Those who think the WikiLeaks were manufactured by the US to embarrass and defame certain individuals should take a look at the extent to which the US administration is going to take them off the internet. WikiLeaks.org is under attack from all directions. Those who have collaborated with the government include book-selling Amazon which has removed WikiLeaks from its hosting services. But some, like server DynaDot, are under pressure to do likewise. As a result the WikiLeaks.org web address is no longer functioning after an American internet company pulled the plug on the site.
WikiLeaks was taken offline by hosting firm following allegations of massive cyber attacks on the website.
Servers who removed WikiLeaks offered the excuse that they were under severe attack by hackers which endangered websites other than WikiLeaks, forcing them to remove the secret cables. Among other domain hosting companies, Octopuce in France had to remove WikiLeaks after being served a warning by the French government that said that it is unacceptable for a criminal site to be hosted in the country. Relying on a law that bans ‘criminal’ websites, the French industry minister wrote to the body governing internet use, warning that there would be consequences for any company or organisation helping to keep WikiLeaks online in the country.
So WikiLeaks has been inaccessable except through one Swiss domain. Julian Assange – the WikiLeaks founder who was arrested by British police on December 7 on a European warrant issued by Sweden – knows the American government and its collaborators are on a weak moral and legal ground and has struck back saying that the state has privatised censorship to avoid opprobrium: “These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in theUS.” French company OVH, which hosts WikiLeaks, has warned it will consult lawyers to take on the French government, asking the court whether the government has the right to close down Octopuce.
WikiLeaks have done a lot of damage to America’s relations with friendly and unfriendly states alike; and the effort clearly is to foreclose on the leaks that are in the pipeline, some of them relating to nuclear weapons and, therefore, even more dangerous. American action is bound to meet a backlash from within America but the administration would be willing to weather that storm when it comes.
Damage control will, at best, be partial and its success will be judged against secrets that will not be put out for public consumption. Much also depends on how Mr Assange has arranged the storehouse of information in his possession. The leaks can surface again after some time; they are bound to resurface in the long run in any case. The damage done has been considerable, threatening the superpower’s diplomacy in the coming days. Always taking advantage of internal fissures in host countries, American diplomats gleaned crucial information from threatened politicians, pretending to help but practically deepening the rifts.
What has been revealed may not be as damaging to the US as to the leaders reported upon. In the case of Pakistan, it has brought into open the confusion of lack of trust among major players, especially three central figures: the army chief, the government and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. Politics in Pakistan is a like a jungle where political instincts are centred on the survival of one at the cost of another. Among all kinds of ‘deficits’ in Pakistan, the one that should bother all citizens while facing the onslaught of a formidable al Qaeda is the deficit of trust in the basic tenets of the state.
What may be even more off-putting is the similarity between the conditions in Pakistan and those obtained in Afghanistan. The Americans are supporting President Karzai while talking about his corruption behind closed doors – now doors unlocked by WikiLeaks – and President Karzai leans on friends within Afghanistan who don’t really love him as their leader. This damage will not be controlled easily.