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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 Targon on 2/1/2011 9:43:57 AM , Rating: 1
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.

Now, there will ALWAYS be a difference between what is announced about events in a combat zone and what is really going on, for a very good reason. There will ALWAYS be mistakes made by individuals, and if those mistakes were not sanctioned by a government, what SHOULD be said in public?

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.

Remember, encouraging more people to enter the fighting who would normally stay out of it will only act to keep the violence going. The sooner things calm down, the easier it will be to get out of there. Making information public without considering what will happen if/when you do it is what makes WL wrong in how it is dealing with the situation.

On a related topic, if you hear about what crimes the police is investigating and you publish it in public, the criminals will know they are being investigated, and it makes it much more difficult for the police to do their jobs. If a police officer does something wrong, even if it is minor, it can hurt the case against the criminals, and if that police officer is properly punished for it, that is not the sort of thing that needs to be made public. If a police officer does something SERIOUSLY wrong and is not punished, then making that information public may be called for. It may make sense to wait before making the information public if it would harm the public though.

The problem with Assange is that he is not thinking about if the release of ANY information is a good or bad thing, and that is why he is seen as the bad guy by many people. So, he gets information, puts it out there, as if it is appropriate for the public to know EVERYTHING. The governments SHOULD not tell the public everything, but that is not the same thing as the government telling lies. There are also times when things should be kept quiet while discussions about an incident are discussed behind closed doors.

You can also think about it like kids in grade school. There are times when it is good for two kids to work out their differences on their own rather than having the parents step in and only cause different sorts of problems. As long as a fight is FAIR, it can help resolve things in the long run, where a simmering situation can lead to even greater violence.

There is also another issue here that you should be aware of, and that is the difference between the leaders/government of a country and the people of that country. In any situation that involves fighting, you want to REDUCE tensions so that the fighting can end. You do NOT want to stir up the general populace and bring them into a fight, and that applies to many situations, not just wars. Releasing information AFTER fighting has stopped and troops have been removed is much better than releasing that information when it will only make things worse. If there is a riot, let's say over a lack of food, you may not want to make an announcement that some people have hidden food away because they were prepared, and then make the list of people public!

Encouraging violence is wrong, and that is what Assange has been doing. The public does not and should not know EVERYTHING about everyone. You wouldn't want your entire personal history to be put on display, including all your bank account information, how many times you have bounced a check, etc, so why should the government want all that information put out there unless it is to show how someone was doing something wrong, and even then, it might not be appropriate to make it available to EVERYONE!


RE: It's all about him, at this point
By michael67 on 2/1/11, Rating: -1
RE: It's all about him, at this point
By Targon on 2/1/2011 2:49:08 PM , Rating: 3
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. Iraq is a war that was started by obviously false information given by George W. Bush. No matter if a war was warranted for OTHER reasons, there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11, and since going into Iraq was set up as if there WAS a connection to 9/11, that is why so many are against it(now that people know the facts).

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.

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.

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. A terrorist attack, by definition, is one where CIVILIANS are the target. Collateral damage, as I said, is a part of war, but when you intentionally target civilians, that is what makes someone a terrorist, and once someone is a terrorist, they deserve to lose all protections of all kinds, including those under the Geneva Conventions. Basically, I endorse a slow and painful death for anyone terrorist, and feel that cruel and unusual punishments are DESERVED for those who target civilians.

Again, those who are trying to push out an occupying force, insurgents and such have at least a valid claim, but if they are targeting civilians who just happen to be in the region and who are not a part of what is going on over there, that is when they enter that realm of being terrorists. 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.


RE: It's all about him, at this point
By michael67 on 2/1/11, Rating: -1
By pakigang on 2/2/2011 1:15:00 AM , Rating: 2
Before taliban got hold of afgan, the afgan produced 60% of the drug, but as soon as taliban contrlled in almost 86% of afganistan that production was reduced to 2-3%. This was unbearable to the "BID POWERS" & the drama of 9/11 happens. This is just one of the reason why Afganistan was attacked & taliban discredited.


By michael67 on 2/6/2011 8:47:44 AM , Rating: 1
And as usually you cant say anything bad about the USA because you step on those bleeding patriotic hart's.

Instead of going in to a discussion, they do the thing they are best at, put fingers in ears, close eyes, and hum load!


RE: It's all about him, at this point
By michael67 on 2/1/11, Rating: -1
By michael67 on 2/1/2011 12:20:16 PM , Rating: 1
Love the edit button!

Used wrong link at (6) should be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDp1izlMQT0


RE: It's all about him, at this point
By ninjaquick on 2/1/2011 6:40:27 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, you can't argue the side of butchers and murderers. So give it up. Killing 3000 innocent civilians in one terrorist attack is not justifiable, ever. 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.
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...


RE: It's all about him, at this point
By YashBudini on 2/5/2011 12:42:47 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Killing 3000 innocent civilians in one terrorist attack is not justifiable, ever.

How many civilians has GWB killed?


By YashBudini on 2/5/2011 11:20:59 PM , Rating: 1
It seems you need some help.

How about more than 3000?


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