On July 29, WikiLeaks tweeted a bombshell: Special investigator Robert Mueller had, in 2006, given Russian intelligence 10 grams of uranium. The tweet’s replies were chuffed full of demands for a special investigation of the investigator.
That is, until people checked the context of the leaked cable and realized that Mueller had, in fact, been recovering the uranium after helping to discover a nuclear smuggling ring.
The cable itself read, “Over two years ago Russia requested a ten-gram sample of highly enriched uranium (HEU) seized in early 2006 in Georgia during a nuclear smuggling sting operation involving one Russian national and several Georgian accomplices.”
The FBI and Georgian government had captured a nuclear smuggler who they suspected had gotten their uranium off a Russian facility. To verify, the Russian government requested a sample of the stolen uranium, which Mueller was charged with supplying.
That context convinced even readers of Reddit’s infamously pro-Trump /r/The_Donald, where users accused posters of spamming the accusation while others debunked it.
After writing an extensive rebuttal of the conspiracy, user Atok48 wrote, “This has been posted repeatedly and is totally fake and misleading.”
As of this post, WikiLeaks has not removed the original tweet. In fact, just hours later, the organization was again calling into question the credibility of Mueller with a tweet that asked if he would fabricate evidence, as the organization claimed he had done so in Iraq.
Will Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller fabricate the results of his investigation like he did with Iraq? https://t.co/B8e59CoHPN— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 29, 2017
That claim was based on testimony Mueller gave to Congress in February of 2003 about the possibility of Saddam Hussein using weapons of mass destruction via terror networks like al-Qaeda. Mueller did, in fact, claim that Saddam might arm al-Qaeda or another terrorist group with said WMDs, partially based on Saddam’s “will” to use such weapons as well as a presumed capability. But Mueller also cited that his source was Colin Powell, who had just days before gone before the United Nations to make the case that Saddam had a dangerous and functioning WMD program.
In other words, Mueller was not so much parroting a case for war as repeating the intelligence he’d learned from other organizations. Since the FBI has no overseas spying capability, how WikiLeaks would expect Mueller to fabricate that kind of evidence, let alone to know that the intel being given the CIA and other spy agencies was bunk, is hard to know. No formal investigations have ever found active conspiracy in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, only gross incompetence.
Wikileaks has recently been accused of serving as a Kremlin propaganda vehicle and is reported to be supported by large armies of pro-Trump Twitter bots. The organization’s mission for international transparency has taken hits in the wake of the Trump election, with the group’s reputation becoming polarized along conservative and liberal lines.
[Featured image by Rick Bowmer/AP Photo]