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In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes", Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said he loved watching banks "squirm" about rumors of his latest upcoming leak.  (Source: CBS)

Questions about Mr. Assange's motives (he has called himself an anarchist in the past) went unasked, as did the question of whether Wikileaks might be profiting off the stock shifts its leaks cause.  (Source: CBS)
Assange claims U.S. is utterly incapable of removing his site from the web

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 America.  

In an 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 publication."

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 it's them."

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 Minutes interview.

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

Which writes:

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. 

He may well have changed his views since his teenage years in Australia in the 1980s, but it is well documented that at least at one time he expressed anarchistic views.

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RE: It's all about him, at this point
By PrinceGaz on 1/31/2011 4:43:34 PM , Rating: 2
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.

Julian has many online as well as real local supporters (like the guy here in Britain who is letting him live in his country estate as part of his bail agreement) and in this day and age, that makes him very strong. The ridiculous sexual assault charges to get him extradited to Sweden are clearly politically motivated from certain foreign governments.

Long may wikileaks continue exposing the truth, and long may Julian be the hero of freedom of information which I see him.

By Alexvrb on 1/31/2011 11:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
Hey put down Mr. Assange's pecker and type with two hands, damnit.

By Spuke on 2/1/2011 9:50:16 AM , Rating: 1
I don't think Julian is an anarchist at all
Who cares if he is or isn't? It's irrelevant. We all have our reasons for whatever we do, why would he be any different?

Long may wikileaks continue exposing the truth, and long may Julian be the hero of freedom of information which I see him.
Hero? LOL, ok. Hopefully Wikileaks doesn't suffer from Assange's antics. I think the site would have a better chance of survival without him.

PS - F$%k Julian Assange.

By bah12 on 2/1/2011 10:40:48 AM , Rating: 2
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.
Then release the damn BofA data if he is so unbiased, and just wants the truth. Fact is he just likes getting his c*ck stroked in the media. Like your high school girlfriend teasing you along because she really wants to but is just not ready yet (what she really wants is attention).

If you want to enable an open whistle blowing site, I am ALL FOR THAT. But that is not what he does, he cherry picks things to suit his perverse desires. Give me a break this guy is just an egomaniac, pure and simple. It really is all about him, god I hate pricks like that and I hate him worse for taking a good idea and ruining it with his draconinan rule.

By dgingeri on 2/1/2011 11:05:46 AM , Rating: 2
You just don't realize how useless the information he released really is, do you? So many people scream on and on about government conspiracies, and yet what this guy is revealing just shows that no such conspiracies exist, and all that goes on behind closed doors is a bunch of rubbish gossip, just like any company.

People are people. they'll gossip, complain about others, and generally make asses of themselves in what they think is privacy.

This guy has been totally ineffective at revealing the real thievery in the world's governments. Where's the transcripts of the discussions by democrats behind closed doors on the health care bill? Where's the discussions of the UN food program bringing Saddam his 40th Ferrari? Where's the proof German companies knowingly sent Saddam ingredients for chemical weapons during the trade embargos? (That last one was found by US troops when they took over Iraq, but they couldn't find documentation on who sold it to him and why.) When I see that, then I'll applaud him. For now, he's still just an ineffective troll, and I believe that's all he'll ever be.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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