Wikileaks stops publishing an effective stop to whistleblowing

Some would properly cheer while other will cry but almost nobody will lack a opinion on Wikileaks. This week it was announced that wikileaks will cease to publish because the campaign that have been running against the organizations apparently have been successful. This has subsequently meant that the Assange and his peers have been standing without effective banking connections. In practice it means that Wikileaks cant do banking or credit card transactions through companies like Visa, MasterCard and PayPal.

“This financial blockade is an existential threat to WikiLeaks. If the blockade is not borne down by the end of the year the organisation cannot continue its work,” Assange told a news conference in central London.

And with the additional problems with hosting there seem to be no end to the troubles of Wikileaks.

The trouble started when wikileaks issued another huge batch of classified U.S. government documents through their website. This action stuck security experts like a guided missile. Previous WikiLeaks had mainly disclosed low-level field reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was bad enough. But this last bundle of information dealt with diplomatic rather than military issues, and at high level in US diplomacy. Some even said that it might be just two or three steps away from the US president. While the information was not really revolutionary or have a major impact on the ground it did show a major gap in US diplomatic security.

As a consequence the US with the help of some of it allies started a campaign that had the purpose to take Wikileaks out of business for good. And it is this campaign that seemingly has been successful.

It would seem to me that there are three lessons to be learned

  1. That nobody can keep secrets forever. No government, agency or company can trust that when information is put in writing, video or graphics it can be kept a secret. At some point it will be discoursed.
  2. There is a difference if you disclose information about people in the “west” e.g. the perceived good or if you rat on people from the “east” e.g. the perceived bad. If your information threaten the statues quo and the normative perception of good and bad one should be careful what you say.
  3. That whoever is named, as the whistleblower will be prosecuted through any means available to them. Either though legal or illegal means the exposed will stop a nothing in-order to see the whistleblower be destroyed.

While we like to think that there is freedom of speech is a universal right and that whistleblowers will be protected it apparently only goes this far.

So lessons learned from this case is that if you have information about the actions of a western government or other powerful “good” institutions you should keep it too yourself because the consequences of disclosure is that you and the people you care about will be destroyed.

How to loose 17 billion

Flag of Iraq, 1991-2004

Image via Wikipedia

Not of American money. Not American money. I don’t think that you will find that anybody is arguing that there was corruption in the American programs.  – Condoleezza Rice, 2008

Throughout the U.S. occupation of Iraqbillions in tax dollars have been lost due to corruption and incompetence. Some of the most egregious losses have been via “American programs”:

– The Coalition Provisional Authority delivered 363 tons of cash on an airplane, totaling $12 billion, to Iraq “without assurance the monies were properly used or accounted for.”

– The State Dept spent $36.4 million dollars on weapons and equipment that could not be accounted for because “invoices were vague and there was no backup documentation“.

– Top contractor KBR came under fire last year from government investigators foroverpricing its contract by $2 billion, which, for example, included overstating labor costs by 51 percent.

– State Dept. employees testified in May 2008 that the U.S. “allowed corruption to fester at the highest levels of the Iraqi government,” resulting in the loss ofbillions in U.S. tax dollars.

Looking at how things have developed since and the numbers seem to just grow and grow and the number now is around 17 billion USD unaccounted for. One must just the Americans and their ability to loose things :-) I think that anybody else would be really, really upset and would have started throwing people in jail.