Honest distributor of leaked data or a clever PsyOps front, one can not deny that whatever it is, Wikileaks does share some unique information with the world (as to how it is interpreted is a different story). Yet for the most part, the bulk of the organization’s recent exposures have focused on the US military and away from the private sector, and thus away from that which is really important in today’s world: money (of a paper representation thereof). Which is we read with interest in the latest Julian Assange interview with Forbes’ Andy Greenberg that next on the docket of Wikileaks disclosure is not some facebooky look into the gossip world of international espionage or the foreign service, but something far more tangible and relevant: “A Big US Bank.”
From the interview:
These megaleaks, as you call them that, we haven’t seen any of those from the private sector.
No, not at the same scale for the military.
Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.
Is it a U.S. bank?
Yes, it’s a U.S. bank.
One that still exists?
Yes, a big U.S. bank.
The biggest U.S. bank?
When will it happen?
Early next year. I won’t say more.
One needs to ask whether this is what we need: after all the US public already has enough public data to convict the executives of all the banks for numerous consecutive life sentences as is. It almost seems that nothing short of photographic evidence of some very (in)famous bank CEOs have underage sex while filming snuff movies, dressed in drag, killing puppies and recording their market manipulation conversations with Brian Sack will even rattle the Rip van Winkle formerly known as Eric Holder. But then again, we can hope…
As for Assange’s reason for coming to public with the bank exposition:
What do you want to be the result of this release?
[Pauses] I’m not sure.
It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume. Usually when you get leaks at this level, it’s about one particular case or one particular violation.
For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed, through court processes, thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal, and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations.
This will be like that. Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that cames out, and that’s tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.
You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest. But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest. The way they talk about it.
While we refuse to pass judgment on Assange’s character, and his motivations, it appears that he may have finally figured out that to enact change in a country, you have to go not after the politicians or even the military industrial complex. After all both of those are puppets for the moneyed interests. One has to go after the very heart of the financial oligarchy. Money always has made the world go round, never more so than in the US currently. Perhaps Assange can redeem himself of all attacks on his persona if he does succeed in disclosing something that is beyond mere watercooler talk and actually leads to at least one major prosecution. After all, the US’ own regulatory and enforcement mechanisms are corrupt beyond repair, and completely unable to do so on their own…
(and yes, we certainly hope it is not Lehman Brothers, although the bank in question is most certainly going to get the Lehman treatment. The question is who will benefit from this disclosure, and now that Goldman’s FICC desk is no longer the gold mine it used to be, there are some suggestions)