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2010: The Year We Lost Free Use of Our Money

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I’m really concerned with the public complacency about the recent blocking of donations to Wikileaks by the biggest bank in the US: Bank of America, one of the leading credit card companies: Mastercard and the largest online payment provider: PayPal.

I can’t believe that in a free society we can no longer use our money to support an organization that promotes free speech and abhors secrecy.

I don’t completely agree with Wikileaks’ actions, but as of today no lawsuit has been filed against the organization in any court of law, it has not been declared by any country or international organization as a terrorist group, and there is no court order anywhere in the world to freeze their bank accounts. But if I try to go to BoA with my money, and I ask them to make a wire transfer to Wikileaks account in Switzerland, they will refuse to do it.

Their PayPal account has been suspended and Mr. Osama Bedier, a PayPal Vice President, explaining PayPal’s decision, said, “on Nov. 27, the State Department — the U.S. government, basically — wrote a letter saying the WikiLeaks activities were deemed illegal in the United States.” However that letter from the State Department did not argue that publication of the documents by WikiLeaks, or any media organization, would be illegal. Instead, it says that the documents “were provided in violation of U.S. law” to WikiLeaks, which means that the State Department considered the original leak of the documents to Mr. Assange’s organization to have been a criminal act.

As I wrote in a previous post, why the banks are not freezing the accounts of the New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde or El Pais. They have published the documents leaked by Wikileaks. Are they terrorist organizations?

What I miss here is Due Process, respect of the rights of individuals and organizations. Judges, not political or government agencies are the only ones that can freeze accounts, stop payments, hold assets, etc.

But what really worries me is the lack of public outcry; I miss the demonstrations against abuse of power, the people cancelling their PayPal or BoA accounts. We just don’t care anymore.

“We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”  — John F. Kennedy

 

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About Pablo Valerio

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Not that I don’t think their actions were inappropriate and stupid, but as private companies Bank of America, Mastercard and PayPal are perfectly entitled to refuse to do business with anyone for any reason. This isn’t a due process issue – yet.

  • http://frontwave.eu Pablo Valerio

    @Dr. Dreadful
    I have to disagree:

    1. Wikileaks is not a customer of BoA. The Bank’s customers can’t use BoA’s services to wire THEIR money to Wikileaks.

    2. Mastercard and PayPal are registered as Financial Institutions in the European Union, and subject to the Basel rules. They can refuse to open an account to Wikileaks, but to suspend or cancel an existing one Due Process is necessary.

    Where is the Wikileaks money in their PayPal account?

  • Ruvy

    Pablo,

    Wikileaks is getting the RICO treatment – without the prosecutor. Assange embarrassed the hell out of a lot of people and now he and his organization is being made to pay. And those taking out their pound of flesh don’t care if what they do ain’t quite legal.

    It stinks of the pigs – not the four legged squealers but the two legged baton wielders.

  • pascoyeye

    All we have heard so far is how evil this wikileak guy is. None of you want to be intelligent enough to talk about the content of the leak, tell me in Spain that i have know right to know that my court are been influence by the Americans, that the reason why the family of Cameraman José Couso family can not get justice in the Spanish court is because the Americans dont think they deserve it. and that some of the law i am to obey was clearly drafted by the Americans . Go and tel the German Khalid El-Masri that was kidnapped and tortured all around the world that he has no right to know that the reason he can no get justice in his country court room is because the Americans feel he does not deserve it . just to mention a few of what we have come to know about how the Americans operate. It is all about themselves and no one else seems to mater not even their so called allies if the can do tis to the German go know what they are doing to other smaller European countries, they will practically be changing their government at will, the people of Latvia will tell you more.
    The question nobody is asking is will all this company act the same way if document been released was from china or Russia, for me the answer is a big no, If that be the case then they are just a party to perpetuating U.S injustice on earth . i will advice every serious country to have an alternative to mastercard, visa, paypal, Amazon and the rest of them because when the time comes they will fail everybody except that country which they represent, they are all just part of government am sure they all submit their client data to the U.S government anyway.

  • Uncle B

    America,the beautiful!(are you listening Uncle Sam!)

  • james

    no one griped when ‘climategate’ broke from wikileaks, and infact the same peple who are protesting wikileaks were applauding it. this whole situation is politics as usual, and the independatn thinkers in our midst can and do see that.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    James, ‘Climategate’ was nothing to do with Wikileaks.

  • Bob Loblaw

    I think people do care. When they realize what’s happening. I also believe that people have been convinced that nothing is done, even with all the protesting in the world. The governments and corporations work with impunity. They do what they want…people’s opinions have no impact. In fact, if opinion did mean anything–they wouldn’t let us have one (paraphrasing Mark Twain).

  • Boeke

    Maybe people are waking up to the fact that our financial system has been privatised and monopolised so that we mere citizens, clients and investors are absent any volition and have become just worker-bees fit to be milked.

    If you don’t like BofA where are you going to go?

    It’s the perfect monopoly play: own everything and you can dictate terms to everyone, customers, suppliers and even the government.

    It’s a wide open field because we don’t enforce anti-monopoly laws any more.

  • http://frontwave.eu Pablo Valerio

    One small good change is beginning this summer national banks must adhere to most consumer protections that states impose on banks.
    Now only local banks must adhere to state rules, big banks are usually nationally chartered and only adhere to federal rules.

  • Boeke

    Regulations and rules are obviously ineffective at constraining voracious monopolies, as we all see. They simply buy the loopholes, exceptions and subsidies that they need in the halls of congress.

    We need to prosecute and send to prison the criminal officers that operate monopolies by thieving from individuals and expand their empires because their fruits are proportional to revenue, not results.

    We should have nationalized the banks a couple years ago when we had an opportunity, because publicly run banks work better than privately run banks.

  • Matt

    Boeke – sure, because obviously socialism has worked SO WELL in the past. oh wait….

  • Boeke

    Matt: I didn’t mention socialism, you did. I’m not in favor of socialism.

    But the citizens must have better means of dealing with corporations than as simple customers. The events of the past few years have shown that. Not everything can be determined in the Market, not just the Money Market, anyhow.

    We tried to allow markets to set the course and then orient it to overall society needs with anti-trust and regulations, but these alone have proven ineffective through time lapses and bribery and other tricks and games.

    People might want to read Ellen Browns book “Web of Debt” to learn a little about US financial history.

  • Cannonshop

    Has it occcurred only to me that the people embarassed by the Wikileaks releases are the friends and in-laws etc. of the people running the (bankrupted once already in the last five years) Financial “Institutions” who’ve adopted policies refusing to deal with Wikileaks?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Matt if (by your logic) the sole criterion for socialism is nationalisation, then the military is socialist.