Xeni on Madeleine Brand radio show: "Wikileaks struggles to survive financial blocks"

I joined the Madeleine Brand Show today for a discussion about the latest Wikileaks news. On Monday, Julian Assange said—for the second time in as many years—that the organization known for leaking government secrets will stop publishing because it is broke.

Download the MP3 here.

Wikileaks struggles to survive financial blocks | 89.3 KPCC.

Related coverage: Wired, WaPo, NYT, Knight Center, WSJ, Reuters.

Photo: Assange speaks during a news conference at the Frontline Club in London October 24, 2011. He said the whistle-blowing website would soon cease to exist unless it was able to end a financial "blockade" by U.S. firms such as Visa and MasterCard. (REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)


  1. Assange is making some pretty serious and remarkable claims here, but they’re also testable ones. His accountants brushed off a request for details, but surely they still have enough money to simply WikiLeak their own books, right? 

    If they’re squeamish about releasing things that genuinely ought to be private (e.g., staff salaries and taxpayer IDs, the names of paid anonymous informers, etc.) then I volunteer to act as Redactor-in-Chief. I have excellent arithmetic skills and a good working knowledge of the Wikipedia article on accounting, and as far as I’m concerned I’m completely neutral and fair. (But honestly, I’m probably just going to release it all.)

    I mean, they might as well voluntarily post them now, since their track record suggests they’ll post them accidentally at some point anyway.

  2. I’m a little confused… primarily as to how Wikileaks needs SOOO much cash on hand to operate?  I thought the whole point of net activism was that the net in itself is  playing field leveler, that one can get in on the ground floor for cheap.  Does one HAVE to have a massive server farm is some bunker like cave turned NOC?  Is it about free and open information? or is this more about a failed business model?  Anons for better or worse, have made a pretty large global impact on their own, sharing and digging up information without needing to depend on MasterCard, Visa, or Paypal.
    as the Creative Commons expression goes ” Your Failed Business Plan is NOT my Problem”.

  3. Whatever Mr. Assange is, he’s not dumb. He must’ve known sooner or later the powers would backatchya in their own way.

  4. Or instead of pitching this as a “poor, poor US (=wikileaks)” he could pitch it as “poor, poor YOU, betrayed by these financial institutions that don’t want leaks to leak.”

    Assange embodies an amazing blend or great PR skills, and lousy PR skills.

  5. I think Jacobian said it best, in the thread from a few days ago. This stuff ain’t cheap:

    Careful analysis of the leaked data to ensure that leaking of it does not contain watermarks of various types which could identify sources (especially important with photos and video).  Analysis to remove names or other identifying information to avoid retributive attacks which may get people killed.  Careful vetting of the source and authenticity of the documents to ensure that the documents are not faked, are not part of disinformation campaigns, or are not falsified intentionally in an attempt to discredit.

    In addition there will need to be support infrastructure of various types including legal work, secretarial work, making contacts, LOADS of PR work, server and IT work etc.  It’s not a “dump it in your off hour from work” type job.  It certainly isn’t something easily managed.  If you think it’s something a few people could do in their spare time, I don’t think you’ve really contemplated just what is required and totally under appreciate what’s being done.

    Wikileaks has enabled many remarkable things to happen. As noted in another BB story recently, the release of diplomatic cables describing the murder of civilians followed by an airstrike cover-up made it impossible for the Iraqi government to provide immunity to US troops any longer. Fuck yeah! Assange should get the Nobel peace prize for that alone.

    The current political climate we bask in, where ordinary people are taking back their power, owes much to Wikileaks, and Assange. Is he an ass? Of course. History won’t care, and neither should you.

    1. Except the did eventually eff up and let the entire cache out with out redactions. Thereby circumventing that entire “careful analysis” argument and probably getting people killed.

      1. Except the did eventually eff up and let the entire cache out with out redactions.

        From Wikipedia: “The remaining cables were published in September 2011 after a series of events compromised the security of a WikiLeaks file containing the cables. This included WikiLeaks volunteers placing an encrypted file containing all WikiLeaks data online as “insurance” in July 2010, in case something happened to the organization. In February 2011 David Leigh of The Guardian published the encryption passphrase in a book; he had received it from Assange so he could access a copy of the Cablegate file, and believed the passphrase was a temporary one, unique to that file. In August 2011 a German magazine, Der Freitag, published some of these details, enabling others to piece the information together. In response, Wikileaks decided on 1 September 2011 to publish all 251,287 unedited documents.”

        So, why was the entirety of the file put online as ‘insurance’? Oh right, the US and Sweden were trying to extradite Assange on trumped-up charges. The decision to release everything unedited was a deliberate one, as the password leak made the cables available to many, but not to all.

        Now it’s all out there, the unvarnished truth as seen through the eyes of diplomats all over the world. You worry about the people who may be killed as a result, but I look at events like the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq and wonder how many lives may be saved.

  6. Boycott the “Too Big to Fail” that censor Free Speech and suppress our Democracy.
    Pay in cash whenever possible.
    Barter locally when you can.
    Use Mastercard, Visa, and PreyPal only when you have no other option.
    Participate in Bank Transfer Day on November 5th, withdraw all money from the major corporate banks and deposit it locally with a credit union.

    1. “Barter locally when you can.”
      Sure pa. Let me just take these possum skins down ta the general store and get some tabaccy and iBook Pro.

      1. I’ve bartered with several major businesses in Taos, traded work on computers for work on my car, and although I’m not saying I’ve engaged in such transactions HEMP is used locally as a common barter commodity.
        I could, if I desired, use a small amount of Hemp Flowers to purchase almost any non-corporate good or service.
        By using nationwide barter-banks such as hOurwold.org, which claims over 160,000 exchanged you can find others to barter with.
        Even craigslist often works, I recently bartered for a motorcycle I found there.

        Of more timely note my wife traded an old dog crate for a slew of camping gear we donated to #occupyburque (currently facing immanent arrest).
        If you want to you can barter for food, shelter, and a great many other things. Even if verizon (scumbags) won’t take your possum-skins.

  7. It seems like Wikileaks has become too ubiquitous a punching bag to continue it’s original mission, that it’s become more of a standard to rally around than an effective method of distributing leaked information from protected sources.  Where are the whistleblower sites all the people Assange alienated said they were going to set up after they left Wikileaks?

  8. Cryptome’s John Young, to my pleasant surprise, has come out in favour of Wikileaks and Wikileaks-like entities:
    Despite the money machine Wikileaks has become for the thousands exploiting
    its product and notoriety, it deserves maximum financial, moral and political
    support in ways that help avoid dependency upon rigged markets and leveraged


    1. To be clear: Of course, I know that John Young is in favour of WL-like entities.  For example, his own website. 

      I’m pleased by his endorsement of WL itself.

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