Julian Assange on Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and the Emerging Surveillance State
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AMY GOODMAN: And how devastating has it been for WikiLeaks?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Since the blockade was erected in December 2010, WikiLeaks has lost 95 percent of the donations that were attempted to be transferred to us over that period. So, that is over $50 million. Now, fortunately, our 5 percent of $50 million is still not nothing, and so the organization can continue. But as I said in that press conference, our rightful and natural growth, our ability to publish as much as we would like, our ability to defend ourselves and our sources, has been diminished by that blockade.
Now, the United States government has looked into the blockade in January of 2011 and formally found that there is no lawful reason to erect a U.S. financial embargo against WikiLeaks. So what has happened here is that—and this came out in the commission documents that we published yesterday—is that Senator Lieberman and Congressman Peter T. King pressured at the very least MasterCard and Amazon, but perhaps others, including Visa, as well, pressured those organizations to erect an extrajudicial blockade that they were not able to successfully erect through the legislature or through a formal administrative process.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Julian, turning to your new book, Cypherpunks, those in the—around the world who have been amazed at your ability to advocate transparency in government and in the corporate world through the internet might be surprised that in your book you now say the internet is a danger to human civilization. Could you explain why?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Human civilization has merged with the internet. Every society has gone onto the internet, with communications between all of us as individuals but also communications between businesses, economic transfers, and even the internal communications and external communications of states. So there is no barrier anymore between the internet and global civilization. That means that when the internet develops a sickness, global civilization also runs the risk of suffering the same sickness.
And the sickness that the internet has developed over the past 10 years is that nation states and their corporate powers have ganged up together to engage in strategic interception of all communications flowing over the internet across national borders and in many countries even within, within its national confines, such as the United States. We know that that has occurred in different places as a result of whistleblowing cases, such as Mark Klein’s case or William Binney’s, a former chief of research at the National Security Agency. So, we have gone from a position that dissidents face and activists face and individuals face 10, 20 years ago, where if we’re engaged in political activity, we could be individually targeted and our friends could be targeted, to a situation where everything, almost, that everyone does over the internet is recorded and intercepted all the time. And that shift is a shift, as it’s called in the internal documents of the hundreds of companies now who supply this national security sector, a shift between tactical interception on a few people and strategic interception, intercepting the entire nation.
We exposed documents earlier this year, the Spy Files—you can look them up—where, for example, the French company AMISYS, which is closely connected to French intelligence, supplied a nationwide—that’s its own words—interception system to Gaddafi’s Libya back in 2009. And in fact, lawyers connected to WikiLeaks and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism were in the manual that AMISYS shipped to Gaddafi as an example of how the interception system worked.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of corporate surveillance, as well, you often find now in the media a huge push to get people to use social networks. The degree to which private surveillance or corporate surveillance is going on, as well as government surveillance?