Wikileaks and Cyberterrorism

On November 28, 2010, the internet whistle-blower site known as Wikileaks began publishing a series of confidential diplomatic cables from the US government. In total, some 250,000 documents in all. This has sparked a major controversy in the US and abroad.

This isn't the first time Wikileaks has done this though. They first brought themselves into the mainstream light back in November of 2009 with the infamous Climategate emails that were obtained by a group of hackers. In these emails, several scientists were caught lying about climate data and lamenting the fact that they could no longer prove that global warming was even taking place - much less that man was causing it. Most folks considered it a bold and heroic revelation and it's all but killed any hopes the climate scammers had of pulling off the greatest hoax in the history of mankind.

Before that, Wikileaks was primarily devoted to the mundane task of outing corporate secrets and the occasional classified document or two from a foreign government. For the most part they were regarded as a shining light of truth in an otherwise evil and malicious world that was trying to hide it's worst secrets from us. Somewhere along the way, that all changed.

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, soon realized he could make himself famous if he began leaking secrets from the US government. It wasn't long after Climategate broke that the site was given a copy of a US military video, which has been called "Collateral Murder". The argument was that the crew of an Apache gunship fired on civilians, killing two reporters and the people who were trying to rescue them, along with wounding civilian children in the area. Army Private Bradley Manning was charged with the leaking of the classified video, causing a mass uproar around the world. However, following a military investigation, the crew of the Apache was found to be within the rules of engagement for the war, and their actions found to be in compliance with the laws of armed conflict.

Not satisfied with stoking hatred for the US over the incident, Assange obtained hundreds of thousands of reports on both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and posted them on the site for all to see. The sheer volume of information posted and the uncensored nature of it all causes serious harm to the US/NATO war operations in both theaters. Information that is now being used by our enemies to gain an advantage over us. Not to mention the propaganda value these documents have in getting the rest of the world to turn against the wars.

When even that failed to get the bombshell reaction he wanted, Assange announced yet another batch of documents, the now infamous Cablegate release of 250,000 or so confidential diplomatic cables. This batch, along with all of the previous batches, are said to have been supplied by Private Manning. Given the nature of the information and the damage it can cause, the government has finally had enough of Assange and his activities and is now investigating the possibility of having him charged with espionage against the United States.

Activities began in order to bring Assange down. The DNS service which was hosting his site fell under a denial of service attack by a hacker who calls himself The Jester. Using a tool he calls Xerxes, he was apparently able to bring down the US based DNS servers which were supplying the wikileaks.org their domain resolution. When EasyDNS could no longer bear the brunt of the traffic, they terminated Assange's account with their service. It is worth noting that EasyDNS does not charge for domain name resolution.

Shortly after, Wikileaks moved their site over to the cloud system being run by Amazon.com. Once again, the site fell under attack, but due to Amazon's sheer size, the attack was largely ineffective. When a US Senator began making inquiries with Amazon about the nature of their relationship with Wikileaks, Amazon terminated their accounts without warning. Wikileaks was then forced to seek internet services outside the US.

Their domain at wikileaks.ca has once more fallen under a brutal assault from more of The Jester's toys and from other hackers around the world. Though as of this writing the site is up and responsive.

As a result of the attacks, and the looming prospect that Assange might be arrested on sexual assault charges in Sweden, he made his fatal mistake. Assange has had a file available on the wikileaks site since July simply titled insurance.aes. The file is some 1.4GB in size and is estimated to be large enough to hold all of the unreleased cables. Wikileaks has publicly stated that if Assange should be arrested or killed, the passcode to the encrypted file would be released and the contents of the file would then be available to any of the thousands of people who now have copies.

Needless to say, as a result of the Interpol warrant, Assange was arrested in Britain and will be extradited to Sweden to face charges. Thus far, the insurance file password has not been passed out.

Shortly after, both Paypal and Mastercard terminated payment agreements with Wikileaks on the basis that they were violating the terms of service. French officials went to court to have the Wikileaks servers taken offline but fell short of achieving this when the French Supreme Court said more arguments are needed before determining if that should be done. Attacks against Wikileaks' assets continue on all fronts with more and more countries seeking to drive them offline.

After Assange's arrest, a number of hackers took to the internet to "strike back" at the "capitalist pigs" who are "bending to government pressure" by cutting off Wikileaks' ability to make money. Anonymous has taken to the wire with a campaign they call Operation Payback. It mainly consists of a large number of script kiddies using a program called the "Low Orbit Ion Cannon". This program is a simplistic application who's only purpose is to deliver a blistering HTTP based attack against a specified target. Thousands of members of Anonymous are currently using the program to target Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, Fox News, Sarah Palin, Joe Leiberman, and the US Senate website itself. As they see it, the first cyberwar has begun and they say they will not let up until their side has won.

At present, Eric Holder (US Attorney General) is looking into charging Julian Assange with espionage along with Private Manning and anyone else they may find out is involved. There's been rumblings that they may also charge any US media outlets with the same if they choose to ignore common sense and print any of the released documents.

In an even stranger twist of events, Glenn Beck has come out effectively in defense of Wikileaks, saying that coming after them would be playing right into the hands of those who would seek to destroy our freedoms. While I am often inclined to agree with Beck on many things, I cannot see any logic in defending terrorists of any stripe. He's presented evidence that Wikileaks is also receiving funding from several organizations run by George Soros, among them the Tides Foundation and the Open Society Institute. So while I can see where Beck is coming from on this, I think he's dead wrong on this issue and it should be no surprise to most that he's standing alone on this one.

My personal conclusion is that Wikileaks is a terrorist organization and that Julian Assange should be treated as an enemy combatant and prosecuted for espionage here in the US. Any US citizens who have aided him in stealing documents should be tried for treason and espionage. Private Bradley Manning needs to be brought up on charges of treason and espionage in a military tribunal. The Wikileaks website must be shut down before any more US and allied forces can be harmed by their actions.
.........................
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

       
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Posted on Dec 9, 2010 11:14 pm by Samson in: , | 244 comment(s) [Closed]
Comments
Interesting chronology. I think it reads pretty accurately from what I remember of the last couple of years worth of news about wikileaks and Assange.

Samson said:

My personal conclusion is that Wikileaks is a terrorist organization and that Julian Assange should be treated as an enemy combatant and prosecuted for espionage here in the US. Any US citizens who have aided him in stealing documents should be tried for treason and espionage. Private Bradley Manning needs to be brought up on charges of treason and espionage in a military tribunal. The Wikileaks website must be shut down before any more US and allied forces can be harmed by their actions.

Overall, I have to agree with this. I think Assange started out on the right path playing whistle-blower but, while I certainly don't know his real motivations, once he started using classified documents that hadn't been officially declassified he was committing an act of espionage against the country he choose to use classified material from. Given that, in this case, he's actually caused harm to several countries so I think it may be a fight to determine which countries get to prosecute him and how. As for the folks supplying him with classified materials, they've committed treason, at the least, to whatever country they're from, they're also probably guilty of espionage as well, maybe other crimes too. Overall, everyone involved in this should probably be made an example of to help discourage anyone in the future from taking over where they left off so the site needs to be very publicly and very solidly shut down, ideally by a joint action of not just the US but our allies as well. Basically, if he'd stuck to just telling folks what was going on that the regular news media stream weren't revealing, even if it included the occasional private documents that he maybe shouldn't have access to, he'd have still been a hero. His problem is that, for whatever reason, he decided to cross the line by exposing government classified materials. While I can certainly appreciate that some things get buried by classification and remain that way for decades even though they probably should become public far sooner, but the fact is that the government choose to classify those materials and they are sacrosanct until they agree to declassify them, for better or worse.

       
We are, of course, basically in accord on this whole thing. I view Assange and Wikileaks as grandstanding narcissistic fucks who deserve to be shut down as hard as they can be shut down. While there is a legitimate case to be made for the need for leaks, transparency, etc, these are almost the worst possible people to be making said case.

Re: Manning, his charge sheet, for those who haven't seen it.

       
Wikileaks is a conundrum. They release a lot of information that exposes corruption, cover-ups and governemnt misconduct but also release a ot of information that doens't really do anything other than cause a lot of harm to innocent people (i.e. climategate).

Despite my issues with some of their behaviour, I will side with Glenn Beck on this one; shutting down wikileaks is an affront to a free society.

And Samson, get over climategate. Every single enquiry into it has cleared the scientists of any sort of misconduct; they were most definitely not lying about data and did not have an inability to prove that the Earth is still warming.

       
Sorry, not going to "get over" Climategate. They lied, got caught, became discredited. That's it. Getting cleared by your own peers would be like a judge clearing another judge of a crime everyone knows they committed. Now, if you really still want to keep at the climate issue, there's a perfectly good topic to conduct that in.

The information Wikileaks is releasing that's causing actual harm is from the confidential cables and the other classified military documents. Not to mention attempting to blackmail the world with an encrypted poison pill file. Go to their site now, at wikileaks.ca, and you'll see their entire focus is on attacking the US and nothing else. They took all the other stuff down.

       
Well, that just proves that Wikileaks is thinking like a capatilist. People don't care about the other stuff, so they're not interested in keeping it up there.

Those documents have released a lot of material that's caused harm, but its brought to light plenty of misconduct as well from different groups. Its pandora's box, basically. Personally I think its better off opened.

Also, something I didn't add last time. Assange is an idiot for allowing himself to get into the situation with sexual offence charges. He's occupation puts him in a precarious enough situation as it is, and he should have known that commiting rape isn't exactly going to keep him safe. So yeah, he's screwed over now.

As for climategate, you can continue to believe this ridiculous conspirac if you want, and I'll leave it alone for this thread.

       
My view is this, Wikileaks is reporting on information supplied by people who have a beef with someone. Fox News, NBC, PBS, 7, 9 and 10 News are all doing the same. If Wikileaks is a terror organization then so are all the news outlets that have published the leaked cables and documents. If you wanna get some real criminals, find the people who have STOLEN the documents and supplyed wikileaks. Looks like a lot of Aussies support wiki and Assange. Personally i think he over stepped the mark, but, at the end of the day, he is living by his convictions.


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A Suburbian Posted at 3:07 PM December 07, 2010

None of this is new. Scientology tried assorted tactics to get their secret "scriptures" removed from the internet. The response was that the documents were mirrored everywhere. They hassled Julian Assange and his users with Private Investigators and legal threats, and the only thing that came out of it was Julian getting the idea to start Wikileaks. Blame Scientology!

Comment 2 of 212
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Andrew of Sydney Posted at 3:10 PM December 07, 2010

Mr Conroy, are you listening?

Comment 3 of 212
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Sherman of Bathurst Posted at 3:11 PM December 07, 2010

We have a right as people to the Truth! Stop trying to dumb down the population and hide facts

Comment 4 of 212
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JK of Brisbane Posted at 3:13 PM December 07, 2010

And yet they still haven't broken any Law's by publishing the leaks. But by the looks of things foreign governments are breaking as many laws as they can to stop him.....

Comment 5 of 212
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Maggie May of Melbourne Posted at 3:13 PM December 07, 2010

Applause to WikiLeaks fight for freedom of speech but it seems biased against western countries, leaks for middle eastern, soviet and asian countries would only be fair. My only concern is, will western countries use this as an excuse to reduce our freedom of speech even more?

Comment 6 of 212
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Stephan of Hobart Posted at 3:14 PM December 07, 2010

It's about time for the Internet to somehoe declare independence from the stupidity of Government. It's already a community numbered in the billions and Wikileaks is demonstrating just how effective Governments really are in the physical world.

Comment 7 of 212
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Nafe Posted at 3:15 PM December 07, 2010

Good on them. You can't silence free speach. If we had honourable and trustworthy MP's and representativies then this kind of "whistleblowing" wouldn't be needed. Long live Democricy, Long live Freedom of Speach in the Western World. (obviously the governments are more into censorship than freedom these days)

Comment 8 of 212
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JB of Stafford Posted at 3:17 PM December 07, 2010

Send a black opps teams in a simultaneous attack on each and every site hosting it. How far are the supporters of this willing to go? How damaging could this information be and how far are various countries willing to go to protect their secrets! Are they willing to kill? These leaks involve some very powerful countries with vast resources. If they can't take down the web sites they might target the people running or supporting them. This is fast turning into a VERY dangerous game!!

Comment 9 of 212
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Barney of Sydney Posted at 3:19 PM December 07, 2010

If only governments around the world were so diligent trying to stamp out child pornography!

Comment 10 of 212
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Sam of Sydney Posted at 3:19 PM December 07, 2010

Go Wikileaks-Fight the good fight

Comment 11 of 212

       
Anonymous [Anon] said:
Comment #7 Dec 10, 2010 8:54 am
Rules 1 & 2 you newfags!

       
Well, there were street protests going on in Australia by people who were angry that the government had not protected Assanege and let him back into Australia (he is an Australian citizen).

Though to be honest, I think if he commited rape he should have to pay the price for it. Founding wikileaks doesn't make you an exception from the law.

       
Ignoring the strange outburst from Anonymous... I'm with Samson and Dwip on this one.

Prettyfly, the fact is that he published classified documents that were harmful, forget the moral perspective of having harmed entire nations by doing so, publishing classified documents is espionage, period.

Fury, Yes, the bottom line is that he overstepped the mark. Yes, the real criminals are those supplying the information, but unlike the news outlets, he's knowingly and willfully publishing (and capitalizing on the fact that he knows they are classified) classified documents which qualifies as espionage. He may only be standing behind his convictions, but he's going to ultimately get convicted for doing so.

       
@Fury -

I think there's a difference here between actual journalistic organizations and what Wikileaks is doing. On the one hand, news organizations are supposed to do actual reporting - talk to people, piece together events, provide hopefully informed commentary when appropriate, etc. Simply throwing up bundles of documents by themselves to see what sticks does not seem to me to pass that test. Secondly, journalists are supposed to hold to a certain level of ethics - protection of sources, protection of innocents, a hopeful presumption of fairness, that sort of thing. On that level, Wikileaks manifestly fails. See also lack of redaction of names in the various US cables, as well as the so-called Collateral Murder video which was a fairly transparent hit piece[1].

Which is pretty much to say that I find them to be journalistic on about the same level as I find a guy like James O'Keefe or crap-flinging monkeys to be journalistic - not at all.

[1] - And I know we discussed that here, but damned if I can find it.

       
You can't find it because Samson's site search only checks the blog entries and not the comments. :(

       
I'm sure it got covered around here somewhere though I don't remember discussing it specifically before. It probably came up in passing on something else.

       
Anonymous [Anon] said:
Comment #13 Dec 10, 2010 4:51 pm
Oddly enough I agree with Samson and disagree with the prettyfly on this topic.

One cable revealead a list of the worlds most imporatant sites of infasturcture. One of these sites is like a mile from my house god damnit! Suddenly, people who work at these sites are at risk from terrorist attacks. Assange is practically giving the terrorists a list of targets.
For instance: The location of an Anti-Venom lab which produces anti venom for the whole country was revealed. That's helping no one but the terrorists IMO.

       
AnImpatientFan [Anon] said:
Comment #14 Dec 10, 2010 4:52 pm
^ My Comment



My bad. Forgot to sign in

^AnImpatientFansComment

       
Agreed, AnImpatientFan (though patience enough to make sure you're all the way signed in might qualify as more than a virtue... ;) ), and it's not just lists of targets that he's giving terrorist organizations either. :(

       
Ah, found it. Thanks, Google advanced search. You'll do until Samson adds real comment searching.

I forgot about the infrastructure thing. Completely irresponsible.

       
Indeed. I can't see how it serves the purpose they claim to serve - namely exposing corruption and holding deceitful governments accountable. Telling the world where the anti-venom manufacturing facility is can only cause harm to innocent civilians if bombers show up and blast it to pieces.

There's a lot more to the document leaks than just the boring diplomatic stuff here. I doubt the entirety of the July leak has all been published yet, and we certainly know the November batch hasn't been.

       
Yay Dwip! See, Google's still not evil yet. ;)

Yes, 250k documents has got to take awhile to read in order to determine how much damage has really been done. Let alone all the documents that they claim to have that they haven't finished even posting yet. :(

       
Edited by Conner on Dec 10, 2010 5:36 pm
Well it's good to know we're all consistent in our positions, yes? The previous thread went into a great bit of detail on Assange and the whole bit. Always good to go back and read stuff like that again because it was fresh on our minds then.

       
That's assuming they're even reading the documents before posting. ;) In a way, if they aren't it would make it even worse because it shows a lack of concern.

I mean, I know most of you have this thing in your heads where suddenly its not that big of a crime when the perp didn't 'mean' to do it; to me if the result is the same, I don't give a rat's ass whether it was negligence, or it was deliberate, or it was an after effect of something else. The persons' reputation is just as damaged, or they're just as dead, or their property is just as damaged, etc. etc.

       
@Samson: That's why we're not getting into so much detail now, we've kind of covered most of it already up to the current stuff at least.

@Dallen: Yes, well, whether they cared enough to read the documents before publishing them or not doesn't really matter. If they cared enough to at least make an effort to help the public rather than just hurt the governments they'd redact the names and so forth rather than just posting everything. I don't think whether they care or not can even be in question at this point.

Um, no, intent is a consideration of many of the laws in this country but I actually served in the military under active duty and had a security clearance at the time and routinely dealt with classified materials. Intent has very little to do with espionage charges. If you've allowed someone access to classified materials, even inadvertently, you're at fault. Period. If you've done it intentionally, it actually becomes a question of treason, otherwise it's still at least espionage and subject to very severe punishment. Now how other countries might handle the same sort of thing, I have no idea. Thankfully, in this country at least, intent does count in cases of damages/death because otherwise we wouldn't have varies degrees of charges like murder and people would "get the chair" even if they caused the death of another entirely unknowingly. Personally, I tend to walk a strange and fine line in my beliefs regarding criminal justice in this country. I don't believe that our justice system is harsh enough, but I also don't believe that our judiciaries do their jobs properly as it is and thus many who are innocent routinely pay high prices for crimes they didn't actually commit while far too many who are guilty get to walk free. How dos that work out, you might ask? It's because the prosecutors and judges are overzealous about conviction counts toward what they perceive as election requirements to the extent that they get very sloppy and, unfortunately, many guilty parties have been through the system before and know how to take advantage of such loop holes while innocent parties don't have the "benefit" of that experience and fall easy prey because they really don't know how to prove their innocence and honestly believe that our judicial system is setup under the premise of not guilty until proven otherwise, while it's clearly not.

       
Edited by Conner on Dec 10, 2010 6:32 pm
Samson said:


Well it's good to know we're all consistent in our positions, yes? The previous thread went into a great bit of detail on Assange and the whole bit. Always good to go back and read stuff like that again because it was fresh on our minds then.


At least I was saying the same exact things word for word, too. No flip-flopping here!

       
I won't say that I'm reiterating myself verbatim, but my stance at the time was basically the same, the only significant difference being that I now know more about Assange and Wikileaks in general and they've dome some other things that further reinforce my negative opinion of them. :shrug:

       
At this point I think it's entirely safe for our government to treat them as a terrorist organization. We've already given them plenty of chances to knock this crap off.

Wikileaks' claim that they're a news organization and its staff are journalists doesn't pass the smell test.

       
They're not Journalist-They're Blog-ist! Terrorist blogist, but blogist nevertheless.

       
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