The video: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is holding a pledge drive of sorts, saying that his trailblazing secret-sharing website will suspend operations by the end of the year if it doesn't get more cash. (Watch Assange's fundraising pitch below.) Assange says WikiLeaks has been living off of its cash reserves since December 2010, when an "arbitrary and unlawful financial blockade" by Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union, and Bank of America cut off 95 percent of its donations. The blocking of online donations through these services, which followed the controversial leak of 250,000 secret diplomatic cables, has cost WikiLeaks $15 million, Assange says, and the "broke" WikiLeaks needs $3.5 million to operate next year.
The reaction: Why would anyone want to bail out the "megalomaniacal" Assange after all the damage he's caused? asks Marc Thiessen at the American Enterprise Institute. "I've never been so proud to be a Visa cardholder." Look, says Robert X. Cringley at InfoWorld. We need something like WikiLeaks to fight the "unholy alliance between government and corporations." It's true that under Assange, "WikiLeaks has become a cult of personality." But if he steps down, I'd donate. Even if you're turned off by Assange, or WikiLeaks' shady financial claims, says James Ball at Britain's Guardian, you should hope it wins its battle against this "sinister" show of extrajudicial muscle by these finance giants. If they can silence WikiLeaks, they can silence anyone. Check out Assange's plea: