Shooting star, or supernova (choose your preferred metaphor), either-way, WikiLeaks has shone incredibly brightly over a rather short period. And during that time, quite a few people have been burned by the experience.
Since publishing its first leak in December 2006, WikiLeaks has gone from strength to strength. With burgeoning ties to the world’s media, to whom selected pieces were provided in advance, and a growing reputation for getting the word out no matter what it was (including a leaked copy of WikiLeaks’ own supporters list) the organisation was gaining notoriety.
Relatively quickly, WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange gained considerable prominence and notoriety amongst the digerati but remained relatively unknown amongst the wider population until the release of Collateral Murder, the gun-sight video of civilians in Iraq being killed by a US attack helicopter.
And for those who missed the video, there was no seeing past CableGate, the cache of nearly 260,000 US Government embassy communications reportedly submitted by Bradley Manning, a Private stationed within the US security teams in Iraq, who is also rumoured to have supplied the Collateral Murder vide.
Although originally issued in a trickle, with all names thought to be in danger redacted, CableGate was released in its unredacted entirety a couple of months ago when the encryption key for a widely disseminated image of the files was accidentally released in a book.
But, just like our supernova, the WikiLeaks star is very much on the wane.
One of the problems with being a thorn in the side of the Americans is that the US controls much of the world’s economy, as Assange has recently discovered. (Probably) fearing government recriminations, major US financial organisations Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union have all refused to process money transactions for WikiLeaks, effectively denying access to (as they claim) 95 per cent of their donation sources.
Further, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, widely regarded as WikiLeaks second-in-command had a major falling-out with Assange and left the organisation on September 28th 2010 stating, "WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that's why I am leaving the project."
Domscheit-Berg and others have since moved on and have formed OpenLeaks as something of a competitor to WikiLeaks, but have not yet commenced operations and WikiLeaks is still mired in its battle with the banks and is no longer publishing new information until funding is forthcoming.
As most will be aware, founder Julian Assange is under house arrest in England awaiting news of the court’s decision whether he should be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over two sexual assault allegations. This will be decided 0945 (GMT) on Wednesday, November 2,(that’s 8:45pm AEDT).