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The New York Times writes: "The whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks has not been convicted of a crime. The Justice Department has not even pressed charges over its disclosure of confidential State Department communications. Nonetheless, the financial industry is trying to shut it down."

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, 12/24/10. (photo: AP)
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, 12/24/10. (photo: AP)

Banks and WikiLeaks

By The New York Times | Editorial

26 December 10

Petition in Support of Julian Assange

Also See:
WikiLeaks' Twitter Page:
WikiLeaks' Support Page:
Lieberman Attacks New York Times Over WikiLeaks Documents:

he whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks has not been convicted of a crime. The Justice Department has not even pressed charges over its disclosure of confidential State Department communications. Nonetheless, the financial industry is trying to shut it down.

Visa, MasterCard and PayPal announced in the past few weeks that they would not process any transaction intended for WikiLeaks. Earlier this month, Bank of America decided to join the group, arguing that WikiLeaks may be doing things that are "inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."

The Federal Reserve, the banking regulator, allows this. Like other companies, banks can choose whom they do business with. Refusing to open an account for some undesirable entity is seen as reasonable risk management. The government even requires banks to keep an eye out for some shady businesses - like drug dealing and money laundering - and refuse to do business with those who engage in them.

But a bank's ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.

The fact of the matter is that banks are not like any other business. They run the payments system. That is one of the main reasons that governments protect them from failure with explicit and implicit guarantees. This makes them look not too unlike other public utilities. A telecommunications company, for example, may not refuse phone or broadband service to an organization it dislikes, arguing that it amounts to risky business.

Our concern is not specifically about payments to WikiLeaks. This isn't the first time a bank shunned a business on similar risk-management grounds. Banks in Colorado, for instance, have refused to open bank accounts for legal dispensaries of medical marijuana.

Still, there are troubling questions. The decisions to bar the organization came after its founder, Julian Assange, said that next year it will release data revealing corruption in the financial industry. In 2009, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive.

What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was "too risky"? What if they decided - one by one - to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

-187 # Dusty 2010-12-27 00:07
How Long is this going to go on? The guy is solisticing confidential documents of the state just like any other spy. He is not a journalist or a whistle blower. He is a free lance spy and the donations he receives is his pay. If you are sending him money, then he is your agent and you are more guilty of crimes against the state than he is. If you are helping transfer money to him, then you an enabler and just as gulity of spying. it is that simple.
+59 # Cattivo 2010-12-27 09:49
Couldn't agree more. Subversive elements need to be identified and swiftly removed from society with extreme prejudice, before their poison is allowed to spread and disturb the minds of the masses--like that uppity Galilean carpenter who busted up the souk and harrassed the poor, honest money changers
while recklessly broadcasting his seditions to everyone with ears to hear him.
+87 # minkdumink 2010-12-27 10:19
so if you support phony wars,that makes you an agent of death as well does it not?
+77 # Terry 2010-12-27 10:41
[quote name="Dusty"]Ho w Long is this going to go on?

As long as it needs to go on. I gather you would rather have your government continue to act in an unlawful manner on the world stage. There are some activities that need to be brought forth for all the world to see. By taking the stand you have you support these unlawful actions and crimes against humanity. Think again.
+64 # AlwaysAskWHY 2010-12-27 11:41
REALITY: The financial industry, the military industrial complex, and corporations have been engaging in slavery, theft, MASS-MURDER-FOR -PROFIT AT MANY LEVELS, including destroying democratically elected governments, poisoning populations with their waste, enabled (aide and abetted) by bought off legislators. IT IS TIME the American People knew and understood CLEARLY what the rest of the world KNOWS....that their tax money ("The sweat of the American People") has been stolen to pay for their crimes against humanity. ENOUGH. Please, take the blinders and ear muffs off... and save your butt, and those of your family.
+57 # Ralph Averill 2010-12-27 13:26
Correction. Assange is not a freelance spy; he runs a freelance information clearing house, Wikileaks, for whistle blowers exposing crimes against humanity.
+53 # bjw 2010-12-27 13:41
Not so simple. You simply have it wrong from the very beginning and misusing the word 'spy' and going downhill from there.

pl. spies (spz) KEY

1. An agent employed by a state to obtain secret information, especially of a military nature, concerning its potential or actual enemies.
2. One employed by a company to obtain confidential information about its competitors.
3. One who secretly keeps watch on another or others.
4. An act of spying.

None of the definitions would fit Assange nor would any definition of espionage. He is quite open about what he is doing and as you point out is being supported by supporters at large.

He does not claim to be a whistle blower, but rather an outlet where whistle blower can send materials which can be published.

A crime has to be something that is in an existing criminal code. So far, no one can give a citation for any law that wikileaks or Assange as founder of wikileaks has committed. Misusing words like 'spy' does not count.
+35 # Mike 2010-12-27 16:17
are you serious? are you this willing to submit to corporate control? are you this brainwashed? or . . . are you an employee of BoA?? you right wing nuts have destroyed the country.
+41 # geraldom 2010-12-27 20:38
Quoting Dusty:
How Long is this going to go on? The guy is solisticing confidential documents of the state just like any other spy. He is not a journalist or a whistle blower. He is a free lance spy and the donations he receives is his pay. If you are sending him money, then he is your agent and you are more guilty of crimes against the state than he is. If you are helping transfer money to him, then you an enabler and just as gulity of spying. it is that simple.

Dusty, you would have done quite well under Hitler's Nazi Germany. You would have been a good patriotic German who, like so many good Germans, had their blinders on while Adolph Hitler massacred 14 million people in death camps.

I'm a patriot, an American patriot, because I believe in and support what no longer exists in our country under both Bush and Obama, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. Anyone who blindly supports what our government does, even when it's so very wrong and unconstitutiona l, are the actual traitors in this country. I fully support and will continue to support Julian Assange and Wikileaks and their good works.
+13 # barfulious 2010-12-27 21:30
Really, a spy? Hmm, I thought spies were supposed to be secret, hence the term spy. But if you put a spotlight on you and blow horn well then you are a whistle blower. Also, if you are registered as a journalist news organization, well then you might be considered a journalist. Your level cognitive dissonance, arrogance and ignorance are astounding. Do you work for the CIA or did some astroturf group pay you off to troll the news?
+16 # Pikewich 2010-12-27 23:30
Hey Dusty,

Sorry, a spy is someone who steals stuff and sells it to another organization. Quite often as an agent of that organization with the intent to profit or do harm

Wikileaks is a raw whistle blower information outlet. It's stated purpose is to bring to light the bad stuff others don't want us to know.

If you have a problem with people uncovering and publishing illegal stuff done to us and others that cause hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, you are on the wrong side.

+9 # theLawyer 2010-12-28 04:04
Um, Cattivo, I don't think the First Amendment has been repealed yet. You realize you're arguing against the values enshrined in the US Constitution, 1st Amendment, don't you?
Of course you don't. Your mind is SHUT to the point where you advocate US CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS BY ATTACKING REPORTERS AND FREE SPEECH!
+8 # Mk 2010-12-28 10:10
Too much truth for ya?

Quoting Dusty:
How Long is this going to go on? The guy is solisticing confidential documents of the state just like any other spy. He is not a journalist or a whistle blower. He is a free lance spy and the donations he receives is his pay. If you are sending him money, then he is your agent and you are more guilty of crimes against the state than he is. If you are helping transfer money to him, then you an enabler and just as gulity of spying. it is that simple.
+98 # bookzen 2010-12-27 00:12
Finally, a rational statement from the NYTimes concerning Assange and Wikileaks. It's about time!

The ability of the banks to stop the flow on contributions to wikileaks, simply because Wikileaks has the ability to expose wrongdoing by the banking industry, should be illegal. Unfortunately, the financial industry appears to have purchased the necessary number of Congressional members necessary to stop any legislation that can force the banks to treat everyone fairly.It's interesting that this situation surprises no one.

But this much it true: The times they are a changing!
+25 # bjw 2010-12-27 13:48
I am waiting for the first case to be filed from a B of A customer who wants to send a donation to wikileaks or Assanges's defense fund. That would be a very interesting case. How could a bank decide who you send money to or not unless the organization had been found to be in violation of a federal law?

At the same time, one could simply withdraw cash and send a money order or travelers' checks and not go through B of A. That would not be a defense for the bank's action though.
+48 # banichi 2010-12-27 00:24
It suggests to me that many others have written about the illegal and fraudulent operations of all the biggest banks. So, if WikiLeaks has data from BofA that incriminates the bank and its executives in an uncontrovertabl e way, BofA would surely do whatever it could to stop Julian Assange from releasing it. The banks would do whatever it took to keep it from happening, even assassination as has been suggested.

The very biggest banks, those who are running the small group that makes decisions about what is allowed and by whom it is allowed regarding the 600+ trillion dollar derivatives market, are making more money than ever. None of them were taken over when they caused the financial meltdown of 2008. No CEO or executive went to jail. So what are they afraid of? What could be on a hard drive that could threaten them all? I don't buy that B.S. that BofA put out about it, and no one should. They just got insecure and this is the result.
+16 # AlwaysAskWHY 2010-12-27 11:49
+45 # gdaley 2010-12-27 00:26
I said to my girlfriend two weeks ago, "Anyone in the diplomacy game knows darn well that the person across the table is as likely as they are to be lying at any given moment, and they all, no doubt, say unflattering things about each other behind their backs. Maybe the big flap over the latest diplomatic cable revelations is simply a convenient excuse to shut Wikileaks down before they start releasing the dirt on our banks. That might all hit a little closer to home for the masses."
+67 # Cathy 2010-12-27 00:27
These criminal banksters have a lot of nerve to even suggest anyone is a criminal. They ARE CRIMINALS THEMSELVES if they received bailout monies.
They are STILL DOING THE SAME AS BEFORE & now foreclosing on peoples homes in record numbers.
The criminal banksters have destroyed our economy & were rewarded with taxpayer money in the bailout! They DESERVE TO BE TARRED & FEATHERED FOR STARTERS. They don't want their crimes revealed in detail to the public because then MAYBE Americans at least might wake up & get pissed off enough to DEMAND THEY BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!
+23 # AlwaysAskWHY 2010-12-27 11:56
Makes folks wonder WHY: When these sociopaths have more money than God, what is the payoff?

Perhaps it's a case of escalating self-gratificat ion, ie, 'is that all there is?' Like drug addicts, these corporate elite PERVERTS escalate their crimes to satisfy their perverse cravings, and it often includes murder to cover them up.

BY THE WAY: Who KILLED Mike Connell after he testified to a grand jury about his and KARL ROVE'S RIGGING OF THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN OHIO? I wonder. Might have something to do with KARL ROVE, huh?

It has been proven, though not publicized, that Rove, Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris, RIGGED THE 2000 ELECTION, so WHY IS NO ONE IN JAIL, YET?

+15 # AlwaysAskWHY 2010-12-27 12:01
Everything that is happening now happened prior to the Great Depression: inflated stock prices, banks hoarding money, financial INSIDER TRADING... Sadly, it is going to get worse. With the GOP stating boldly and clearly that they INTEND to destroy Barack Obama and this nation (post Depression wages being the goal), and with a COWARDLY Senate, and a SUBMISSIVE AND CORRUPT PRESIDENT OBAMA, WHO UNDOUBTEDLY WILL SIGN EVERY CORRUPT, DIVISIVE AND DEADLY PIECE OF LEGISLATION THEY PUT IN FRONT OF HIM... WE ARE LIKELY DOOMED.

Might be "good enough for us" too.
+45 # donna 2010-12-27 00:34
Very troubling indeed. It has showed me a greater reason to distrust my government and the institutions it supports. Like the movie the invasion of the body snatchers, many Americans are sleeping pods void of the ability to question authority. What a waste of a society.
+33 # Dennis Bandy 2010-12-27 00:45
When you have lost freedom of speech, any speech, then what do you loose. the freedom to THINK? This stupidity has to stop ore you all are doomed. Wake up, AMERICA, WAKED UP!!!!!!
+36 # Johnny Genlock 2010-12-27 00:59
Censorship right out in the open!
+18 # Ben Makinen 2010-12-27 01:59
PayPal will, thank God, still process contributions made to RSN!
+39 # fdawei 2010-12-27 02:07
Here we go again - the banks "too big-to-fail" syndrome is once again cascading across the country cajoling other payments processors to join ranks to prevent the truth from being told. This is akin to their collective "lie" for TARP.
Disgusting, discriminating and potentially illegal.
+40 # Pamalah MacNeily 2010-12-27 02:16
The Banks are running the economy of our country. There are more than enough instances where the Banks abuse their power. Let not Wikileaks, Julian Assange, be the next. One never know when the Banks will turn on you.
+39 # Milly 2010-12-27 02:57
I think it is awesome that he is doing this. Someone has to! It is time for accountability everywhere.
+34 # redjelly39 2010-12-27 03:05
Fascism at its finest. Still think we live in the "home of the free" ? I guess as long as you do & believe what you're told otherwise it may be your bank account that gets shut off next. Wikileaks is trying to expose some truth that we should all be aware of but Mega-Banks/Corp s & our beloved US Government doesn't want us to know and deem the truth as a threat... I read about this years ago and it is now happening. Part of the whole RFID agenda is that if you are deemed a terrorist or put on a "list", your entire life can be shut down with a keyboard stroke. Time to go underground.
+33 # Ralph Averill 2010-12-27 04:41
Corruption in the banking industry? My stars and garters, Edna. Who would think such a thing could happen? Good for the NY Times. Are the banks now going to pull their advertising from the "grey old lady" of American journalism?
Wikileaks is the mouse that roared.
+12 # otto117 2010-12-27 06:51
The big banks, Visa, Mastercard and Paypal have been doing this for nearly a decade to any person who engages in speech (not pornography, but speech) which challenges conventional morality / facts / law regarding so-called paedophilia. And it's not on grounds of "risk". It's because they don't like the viewpoint. I have been told repeatedly by third parties that Paypal has even stolen money over it, claiming the particular use violated its "policies" and then pocketing the funds collected.

Now this policy is being aimed at more acceptably mainstream political dissent? How shocking.
+12 # Activista 2010-12-27 12:06
Paypal have been doing this for nearly a decade - it is EBay - EBay ows PayPal - stop buying/selling crap on EBay - support democracy.
CraigsList is much better to recycle old stuff - people to people itneraction without banksters dirty fingers.
+26 # Merschrod 2010-12-27 07:20
One would hope that the Newspapers would withdraw their accounds from corrup banks, and keep up the news.

The least the average citizen can do to protest banking practices is to pay in cash and cut them out of the credit card skimming on all purchases.
+18 # robmgold 2010-12-27 08:10
I guess the puritythese large financial institutions must be upheld. Their regular asistance to international drug deals, however, won't be stopped foe anything.
+38 # PatriotMom 2010-12-27 09:34
I dropped B of A in the '80's when I saw they were charging unfriendly fees to consumers. If you all go out right now & put your money in a local Credit Union, then tell others to do the same you will be doing your local economy & yourself a big favor.
+6 # God Dont Like Ugly 2010-12-29 06:19
You've hit the nail on the head PatriotMom. I've been a member of a credit union since the early '90s and the difference between them and major banks is incredible. My credit union works for *me,* not some fatcat CEO and his golden parachute, and as you said, credit unions are a part of our local economy.

If we, as so many say here on RSN, vote with our feet - and our dollars - this is a very easy way to do it. Yes, you'll have to spend a little time to make the change, but it's well worth the effort, and considering how much time we spend here opining when we could be *doing* something...
+4 # Nels Wight 2010-12-29 08:26
How to go, MOM!

0 # Twilightbj 2011-01-01 10:28
Quoting PatriotMom:
I dropped B of A in the '80's when I saw they were charging unfriendly fees to consumers. If you all go out right now & put your money in a local Credit Union, then tell others to do the same you will be doing your local economy & yourself a big favor.

Now here is a lady who is part of the solution and not the problem. We can bitch about something til Doomsday and nothing will change...but if we ACT and actully work to solve the problem... that is when we get results... three cheers for anyone who is bypassing the banks who brought our country to its knees ...
+14 # Steve Miller 2010-12-27 10:10
Give Jullian Assange the Congressional Gold Medal and make him president of the United States. Oh, but wait, the Congressional Gold Medal would be awarded by the most corrupt entity in the world and Jullian would be much to honest for a corrupt and crimminal organization like the USA. Then just sweep the dirt under the rug and let us continue in our corruption. We are obviously more comfortable with lies, deceit and corruption than truth????
+17 # minkdumink 2010-12-27 10:15
''crimes against the state''? which state is that? the police state or the military state? I think its the confusion state. And it makes one wonder what he has on the banks doesnt it? After all its they that bankroll our hate,phony wars,and manipulation of the sheep once called people in the USA. And who can deny this?
+6 # Activista 2010-12-27 12:00
Oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky - check Wikipedia who he is/where the money and his partner is - was again convinced for stealing and corruption. And our USraeli corporate press is screeming against Putin.
I wish our Obama had enough b***s and put people ahead of US Oligarchs - learned from Putin. Poverty of majority on one side and extreme riches of 2% ruling class - QUO VADIS America?
+5 # Maria 2010-12-27 12:26
i think, it's not a sign of strength but pure weakness.
david versus goliath

not forget: the world is big and there are other banks in america and elsewhere.

wait and see
+16 # Hors-D-whores 2010-12-27 17:42
This is a very important article, and I've passed it around to everyone I could. It reminds me of this:

Remember Pastor Niemoller's words"

"First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."
+8 # gerard 2010-12-27 20:17
So far it is less offensive that what Facebook and similar sites are doing 24 hours a day.
We live in the internet age. Banks and governments should know better and act fairly instead of putting preemptively someone on trial. I wish for other countries to share the same treatment instead of torturing opponents and journalists. It looks like the US is learning from them instead of the other way around!
+14 # giraffe 2010-12-28 10:50
Hurry up WikiLeaks and publish the Bank information -- The very fact the banks want to stop Wiki === Guilty of crimes we probably cannot even imagine.

I too closed my B of A accounts and use small local banks.
+4 # tomo 2010-12-28 20:37
If you're one of those who is saying: "If we're not careful, Orwell's 1984 might actually happen," I'd say this bank deal could be your wake-up call. In Brave New World, Huxley portrays the general death of freedom in gentler strokes, and when Huxley later compared his work with Orwell's, he said he thought his gentler form is how the collapse would probably take place. Perhaps it's because our collapse of human rights and of democratic principle is gentle and incremental in its bearing on most of us that we don't see more clearly what is happening. Having a smooth operator in the White House, with smiling face and graceful manners, helps certainly to keep the process of demise look familiar and civilized.
+2 # Nels Wight 2010-12-29 08:31
Chris Hedges' piece was quite to the point yesterday when he explained we are just leaving our brave new world and reaching 1984.
You got it! BRAVO!
+5 # Lorna L. Jewell 2010-12-28 21:26
I think that most people are unaware of the larger significance of the BofA's (and others) actions. The blase ("don't bother me with this stuff") attitudes is what troubles me.
+5 # Otto Schiff 2010-12-29 01:02
The real criminals are in the government, protecting themselves by classifying everything.
+4 # barryg 2010-12-29 01:49
I have noticed on a number of threads about this that the first or second response is anti wikileaks, pro fascism. Then there is a blast of freedom supporting intelligent responders. I think its the security apparatus trolling---
+4 # motamanx 2010-12-29 12:19
When discussing the Wikileaks Affair, always remember this:

"The real intent of the First Amendment was to prevent nati onal suicide by making it difficult for the government to operate in secret, free from the scrutiny of a watchful press."        

—I.F. Stone’s Weekly, October 3, 1966

Izzy usually had the correct point of view.
+2 # Capn Canard 2010-12-29 18:15
Wow, the vast majority of comments are pro-free speech and then there are two that are the supportive of a fascist Ministry of Truth model. Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but seriously Assange is not hiding. He stated his intentions, as far as any of us can tell he isn't hiding anything. I am astonished that most MSM outlets seem to consider him to be guilty of ... well, guilty of spreading the truth. Something that the MSM hasn't done in years and they have no intention and definitely no reason to tell the truth when there is profit to be made. The reaction of the MSM is understandable considering that one man with a mission to expose lies has made them look mediocre. Professional jealousy! Thank you R.S.N., well done.
+4 # mrgaribaldi2263 2010-12-29 21:50
I really liked the analogy to utilities in the article. Banks, like common carriers, cannot discriminate against anyone in their business. This is particularly so with all the government support that they received, and continue to receive. Banks receive an enormous amount of legal and financial support to help run the economy.

They are, in essence, financial common carriers. "Risk Management" shouldn't even be a factor to consider when they are already "too big to fail."
+1 # Ellen 2010-12-30 06:54
I think some of you missed the irony in Cattivo's comment.He is strongly against the attack on Assange. He even compares Assange to Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, who was killed for his verbal attack on the establishment of his time.
0 # dania pellagra 2011-01-04 16:12
Totally agree that the leaks will be beneficial in the long run....they were taken by illegal means but most of the stuff they leaked were also illegal...
can't wait for the financial industry leaks..that will blow the top off the
'american dream machine'..go for it!!

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