What is WikiLeaks and what has it done?

February 8, 2011

In this article, Ian Anderson, a member of the Wellington branch of the Workers Party, looks back on the breaking of state secrets – including with regard to NZ’s role in Iraq – and how WikiLeaks has helped shape recent international events.

By now everyone with access to mainstream media has heard of WikiLeaks. Whether it’s the latest head-line from a leaked diplomatic cable, or a development in the Assange rape allegation drama, WikiLeaks is a centre-piece in media coverage. This article aims to give some background and analysis, to put the headlines in context.

Launched in March 2006, WikiLeaks relies on donations through the non-profit sector. Donations are processed by the Wau Holland Foundation in Germany, a non-profit organisation named after a “data philosopher” who developed notions such as hacker ethics. WikiLeaks is also registered through various other organisations internationally, many with only covert affiliations.

Like so many NGO-ist operations, WikiLeaks strives for political neutrality and does not have an explicitly anti-imperialist mandate. Until recently they used the following mission statement:  “Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal unethical behaviour in their own governments and corporations.”

In its early days WikiLeaks exposed corruption in Kenya, and found itself in conflict with censorious Chinese authorities. However, the website ultimately shot to fame by exposing the machinations of Western imperialism. In April 2010, WikiLeaks released the first file from PFC Bradley Manning, a video nicknamed “Collateral Murder.” This video depicted the US army murdering Iraqi civilians and firing upon reporters in a 2007 airstrike. In the weeks following this leak “WikiLeaks” was the search-term with the most significant growth on Google.

In his position as Intelligence Analyst for the US military, Manning had leaked two videos of airstrikes and about 260,000 diplomatic cables – many still unreleased by WikiLeaks. After former hacker Adrian Lamo blew the whistle, Manning was arrested and placed in solitary confinement. WikiLeaks continues to release the cables in batches, despite various attempts to shoot the messenger.

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Pike River update: Compensation and investigation

February 6, 2011

By Byron Clark (Christchurch branch WP member)
‘‘I know a number of external parties who have expressed interest in the asset”

These were the words of Pike River Coal chairman John Dow, quoted in The Press on January 14th in an article where the main topic was the police decision to ‘pull the plug’ on attempts to recover the bodies of twenty nine miners from the Pike River mine. It’s a strange world we live in where “asset” and “mass grave” can be interchangeable. With the police ending their recovery attempt, responsibility for the mine lies with the receivers, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Receiver John Fisk told Radio New Zealand that they have about $10 million in cash, plus a number of assets above the ground and in the mine. However, if there is not enough money to re-enter the mine, the land will be handed back to the government. If that happens, the Department of Conservation is most likely to assume control of the mine, and responsibility for the bodies of the workers still encased within it.

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Egypt fights against dictatorship

February 5, 2011
Egypt solidarity protest in Christchurch

The following is the text of a leaflet distributed by Workers Party members at demonstrations held accross New Zealand in solidarity with the uprising in Egypt.

The Arab world is on fire. The people of the Middle East are rising up against the Western supported dictatorships. Suddenly a situation that has existed quite comfortably for the last forty years has been turned on its head.
When Iran burst into revolt in 2009 over the rigged elections, the governments of the ‘West’ could not do enough to encourage the ferment. But the situation in Egypt is very different, because Egypt is the West’s most important Arab ally in the region. Each year the regime receives more than $2 billion dollars in US “aid”. When Obama states that he is “calling upon Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters”, he is referring to the weapons and munitions that the US has supplied over the last 30 years.

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