November 30, 2010

WikiLeaks Prepares U.S. Banking Megaleak

Could it be on Goldman Sachs? Promises to be fascinating. Here's a key excerpt from this Forbes interview with Julian Assange:

"These megaleaks, as you call them, we haven’t seen any of those from the private sector. 

No, not at the same scale as for the military.

Will we?

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? 

No comment.

When will it happen? 

Early next year. I won’t say more.
 
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 comes 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. The way they talk about it."

Indeed, this last point is a great one. Perhaps such exposure together with sustained reflection from ethicists--and reporting on that reflection--will usher-in an era of renewed corporate consciousness. But for this to happen, major media outlets must start taking their own mission to educate and inform more seriously. And that means acting with restraint in the ratings and revenue race. For real news tends to be less sensational and thus less viewed.

3 comments:

  1. Looks like some fear it's Bank of America, which dropped over 3% as a result: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703994904575647180698155858.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

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  2. I have been hearing BofA as well. I've also heard rumblings that they may have a BP release coming as well.

    Thanks for the link to the Forbes interview!

    Dan

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  3. Sure thing Dan.

    They definitely have info on BP. It's part of that "wikibomb" they are retaining in case Assange is assassinated. It's not being released yet I suspect because the legal case it pending.

    I think it's pretty clear his arrest is part of a U.S. campaign against him as there has never been an international hunt for anyone on such small charges and such flimsy evidence. See this withering criticism for example by Naomi Wolf: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/jaccuse-sweden-britain-an_b_795899.html

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