The Central Intelligence Agency has created a task force to investigate WikiLeaks’ impact, the Washington Post reported. The task force is titled the WikiLeaks Task Force, or nicknamed W.T.F.
“The director asked the task force to examine whether the latest release of WikiLeaks documents might affect the agency’s foreign relationships or operations,” CIA spokesman George Little is quoted as saying.
According to the Post, the WikiLeaks task force will be comprised of “more than two dozen members from departments across” the CIA.
Manning Not Getting $$$ from WikiLeaks
The Register reported that even though more than $90,000 has been donated to Bradley Manning’s defense fund, none of that money came from WikiLeaks. Manning could spend more than 50 years in jail, the Guardian reported in November, for charges related to the claims he is responsible for leaking secret U.S. military documents to WikiLeaks.
According to CNN, Assange “has recently declined to publicly comment on any payment for Manning’s defense, despite soliciting donations for the cause. Assange said at a press conference in Geneva in November that his group had been advised not to talk about it anymore.”
In a Dec. 8 news release on BradleyManning.org, the “Bradley Manning Support Network” stated that contributions came from more than 1,200 “individuals and organizations” and that $50,000 of the $90,000 “has been transferred” to Manning’s attorney David Coombs.
Jeff Paterson, “Bradley Manning Support Network steering committee member and project director of Courage to Resist (www.couragetoresist.org),” claimed that none of the money came from WikiLeaks.
“We understand the difficult situation Wikileaks currently faces as the world’s governments conspire to extinguish the whistle-blower website,” Paterson is quoted as saying. “However, in order to meet Bradley Manning’s legal defense needs, we’re forced to clarify that Wikileaks has not yet made a contribution towards this effort. We certainly welcome any contribution from Wikileaks, but we need to inform our supporters that it may not be forthcoming and that their continued contributions and support are crucial.”
The WikiLeaks Twitter page icon reads “Free Bradley” referencing Manning. StinkyJournalism reported in early December that the Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger had commented he “would think about contributing” to Manning’s defense.
WikiLeaks has previously claimed that it has donated money to Manning’s defense. As CNN reported, WikiLeaks “authorized [bank Wau Holland Vice President Hendrik Fulda] to release funds from its account for Manning’s defense sometime” in September. “The money was expected to go to Courage to Resist.”
CBS News noted that “a spokesman” stated the “main financial arm” for WikiLeaks’s the Wau Holland Foundation, “is awaiting advice from its lawyers on whether the donation would be legal under German law.”
Assange Signs Book Deal to make $$$
The Guardian reported Dec. 26 that Assange said he would be using money from a book deal to pay for his legal costs. Assange reportedly explained this arrangement to the Sunday Times (behind a paywall), but the Guardian also reported them here.
Assange reportedly stated “I don’t want to write this book, but I have to. I have already spent £200,000 for legal costs and I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat.” Under the terms of the deal, American publisher Alfred A Knopf will pay Assange $800,000 coupled with a £325,000 arangement with British Canongate will give Assange £1.1 million.
According to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, the book will be about Assange’s life and WikiLeaks. The book has no set publication date.
As the Guardian noted, Assange said earlier in December that WikiLeaks can’t afford “to pay its legal bills, even though ‘a lot of generous lawyers have donated their time to us.'”
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reported that Assange was paid $86,000 this year as his WikiLeaks salary. That figure is “two-thirds of the total WikiLeaks budget of $130,000.” Therefore, the remaining one-third must be divided among all other WikiLeaks employees, any operating costs and operational savings.
The Telegraph cited a Wall Street Journal article as having broken the news. A search of the Journal’s site indicates that the story is behind a paywall.
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Assange Calls Cablegate Leak Biggest Story in 10 Years
In an interview with David Frost published Dec. 22, Assange reiterated that he does believe there is a need for some secrets, citing doctors as an example, and criticized Hillary Clinton. Assange called the possibility of being extradited to the United States “a serious problem” and called Bradley Manning a source. He further claimed that “there is pressure that is being applied” to Manning in jail.
He told Frost that his lawyer has told him it would be “more dangerous” if he’s extradited from Sweden to the United States than if the extradition order came while he was in the United Kingdom.
While claiming that WikiLeaks has information on China and North Korea, he explained that the United States wasn’t an initial “target” for WikiLeaks. “Most closed societies and most corrupt ones” were, he stated.
WikiLeaks so far hasn’t paid for any of the information it has received, Assange claimed, but it’s not because WikiLeaks has a “philosophical objection to doing so.”
Regarding WikiLeaks’ financing, Assange claimed he largely backed the site until this year. “Until the beginning of this year, I financed — together with some of my friends — the entire operation with the majority of the money coming from me,” Assange stated.
Assange denied being an anarchist, agreeing with Frost that he’s “in favor of authority if it’s doing the right thing.”
While some have called it ironic that the sex charges against Assange have been leaked, Assange disagreed.
“We’re an organization, a little orgniaztion that helps individual people inside abusive organizations expose the abuse by some powerful group.
“What has happened to me is that a powerful organization — at least the Swedish police, Prosecutor Service, maybe Swedish Intelligance, we don’t know precisely what the interference is with this case, has breached their stated internal operations, breached the wall to first, pump out my name, and just recently, in the last few days, to selectively take bits of the court police investigative file, the most prejudicial bits they could find, and pump this out to The Guardian newspaper just before my court hearing. Pump it out to Le Monde, pump it out to the New York Times. Why? Who’s doing that? That’s a dirty trick; that’s a clear dirty trick”
Assange backed away the terminology on WikiLeaks’ relationship with the newspapers, denying that they were allies and calling it a “business arrangement.” He previously called the newspapers “partners.” He criticized The Guardian’s report on the sex charges against Assange and called the Cablegate leak “the biggest journalistic story of the last ten years.”
He stated that he didn’t want to talk about his “private life” and that his “cultural values” prescribe that “a man does not criticize women, certainly he does not criticize women before he knows all the facts are in.” But, Assange claimed a friend of the accusing woman had said the woman “was bamboozled by police and other people into this position and she’s not very happy about it.”
“Maybe it’s not actually all a scheme from the women — although there is some suggestive evidence that that is true — maybe they are innocent women who were bamboozled into making statements they didn’t really want to make,” Assange said.
iMediaEthics is writing to organizations involved in Bradley Manning’s defense funding and will keep updating this developing story.
UPDATE: 12/30/2010 9:38 PM EST: Loraine Reitman, a steering committee member for BradleyManning.org, responded to iMediaEthics’ e-mail inquiry. She wrote:
“I would also just add that WikiLeaks has worked hard to promote the Bradley Manning campaign. They’ve helped publicize our events, they’ve helped promote our defense fund. We’ve been able to gather funds quickly and effectively in part because of these efforts. We’re aware of the financial difficulty currently faced by WikiLeaks and we’ve accepted responsibility for Manning’s legal defense.
“Yes, we’ve communicated with WikiLeaks. We still would welcome a donation from them, but we are fundraising with the expectation it will not be possible for them to donate.”
Reitman also countered CNN’s reporting that “The money was expected to go to Courage to Resist,” stating that: “In fact, we never expected the money to be donated to Courage to Resist. Money that is donated through Courage to Resist is subject to certain fees (like credit card fees), so we always expected WikiLeaks would make their donations directly to the legal trust account. (See the options for donating here — http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/content/view/858/1/, we expected WikiLeaks to take the second option.) “