Will Visa, MasterCard, Paypal, BofA & Apple Terminate Relationships With The NYTimes For Revealing Military Secrets?

from the consistency-is-all-i-ask dept

Glenn Greenwald has a post highlighting how a NY Times’ investigative report on US military action in Pakistan appears to reveal key military secrets concerning plans that have not yet been put in place, and which could certainly put Americans and others in danger:

Indeed, the NYT reporters several times acknowledge that public awareness of these operations could trigger serious harm (“inside Pakistan, [] the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash”). Note, too, that Mazzetti and Filkins did not acquire these government secrets by just passively sitting around and having them delivered out of the blue. To the contrary: they interviewed multiple officials both in Washington and in Afghanistan, offered several of them anonymity to induce them to reveal secrets, and even provoked officials to provide detailed accounts of past secret actions in Pakistan, including CIA-directed attacks by Afghans inside that country.

As he notes, all of this seems a lot more revealing than anything that Wikileaks has done, and a lot more likely to put people in danger. Yet, there’s been almost no response, and certainly nothing like the attention paid to Wikileaks — with calls for trials or even killing the head of Wikileaks. Seems odd, doesn’t it?

But, an even bigger point is buried towards the end in an update, where Greenwald asks:

Why aren’t Visa, MasterCard, Paypal, their web hosting company and various banks terminating their relationships with The New York Times, the way they all did with WikiLeaks: not only for the NYT’s publication of many of the same diplomatic and war cables published by WikiLeaks, but also for this much more serious leak today in which WikiLeaks was completely uninvolved?

And, I think, we can add Apple to that list. After all, if these companies keep claiming that Wikileaks “broke the law” (as most of the companies listed here are saying), why do they not feel the same way about the NY Times?

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Companies: apple, mastercard, ny times, paypal, visa

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Comments on “Will Visa, MasterCard, Paypal, BofA & Apple Terminate Relationships With The NYTimes For Revealing Military Secrets?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I’m sure the argument will be akin to the google vs. torrent site search engines, i.e. “infringing” leaks on google are a minor part of google and in no way contribute to their overall bottom line in any meaningful way, vs. the torrent search engines that rely 100% on “infringing” content to further their livelihood.

So Wikileaks is 100% evil because their only existence is to release “illegal” content, vs. the NY times that only sometimes does it, and then when it does, has a really good reason.

Whatever let’s them sleep better at night.

DV Henkel-Wallace (profile) says:

Answer is obvious, of course

C’mon, the title of this post is essentially a rhetorical question. Financial organizations like Mastercard et al know that jettisoning wikileaks will cost them essentially nothing while not doing so threatens them with onerous regulation (the same issue affects their relationship with porn and gambling organizations, despite the revenues). Apple doesn’t have the same set of regulators, but still has lots of opportunity for regulatory harassment (and has a desire/need to curry regulatory favor).

Cutting of the NYT wouldn’t garner the same kind of value (since they are seen as “legitimate journalism”, and have a clear precedent with the Pentagon Papers).

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“Wikileaks — with calls for trials or even killing the head of Wikileaks.”

“Assasinate the head of the NY Times !!!!” … LOL … I would pay to see a senator say that and watch the response from every news organization on the planet. But because WikiLeaks is percieved to be a small organization with no real reporting foot print and up until recently believed to have a small following.

Doug (profile) says:

My guess: 1) the people who make decisions at those companies probably haven’t thought much about it yet since it only happened the day before yesterday, and 2) terminating their relationship with WikiLeaks probably costs them little or nothing, whereas the NYT is a valuable advertising platform.

There’s no such thing as business ethics. There’s only business.

Anonymous Coward says:

After all, if these companies keep claiming that Wikileaks “broke the law” (as most of the companies listed here are saying), why do they not feel the same way about the NY Times?

They don’t feel that way about Wikileaks either; they just don’t want the government breathing down their necks. When push comes to shove, “good corporate citizens” toe the line.
The real question is, why aren’t Lieberman & co. jumping on this? I suppose the answer is that none of their own personal secrets were revealed in this particular case.
I still wonder what exactly Lieberman is afraid of in Wikileaks’ cables… Based on his sheer vehemence you’d think they had proof he had an entire harem of secret gay lovers and was running multiple drug smuggling rings or something.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

cc came closest

it’s about perspective (and fear), and i think it comes down to the definition of the word, “journalist” (or “news organization” if you prefer).

many of the opponents of Wikileaks (politicians, pundits, etc) have repeatedly said that Wikileaks isn’t a news organization and Assange isn’t a journalist. why he, specifically, needs to be a journalist escapes me (the head of the NYT doesn’t need to be), but their belief that Wikileaks isn’t journalism allows them to spout off about it without (much) fear of reprisal. additionally it provides cover to corporations that distance themselves from Wikileaks.

by contrast, the NYT is a well established new organization and is therefor protected by the 1st Amendment. making similar threats and claims against the Times would earn all of the opponents a public lashing. they can get away with saying that the Times is being reckless or should be more thoughtful, but any criticisms more severe would make the Times a victim. it would be a political disaster. Assange and Wikileaks do not enjoy the same protections (both 1st Amendment and political) as the Times, so that’s why they’re being attacked int he way they are.

aside from the fear thing (cowards), i think it comes down to a lack of understanding about how the very nature of journalism is changing; and citizen journalism in particular. of course, i think that misunderstanding is based in fear as well, but perhaps that’s a different discussion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: cc came closest

NYT didn’t print 250,000 documents or offer to distribute them for free.

They wrote a story based on a single document, and worked to obtain supporting evidence.

NYT is a newpaper, and the people who work their are journalists.

Wikileaks is a file dump and the people who work there are not journalists. They are programmers, webmasters, and so on.

How hard is it.

FMHilton (profile) says:

It's business

The reason these companies do not attack the NY Times is that they have established long-term business relationships not only with the Times, but many of the companies that also do business with the paper.
If they blacklist or “go after” the Times in any way possible, they’re at risk of really screwing up a huge amount of business and money.
You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The Times has clout enough to make any company think twice before crapping all over them in public.
You want to stay in business, you play nice with the “paper of record” for the United States. Otherwise, you go out of business in 30 days or less.
Wikileaks isn’t a business. They’re just a website.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile) says:

Re: It's business

The last two sentences are rather unnecessary and irrelevant to the rest of your post. It is indeed just business. But it doesn’t matter that Wikileaks isn’t a business, it matters that Wikileaks doesn’t have the economic and political power that the Times has to directly take retribution on any businesses to take action against it.

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