Posts Tagged ‘Wikileaks’


WikiLeaks is under attack from powerful government and corporate officials and entities. The attacks are an assault not only on WikiLeaks, but on freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of the Internet.

Of greatest concern are the efforts to deny WikiLeaks access to the Internet and to financial services. We do not know of publicly available evidence that these efforts — which include reported denial of service attacks on WikiLeaks websites from unknown sources, terminated service agreements from companies like Amazon and PayPal, and shuttered bank accounts around the world — have been coordinated by the U.S. government, though many suspect this to be the case. Public Citizen has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests that we hope will reveal more about the government’s response.

What we do know is that the actions of powerful corporations to sever commercial relations with WikiLeaks occur in the shadow of what major media outlets have called a government declaration of war against WikiLeaks. Amazon reportedly decided to stop providing computing services to WikiLeaks after contact from the office of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). PayPal says it cut service to WikiLeaks in response to statements from the U.S. State Department.

Whether or not coordinated, Public Citizen condemns the unconstrained and unaccountable actions by corporations and the government to deny a disfavored website, nongovernmental organization or journalist enterprise access to the Internet and financial services. (more…)

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Today’s Flickr photo

Wikileaks supporters rally in Sydney, Australia. Flickr photo by MrReebDoog.

If you read one thing today . . .

Count David Corn,  Mother Jones’ D.C. bureau chief, as one of the few progressives coming to the defense of President Obama over his acquiescence in extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. In his Politics Daily column, Corn says that after gaining insights from high-level administration sources, he’s of the mind that the president’s decision was less about giving in to GOP demands and more about salvaging something for beleaguered middle-class Americans.

But come this point, Obama had to play a lousy hand — even though it was a hand he had a hand in dealing. And here comes the sympathy.

In meeting after meeting, during which the president and his aides discussed his options, Obama repeatedly asked if anyone could guarantee that were he to put up his dukes, go to the mat, and play chicken with the GOPers, mid- and low-income Americans would end up with the breaks and benefits he believed they need. If he went nose-to-nose, mano-a-mano, and the R’s didn’t blink, they’d be nothing for nobody — and the Bush tax cuts would end for the middle class, mean that come Jan. 1, hard-working Americans would see a smaller paycheck. To make matters worse, this might have an anti-stimulative effect on the economy.

Then what would happen? He might be able to win the blame-game against the Scrooge-ish Republicans — which would be a significant victory, especially heading into the next Congress. But there would be no action until next year, and any tax-related bill would have to originate in the Republican-controlled House and pass a Senate with a larger and more tea party-ish GOP caucus. It could take weeks or months to hammer out a package. What were the odds it would contain as much assistance for the non-rich? In the meantime, working-class Americans would be contending with less money. That is, hurting more.


The progressive uproar over President Obama’s decision to cave to GOP demands over extending the Bush tax cuts extends beyond the president’s shaken grassroots base and outspoken liberal members of Congress — now the voices of dissent are coming from some of his big financial backers. Matea Gold in the L.A. Times writes that Obama’s lack of fight is hurting the Democratic fund-raising effort.

“I would say I’m not a happy camper,” said Paul Egerman, a software entrepreneur in Boston, who said this was the first time he felt Obama reversed himself on a significant policy issue. “That troubles me. I need to be convinced he really had no alternative.”

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Today’s Flickr Photo:

Flickr photo by Sifu Renka

If you read one thing today . . .

The wining and dining that lobbyists imparted on lawmakers hardly surprise Washington insiders. But when a glimpse of the influence infiltrated outside the Beltway during the trial of former House majority leader Tom DeLay, Texas jurors didn’t like what they saw. They learned of DeLay’s flights on corporate jets, meetings at resorts and a flood of corporate cash fluffing his campaign coffers. In the end, they convicted him on felony charges of conspiracy and money-laundering. What does this mean on a larger scale?

“We tried to present the context,” Rosemary Lehmberg, the Travis, Texas, district attorney who oversaw the prosecution, told The Washington Post. This included DeLay’s role in founding the PAC and its solicitations of corporations, as well as the political rewards that he reaped. She said, however, that while it’s true “citizens are tired of the large amounts of money and particularly corporate money that are being put into the political arena,” the jury’s judgment was based on evidence that such funds were sent to Washington and then brought back to Texas in a deliberate effort to evade the state’s absolute prohibition on their use in elections.


Wikileaks again topped headlines this week when the group released a host of cables revealing insights into American diplomacy. What’s on tap next for the controversial nonprofit media organization? Rumor has it, Bank of America is on deck to be Wikileaks’ next target. Although BofA refutes the whispers, that didn’t stop its shares from tumbling 3 percent yesterday. As financial blogger Barry Ritholtz put it,

Here is the sad reality: Can you really embarrass any of these banks? They were incompetently run, with criminally inept risk management. They blew themselves up, and exist today only due to the largesse of the taxpayer. They gratefully took all they could grab and more.

What else can you release to embarrass them?

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David Kushner with Mother Jones takes a fascinating look behind the whistleblower Web site Wikileaks.org, the site everyone is talking about this week after it published the 2007 U.S. military video of a helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed 12 people, including two staffers for Reuters news service. Though Wikileaks has its critics — people who think the site’s approach of publishing leaked materials lacks the integrity of journalism’s filtering process — it undoubtedly has had an impact in shining a light on government and corporate abuses around the world. From Mother Jones:

Since its launch in December, 2006, WikiLeaks has posted more than 1.2 million documents totaling more than 10 million pages. It has published the operating manuals from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, NATO’s secret plan for the Afghan war, and inventories of US military materiel in Iraq and Afghanistan. In September 2007, a few weeks before Assange’s alleged close call in Nairobi, it posted a document exposing corruption in the highest levels of the Kenyan government. Assange claims that the site receives as many as 10,000 new documents daily.

The New York Times also had a piece on Wikileaks’ new found fame (remember the days when we would have expected newspapers like the NYT to be the ones uncovering these types of videos?):

Reuters had tried for two and a half years through the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the Iraq video, to no avail. WikiLeaks, as always, refuses to say how it obtained the video, and credits only “our courageous source.”

Both the NYT and MoJo pieces cite a 2008 case where a California judge tried to shut Wikileaks down after it published documents from a Swiss bank that may or may not have shown the bank was involved in money laundering. Public Citizen and other First Amendment organizations successfully intervened in that case, arguing that it was an example of improper prior restraint.

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