WikiLeaks' Next Target: Wall Street

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to present a seminar at the Swedish Trade Union Confederation headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, Aug. 14, 2010.
AP Photo/Bertil Ericson
Julian Assange
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.org, speaks to reporters, July 26, 2010.
CBS

Washington is reeling from WikiLeaks' massive release of classified State Department documents this week -- not to mention previous leaks of secret government material -- but now the whistle-blower website plans to take aim at Wall Street.

In a new interview with Forbes magazine, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that he plans to release a "megaleak" next year about "a big U.S. bank."

While Assange did not tell Forbes which bank will be targeted, he did tell Computer World magazine in an October 2009, interview that Wikileaks possesses nearly 5GB of information lifted "from Bank of America, one of the executive's hard drives."

Read: Bank of America Shares Fall on Wikileaks Fears

Assange explained a "megaleak" as a high-volume leak with multiple targets. For instance, the site has so far this week released about a quarter of a million secret State Department cables from communications around the world. Assange told Forbes the bank leak would include either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents, depending on how they are categorized.

He said the information the site has reveals unethical practices but not necessarily criminal activity. "It could take down a bank or two," Assange said.

"It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume," Assange said. "There will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that came out, and that's tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war."

The leak will be comparable to the corporate e-mails that were released in the Enron scandal, Assange said. That kind of material, he contended, can provide insight into how an entire company is managed.

"You could call it the ecosystem of corruption," Assange said. "But it's also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that's not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they're fulfilling their own self-interest."

Post-9/11 Intel Sharing at Risk after WikiLeaks
Jimmy Carter: WikiLeaks "Helps No One"
WikiLeaks Cables Treat Public to What Happens Behind Closed Doors of Foreign Relations
Palin Blasts Obama Administration's "Incompetent Handling" of Wikileaks



Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.