30 December 2010. Add Phillip Agee, Frank Snepp and Richard Tomlinson references.
29 December 2010
Wikileaks Rest in Peace
The original Wikileaks initiative is dead, replaced by a bloated apparatus promising 260,000 cables at slower than a snail's pace. At the rate of 20 cables a day it will take 13,000 days to finish -- some 35 years.
The original merits of Wikileaks have been lost in its transformation into a publicity and fund-raising vehicle for Julian Assange as indicated in the redesign website which billboards him.
Its once invaluable, steady stream of documents, packaged in its own, no-frills format, is now a tiny dribble of documents apparently regulated by a compact with a few main stream media which amplify the material well beyond its significance. Days go by when nothing new is offered except outpouring of manufactured news about Assange and a slew of trivial news and bombastic commentaries for and against the initiative.
Will Wikileaks once again deliver its original promise or stay imprisoned in bombshells so beloved by the main stream media?
What happened to the back-log of submissions to Wikileaks? Thousands a week coming in, Assange claimed, for which he said there is no staff to process. What staff is needed to process a 3-20 cables a day?
OpenLeaks is said to be preparing release of the backlog, but it too is moving very slowly, its opening first scheduled in December 2010, now April 2011. Perhaps it too is short of staff and financial resources but it has not publicly stated that.
Assange and Domscheit-Berg are working on books, Assange to raise funds for his legal defense, that of Domscheit-Berg not openly disclosed.
Whether any of the proceeds from the books will reach the authors or their debtors is questionable. It common for authorities to deny profits from allegedly illegal activites as in the financial destruction of ex-CIA Phillip Agee and Frank Snepp and ex-MI6 Richard Tomlinson, among others.
Books are fund-raisers and require sophisticated publicity campaigns, disclosure of intent, deals described, amounts to be paid, the usual teasers about the contents. Neither of the two books promise to release submitted materials, only to describe the operation of Wikileaks, insiders accounts, what else. These are customarily works of fiction, aided by ghostwriters, editors, publicists, book designers, galley proofreaders, copies to reviewers, speaking engagements, book tours, dinner parties. Salted with dramatic examples of what will be "revealed for the first time."
What will be surprising will be revelations about the 1 million files Assange claimed to have in December 2006, what has not been published, what was sold on the black market, who the secret big funders are behind the public little ones, where the money has really gone beyond the Wau Holland partial account.
The race is on between Julian and Daniel as to who will hit the hustings first with yet another bombshell of publicity. Nothing new should be expected in this formulaic exploitation of evanescent celebrity. The spring season of book publishing is April.
Meanwhile the original purpose of Wikileaks is dead in the water. Thousands of mirror carcasses floating on the Internet sea, none offering new material except the wee drops of cables which at the current rate will require the passive sites to last redundantly decades when they could be offering material Wikileaks does not.
Except a series of bombshell releases can be expected as the book selling and fund-raising accelerates.
Don't expert ordinary submissions to compete with this all too predictable corporate-style juggernaut.
Wikileaks was once an alternative to conventional sources of information, no longer. Read its media page for how to qualify for business-as-usual participation.
There will be those who continue to milk the promise of Wikileaks, arguing vehemently for its protection and continuation, but not acknowledging in its current configuration sheltered by main stream partners it is not a threat or threatened -- standard bloviation of the media to magnify its importance. The shift of focus to Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo indicates the Assange threat angle is withering and needs to be goosed with journalistic and lawyerly flim-flam so common to awaken readers and juries dozing with disinterest.
None of these grandstanders are taking risks covering Wikileaks and other initiatives; they face no threat due to special protections bestowed by officials of these "defenders of truth." Among this select group Assange now cravenly hides himself as "editor-in-chief." They do not leak themselves, they manage leaks from leakers who go to jail -- call these the collaterally damaged.
A monument to The Original Wikileaks could be placed in the Newseum, in Washington, DC, unveiled in synchrony with the two tell-all books aborning, continuing a valiant PR effort initiated at the DC National Press Club -- in spring season April 2010.
A lasting benefit of the death of Wikileaks is that other initiatives have learned from its experience to do better and not settle for the comfortable entombment of Wikileaks disembodied by Julian Assange on a country estate perfect for mourning in luxurious high style.