Wikileaks shed light on UN documentation of executions of children performed then covered up by US military.
Controversial international watch-dog organization Wikileaks announced today that it will cease publication of leaked documents due to financial difficulties resulting from an inability to access millions of dollars in donations blocked or held in limbo by by major financial institutions. It’s an important story about just how uncontrollable the web really is; organizations like Wikileaks still require budgets to operate and the centralization of financial transactions is one meaningful choke point available to those who would aim to slow or cease their activities.
The news comes days after the United States government announced it would withdraw all troops from Iraq by the end of this year, a decision reportedly forced by the Iraqi government’s unwillingness to grant US troops legal immunity if they remained in the country.
According to CNN on Saturday, “the negotiations were strained following WikiLeaks’ release of a diplomatic cable” – the key cable in particular was one released in May wherein the United Nations special investigator on extrajudicial executions wrote to the State Department and said that “according to the information received,” in March 2006 US troops entered a house in a town called Ishaqi after a firefight, handcuffed and executed all the residents of the house, ages 3 to 74, then ordered a strike by air to destroy the evidence. (Read the cable itself.)
The story of that incident in particular was key in making continued US presence unpalatable to the people of Iraq and thus untenable for the Iraqi government to permit.
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald writes that though the UN report was documented elsewhere previously, it was the high-profile release of the cable by Wikileaks that galvanized opinion in Iraq.
Greenwald argues that whoever leaked the cables to Wikileaks, allegedly the imprisoned but untried Bradley Manning, will be judged a hero by history for their role in ending the war. I always assumed that the release of documents like that was intended to shame an offending country into demanding accountability from its leaders; I guess that’s not how it works any more.
Out of Money
Days after the announcement that the US troops would be withdrawn from Iraq, Wikileaks announced today that it will cease publication of new leaked documents to focus on rebuilding its finances.
The organization alleges that Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union have refused to process or withheld 95% of the attempted donations from the public to Wikileaks. Wikileaks will now focus its energy on rallying supporters to make financial donations through the limited channels still available.
The timing certainly seems appropriate.