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29 January, 2018

The war on Whistleblowers and WikiLeaks

The PayPal-offshoot Becomes a Weapon in the War Against Whistleblowers and WikiLeaks. The Palantir document notes that most well-known journalistic professionals “with a liberal bent . . .if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals.”

WikiLeaks, the transparency organization known for publishing leaked documents that threaten the powerful, finds itself under pressure like never before, as does its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange. Now the fight to silence WikiLeaks is not only being waged by powerful government figures but also by the media, including outlets and organizations that have styled themselves as working to protect whistleblowers.

Pierre Omidyar – eBay billionaire and PayPal’s long-time owner – holds considerable sway over several journalists and organizations that once championed WikiLeaks but now work for the Omidyar-owned publication, The Intercept. Thanks to his deep ties to the U.S. government and his own long-standing efforts to undermine the organization, Omidyar is using his influence to bring renewed pressure to WikiLeaks as it continues to publish sensitive government information. However, Pierre Omidyar is not the only PayPal-linked billionaire with strong government connections and a dislike for WikiLeaks.

Part 6 - In the wake of the 2016 election: exploiting the “mission” weakness

More telling than anything else, however, is why the FPF chose to move forward with this decision. Among those members of the FPF who have spoken up against WikiLeaks in recent months — each of them has pointed to the concern that WikiLeaks and Assange have “gone astray” from WikiLeaks’ original mission, rejecting its commitment to nonpartisanship and intentionally aiding the Trump campaign in the 2016 election — thus making the organization and Assange responsible for Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

Those FPF members that do not share these views have remained silent, despite the fact that many of them have vocally defended WikiLeaks in the past.

This is remarkably in keeping with the Palantir document’s cited “mission” weakness. While the document — written in 2010 — said that some disgruntled WikiLeaks supporters felt that Assange’s alleged target was the United States government, the same “fracture” has arisen with accusations that Assange was unfairly singling out Hillary Clinton. In both cases, Assange and WikiLeaks’ goal was to expose the crimes of both the U.S. government and, later, Hillary Clinton — not to slander either with false information.

Now, those accusing WikiLeaks of everything from Russian collusion to secretly plotting with the Trump campaign are being exploited by a massive “media campaign” built on “disinformation.” Just as the Palantir document suggests, this media campaign is working to “feed the fuel between feuding groups [i.e. those who accuse WikiLeaks of anti-Hillary partisanship and those who do not].

As will be revealed in Part III of this series, one writer in particular — Kevin Poulsen — has been instrumental in this recent, post-election media campaign to discredit WikiLeaks. Yet, Poulsen’s history shows he is no friend to whistleblowers or WikiLeaks. Not only was Poulsen responsible for causing massive damage to the reputation and defense of Chelsea Manning prior to her trial, he also shares a direct connection to the FPF — and a shady connection to the U.S. government. More troubling still, he — after two mysterious suicides — is the only surviving member of the group that created SecureDrop, the app which — after being promoted by the FPF and The Intercept — is now widely used by top media outlets for “secret” communication between would-be whistleblowers and big-name journalists. Could Poulsen’s troubled past with WikiLeaks and its sources endanger SecureDrop’s goal of protecting whistleblowers?

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