WikiLeaks has stopped publishing, at least temporarily. The controversial whistleblower Web site run by Julian Assange indicated that his pet project was having financial challenges.
"We are forced to temporarily suspend publishing whilst we secure our economic survival. For almost a year we have been fighting an unlawful financial blockade," WikiLeaks said on its Web site. "We cannot allow giant U.S. finance companies to decide how the whole world votes with its pocket. Our battles are costly. We need your support to fight back. Please donate now."
A video on the home page of the site features Assange explaining the dire situation of the site he founded. During the past five years, he said, WikiLeaks has revealed millions of secrets that governments and corporations wanted to hide from people.
Assange cited a long list of revelations, including the death of hundreds of thousands in Iraq, corruption and torture throughout the Middle Eastern regime, the dumping of toxic waste in Africa and other environmental catastrophes, abusive practices by the world's biggest banks, the reality of assassination squads in Afghanistan and beyond.
"During this time, we have withstood attacks from military and intelligence organizations, lawsuits, imprisonments, cyber warfare and high-level calls for our assassination. But now we face our greatest challenge, a politically motivated banking blockade led by Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Western Union and the Bank of America," Assange said, noting that the blockade has effectively wiped out 95 percent of public financial support.
Assange assured viewers that the WikiLeaks network is stronger than ever. He hinted that the group has thousands of "impending revelations." Then he called for financial resources to fight corrupt systems.
Banks started squeezing WikiLeaks in Dec. 2010 after the site released 250,000 confidential cables to the public, a move that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called an attack on America and the international community. She said the leaks were a "tear in the fabric" of responsible government, and the Obama administration was taking "aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information."
But it wasn't just the financial companies that boycotted WikiLeaks. Apple pulled the WikiLeaks app from its App Store. It was selling for $1.99. And Amazon.com pulled the plug on WikiLeaks after the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee contacted the company asking for an explanation. All this led the hacking group Anonymous to launch attacks against Web sites that were making it difficult for WikiLeaks to raise funds.
More recently, a Guardian journalist negligently published the password to unredacted U.S. diplomatic cables in an event dubbed Cablegate.
WikiLeaks Played with Fire
"I find myself having great sympathy for them at one level and I also wonder how anybody in this day and age can be so essentially naïve about playing with the kind of fire that they've been playing with," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
As King sees it, WikiLeaks' funding problem shines a light on centralization of payment mechanisms. From a business standpoint, centralization creates economies of size and efficiency, he noted, but it also creates chokeholds. If people apply the proper leverage they can cut off the flow of information and payments.
"The Internet giveth and it taketh away. That's the central lesson of this," King said. "The Web can be an incredible tool for the dissemination of information, but in the right or wrong hands it can also be used to effectively limit the flow of information, or in this case the flow of cash, in one direction or another if the people in question know how to apply that pressure."
Posted: 2011-10-31 @ 2:27am PT
Everything I was taught about freedom of speech has been proven to be a lie. The westhavenow become everything we claimed to have fought against.