In an interview [video]
with the CBS show 60 Minutes, the founder-and-chief of
the controversial secrets site Wikileaks discusses the recent
backlash against his site, following the release of U.S.
Military and State
Department secrets. He states, "The U.S. does not have the
technology to take the site down . ... Just the way our technology is
constructed, the way the Internet is constructed."
He adds, "We've had attacks on particular
domain names. Little pieces of infrastructure knocked out. But we now have some
2,000 fully independent in every way websites, where we're publishing around
the world. It is -- I mean, it's not possible to do."
Assange is referring to the fact that his site
lost its central domain name, most of its official hosting, and its donations
accounts. Volunteers, who host mirrors of the webpage, now sustain the
site. Attempting to access Wikileaks or searching for it in Google
results in visitors being redirected to one of these mirrored sites.
While the issue of what Wikileaks has
done is hot in the minds of many, much of the 60
Minutes interview focuses on the site's threats that it will release
damning information implicating a major
U.S. bank in wrongdoing.
In an October 2009 interview with the
International Data Group's publication ComputerWorld, Mr. Assange
claimed to possess a hard drive with a wealth of information from the Bank of
interview with top business periodical Forbes, which
took place in late November, Wikileaks' Assange claimed to be preparing a
"megaleak", which would likely lead to a major U.S. financial
institution (presumably Bank of America) being investigated and potentially
charged by international authorities.
During the 60
Minutes special, interest was high on the topic, but the interviewer's
attempt to extract more info from Mr. Assange was largely rebuffed. He
states, "I won't make any comment in relation to that upcoming
But he did express that he gains pleasure from the
ill effects on the financial world his news is causing. He states,
"I think it's great. We have all these banks squirming, thinking maybe
The interview did not touch on a significant point
in that regard -- the question of whether any Wikileaks members --
including Mr. Assange -- had profited off the stock shifts triggered by the
organization's new releases.
Some have suggested that Mr. Assange and Wikileaks may
be using its new releases to profit on the stock market. Using certain
mechanisms the site could selectively release news, dropping a commercial
entity's stock price, making money off the drop. Indeed, the Bank of
America's share price dropped 3 percent in late 2010 on speculation that it was
in Wikileaks crosshairs. The actual
release could drop stock further. It would be relatively easy for someone
affiliated with the site or its members to exploit the financial repercussions
of the site's actions.
Wikileaks is a relatively loosely
organized and regulated operation, with less than a dozen full time staff
members, by almost all accounts. The site publishes no details of its
operating procedures or finances.
Unfortunately, that question, like many others
(Mr. Assange's self-labeling
as an "anarchist" in the 1990s) went unasked in the 60
Update: Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011:
Some seemed to imply that we were making up allegations that Wikileaks was manipulating the stock market to profit itself or its financiers. This is absolutely not the case. Those capable of a quick Google search should be able to find a number of stories on this topic, such as:
"Wikileaks is harmful now, but could become even more destructive" -- Kansas City Star
Shares in Bank of America dropped 3 percent Tuesday. Although they recovered Wednesday, banking analyst Dick Bove said on CNBC that this may represent a new means of stock-market manipulation, by which the unknown funders of Wikileaks could profit by cratering shares in targeted companies.
Also some challenged whether Assange was ever really an anarchist. Well he said he was, at least at one time, back in the 90s. In the book Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier by Suelette Dreyfus, which Mr. Assange edited, researched, and contributed text to, an autobiographical passage by Assange describes:
As he quietly backed out of the system, wiping away his footprints as he tip-toed away, Mendax [Assange] thought about what he had seen. He was deeply disturbed that any hacker would work for the US military.
Hackers, he thought, should be anarchists, not hawks.
quote: Getting people to care about important info is a good thing, not arguing you there. However, if that's what he wants to do, he should publicly disassociate himself from WL's. For a project like WL's to be most effective, it needs to be or at least appear to be neutral . I think Assange doesn't appear neutral at all, and that reduces the credibility of WL's as a whole.
quote: There is also a difference between collateral damage(civilians killed when targeting an enemy), and terrorists who intentionally target civilians. Collateral damage is not something you want to announce to the world, but it IS expected in combat. The problem is that when civilians are killed, it tends to bring more people into the fighting, so it is best to keep that sort of thing quiet since killing the people over there is NOT the goal.
quote: Do you REALLY want to go into the whole war in Afghanistan? The US was fully justified in going in over there, which is why there was so much support around the world. Many can question why the US forces are still there, but the initial war over there after 9/11 WAS justified.
quote: Afghanistan is fairly useless outside of it's proximity to the Middle East, so really, there is no reason why the USA would want to be there.
quote: If there were documents that showed that George W. was using bad or obviously falsified information to justify invading Iraq and THOSE were leaked, THEN I can clearly see a lot of support, because it would help get US forces out of there. In this example, leaked information would help reduce violence.
quote: One thing that you do not seem to have noticed is that the USA has not gotten ANY oil out of any of the countries in the Middle East over the past several wars, including Kuwait. There may be people making money off these wars, but the USA is not taking any oil, and that is another reason why all of these wars do NOTHING positive for the USA. Going to war to grab oil at least makes SOME logical sense, even if it isn't a proper way to do things. Going to war just so a certain Vice President could get more profits for his friends is clearly wrong, and is something that should have been punished by now.
quote: On a final note(for this post at least), attacking the White House, Pentagon, or other military/government targets can be seen as a "valid" attack by those at war with the USA. The World Trade Center/Twin Towers on the other hand is a clearly civilian building.
quote: Also, the crap where people are kidnapped and then decapitated, since it goes against the Geneva Conventions is also not acceptable, so harsh treatment for THOSE types is called for as well.
quote: Dude, you can't argue the side of butchers and murderers. So give it up.
quote: Killing 3000 innocent civilians in one terrorist attack is not justifiable, ever.
quote: First let me say I did not agree the actions taken on 9/11 by the terrorist
quote: but I do understand them and to a degree even would have condone the attack on pentagon, CIA and even the white house, just because of the history of damage US foreign policy has done to the middle east.
quote: I scoff at you saying the BBC is neutral. BBC is as biased as the rest of them. The BBC owns broadcast media in the UK, they are just as biased as the rest of them.
quote: If Saudi troops were stationed in the Vatican we would probably pray and hope the occupiers leave before shedding more blood. The Pope would ask that noone do anything of violence. that is the difference man, an extremist christian will give up their life to let an infidel live...
quote: It is a complicated answer. The real beginnings started a lot early in the '20's when a young Vietnamese nationalist, who would eventually be known as Ho Chi Minh, was in the U.S. studying. He wrote letters to the U.S. presidents asking for their help in ridding his country of French colonialism. They were ignored. During WWII, this same person was contacted by the U.S. military, and told that in return for Vietnamese help in fighting the Japanese, after the war was over, the U.S. would help Vietnam achieve independence from the French. This promise was broken, and various factions of Vietnamese under the eventual command of Minh, united to fight the occupying military of France. Much of the cost of the French presence in Vietnam was borne by the U.S. from the very beginning under the guise of fighting communistic expansion. After the peace accords were signed in 1954-55, one of the stipulations was that Vietnam was to be divided into two countries with elections to be held withing two years in each section regarding total unification into one country. It was the South Vietnam portion, under the control of their U.S. backed gov't that refused to hold these elections. Thus basically the war was born again. It was not so much a war of communistic aggresion, as it was a civil war to reunite the country as a whole. The main reasons it was perceived as a communist threat, were some of the ideology's of the north, and the fact that they North turned to communist countries for the supplies and support they would need in their fight, since the U.S. would not provide them with any aid, and the U.S. clearly sided with the consistently corrupt regimes of the southern divide.Then the Tonkin Gulf Incident/Lie Launched Vietnam War.
quote: Before invading Kuwait – the incident that led to the first Gulf War, which led us to put troops on Saudi soil, which led Osama to declare war against us, which led to 9/11, and which also all led to the current Iraq War – before Saddam ever invaded Kuwait, back when he was our ally, he asked us if we would mind if he invaded Kuwait.
quote: lol, you guys. Exaggerate much? You are all so easily lead. Have they started putting rings in the noses of people now?
quote: I have actually payed close attention to what has been leaked, none of it matters at all.Please tell me what information that has been leaked to-date is of any consequence to the world. You know, something we didn't already know that has completely changed our understanding of events.
quote: Out of his supposedly hundreds of thousands of documents, we have inconsequential diplomatic reports that read like high school gossip and low-level military intelligence on the Iraq/Afgan wars. Not exactly the Pentagon Papers or Watergate as some would have us believe.
quote: As I already said, for his sake, lets hope he actually has something of significance otherwise someone will eventually call his bluff.
quote: If he's so incredibly noble, where are the bank leaks he was going to release in January that would "bring fraud charges against a major US bank"? Rather than release the data, we get to hear about how self-righteous and wonderful he is....
quote: I don't think Julian is an anarchist at all
quote: Long may wikileaks continue exposing the truth, and long may Julian be the hero of freedom of information which I see him.
quote: I don't think Julian is an anarchist at all; he just wants the truth to be told, and a lot of people in authority who have been hiding the truth are very unhappy about this.
quote: Assange really comes across as a self-righteous, self-promoting d-bag.