Monday, October 24, 2011

Highlights from WikiLeaks Press Conference

WikiLeaks held a press conference at the Frontline Club today, covering two major points:

1) Submissions will be temporarily postponed to focus on fundraising.
2) A new online submission system will be operational on 28 November, the one-year anniversary of Cablegate.

Here are some other highlights from the conference:

- United States Treasury found no reason why WikiLeaks should be blockaded.
- In Australia, a formal US-triggered investigation into WikiLeaks found no case to answer.
- $2 million USD was spent monthly to hack and smear WikiLeaks by three intelligence firms, one being HBGary.
- A survery conducted by Reuters in April of 2011 showed that 75% of people supported WikiLeaks' operations.
- After each major WikiLeaks release there was a dramatic spike in donations.
- WikiLeaks has lost 95% of donations because of the blockade.
- Before the blockade, the average monthly donation to WikiLeaks was €100,000, but has since been €6-7,000.
- In the 24 hours the banking blockade was suspended, WikiLeaks raised over 100,000.
- The first case against the banking blockade will be found in Denmark within a few weeks. Legal cases will proceed in Iceland, United States, Australia, and United Kingdom.
- Julian Assange states that if the blockade cannot be removed, WikiLeaks will be unable to carry on into 2012.
- WikiLeaks has over 100,000 pending publications.
- Bank of America engaged a crisis team after Forbes magazine article that mentioned WikiLeaks' possession of banking documents.
- WikiLeaks has nearly 100 media partners in 50 countries.
- WikiLeaks has opened up new donation methods, such as mobile phone SMS and foreign bank transfer.
- WikiLeaks funds have NEVER gone to Julian Assange's personal defense fund.
- The donation base of WikiLeaks is over 50,000 people. Therefore, they are unable to be influenced by any one person or group.
- The average donation to WikiLeaks is $25 USD. They do not rely on a few wealthy individuals.
- To continue for the next 12 months, WikiLeaks has projected a needed amount of $3.5 mil USD.
- HTTPS websites cannot be trusted, for they have been infiltrated by intelligence agencies. Example: Dutch certificate authority Diginotar was infiltrated by Iranian intelligence, and their certificates were fabricated.

New methods for donation are available on the WikiLeaks website:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Did WikiLeaks help to end the Iraq War?

This Friday President Obama announced that all US troops would be withdrawn from Iraq, effectively ending the Iraq War. Though many news organizations reported on the president’s announcement, CNN was the only one to acknowledge any role WikiLeaks may have had in the decision, stating “negotiations were strained” following the release of a particular diplomatic cable.

Despite 31 December 2011 being established as the date for US withdrawal in the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, negotiation was opened in August of this year for US troops to stay past the original deadline.

It is possible that a WikiLeaks’ revelation aided in the refusal to extend the US military’s stay in Iraq. A cable released on 30 August told of at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including five children, who were handcuffed and executed by US troops. An airstrike was subsequently called in to destroy the evidence. This information caused a huge stir in Iraq, resulting in the investigation on the 2006 raid to be reopened. A Sunni lawmaker commenting on the news report stated that the crime would have impacton signing further contracts to keep US troops in Iraq.

In Obama’s speech, he did not mention why an extension contract was not signed. But, as Huffington Post reports, a major issue for the US was the Iraqi Government’s repeated refusal of immunity to US troops from prosecution in Iraqi courts. [edit: Another article by Associated Press says that the US' demand for immunity was the deal breaker in continued presence in Iraq.]

By withdrawing from Iraq, the Iraqi government is protecting its people from such crimes as these, and the US government is preventing its troops from being prosecuted for the same. Whether or not WikiLeaks played a role in this decision, we can only speculate.