Wikileaks Reader: Pushback part 2
Special Report: STD fears sparked case against WikiLeaks boss by Mark Hosenball (12/7/10)
The two Swedish women who accuse WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of sexual misconduct were at first not seeking to bring charges against him. They just wanted to track him down and persuade him to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, according to several people in contact with his entourage at the time.
The women went to the police together after they failed to persuade Assange to go to a doctor after separate sexual encounters with him in August, according to these people, who include former close associates of Assange who have since fallen out with him.
:: November 20 – An international arrest warrant for Assange is issued by Swedish police via Interpol.
:: November 30 – Interpol issues a ”red notice” for Assange.
:: December 8 – Assange presents himself to London police and appears at an extradition hearing where he is remanded in custody.
:: December 14 – The world media and protesters besiege the road outside City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court where Assange is appearing on an extradition warrant.
10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange by Nick Davies (12/17/10)
Stephens has repeatedly complained that Assange has not been allowed to see the full allegations against him, but it is understood his Swedish defence team have copies of all the documents seen by the Guardian. He maintains that other potentially exculpatory evidence has not been made available to his team and may not have been seen by the Guardian.
The allegations centre on a 10-day period after Assange flew into Stockholm on Wednesday 11 August. One of the women, named in court as Miss A, told police that she had arranged Assange’s trip to Sweden, and let him stay in her flat because she was due to be away. She returned early, on Friday 13 August, after which the pair went for a meal and then returned to her flat.
Her account to police, which Assange disputes, stated that he began stroking her leg as they drank tea, before he pulled off her clothes and snapped a necklace that she was wearing. According to her statement she “tried to put on some articles of clothing as it was going too quickly and uncomfortably but Assange ripped them off again”. Miss A told police that she didn’t want to go any further “but that it was too late to stop Assange as she had gone along with it so far”, and so she allowed him to undress her.
Assange insists that the sex with both women was consensual. After the sexual encounters, neither woman seemed to harbour any resentment against Assange. One of Assange’s lawyers has been quoted as saying: “The exact content of Wilen’s mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and exculpatory character has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors. Neither Wilen’s nor Ardin’s texts complain of rape.”
The Assange Case: Police Official and Accuser Are Friends by legalschnauzer (3/14/11)
The police interrogator and one of the accusers in the Julian Assange case are friends, according to a new report out of Sweden. The interrogator and one of the two accusers had known each other for at least 16 months when rape allegations were raised against Assange, according to the newspaper Expressen.
Neither the interrogator nor the accuser is named in the Expressen report. But the Web site rixstep.com identifies the Stockholm interrogator as Irmeli Krans. Krans took the testimony of Sofia Wilen, but the interrogator is friends with Anna Ardin, the other Assange accuser. Krans and Ardin reportedly have both political and personal ties; the Expressen article describes them as “party friends.”
‘Sex by Surprise’ at Heart of Assange Criminal Probe by Dana Kennedy (12/2/10)
Assange’s London attorney, Mark Stephens, told AOL News today that Swedish prosecutors told him that Assange is wanted not for allegations of rape, as previously reported, but for something called “sex by surprise,” which he said involves a fine of 5,000 kronor or about $715.
Assange is the subject of an international manhunt, as a result of Interpol issuing a “red notice,” a warrant indicating the person should be arrested with a view to extradition.
Assange’s Lawyer: He’s Upbeat, Surprised By Cyber-Attacks by Marcus Baram (12/11/10)
In a wide-ranging telephone interview with The Huffington Post on Friday, Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens described his jailhouse visit with his client, claimed that the U.S. State Department may be prepared to work out a deal with Swedish prosecutors amid reports of a grand jury meeting in Virginia to consider charges against Assange and expressed his fears that his own family is being intimidated by unknown security personnel. And Stephens said he has not discussed the allegations of rape and sexual molestation made by two women with Assange yet, though he criticized the Swedish prosecutors for resurrecting the charges after they were initially dropped by the country’s chief prosecutor.
The district judge hearing the bail application from Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, made an unusual form of legal history allowing live updates to be sent from his court on the website Twitter.
The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been granted bail in London on conditions including cash guarantees of £240,000.
But he will remain in prison pending an appeal against the bail decision lodged by Swedish prosecutors.
Mr Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of sexually assaulting two women earlier this year.
He denies the charges, which he says are politically motivated and designed to discredit him.
His lawyer Mark Stephens said the case was turning into a “show trial”.
Why I’m Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange by Michael Moore (12/14/10)
Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.
Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.
Julian Assange released, vows Wikileaks to fight on by Peter Wilson (12/17/10)
JULIAN Assange strode to freedom on the steps of the High Court in London and vowed his WikiLeaks website would fight on.
The 39-year-old Australian was released after nine days in the Victorian-era Wandsworth prison when the High Court said he should be granted bail while he resists extradition to Sweden on sex abuse allegations that he claims are a crude attempt to silence him.
After a day of uncertainty about his fate, Mr Assange and his legal team walked outside the court yesterday into a light snow storm on The Strand to address about 200 journalists from around the world.
“It’s great to smell the fresh air of London again,” he said.
Julian Assange plea after extradition defeat: ‘Make this case bigger than me’ by Esther Addley (2/24/11)
Assange, who has been fighting extradition since being arrested in Britain in December, must face interrogation in Sweden on the sex assault claims, ruled chief magistrate Howard Riddle, rejecting arguments that the prosecutor seeking his extradition had behaved illegally and was unqualified to issue a warrant, and that he would not receive a fair trial.
But if the judgment had been widely anticipated by both sides, the Australian’s decision to appeal against the ruling was, he told reporters afterwards, never in question. “What we saw today was a rubber-stamping process. It came as no surprise, but is nonetheless wrong. Of course, we always knew we would appeal.”
What U.S. “justice” signifies around the world by Glenn Greenwald (1/11/11)
In London this morning, a British court held a procedural hearing regarding Sweden’s attempt to extradite Julian Assange in order to question him about sex crimes accusations. Afterward, Assange’s lawyers released an outline of the arguments they intend to make in opposition to extradition. Most of them centered around the impermissibility of extraditing someone who has not been charged with a crime — i.e., merely to interrogate them — but one of the featured arguments focused on the danger that if Assange were sent to Sweden, that country would then extradite him to the U.S., where Assange would be subjected to grave injustices:
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, could be at “real risk” of the death penalty or detention in Guantanamo Bay if he is extradited to Sweden on accusations of rape and sexual assault, his lawyers claim.
In a skeleton summary of their defence against attempts by the Swedish director of public prosecutions to extradite him, released today, Assange’s legal team argue that there is a similar likelihood that the US would subsequently seek his extradition “and/or illegal rendition”, “where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere”.
Reacting to leak, Swiss officials accuse US of illegal spying operations by Stephen Webster (1/17/11)
The Swiss ministry said that US contacts asked for permission in 2007 to conduct an intelligence operation, but were denied “due to a lack of legal basis.”
However, a recently leaked US State Department cable showed that intelligence gathering had been afoot in Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland without those governments’ permissions.
Swiss officials said Monday that they were seeking information on such a program being operated out of the US embassy in Geneva, citing a report by Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that showed US surveillance in the country as early as Oct. 2005.
US criticises court that may decide on Julian Assange extradition, WikiLeaks cables show by Afua Hirsch (12/17/10)
US officials regard European human rights standards as an “irritant”, secret cables show, and have strongly objected to the safeguards which could protect WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from extradition.
In a confidential cable from the US embassy in Strasbourg, US consul general Vincent Carver criticised the Council of Europe, the most authoritative human-rights body for European countries, for its stance against extraditions to America, as well as secret renditions and prisons used to hold terrorist suspects.
He blamed the council for creating anti-US sentiment and hampering the US war on terror. “The Council of Europe (COE) likes to portray itself as a bastion of democracy, a promoter of human rights, and the last best hope for defending the rule of law in Europe – and beyond,” Carver said. “[But] it is an organisation with an inferiority complex and, simultaneously, an overambitious agenda.
An Exclusive Interview with Julian Assange on the Eve of His Arrest by Natalia Viana (12/7/10)
Viana: What is the difference between what WikiLeaks does and espionage?
Assange: WikiLeaks receives material from whistleblowers (persons who denounce wrongdoing in the organizations in which they work) and journalists and makes it public. Espionage would require us to actively take material and give it deliberately to a foreign power.
Accused Soldier in Brig as WikiLeaks Link Is Sought by Scott Shane (1/14/11)
Meanwhile, the young soldier accused of leaking the secret documents that brought WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange to fame and notoriety is locked in a tiny cell at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia. The soldier, Pfc. Bradley Manning, who turned 23 last month in the military prison, is accused of the biggest leak of classified documents in American history. He awaits trial on charges that could put him in prison for 52 years, according to the Army.
Even as members of Congress denounce both men’s actions as criminal, the Justice Department is still looking for a charge it can press against Mr. Assange, demanding from Twitter the account records, credit card numbers and bank account information of several of his associates. Legal experts say there are many obstacles to a prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder, but one approach under consideration is to link the two men in a conspiracy to disclose classified material.
Accusations from supporters that Private Manning is being mistreated, perhaps to pressure him to testify against Mr. Assange, have rallied many on the political left to his defense. The assertions have even drawn the attention of the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez, who said he had submitted a formal inquiry about the soldier’s treatment to the State Department.
The Espionage Act was crafted in 1917 — because President Woodrow Wilson wanted a war and, faced with the troublesome First Amendment, wished to criminalize speech critical of his war. In the run-up to World War One, there were many ordinary citizens — educators, journalists, publishers, civil rights leaders, union activists — who were speaking out against US involvement in the war. The Espionage Act was used to round these citizens by the thousands for the newly minted ‘crime’ of their exercising their First Amendment Rights.
Assange grand jury report “purely speculation” by Justin Elliott (12/14/10)
One of Julian Assange’s attorneys tells Salon that the possibility that a secret grand jury is meeting in Virginia to consider charges against the WikiLeaks founder is “purely speculation” that has not been substantiated by his legal team.
“We haven’t heard anything specific. It’s only rumors,” said Attorney Jennifer Robinson of the London firm Finers Stephens Innocent. “We do not have any concrete information about that.”
Swedish Prosecutor Raises Possible Extradition of WikiLeaks Founder to U.S. by Robert Mackey (12/14/10)
Perhaps prompted by speculation that Mr. Assange might be indicted by a grand jury meeting in secret in the United States to consider charges against him related to the publication of leaked American military and diplomatic documents, one section of the Swedish prosecutor’s statement, under the heading, “Facts About Extradition of a Person Who Has Been Surrendered,” reads:
Due to general agreements in the European Arrest Warrant Act, Sweden cannot extradite a person who has been surrendered to Sweden from another country without certain considerations. Concerning surrender to another country within the European Union, the Act states that the executing country under certain circumstances must approve a further surrender.
On the other hand, if the extradition concerns a country outside the European Union the authorities in the executing country (the country that surrendered the person) must consent such extradition. Sweden cannot, without such consent extradite a person, for example to the U.S.A.
In other words, the prosecutor said that Britain would have to agree to allow Sweden to send Mr. Assange to the United States even if he ends up in Swedish custody.
Assange denies having any contact with Bradley by David Edwards (12/17/10)
US inching closer to conspiracy or espionage indictment
Julian Assange, founder of secrets outlet WikiLeaks, insisted during a Friday morning interview that he’s never met or even spoken to Pvt. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of sending his site troves of secret files.
This comes as lawyers presented the House Judiciary Committee with evidence Thursday that could lead to charges against Assange.
Paul Rosenzweig, a former deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, told the British newspaper Guardian that there was an 80 percent chance that Assange would be indicted.
Constitutional law expert Floyd Abrams put those chances at better than 50 percent. Abrams is known for defending The New York Times before the Supreme Court after the publication of the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s.
On Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, Assange says: “I’d never heard his name before it was published in the press.” He argues that the US is trying to use Manning – currently stuck in solitary confinement in the US – to build a case against the WikiLeaks founder:
“Cracking Bradley Manning is the first step,” says the Australian hacker. “The aim clearly is to break him and force a confession that he somehow conspired with me to harm the national security of the United States.”
Insidious attack on free speech by Peter Gordon (12/11/10)
Lawyers are used to seeing all manner of calumny disclosed in documents produced under compulsion to the court. Because of restrictive rules, most never see the light of day, whatever the legitimate public interest. Likewise in the parliamentary arena.
It’s time to challenge this war on information, and call it what it is – a growing and insidious attack on free speech.
We should re-examine the way the law treats claims to privilege and confidentiality and the way governments can suppress information. It’s become too hard and too expensive to access and legitimately use information in this country. Governments and their public services play freedom-of-information laws like a board game.
PEN international Statement on Wikileaks (12/10/10)
PEN International champions the essential role played by freedom of expression in healthy societies and the rights of citizens to transparency, information and knowledge.
The Wikileaks issue marks a significant turning point in the evolution of the media and the sometimes conflicting principles of freedom of expression and privacy and security concerns. The culture of increasing secrecy in governments and the rise of new technology will inevitably lead to an increasing number of transparency issues of this sort. PEN International believes it is important to acknowledge that while the leaking of government documents is a crime under U.S laws, the publication of documents by Wikileaks is not a crime. Wikileaks is doing what the media has historically done.
PEN International urges those voicing opinions regarding the Wikileaks debate to adopt a responsible tone, and not to play to the more extreme sections of society. In a world where journalists are regularly physically attacked, imprisoned and killed with impunity, calling for the death of a journalist is irresponsible and deplorable.
Faculty speaks out against WikiLeaks prosecution by Columbia Journalism School (1/4/11)
But while we hold varying opinions of Wikileaks’ methods and decisions, we all believe that in publishing diplomatic cables Wikileaks is engaging in journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment. Any prosecution of Wikileaks’ staff for receiving, possessing or publishing classified materials will set a dangerous precedent for reporters in any publication or medium, potentially chilling investigative journalism and other First Amendment-protected activity.
As a historical matter, government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves.
I.F. Stone and Wikileaks by Meteor Blades (12/13/10)
I.F. Stone, who never had the greatest eyesight, made it worse by spending much of his working life reading tiny-print federal documents to dig out tidbits and revelations missed, ignored or concealed by the megamedia of his time. I first encountered him in the fall of 1964 at the house of an assistant professor who subscribed to I.F. Stone’s Weekly, a newsletter that never exceeded 70,000 circulation but exposed more government chicanery than hoary publications reaching far more readers. That fall, as I was trying to wrap my head around the meaning of the growing war in Vietnam, Stone exposed the lie of the Gulf of Tonkin incident when no other journalist delved or dared. After that, I read every issue of the Weekly I could. Twenty-five years later, I was fortunate to obtain a signed copy of his The Trial of Socrates just months before his death.
Stone’s newsletter came about in great part because he was blacklisted from regular journalism at the height of McCarthyist hysteria. And thank goodness for it. When he died two decades ago, he came under attack from right-wingers determined to smear him and his legacy.
Australian Media’s Finest Defend Wikileaks (12/13/10)
The letter was initiated by the Walkley Foundation and signed by the ten members of the Walkley Advisory Board as well as editors of major Australian newspapers and news websites and the news directors of the country’s three commercial TV networks and two public broadcasters.
“In essence, WikiLeaks, an organisation that aims to expose official secrets, is doing what the media have always done: bringing to light material that governments would prefer to keep secret.
The full letter sent to Prime Minister Julia Gillard can be viewed here.
Puncturing the Balloon of “State Secrets” by Patrick Cockburn (1/3/11)
My father, Claud Cockburn, discovered this in 1933 when he left The Times and set up a radical newsletter called The Week. His calculation was that there was plenty of information freely circulating in political and diplomatic circles that was hidden from the general public.
In 2003 I became interested in how far the authorities had monitored my father’s activities, and I wrote to the director of MI5 asking for his files to be declassified. A year or so later, presumably because of my request, 26 bulky folders containing thousands of pages of reports by MI5 officers, policemen and informers about Claud were placed in the National Archives in Kew. He had been under continuous state surveillance from 1934 to 1954, with sporadic scrutiny before and after that span…
The official security apparatus mobilized to monitor him was impressive. His mail was intercepted, phone calls transcribed, friends interviewed and Special Branch watched his movements assiduously. On one day, 30 March 1940, for instance, a Special Branch officer who called himself “the Watcher” sent in a report about how he had tirelessly followed my father and mother around Tring, Hertfordshire, recording the name of every pub they drank in and the precise times they entered and left.
US: Don’t Prosecute WikiLeaks Founder by Human Rights Watch (12/15/10)
The US government should not prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for releasing classified US State Department cables as this would imperil media freedom everywhere, Human Rights Watch said in a letter today to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. Human Rights Watch urged the US government to reject overbroad interpretations of national security that clash with the freedom of expression guarantees of the US Constitution and international law.
“This is a signature moment for freedom of expression and information in both the US and abroad,” said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Prosecuting WikiLeaks for publishing leaked documents would set a terrible precedent that will be eagerly grasped by other governments, particularly those with a record of trying to muzzle legitimate political reporting.”
Rumors are swirling that the United States is preparing to indict Wikileaks leader Julian Assange for conspiring to violate the Espionage Act of 1917. The modern version of that act states among many, many other things that: “Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States” causes the disclosure or publication of this material, could be subject to massive criminal penalties. It also states that: “If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions … each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.” (18 U.S. Code, Chapter 37, Section 793.)
I view the Espionage Act of 1917 as a lifelong nemesis. My parents were charged, tried and ultimately executed after being indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Espionage under that act.
The 1917 Act has a notorious history. It originally served to squelch opposition to World War I. It criminalized criticism of the war effort, and sent hundreds of dissenters to jail just for voicing their opinions. It transformed dissent into treason.
Ms Pillay said: “I am concerned about reports of pressure exerted on private companies including banks, credit card companies and Internet service providers to close down credit lines for donations to Wikileaks, as well as to stop hosting the website.”
“This can be interpreted as at attempt to censor the publication of information, and potentially constitutes a violation of WikiLeaks’ right to freedom of expression,” she said, according to Le Monde.
(Read the full interview.)
Will WikiLeaks escape Justice? by Josh Gerstien
“They’re not going to be able to threaten or touch Julian Assange,” said Gabriel Schoenfeld of the Hudson Institute and author of “Necessary Secrets.” Besides problems extraditing him, he added, “there’s the inherent First Amendment problems in the Espionage Act.”
Assange, an Australian national, is thought to be living in Europe, but his exact whereabouts are unknown. Lawyers say most European governments would be either unwilling or legally unable to turn him over to the U.S. for publishing classified information. And there have been no successful prosecutions in U.S. courts for those who published classified leaks; only those who leaked have been punished.
Why Julian Assange is a journalist by Scott Gant (12/20/10)
Julian Assange may not be Time’s Man of the Year, but he almost certainly is a journalist — at least as far as the First Amendment is concerned.
The Constitution’s First Amendment forbids Congress from making any law abridging either freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Some commentators and government officials have confidently asserted that Assange is not a journalist — perhaps intending to imply that he does not enjoy the protections afforded by the First Amendment. But they are almost certainly incorrect.
Let us next dispense with the canard that Assange does not enjoy First Amendment protection because he is not objective, has a point of view, or is seeking to achieve a particular political outcome. As a historical matter, it is clear that objectivity has never been an indispensable characteristic of journalism. The ideology of journalistic objectivity emerged at the end of the 19th century as part of a broader cultural and intellectual movement. But for at least half of the history of American journalism, newspapers freely acknowledged that their judgments about news were influenced by partisan considerations. And today many established news organizations no longer even pretend to be neutral about the issues of the day. Others cling to a veneer of objectivity by presenting “both sides” of an issue while nevertheless presenting a clear point of view. More important than this history, however, is that grafting an “objectivity” requirement onto the First Amendment would subject freedom of expression to the subjective judgments of prosecutors and judges about whether a given journalist is sufficiently objective, thereby threatening to cripple press liberty.
Judith Miller criticizes Julian Assange for not Verifying Sources by Scarce (1/2/11)
That’s very interesting coming from Miller, an instrumental component in taking us into the Iraq War, and the subsequent deaths of tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and 4430 American troops.
Miller would later say about her role:
“[M]y job isn’t to assess the government’s information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq’s arsenal.” Some have criticized this position, believing that a crucial function of a journalist is independently to assess information, to question sources, and to analyze information before reporting it.
Milller’s subsequent fall from grace since has taken her to Fox News, and now down to the murky depths of NewsMax, according to Dave Weigel at Slate.
The New York Times reporter who quit the paper in 2005 — a casualty of the Valerie Plame scandal and a target of attacks on her pre-war reporting about Iraq’s weapons programs — has a job in print journalism again. She’s a contributing writer at Newsmax, the conservative web and print venture founded in 1998 by Christopher Ruddy and built into a multi-million dollar company. (Miller is on contract, not a full-time staffer, so she’s continuing the Fox gigs etc.)
From Judith Miller to Julian Assange by Jay Rosen (12/9/10)
In its look back the Times declared itself insufficiently skeptical, especially about Iraqi defectors. True enough. But the look back was itself insufficiently skeptical. Radical doubt, which is basic to understanding what drives Julian Assange, was impermissible then. One of the consequences of that is the appeal of radical transparency today.
Simon Jenkins got at some of this in a Guardian column on Wikileaks: “Accountability can only default to disclosure. As Jefferson remarked, the press is the last best hope when democratic oversight fails.” But at the nadir the last best hope failed, too. When that happens accountability defaults to extreme disclosure, which is where we are today. The institutional press isn’t driving it; the wilds of the Internet are. To understand Julian Assange and the weird reactions to him in the American press we need to tell a story that starts with Judy Miller and ends with Wikileaks.
One more time by Antemedius (12/9/10)
Mary Ann Wright is a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“We were told as diplomats, ‘Don’t ever put anything in a cable you wouldn’t want on the front page of a newspaper.’ It shows that they’re a lot of arrogant people, that the system itself wasn’t checking itself,” says Wright of the latest documents released from WikiLeaks.
Meanwhile, several of the diplomatic cables released depict possibly illegal actions by the U.S. government, and Wright notes that the chances of anyone being held accountable are slim.
What is Julian Assange up to? by Robert Baird (12/6/10)
Aaron Bady won the internet last week with his explication of a pair of essays Julian Assange wrote in 2006. Paddling against a vomit-tide of epithets and empty speculations that threatened to bury Assange under a flood of banalities, Bady proposed and executed a fairly shocking procedure: he sat down and read ten pages of what Assange had actually written about the motivations and strategy behind Wikileaks.
In his essays Assange makes no bones about wanting to “radically shift regime behavior,” and this claim to radicalism marks one difference between Wikileaks and, say, the New York Times. As Bady notes, however, by far the more important distinction lies in the way Assange wants to use transparency to cause change. The traditional argument for transparency is that more information will allow a populace to better influence its government. In this scheme, freedom of the press, sunshine laws, and journalistic competition are all useful for prizing loose information that government actors don’t want us to see, but none of them are ends in themselves. The information they reveal is ever only propaedeutic: it needs advocacy, elections, armed uprisings, or some other activity to make real political change.
WikiLeaks: The Three Faces of Uncle Sam by Michael Brenner (12/7/10)
Know thy Enemy is the famed dictum of the renown Chinese military thinker Sun Tzu. He took for granted something even more crucial: know thyself. Yet, Americans routinely ignore that latter counsel — at our growing peril. That uncomfortable truth becomes abundantly clear when immersing oneself in the dense cable traffic revealed to us by Wikileaks. Their exposure of the mindset and outlook of the country’s policy-makers and diplomats is more telling than any of the details. For it reveals who we are, who we think we are, and how that self conception is out of line with both world realities and others’ perception of us.
Most striking is the unstated but pervasive belief that the United States is wiser, more skillful and dedicated than anybody else. Therefore, it is natural that America rules the roost. Our serial failures of judgment and action, at home as well as abroad, have left not a trace of modesty on our conduct. That hubris has a number of practical meanings: One is the conviction that Washington should set the policy direction for allies and friends, jerk them back into line when they show a tendency to stray or are unresponsive to American leads, and cultivate a corps of informers and helpmates from among the native elites.
US orders Twitter to divulge personal info on Icelandic MP with ties to WikiLeaks by Muriel Kane (1/7/11)
“Today, the existence of a secret US government grand jury espionage investigation into Wikileaks was confirmed for the first time as a subpoena was brought into the public domain,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.
WikiLeaks said legal action taken by micro-blogging website Twitter “revealed that the US State Department has requested the private messages, contact information, IP addresses, and personal details of Julian Assange and three other individuals associated with WikiLeaks, in addition to WikiLeaks? own account, which has 634,071 followers”.
What the Government Might Be After with Its Twitter Subpoena by Marcy Wheeler (1/8/11)
The subpoena was first submitted to Twitter on December 14, and asked for account information for six people as well as any account associated with Wikileaks, going back to November 1,2009. Of particular note, they ask for:
records of user activity for any connections made to or from the Account, including the date, time, length, and method of connections, data transfer volume, user name, and source and destination Internet Protocol address(es).
non-content information associated with the contents of any communication or file stored by or for the account(s), such as the source and destination email addresses and IP addresses.
DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several WikiLeaks volunteers by Glenn Greenwald (1/7/11)
UPDATE II: It’s worth recalling — and I hope journalists writing about this story remind themselves — that all of this extraordinary probing and “criminal” investigating is stemming from WikiLeaks’ doing nothing more than publishing classified information showing what the U.S. Government is doing: something investigative journalists, by definition, do all the time.
And the key question now is this: did other Internet and social network companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) receive similar Orders and then quietly comply? It’s difficult to imagine why the DOJ would want information only from Twitter; if anything, given the limited information it has about users, Twitter would seem one of the least fruitful avenues to pursue. But if other companies did receive and quietly comply with these orders, it will be a long time before we know, if we ever do, given the prohibition in these orders on disclosing even its existence to anyone.
WikiLeaks has demanded that Google and Facebook reveal the contents of any US subpoenas they may have received after it emerged that a court in Virginia had ordered Twitter to secretly hand over details of accounts on the micro-blogging site by five figures associated with the group, including Julian Assange.
“Today, the existence of a secret US government grand jury espionage investigation into WikiLeaks was confirmed for the first time as a subpoena was brought into the public domain,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.
WikiLeaks activists may seek to quash demand for docs by Mark Hosenball (1/11/11)
Two prominent WikiLeaks supporters in the Netherlands and Iceland are consulting U.S. lawyers about ways to stop the Justice Department getting their Twitter records in a probe into the leak of secret documents.
Rop Gonggrijp, a Dutch Internet activist who worked with WikiLeaks last year, said he and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s Parliament, want to quash a December 14 U.S. court order requiring Twitter to turn over their account records to U.S. prosecutors.
U.S. authorities are investigating the publication last year of thousands of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks website set up by Australian Julian Assange.
Some of Jacob Appelbaum’s tweets:
It’s interesting to note that some media initially reported that I had no trouble because I said nothing at all. Irony abounds.
It’s very frustrating that I have to put so much consideration into talking about the kind of harassment that I am subjected to in airports.
I was detained, searched, and CPB did attempt to question me about the nature of my vacation upon landing in Seattle.
The CPB specifically wanted laptops and cell phones and were visibly unhappy when they discovered nothing of the sort.
I did however have a few USB thumb drives with a copy of the Bill of Rights encoded into the block device. They were unable to copy it.
The forensic specialist (who was friendly) explained that EnCase and FTK, with a write-blocker inline were unable to see the Bill of Rights.
I requested access my lawyer and was again denied. They stated I was I wasn’t under arrest and so I was not able to contact my lawyer.
The CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) agent was waiting for me at the exit gate. Remember when it was our family and loved ones?
Society finds itself at a crossroads. In our increasingly connected world, many seem to think that our constitutional rights are fit for reevaluation. As was demonstrated by Jessica Yellin’s performance on CNN, even some journalists seem to think that is now a crime to publish confidential information, ignorant not only of the important role that documents such as the Pentagon Papers have had in shaping modern government, but also of the First Amendment.
The Department of Justice’s subpoena (http://goo.gl/L1sCp) is but the latest in a series of assaults on our free society. The salient point is that Twitter was not used as a platform to distribute confidential information, nor was it used to broadcase hateful messages. The only crime that the users of the accounts named committed was to voice their opinion. For the DOJ to seek access to the personal details, network addresses, and session information of those users is not just unconstitutional, but quite frankly terrifying.32
The WikiLeaks Subpoena, Twitter and Standing by Cynthia Kouril (1/8/11)
By now, you have probably heard that USDOJ has issued a subpoena to Twitter asking for various types of information from the Twitter accounts of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Rop Gongrijp[sic], and Birgitta Jonsdottir. Here is the subpoena. It was originally issued under seal, which means that Twitter could not tell anyone that it had received this subpoena. Twitter could have simply complied with the sealed subpoena and none of the people listed above even would have known about it.
Instead, Twitter apparently made a motion to unseal the subpoena. It had standing to do this because the sealing of the subpoena infringed upon its own ability to interact with its customers/subscribers as it sees fit. The motion to unseal was successful and Twitter notified its users about the subpoena. It is now up to the users to move to quash the subpoena itself.
Thoughts on the DOJ wikileaks/twitter court order by Christopher Soghoian (1/9/11)
Amateur Hour. The 2703(d) order misspelled the names of one of the targets, Rop Gonggrijp. It also requested credit card and bank account numbers of several Twitter users, even though Twitter is a free service and so doesn’t have such information (presumably someone at DOJ knows a little about Twitter, since the agency has 350,000 followers of its official Twitter account).
Icelandic legislator Brigitta Jonsdottir said today that she has been notified by Twitter that the Department of Justice is seeking access to her Twitter account. She tweeted: “just got this: Twitter has received legal process requesting information regarding your Twitter account in (relation to wikileaks).” Jonsdottir says the DOJ is looking for all Wikileaks-related tweets and other “personal information” dating back to November 2009. She now has 10 days to try to block the subpoena before Twitter turns over the information. (According to Twitter’s terms of service, the company notifies users if it receives a subpoena for their information.)
Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament, was closely involved in Wikileaks’ release last year of a video which showed a U.S. military helicopter gunning down two Reuters reporters in Iraq. She appeared in the New Yorker’s profile of Julian Assange as a close confidant of the Wikileaks leader (even cutting his hair) but recently distanced herself from the group among tensions with Assange.
The WikiLeaks advised parliamentary resolution proposal to build an international “new media haven” in Iceland, with the world’s strongest press and whistleblower protection laws, and a “Nobel” prize for Freedom of Expression.
50 votes were cast in favor, zero against, one abstained. Twelve members of parliament were not present.
Social Media and Law Enforcement: Who Gets What Data and When? by Jennifer Lynch (1/20/11)
This month, we were reminded how important it is that social media companies do what they can to protect the sensitive data they hold from the prying eyes of the government. As many news outlets have reported, the US Department of Justice recently obtained a court order for records from Twitter on several of its users related to the WikiLeaks disclosures. Instead of just turning over this information, Twitter “beta-tested a spine” and notified its users of the court order, thus giving them the opportunity to challenge it in court.
We have been investigating how the government seeks information from social networking sites such as Twitter and how the sites respond to these requests in our ongoing social networking Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, filed with the help of UC Berkeley’s Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic. As part of our request to the Department of Justice and other federal agencies, we asked for copies of the guides the sites themselves send out to law enforcement explaining how agents can obtain information about a site’s users and what kinds of information are available. The information we got back enabled us to make an unprecedented comparison of these critical documents, as most of the information was not available publicly before now.
Washington’s efforts to get Twitter to hand over information on the accounts of people connected to WikiLeaks is “outrageous,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Monday.
“This is an outrageous attack by the Obama administration on the privacy and free speech rights of Twitter’s customers — many of them American citizens,” Assange said in a statement, a day before a US hearing in the case.
The US government’s attempts to get Twitter to hand over information about the Twitter accounts of three WikiLeaks supporters, is “more shocking, at this time, (as) it amounts to an attack on the right to freedom of association, a freedom that the people of Tunisia and Egypt, for example, spurred on by the information released by WikiLeaks, have found so valuable,” he added.
Bank of America: Banking on a Reputation Crisis? by Andy Beal (1/3/11)
According to Oxford Metrica, during the next five years, 83 percent of companies will face a crisis that will negatively impact its share price by 20 to 30 percent.
For Bank of America, that could happen in the next five weeks! And, based on a report by The New York Times, the Charlotte, NC based bank is acting as if it could happen in the next five days!
Back on November 29th, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange threatened to “take down” a major American bank and, with rumors swirling that Wikileaks holds a 5GB hard drive once owned by a BoA executive, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Bank of America is the likely target.
Wikileaks Could Sink These Stocks by Alex Lomax (1/5/11)
If you’ve been ignoring the ongoing controversy around document-disclosing website Wikileaks, you might be making a big mistake. More and more companies now find themselves exposed in Wikileaks’ revelations of behind-the-scenes dirty dealings, and the results aren’t pretty.
Shareholders invested in honest, ethical companies have little to fear from Wikileaks’ push toward true transparency. Everybody else had better watch their portfolios.
For all the outrage voiced by folks in positions of power over the releases of classified U.S. diplomatic cables, there’s a very good argument that in other respects, Wikileaks is picking up where old-fashioned investigative journalism left off.
WikiLeaks–The 21st Century Washington Post by Douglas McIntrye (1/18/11)
There is another round of outrage among businesses and banks because WikiLeaks has gotten hold of private documents from bank Julius Baer from one of its former executives. Reuters reports that the data was transferred digitally. “The two yellow and blue discs contain information on 2,000 banking clients who have parked money offshore.”
There is panic among some of these clients and the bank itself. The concern certainly spreads to other Swiss banks and perhaps their counterparts in other countries. Julius Baer accounts may have been used to cheat on taxes. Many wealthy people could face penalties or prosecution if that is so.
The light is about to turn to the financial community. There have been rumors for months that a number of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) records will be released. Depending on the nature of these, the bank could be embarrassed or the information could be actionable. The confidential data may be damning to Bank of America and some of its business practices.
The offshore bank account details of 2,000 “high net worth individuals” and corporations – detailing massive potential tax evasion – will be handed over to the WikiLeaks organisation in London tomorrow by the most important and boldest whistleblower in Swiss banking history, Rudolf Elmer, two days before he goes on trial in his native Switzerland.
British and American individuals and companies are among the offshore clients whose details will be contained on CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include, Elmer tells the Observer, “approximately 40 politicians”.
Elmer says he is releasing the information “in order to educate society”. The list includes “high net worth individuals”, multinational conglomerates and financial institutions – hedge funds”. They are said to be “using secrecy as a screen to hide behind in order to avoid paying tax”.
Swiss re-arrest ex-banker for giving data to WikiLeaks by Catherine Bosley (1/19/11)
Swiss police on Wednesday arrested former banker Rudolf Elmer on fresh charges of breaching Swiss bank secrecy law for giving data to WikiLeaks, hours after he was found guilty of another secrecy offense.
“The state prosecutor’s office is checking to see whether Rudolf Elmer has violated Swiss banking law by handing the CD over to WikiLeaks,” the Zurich cantonal (state) police and state prosecutor said in a joint statement.
An Interview With WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange by Andy Greenberg (11/29/10)
Admire him or revile him, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is the prophet of a coming age of involuntary transparency, the leader of an organization devoted to divulging the world’s secrets using technology unimagined a generation ago. Over the last year his information insurgency has dumped 76,000 secret Afghan war documents and another trove of 392,000 files from the Iraq war into the public domain–the largest classified military security breaches in history. Sunday, WikiLeaks made the first of 250,000 classified U.S. State Department cables public, offering an unprecedented view of how America’s top diplomats view enemies and friends alike.
In a rare, two-hour interview conducted in London on November 11, Assange said that he’s still sitting on a trove of secret documents, about half of which relate to the private sector. And WikiLeaks’ next target will be a major American bank. “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,” he said, adding: “For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails.”
Here Come The WikiLeaks Copycats: IndoLeaks, BrusselsLeaks And BalkanLeaks by Andy Greenberg (12/13/10)
Last Thursday, a group of former European Union officials and journalists launched a site they’ve called BrusselsLeaks, focused on obtaining and publishing leaked internal information about the backroom dealings and secrets of the E.U. The Bulgarian newspaper The Sofia Echo reported on Saturday that a Bulgarian expat in Paris has set up BalkanLeaks, a WikiLeaks-modeled site that declares that “the Balkans are not keeping secrets anymore.” WikiLeaks itself pointed on Sunday in its Twitter feed to IndoLeaks.org, a whistle-blowing site that has already published revealing documents from the country’s Suharto administration, though it seems to have since been brought down temporarily by technical glitches.
WikiLeaks: An End of Bureaucracy As We Know It? by Richard Levic (12/15/10)
Julian Assange isn’t the type of guy you expect to be subtly understated. Yet, even as he warned in a Forbes interview that WikiLeaks knock-offs are “very dangerous” – that such sites are “not easy to do right” while some have “no reputation you can trust” – he acknowledged that the sheer volume of important available leaks makes it “helpful” to have “more people in this industry.”
Granting Anonymity by Virginia Heffernan (12/19/10)
Transparency is secretive business. WikiLeaks, the swashbuckling new-media organization whose motto is “We open governments,” relies on a technology of extreme reticence called Tor Hidden Services — a part of the Tor Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated not to light and clarity but to shadows and opacity, to the increasingly difficult art of keeping secrets online.
A deliberately byzantine system of virtual tunnels that conceal the origins and destinations of data, and thus the identity of clients, Tor has been around since 2001, when programmers from M.I.T. and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory introduced it at a California security conference. In the past year, supported by grants from the U.S. government and other funders, the Tor Project has prolifically expanded its networks. The software has been downloaded more than 36 million times this year, and thousands of nameless volunteers — many of them Tor clients — now help to relay mind-bogglingly diverse Tor data in nearly every country on earth.
Peaceniks and human rights groups use Tor, as do journalists, private citizens and the military, and the heterogeneity and farflungness of its users — together with its elegant source code — keep it unbreachable. When a communication arrives from Tor, you can never know where or whom it’s from. Tor is by design not a media project or a human rights one or (anymore) a military one.
OpenLeaks: the Wikileaks of 2011? by Joshua Norman (1/20/11)
In an interview with CBS News correspondent Shira Lazar, OpenLeaks co-founder Herbert Snorrason said OpenLeaks is much more than just a visible disagreement with Assange’s way of doing things. They will not only provide a “technical infrastructure” for leaking materials anonymously that protects all parties involved, but the site will represent a growing online effort proclaiming to fight the corrupt, powerful entities of the world by spilling their secrets.
OpenLeaks will be used to support that movement in a very simple but direct way, Snorasson said. Instead of receiving, editing and carefully distributing leaked documents like WikiLeaks, the new website will just directly link leakers with media, non-profit groups or other organizations that might help or use the material.
Announcing ScienceLeaks (1/1/11)
This venture was triggered by the many people complaining that they couldn’t evaluate the ‘arseniclife’ paper because the journal Science only allowed access to its abstract, not to the full paper or its supplementary online materials. In response, Science temporarily opened access to people wiling to register at their site, but when the month ends the barrier will go right back up.
This access problem applies to the great majority of scientific papers. The public pays for the research, but the results are locked behind journal-subscription paywalls, accessible only to people with personal subscriptions or affiliated with major research libraries, or to those willing to pay $20-$40 for access to individual articles.
Most researchers agree that this legacy of the pre-internet days is morally wrong and unfair to everyone. Those of us who can afford it pay thousands of dollars to the journals to make our own articles open access. And many of us post PDFs of our own papers on our personal web sites. But these aren’t easy to find, especially for people not working in the field.
So I’ve set up a web site called Science Leaks (actually a Blogger blog) to serve as a clearing house, providing links to the papers people want to read. Anyone who’s looking for access to a paper can simply post the paper’s information as a comment, and anyone who knows where a pdf is available can then post the link. (Once a link is posted I’ll remove the request comment, to keep things tidy.)
Forget WikiLeaks. Unileaks is a new website devoted to providing “a place to post information on public interest matters relating to higher education.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the site was launched earlier this month by Australian activists and targets postsecondary institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom, but ultimately hopes to host the secrets of American colleges and universities as well.
The site’s anonymous administrator, a former student at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, told the Chronicle that although the site has not yet generated Wikileak-level hype, he has received an “overwhelming “amount of information from the UK — including an “entire e-mail repository” of one “large prominent university in the United Kingdom.”
No Secrets by Raffi Khatchadourian (6/7/10)
Assange is an international trafficker, of sorts. He and his colleagues collect documents and imagery that governments and other institutions regard as confidential and publish them on a Web site called WikiLeaks.org. Since it went online, three and a half years ago, the site has published an extensive catalogue of secret material, ranging from the Standard Operating Procedures at Camp Delta, in Guantánamo Bay, and the “Climategate” e-mails from the University of East Anglia, in England, to the contents of Sarah Palin’s private Yahoo account.
The catalogue is especially remarkable because WikiLeaks is not quite an organization; it is better described as a media insurgency. It has no paid staff, no copiers, no desks, no office. Assange does not even have a home. He travels from country to country, staying with supporters, or friends of friends—as he once put it to me, “I’m living in airports these days.” He is the operation’s prime mover, and it is fair to say that WikiLeaks exists wherever he does. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers from around the world help maintain the Web site’s complicated infrastructure; many participate in small ways, and between three and five people dedicate themselves to it full time.
The Newest WikiLeaks Problem: Unredacted Cables by Neal Ungerleider (1/14/11)
In an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, The New York Times’ David Sanger described a process in which his newspaper and its lawyers weighed both the ramifications of publishing national security information before reproducing some of the cables and the need to put information in context for readers.
Other media outlets presumably go through similar processes as well. According to Harvard University’s Jonathan Zittrain, “WikiLeaks is currently relying on the expertise of the five news organizations [who have access to the cables] to redact the cables as they are released, and is following their redactions as it releases the documents on its website.”
China Trying to Plug Wikileak? by Josh Chin (11/29/10)
Can the world’s most elaborate censorship system put the clamps on the Internet’s most prolific source of confidential information?
A day after WikiLeaks began to release a quarter-million diplomatic cables sent from U.S. embassies, propaganda authorities in Beijing appear to be trying to control how much of the content of those cables leaks through to the Chinese public.
As of Monday evening in Beijing, the WikiLeaks “Cablegate” page was blocked by China’s Great Firewall—a rudimentary first-step on China’s censorship checklist.
Kill Switch’ Internet bill alarms privacy experts by Jon Swartz (2/15/11)
The ominously nicknamed Kill Switch bill is sure to be a flashpoint of discussion at the RSA Conference, the nation’s largest gathering of computer-security experts that takes place here this week.
The bill — crafted by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Tom Carper, D-Del. — aims to defend the economic infrastructure from a cyberterrorist attack. But it has free-speech advocates and privacy experts howling over the prospect of a government agency quelling the communication of hundreds of millions of people.
“This is all about control, an attempt to control every aspect of our existence,” says Christopher Feudo, a cybersecurity expert who is chairman of SecurityFusion Solutions. “I consider it an attack on our personal right of free speech. Look what recently occurred in Egypt.”
U.S. Military Beta-Tests Internet Kill-Switch on Japanese Relief Pretext by Mark Preston and Adam Levine (3/16/11)
The U.S. military has blocked access to a range of popular commercial websites in order to free up bandwidth for use in Japan recovery efforts, according to an e-mail obtained by CNN and confirmed by a spokesman for U.S. Strategic Command.
The sites — including YouTube, ESPN, Amazon, eBay and MTV — were chosen not because of the content but because their popularity among users of military computers account for significant bandwidth, according to Strategic Command spokesman Rodney Ellison.
“It did not point to anything that has actually happened as a result of the release,” Mr. Assange said. “It contains the analyst’s best guesses as to how the information could be used to harm the Army but no concrete examples of any real harm being done.”
Governments, including those of North Korea and Thailand, also have tried to prevent access to the site and complained about its release of materials critical of their governments and policies.
The Army’s interest in WikiLeaks appears to have been spurred by, among other things, its publication and analysis of classified and unclassified Army documents containing information about military equipment, units, operations and “nearly the entire order of battle” for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in April 2007.
Amid Digital Blackout, Anonymous Mass-Faxes WikiLeaks Cables To Egypt by Andy Greenberg (1/28/11)
Egypt has dropped a digital iron curtain over its Internet. So WikiLeaks’ fans are using an analog tool to smuggle the secret-spilling site’s latest scandals into the country: fax machines.
On Friday afternoon, the loose hacker group Anonymous began a campaign to fax thousands of copies of WikiLeaks’ latest missives–a series of State Department cables revealing human rights abuses under Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and tacit U.S. backing for his administration–to Egyptian numbers.
Vodafone confirms role in Egypt’s cellular, Internet blackout by Stephen Webster (1/28/11)
An executive at London-based Vodafone Group PLC explained Friday morning that it did indeed have a role in the phone and Internet blackout affecting Egypt since Thursday night, confirming speculation that the firm had cooperated with the regime to close off protesters’ communications.
Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said that because the order by Egyptian authorities appeared to be in line with the nation’s laws, the company was “obligated” to comply.
Libyan President Moammar Gaddaffi said he was pained by events in Tunisia surrounding the overthrow of former president Zine al-Abedine ben Ali, Libyan television reported Sunday.
‘I am concerned for the people of Tunisia, whose sons are dying each day,’ Gaddafi said overnight in a televised statement addressing people in neighbouring Tunisia.
‘And for what? In order for someone to become president instead of Ben Ali?’ he added.
‘I do not know these new people, but we all knew Ben Ali and the transformation that was achieved in Tunisia. Why are you destroying all of that?’ he asked.
Gaddafi warned Tunisians against being tricked by ‘WikiLeaks which publishes information written by lying ambassadors in order to create chaos.’
Last month, WikiLeaks released a cable sent by the US embassy in Tunis in which Ben Ali’s family was described as a ‘quasi mafia’ due to its ‘organised corruption.’
The cable described abuse, corruption, and lack of political freedom in Tunisia under Ben Ali.
The WikiLeaks Revolt by Michael Hirsh (1/28/11)
And although the democratic uprising in Tunisia was mostly generated by 20 years of brutality and corruption under the rule of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, it appears very likely that last year’s WikiLeaks cable dump helped to light the spark.
The Tunisian protests began among largely college-educated students who had heard about the details of ostentatious high living revealed in disapproving cables from U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec; he had written that “corruption in the inner circle is growing” and that Ben Ali “and his regime have lost touch with the Tunisian people.”
According to on-the-ground accounts from the Associated Press and other new organizations, many Tunisians felt vindicated by the details revealed in the leaked cables, which social networks helped to spread. Other U.S. diplomatic cables have exposed double-dealing by Yemen’s leader, who now faces his own revolt.
On Egypt by Robyn Creswell (1/28/11)
Another remote cause, however limited and difficult to assess, is the release of WikiLeaks documents. A cache of diplomatic cables relating to the Middle East was published in early December by the independent newspaper al-Akhbar, and the leaks have been intensively discussed by Arab bloggers and political activists. Few subjects anger Egyptians more than their regime’s cooperation with Israel, and several leaked documents suggest just how closely the two countries’ diplomats and security forces work together. The cable sent in June 2009 from the US embassy in Tel Aviv, which reveals that Egyptian officials were consulted about Israeli air and land assaults on Gaza the previous winter, must have been especially galling.
A more local cause for resentment is the parliamentary election conducted in Egypt in early December. Candidates of the ruling National Democratic Party won 93 percent of the seats in the national assembly, up from 75 percent in 2005, in an election that was baldly rigged even by Egyptian standards. (Here you can watch poll workers in Bilbays, a town in the Eastern Delta, calmly filling out a few dozen ballots.) The scheduled presidential election of 2011 is not expected to be any more fair or transparent. “If Mubarak is still alive,” writes US Ambassador Margaret Scobey in one of the WikiLeaks cables, “it is likely he will run again, and, inevitably, win.”
What U.S. Diplomacy Can Learn from Tunisia by Martin Varsavsky (1/15/11)
The U.S. spends hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of human lives are lost in a bloody military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq with very little success in establishing grassroots change. And instead, U.S. diplomats telling a detailed story about corruption in Tunisia and a group of determined journalists at Wikileaks and Bradley Manning help accomplish what a decade of military intervention in the Middle East could not: a popular uprising against corruption and dictatorship. Yes, the realities of Afghanistan, Iraq and Tunisia are different and most credit goes to the Tunisian people themselves. Yet, as this New York Times article explains, many in the Arab/Muslim world are watching Tunisia and wondering how long will they put up with their own “Ben Alis”. Especially in nearby Egypt.
It is interesting though that it took a combination of angry Tunisians, Wikileaks, U.S. diplomacy, a dissident soldier and social media to ignite the rebellion. Most likely if it had been Hillary Clinton alone telling the Tunisian people how corrupt Ben Ali was, it would have backfired. What US fails to see is that change is possible but the most USA can do is move the needle, not “build nations”. I think the State Department should learn a lot from Tunisia and rethink Wikileaks, cellular networks, social networks, and the power of the raw truth when dictators lose control of the popular message.
WikiLeaks Vindicates Those Behind Unfolding Revolutions by kgosztola (2/15/11)
For those in countries that are working to topple brutal and oppressive regimes, there is a power that WikiLeaks cables have, one that can be tremendously beneficial. Cables from Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia all illuminate why the people of those countries would rise up against their governments. They compel people to acknowledge the magnitude of abuses and suffering that the people have been experiencing under autocratic regimes.
WikiLeaks “no threat,” top German official says by Jeff Stein (12/21/10)
Germany’s top security official said Monday that WikiLeaks is “irritating and annoying for Germany, but not a threat.”
De Maiziere, Merkel’s former chief of staff, also questioned how “intelligent” the U.S. government is for allowing so many people access to classified documents.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be nominated for a Nobel prize, a source in the Kremlin told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
“Non-governmental and governmental organizations should think of ways to help him. Perhaps he could be awarded a Nobel prize,” the source said.
WikiLeaks ‘hacked’ before release (11/28/10)
WikiLeaks has said that its website has been compromised, just hours before the expected release of a tranche of secret US diplomatic documents.
“We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack,” Wikileaks said on its Twitter page.
But WikiLeaks said that five publications “will publish many US embassy cables tonight” even if the website goes down.
Cyber War Report: New Front Opens Against Internet Coup d’état by Clay Blaiborne (12/9/10)
Operation PayBack: 1st Cyber War Begins over WikiLeaks
The Internet Takeover: Why Google is Next
BREAKING: Goodbye Internet Freedom as Wikileaks is Taken Down
BREAKING NEWS: Obama Admin Takes Control of Internet Domains!
Things Even Keith Olbermann Won’t Cover – UPDATE: VICTORY!!!
Stop Internet Blacklist Bill Now!
Sweet Victory on Internet Censorship: Senate Backs Off!
Internet Engineers tell the Senate to Back Off!
Why is Net Neutrality advocate Free Press MIA?
Obama’s Internet Coup d’état
Julian Assange on Threat to Internet Freedom
FCC Net Neutrality’s Trojan Horse
Free Press: Country Codes for the Internet?
The Mountain comes to Mohammad
Keith Olbermann’s Deception
Court rules – Google Must Be Evil & Maximize Profits
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda?
End of the Internet As We Know It!
Free Press would make this Illegal!
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deals
Some countries don’t take corporate censorhip lightly:
Swiss authorities are investigating if the banking arm of Swiss Post violated secrecy rules by divulging that it had closed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s account, media reported on Sunday.
“We are investigating if, in relation to the Postfinance press statement, there has been punishable action,” Hermann Wenger, examining magistrate of the Bern-Mittelland region, told SonntagsZeitung.
Credit card companies that prevented card-holders from donating money to the secrets outlet WikiLeaks could have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.
Representatives from Mastercard and Visa were called before the committee Sunday to discuss their refusal to process donations to the website, reports Reykjavik Grapevine.
“People wanted to know on what legal grounds the ban was taken, but no one could answer it,” Robert Marshall, the chairman of the committee, said. “They said this decision was taken by foreign sources.”
The committee is seeking additional information from the credit card companies for proof that there was legal grounds for blocking the donations.
Marshall said the committee would seriously review the operating licenses of Visa and Mastercard in Iceland.
Amazon cuts off WikiLeaks by Lance Whitney (12/2/10)
WikiLeaks no longer has a home at Amazon.
The controversial site, which has roused the ire of the U.S. government for leaking classified information, is no longer being hosted by Amazon’s Web servers as of yesterday.
A company asked by Visa to investigate WikiLeaks’ finances found no proof the group’s fundraising arm is breaking the law in its home base of Iceland, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.
But Visa Europe Ltd. said Wednesday it would continue blocking donations to the secret-spilling site until it completes its own investigation. Company spokeswoman Amanda Kamin said she couldn’t say when Visa’s inquiry, now stretching into its eighth week, would be finished.
“Our lawyers have now completed their work and have found no indications that Sunshine Press … acted in contravention of Visa’s rules or Icelandic legislation,” Teller’s chief executive Peter Wiren said late last month in a letter obtained by the AP.
Swiss bank Freezes Wikileaks founders legal defense fund by Stephen Webster (12/6/10)
Over €31,000 set aside for the legal defense of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been frozen by the Swiss bank PostFinance, which said that Assange had given false information in creating the account.
“Assange cannot provide proof of residence in Switzerland and thus does not meet the criteria for a customer relationship with PostFinance,” the bank said. “For this reason, PostFinance is entitled to close his account.”
Bank Of America Will Stop Processing WikiLeaks Payments, WikiLeaks Responds On Twitter by Ryan McCarthy (12/18/10)
Bank of America announced it will stop handling transactions for WikiLeaks, the controversial non-profit group that has published secret government data and communications.
In a tense response posted on Twitter late last night WikiLeaks urged customers to stop doing business with the bank and suggested the consumers could find safer places to put their money.
Banks and WikiLeaks by the New York Times (12/25/10)
The whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks has not been convicted of a crime. The Justice Department has not even pressed charges over its disclosure of confidential State Department communications. Nonetheless, the financial industry is trying to shut it down.
Visa, MasterCard and PayPal announced in the past few weeks that they would not process any transaction intended for WikiLeaks. Earlier this month, Bank of America decided to join the group, arguing that WikiLeaks may be doing things that are “inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.”
But a bank’s ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.
FBI serves 40 warrants in search of WikiLeaks ‘hacktivists’ by Mark Seibel (1/27/11)
The FBI said Thursday that it had served more than 40 search warrants throughout the United States as part of an investigation into computer attacks on websites of businesses that stopped providing services in December to WikiLeaks.
The FBI statement announcing the search warrants was the first indication that the U.S. intends to prosecute the so-called “hacktivists” for their actions in support of WikiLeaks.
The search warrants were executed on the same day authorities in Great Britain announced that they had arrested five people in connection with the attacks, which temporarily crippled the websites of Amazon.com, PaylPal, MasterCard, Visa, the Swiss bank PostFinance and others.
Project Vigilant and the government/corporate destruction of privacy by Glenn Greenwald (8/2/10)
In terms of what they mean for the Manning case, those revelations require a lot more analysis, but I want to focus on the much more important aspect of these revelations: namely, what Project Vigilant does as well as the booming private domestic espionage industry of which they are a part. There’s very little public information about this organization, but what they essentially are is some sort of vigilante group that collects vast amount of private data about the Internet activities of millions of citizens, processes that data into usable form, and then literally turns it over to the U.S. Government, claiming its motive is to help the Government detect Terrorists and other criminals. From the Forbes report:
According to Uber, one of Project Vigilant’s manifold methods for gathering intelligence includes collecting information from a dozen regional U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs). Uber declined to name those ISPs, but said that because the companies included a provision allowing them to share users’ Internet activities with third parties in their end user license agreements (EULAs), Vigilant was able to legally gather data from those Internet carriers and use it to craft reports for federal agencies. A Vigilant press release says that the organization tracks more than 250 million IP addresses a day and can “develop portfolios on any name, screen name or IP address.”
Police arrest five over Anonymous WikiLeaks attacks by Josh Halliday (1/28/11)
Five people were arrested yesterday in connection with a spate of online attacks last month in support of WikiLeaks.
Police said the five males, aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26, were arrested in a series of raids at 7am in the West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey and London. All five are being held in custody at local police stations.
The five were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the group of “hacktivists” known as Anonymous, who temporarily crippled the websites of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal after those companies cut off financial services to WikiLeaks. The attacks followed the whistleblowing site’s release of US diplomatic cables.
Anonymous and the global correction by Anonymous (2/16/11)
In this case, the idea that a loose network of people with shared values and varying skill sets can provide substantial help to a population abroad is seen as quixotic – or even unseemly – by many of those who have failed to understand the past ten years, as well as those whose first instinct is to attack a popular revolt rather than to assist it.
Elsewhere, a number of US pundits decided to criticise the revolution as possibly destabilising the region; many of whom once demanded the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – and greeted every Arab revolt as the work of President Bush – but now see nothing for themselves in the cause of Arab liberty.
Some have even portrayed the movement as the work of radical Islamists – yet most cannot find Tunisia on a map.
Suffice to say that the results of our efforts are already on display and will become more evident as Tunisians use our tools and resources to achieve their greatest triumph. Those who wish to assist and are competent to do so can find us easily enough; the Tunisians had little trouble in doing so.
Although we have made great progress in convincing individuals from across the world to join our efforts in Tunisia, other campaigns, such as those taking place in Algeria and Egypt – both of which have seen government websites taken down and/or replaced by Anonymous, more must be done before the movement takes the next step towards a worldwide network capable of perpetual engagement against those who are comfortable with tyranny.
Dear UK government,
We are Anonymous. It has come to our attention that you deemed it necessary to arrest five of our fellow anons for their participation in the DDoS attacks against PayPal, Mastercard, and others, that have been carried out in our name in retaliation for those organisations’ actions against WikiLeaks.
We understand you are planning to charge these fellow anons with offences under the 1990 Computer Misuse Act, which prohibits impairing the operation of a computer or the readability of data. Anonymous believes, however, that pursuing this direction is a sad mistake on your behalf. Not only does it reveal the fact that you do not seem to understand the present-day political and technological reality, we also take this as a serious declaration of war from yourself, the UK government, to us, Anonymous, the people.
First and foremost, it is important to realize what a DDoS attack exactly is and what it means in the contemporary political context. As traditional means of protest (peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, the blocking of a crossroads or the picketing of a factory fence) have slowly turned into nothing but an empty, ritualised gesture of discontent over the course of the last century, people have been anxiously searching for new ways to pressure politicians and give voice to public demands in a manner that might actually be able to change things for the better. Anonymous has, for now, found this new way of voicing civil protest in the form of the DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attack. Just as is the case with traditional forms of protest, we block access to our opponents infrastructure to get our message across. Whether or not this infrastructure is located in the real world or in cyberspace, seems completely irrelevant to us.
Read Wikileaks and you are out of a job by Daniel Tencer (12/5/10)
Graduate students at US universities are being warned not to read or post links to WikiLeaks documents, or they could be denied work with the US government.
Several news reports suggest the State Department has been warning university departments that students could fail security screening if they are seen to discuss or post links to WikiLeaks documents on social networking sites. The US government considers the leaked material to be classified, even after public release.
Is the Federal Government Asking Its Agencies to Treat Employees Like Potential Spies? by E.B. Boyd (1/6/11)
In December, experts told Fast Company that one of the things companies could do to protect themselves against WikiLeaks-style disclosures was to monitor employee sentiment. After all, one of the most likely ways an outside organization like WikiLeaks would get a hold of massive amounts of confidential information–like the hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables purportedly leaked by an Army private–would be if a disgruntled employee walked out the door with them on a thumb drive. (Private Bradley Manning reportedly used a disk disguised to look like a Lady Gaga CD.)
A new set of directives released by the federal government this week appear to be going overboard in this direction. A 14-page memo released by the Office of Management and Budget seems to suggest that departments and agencies should set up “insider threat programs,” complete with post-foreign travel debriefings and psychiatric assessments to identify potentially untrustworthy employees.