activist Julian Assange in 2006, WikiLeaks has won worldwide accolades for its pro-transparency mission, but also widespread scorn for revealing potentially sensitive information along with primary source evidence of crimes and misdeeds committed by some of the world’s most powerful actors. Assange and Wikileaks became a global household name in 2010 after the publication of “Collateral Murder,” a classified US military video showing a deadly aerial attack on Iraqi journalists believed to be insurgents. The video has been viewed more than 15 million times on YouTube alone. WikiLeaks then published Afghan War Diary, Iraq War Logs, The Guantámo Files and US Embassy Cables, which revealed US and allied war crimes and other misdeeds committed during the so-called War on Terror. WikiLeaks also aided former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as he fled into exile in Russia.
Some of the more damning WikiLeaks revelations include proof that US forces executed Iraqi civilians including children, babies and the elderly, that the United States knowingly imprisoned innocent men and boys at Guantánamo Bay, that an American corporation accused of war profiteering bought child prostitutes and drugsfor Afghan security forces, that the US and some of its allies conspired to cover up civilians killed during the so-called War on Terror, that the Obama administration turned a blind eye to slavery, torture and other horrific crimes committed by the brutally repressive — but allied —Islam Karimov regime in Uzbekistan and that top Republican leaders wooed former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi with the promise of American friendship and weapons.
Many on the left or who champion greater government transparency have hailedWikiLeaks for exposing crimes and misdeeds that would have otherwise remained concealed from public scrutiny. WikiLeaks was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 and the site, and Assange, have won numerous international awards and honors including the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award and the 2008 Index on Censorship Economist New Media Award.
Some conservative politicians and pundits have called the prosecution — and even execution — of Assange, who remains exiled in Ecuador’s embassy in London while facing sex crimes charges in Sweden. Some critics have claimed WikiLeaks has endangered US national security interests, although even US military and government officials acknowledge there is no proof that information published on the site has resulted in any deaths. Former US soldier Chelsea Manning, who leaked a massive number of classified US military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, was convicted in 2013 of theft and espionage and sentenced to 35 years’ military imprisonment.