WikiLeaks and Anonymous: Will they kiss and make up?
It is truly a difficult call to make for some and an easy one for others. I myself have decided to stay neutral on this one for the time being. What I am talking about is the apparent divorce between Anonymous and WikiLeaks.
Before sitting down to write this I attempted to contact Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks number two, in order to get his reaction and comments to the news that Anonymous had pulled all support for WikiLeaks. Unfortunately he has become unavailable and has not returned my calls or text messages. A little disconcerting since I have done so many interviews with him and with people who support WikiLeaks.
What to make of it I am not sure, but I do know that there is a lot that is going on behind the scenes and it is possible and highly likely that there is a good explanation for WikiLeaks’ silence. For all we know the WikiLeaks principle has been told not to contact anyone or has been secretly taken somewhere or worse, although we will sit and wait before we start endless hypothesizing. Maybe he just went on vacation or is super busy?
What we do know is that the so called “paywall” is still present on many of the Global Intelligence Files at WikiLeaks, including ones I have written articles about and ones we linked to here at the Voice of Russia. So what is the problem? Well the problem is an ethical one and it is not made an easier by the nature of the paywall.
I wrote to WikiLeaks and asked them to at least put an X in the upper right corner so that people could close it, but the only way for the average user to get around it is to press the donate button. Julian Assnage and WikiLeaks claim to have Twittered a workaround that involves deleting temporary internet files or disabling java, something the average user, who is the exact person who needs to be presented with some truth, would have some difficulty in doing.
Anonymous is against it and has pulled support of WikiLeaks for this and several other reasons. So, first we have the appearance of the paywall, second was a dinner Assange had with Lady Gaga, a truly weird event from anyone’s point of view, and the third was the fact that WikiLeaks, according to Anonymous, has strayed from the mission and has become, as they put it “The Assange Show”.
Other complaints by Anonymous surround the fact that close to a dozen of their hacktivists are currently locked up or facing long prison terms, Bradley Manning has been tortured and is facing life in prison if not worse, and dozens of people who have associated with, helped, provided documents to or communicated with WikiLeaks have been arrested or have faced a myriad variety of different problems because of their association with WikiLeaks, including arbitrary arrest, seizure of equipment, denial of freedom of movement and more, all of this for material on WikiLeaks and for assisting WikiLeaks in their stated and honorable mission to get to the truth out.
Another problem Anonymous has with all this is that no one at Wikileaks has been arrested, is facing prison time or has been subjected to arbitrary punishment other than Julian Assange. Who is not openly wanted for anything having to do with WikiLeaks. Whether this is by special design of the US Government or not, it does not look good for WikiLeaks.
Back to the paywall, Anonymous may be justifiably upset, they are not in the game for the money. They are activists who are interested in getting the truth to the masses. Unfortunately we live in a world where it is impossible to live without money and some sites are forced to try to raise funds to keep going. WikiLeaks needs money to operate and to fight all of their court battles. This has been an ethical problem with other whistleblower sites as well.
For example my own site has never made a dime and I am truly independent in publishing whatever I want on it, yet without funds for writers and developers and multiple hosting and promotion sites such as mine have little chance of competing with the big boys like WikiLeaks. This is the problem. When a site is being commercially or otherwise funded then its credibility and independence may be brought into question. Sites that are dependent on funding have to make sure they do not do anything to displease their paymasters.
WikiLeaks is not funded but is attempting to make money from the material they are providing, they must do so to survive, and this is an unfortunate reality. For Anonymous it sheds a bad light on the material that they are fighting to get out to the whole world. They are doing so for free at a great cost to themselves in order to get the truth out about crimes being committed by governments and corporations to the masses.
The fact that WikiLeaks chose to put up the paywall on Anonymous provided material is quite frankly an odd one as far as I am concerned and hopefully Kristinn may clear that up in the near future.
Meanwhile poor Bradley Manning is facing the beast on his own and is looking at, among other things, “aiding the enemy” charges. That enemy being WikiLeaks.
Hopefully the unifying factor of “getting the truth out” will allow WikiLeaks and Anonymous to “kiss and make up” and hopefully, as I am almost certain is not the case, WikiLeaks is not only in it for the money.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are my own, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Would love to hear from Anonymous and Kristinn, please answer your e-mails.