Update on WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning & the Arrests of LulzSec Hackers
For the past nine days, I have been live blogging the publishing of Stratfor emails by WikiLeaks allegedly obtained from Anonymous. I did not get a live blog post up so, before the day is over, here’s an update on some developments related to WikiLeaks, Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks and the arrests of alleged LulzSec hackers yesterday.
—Various media in Sweden have been slandering WikiLeaks in the past weeks. In a press statement, the organization calls out the media organizations that have been engaged in publishing pure fabrications:
The recent fabrications picked up in the Swedish media about alleged WikiLeaks plots on Swedish journalists and the Swedish state are completely false. WikiLeaks does not know who is behind this defamation, but perhaps those fearful of the impact of the cables referred to in the Rolling Stone article have attempted to disarm future exposures relating to Sweden’s Foreign Minister.
Expressen’s fabricated stories attempt to twist the publication of authentic materials about government, into a “smear campaign against all Sweden”. Attempting to equate the reputation of one Moderate party politician, Carl Bildt, with the reputation of the entire Swedish nation is a clear manipulation and must be challenged. Expressen refuses to release any of its claimed evidence and its editor, Thomas Mattson is apparently too scared to debate WikiLeaks on SVT as to the merits.
Mattson is urged to issue a front page retraction or resign.
—Daily Mail shows it has some integrity, six months after the fact—which is more than one can say for many US media outlets. Here we have the news organization offering a clarification and correction on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks:
A column on 12 July suggested that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had hacked into the security services and published information which got people killed.
Mr Assange asks us to clarify that Wikileaks does not itself ‘hack’ but provides a secure facility for anonymous sources to deposit information online.
While the U.S. government has warned that Wikileaks disclosures put lives at risk, no such deaths have to date been reported.
That is actually a pretty significant misrepresentation. One wonders how many times the Daily Mail had to be contacted before they finally issued a clarification and correction.
—NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, interviewed by Matthew Harwood for Salon, talks about what he would have done differently. He also describes what it was like to be isolated in the NSA after he blew the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse at the agency.
When he talks about what he would have done differently, he mentions WikiLeaks:
…I would have gone public before indictment. Remember, once they indict you’re already in a severely negative place. But the last place I would have shared any information with is WikiLeaks, and yet it is a viable internationally based alternative for getting the truth out. This is partly why [Bradley] Manning is in the hot water because he’s not going through, allegedly, an American citizen; he’s going somewhere else. And it’s not the enemy, let’s get that straight right off the bat, but he’s going to an organization that’s non-U.S.-based, non-U.S. citizen…
—Northrup Grunman and McAfee have been hired by the Pentagon to train cyber professionals on how to prevent WikiLeaks-type data spills. They have helped develop the “Host Based Security System.”
According to Pentagon officials, “The system stops unauthorized applications from executing and spots rogue systems on the classified network.”
—Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald covers the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez’s condemnation of US treatment of Bradley Manning. Greenwald notes Mendez announced in December 2010 that he would be conducting a formal investigation into “the conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention,” which he “endured for the eight months he was held at a Marine brig in Quantico.”
—A petition calling on the Obama Administration to pardon Bradley Manning and support his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize has been submitted to the White House website. The petition is short and concise.
It declares, “Horrendous acts related to the Iraq War have damaged America. In comparison, this young man Manning supported our very American views of civilization.” It suggests the America’s “most barbaric crimes remain broadly unpunished,” cites the Hadita massacre and torture at Abu Ghraib, and then says Manning contributed to ending American ignorance.
TuffsNotEnuff covered this earlier today with a myFDL post.
—NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake offers words of support for Bradley Manning.
From his interview with Salon‘s Harwood (see above), he is asked if he thinks Manning is a whistleblower and replies:
There is also a lot of what I call false flag arguments with Manning. It took incredible courage, incredible risk. He ended up listening to his conscience. All the other stuff you hear about is a red herring. All the other stuff is personal and it’s misdirection. Remember, the government uses the court of public opinion, just as much if not more so than whistle-blowers. The advantage they had, in my case, remember, I was way behind the 8-ball. In essence they already made like six moves in chess, before I could make a move at all. They already had the upper hand. They had the narrative. They had the charges. They had painted me as a traitor. That I had violated my oath. That I had betrayed my country.
He says Obama is “worse than Bush.” He is “expanding the secrecy regime far beyond what Bush even intended.”
—Democracy Now! produced a segment this morning on the arrest of alleged LulzSec hackers. Of significance is the attention given to the fact that “Sabu” was arrested in June, turned by the FBI and then went to work as an informant. Up until now, he was still engaged in hacktivism with LulzSec. In fact, it is believed he used an FBI-owned computer for the Stratfor hack. The computer could have possibly been used for the transfer of five million emails to WikiLeaks.
Cyber activist Gregg Housh, who appears to have some loose connections to active Anonymous members, appeared in the segment and so did Gabriella Coleman, a professor who is a leading authority on digital media, hackers and the law.
Housh summed up the news from the arrests appropriately:
…[T]he most surprising thing to me, though, was, you know, something that you just mentioned, the fact that theFBI basically allowed LulzSec/Anonymous to hack Stratfor and to dump all that data to WikiLeaks. They pretty much sacrificed Stratfor in the name of hunting down Julian Assange. And that’s the strangest thing of all of this to me so far…
Coleman says it isn’t clear whether this Stratfor hack was a means to entrap Assange and other members of WikiLeaks for eventual arrests, however, that certainly is a possibility.
—The criminal complaint against “Sabu,” the FBI’s informant
Here is the criminal complaint. I want to call attention to a few sections.
One, it would be fascinating to look at how descriptions of WikiLeaks in official government documents evolve. This description is pretty benign and fair to the organization, something I consider surprising given the fact that the FBI is likely investigating WikiLeaks.
At all times relevant to this Information, the members of Anonymous, through their cyber attacks, sought to support, among other causes, WikiLeaks, an international non-profit organization that published otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous sources; and Julian Assange, who was the founder of WikiLeaks.
Some of the hacks Sabu was involved in include the hack of HBGary, the hack of Tunisia, Algeria, Yemeni and Zimbabwean government computer systems, and the PayPal, Visa and MasterCard denial-of-service (DoS) attack. But, what is most interesting are the acts he committed under supervision of the “internet feds.”
From more of the FBI documents released on the investigations that led up to the arrests, here are details from Jeremy Hammond’s criminal complaint. Hammond is alleged to have been responsible for the Stratfor Hack. CW-1 is “Sabu,” the FBI’s informant:
As discussed in more detail below, at or around the time the Stratfor Hack took place, CW–1, at the direction of the FBI, provided to HAMMOND and his co–conspirators a computer server in New York, New York, which could be used to store data, and to which HAMMOND and his co-conspirators in fact transferred data} I have spoken to an employee of the FBI who reviewed the transferred data, and learned that it was similar in content and format to the data found in the files found on the .onion server discussed above.
For those unfamiliar, .onion is like a traditional domain name but it is “designed to hide computer servers on the Internet as well as the individuals accessing these computers. It is a “top-level domain name that designates computers which are accessible via TOR using particular software, but which are otherwise not easily found on the Internet.” (That’s according to the criminal complaint.)
There are no details on the transfer of the emails to WikiLeaks. If the New York-based server containing the data engaged in that transfer, it is not in any of the complaints or documents on the investigation. That means either this was left out intentionally or “Sabu” had nothing to do with providing the emails to WikiLeaks. If “Sabu” had nothing to do with providing emails, then that would mean others in the network of Anonymous did.
Still, if others did, it would seem like the FBI would have been tracking where all this data was going. So, they probably know who moved the material on to WikiLeaks. It wouldn’t be essential to prosecuting the LulzSec hackers. so perhaps they are keeping it secret for their ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks.
A final note on Jeremy Hammond:
I have learned from my conversations with Chicago law enforcement agents involved in JEREMY 2005 Case, as well as a review of related records, including a report prepared by U.S. Probation, that one of the conditions of federal supervised release included prohibition from involvement or contact with the Chicago Anarchist Network or related civil disobedience organizations.
Go to jail and you may be forced to give up your right to engage in the time-honored tradition of civil disobedience and protest.