So far, WikiLeaks have concentrated their efforts on U.S. foreign policy, from wars to diplomacy. Though little concrete action appears to have been taken in response to the leaks, their next target may spark a different reaction.
Bank of America shares fell 3 percent on Tuesday after Julian Assange hinted that he had as much as 5 GB worth of their documents revealing some shady behavior.
“We know they've made horrific acquisitions... taken massive write-downs... if they actually had to report that, they're probably technically insolvent,” financial blogger Barry Ritholtz told cable news.
But we already know there's been plenty of mismanagement and even fraud on Wall Street, so what could Assange have on the Bank that we don't already know? Given their shameless theft of US assets, what could possibly embarrass them?
Maybe, however, it's not about what happens after, but what happens before WikiLeaks leaks. Ritholtz noted that maybe this is just about “shaking the tree—disturbing the status quo.” And Assange has written plenty himself on the subject.
In one essay, Assange notes: “The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie.”
So perhaps when we look for action to be taken as a result of the WikiLeaks, we're looking for the wrong thing. Instead, maybe what we're looking at is a long-term attempt to provoke a response that reveals the dysfunction within our most powerful institutions and possibly derails it by provoking an over-reaction.
Think lunch-counter sit-ins, updated. If Assange's cyber invasion is to Bankster Street what the civil rights marchers were to segregation, what are Wall Street's water cannons? And will they end up, by their reaction, shooting themselves in the foot?
I can hardly wait to find out.