December 28, 2010

Wikileaks Update 2010-12-18: Greenwald v. Wired, Infowar as Civil War, WL Copycats, & More

I've updated "The Case for Wikileaks" here. It lays out the arguments and includes lots of links to sources and resources; please use and share it.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon has been pounding on Wired. US Army PFC Bradley Manning is the accused leaker of the cables to WL, allegedly having outed himself to Adrian Lamo, who turned him in. Lamo is a convicted hacker and just two weeks earlier had been released from involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. "For more than six months, Wired's Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed – but refuses to publish – the key evidence [i.e., the complete internet chat logs between Manning and Lamo] in one of the year's most significant political stories." Meanwhile, Lamo has continued to talk, and his descriptions have contained certain inconsistencies, as shown in analyses by Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake. Poulsen's continued refusal to publish the complete chat logs, Greenwald writes, "has long ago left the realm of mere journalistic failure and stands as one of the most egregious examples of active truth-hiding by a 'journalist' I've ever seen." Most of FDL's analyses and other resources can be found here. (UPDATE: Poulsen and Wired's editor, Evan Hansen, respond here, both attacking Greenwald in return. In addition, Hansen suggests they've held back the full logs because they contain Manning's non-relevant, "sensitive personal information," and Poulsen says the stories published in Wired have already "either excerpted, quoted or reported on everything of consequence Manning had to say about his leaking.")

(The Hired and Apocaleaks Now images are from the right hon. exiledsurfer, whose works all reward attention.)

At some point one has to wonder, is the US holding Manning in solitary just because they're trying to make him talk, or also because they need to keep him from talking while the US spreads its own disinfo?

There's a great piece by Robin Bloor on the big picture, "Wikileaks: This Is Just The Beginning," comparing the current situation to the conflict between Pope Leo X and Martin Luther, which she says arose from the invention of the Gutenberg press. I disagree on a few of her points but think she nails one important aspect of the situation: "it’s a mistake to see the US government as a specific side in this war. This is an info war and info wars take place between power structures not countries. It’s the US power structure, not the US itself, that currently has a side in this war. Info wars are, by their very nature, civil wars between groups of citizens that live under the aegis of a given information control structure. One side wishes to conserve it, while the other wishes to change it." The whole article's well worth reading, including her list of virtual infrastructure needs highlighted by developments in the current conflict.

Great essay by Robert Meerpol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg:

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.

Many who attacked the law noted that the framers of the Constitution had specifically limited what constituted treason by writing it into the Constituton: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort” (Article III, section 3). The framers felt this narrow definition was necessary to prevent treason from becoming what some called “the weapon of a political faction.” Furthermore, in their discussions at the Constitutional Convention they agreed that spoken opposition was protected by the First Amendment and could never be considered treason.

It appears obvious that the Espionage Act is unconstitutional because it does exactly what the Constitution prohibits. . . . To this day, with a few notable exceptions that include my parents’ case, it has been a dormant sword of Damocles, awaiting the right political moment and an authoritarian Supreme Court to spring to life and slash at dissenters.
More at the link.

Here's the script for a fascinating speech by Rop Gonggri at the 27th Chaos Communication Congress of hackers, referring to his contacts with Wikileaks: "WikiLeaks could well come out victorious in a new generational conflict, mentioned in the same line with the suffragettes and the Vietnam protesters. But as it stands today, my friend Julian is potentially facing prison time or even assassination for what essentially amounts to practicing journalism." He also notes, "[t]here’s a new American proposal to make all providers of any kind of online service provide the authorities with cleartext of everything that happens." Gonggri's main focus in recent years has been electronic voting machines around the world; specifically, demonstrating how easily they can be hacked. (As I've feared, easily-manipulated machines are already in use in many countries.)

In case you hadn't heard, the CIA has launched a "Wikileaks Task Force," a.k.a. W.T.F.; more here.

The NYT has published an op-ed, "Banks and Wikileaks," making a point similar to the one I raised eight days earlier under the heading, "Payment Process Usurps Due Process" – that the payment processing services performed by banks are in the nature of an essential public utility, and banks should not be allowed to financially strangle individuals or enterprises just because they're exposing embarrassing truths.

Indeed, it should be obvious by now that there are a number of essential services in the nature of public utilities that should not be entrusted entirely to private control. The trend, however, has been in the opposite direction; i.e., to privatize more and more. To the extent that trend prevails, there will be nothing to stop people like Dick Cheney from acquiring control of our financial system, prisons, roads, military, media, elections, schools, social networks, internet, etc., and running them like Halliburton for their own personal benefit and that of their buddies, at the expense and to the detriment of the rest of us.

The Anons targeted Bank of America yesterday (because of its refusal to process payments to WL), achieving intermittent outages; I haven't checked on that situation today.

A highly-plausible explanation for Amazon's decision to terminate service to WL: per Amazon, "the U.S. federal government continues to be one of our fastest growing customer segments," utilizing Amazon's web services for its Recovery Accountability and Transparency website. More here.

Here's an article about other, WL-like facilities now starting up. According to Robin Bloor (see above), at last count there were six such sites: BalkanLeaks in the Balkans, BrusselsLeaks in Belgium, Indoleaks in Indonesia, Rospil in Russia, Tunileaks in Tunisia, and OpenLeaks, in addition to WL itself. More info about OpenLeaks at techPresident. I.m.h.o., the more, the merrier. (UPDATE: Here's an updated list of copycat sites. Note, these sites vary widely w.r.t. what they do, including what kind of security they afford leakers, what they publish, how they publish, what language they publish in, etc.
  1. BalkanLeaks
  2. BrusselsLeaks (Belgium)
  3. Cryptome (existed before Wikilekas)
  4. Der Western Recherche (Germany)
  5. Indoleaks (Indonesia)
  6. Israelileaks
  7. PirateLeaks (Czech Republic)
  8. Rospil (Russia)
  9. Tunileaks (Tunisia; but this just looks like a site re- cables released by WL)
  10. (Netherlands)
  11. OpenLeaks
  12. TradeLeaks
  13. ScienceLeaks
  14. Wikispooks)
UPDATE: A Croation version is also in the works.

Here's an article re- WL from Columbia Journalism Review:
[I]t’s quite difficult to see significant legal differences between what WikiLeaks has done and what newspaper, television, and magazine reporters do all the time. . . . The classification system has been established by our democratically elected officials to obscure the hand of the state. Sometimes it rightly keeps us safe, and sometimes it wrongly keeps us in the dark. . . . But the fundamental problem is that the government cannot be trusted to make these decisions for themselves. . . . [T]here’s nothing to say that every future iteration of something like WikiLeaks would [deal with leaked material as responsibly as WL has]. It’s a frightening prospect.

But the idea that the solution to this potential problem lies in uprooting freedom of speech, and the status quo that has allowed the press to be a persistent, comprehensive watchdog of the national security state is frightening, too.
"Wikidrips": per Greg Mitchell at The Nation, The NYT's publications re- the cables have dried to a trickle, and it's been even longer since the gray lady published anything not already published elsewhere. I note that WL did not bother including The NYT among the original, privileged recipients – it was The Guardian that shared; but it's coverage, too, has dwindled. Today Mitchell notes that, although The Guardian had a you-ask, we-search feature on their site, inviting readers to suggest terms for searching the trove of cables, it discontinued the feature six days ago.

Just learned that all the days of Mitchell's "Blogging the Wikileaks" can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment