"The U.S. has the cyber capabilities to prevent WikiLeaks from disseminating those materials"

"The United States has the cyber capabilities to prevent WikiLeaks from disseminating those materials. Will President Obama order the military to deploy those capabilities?"
LOL, as if! Did you backtrace it? That Washington Post op-ed by former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen is best read in Mad Dad Voice. Yes, this is the same nutball columnist who effectively argued for arresting or assassinating Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange a couple weeks ago (Raffi Khatchadourian's response in the New Yorker is a must-read).

There is no "off" switch for the internet in America. But even that reactionary fantasy misses a critical point: the encrypted "insurance" file which was posted earlier this month by Wikileaks pre-emptively negates any draconian, linear response that the state might consider: unlock the file with a key (or keys) that could easily be tweeted, emailed, or otherwise shared by Assange and colleagues, and the next Big Dump would be laid bare for all to read.

As nutty as Thiessen is, his rant reminds me of something I've heard friends and folks I follow ask aloud lately: could "The Wikileaks Problem" be the excuse our government needs to rally support for new curbs on 'net freedom? Just as child porn was the internet menace no one could argue against in earlier decades, perhaps the national security panic sparked by Wikileaks will be the bogeyman, this time around. (via)

Update: Kevin Poulsen at Wired News on the "cyberwar against Wikileaks" crazytalk: good luck with that.


  1. Xeni, do you agree with the assessment by Schneier in your link above: that they should have encrypted each document separately and had one opened randomly to prove they’re not bluffing?

    1. It’s certainly not my place to advise Wikileaks on what they should or should not be doing. But to answer your question, no, I don’t suspect they’re bluffing.

    2. chgoliz, we don’t know that they didn’t encrypt each document in that package separately. They might release a key to decrypt the outermost container and we’ll find encrypted modules inside that. We’ll never know until/if the first key is released.

    3. It’s entirely possible that the file contains further encrypted files which would allow them to do that should they wish. At this point, though, what do they have to prove? It’s clear that they have leaked documents.

  2. You know, this system we’ve got here. This internet thing. It might really take off one day, and it’d be a shame if somebody who wasn’t individually minded take control of it. I mean, if they really wanted to, seizure of servers would be the next war on terror.

    Considering our current environment is hybridized between physicality and virtualization, it’d be the next logical step to seize the land that the virtual world lands on. Those internet terrorists aren’t just hurting bits, they’re influencing the physical world.

    Now, if we were truly vigilant, we’d support groups like The EFF, ACLU, The Pirate Party of Sweden, and most of all Wikileaks.

    Where there are laws, there will always be outlaws. Even behind enemy lines. Luckily we have the advantage as a collective to ensure that our rights are observed and enacted. This means voting, revolutions, new methods of government, and even defiance.

    In that virtual world, things break down much easier, as we have the source code. We can see holes, gaps and overflows in systems guaranteed ‘hack-proof’.

    However, the number one thing we have to do, and this exceeds all defiance, revolutions and votes.

    That thing, is called ‘Caring’. Caring about the world and people around you, caring about the way people treat other people, caring the way that companies treat the earth, and this passion is what will lead us into an area not thought of before. This will be the advancement of the human civilization. All we have to do is care.

  3. “Cyber capabilities”.

    I can only assume this type of boasting has something to do with a robotic penis…

  4. Our cyber-capabilities are far most superior. Take it from me, when the country (United States)decides to pull the plug all the flashy web portals go **bye-bye** (along with the illegally “leaked” government documents). Just consider us a virtual paper shredder (when we want to be).

    1. Our cyber-capabilities are far most superior. Take it from me, when the country (United States)decides to pull the plug all the flashy web portals go **bye-bye** (along with the illegally “leaked” government documents).

      How about your sentence-structure capabilities? Sorry bud, but “pulling the plug” doesn’t stop the transfer of files. The info is already out there – and this whole post on BB is precisely about why strong-arm viewpoints like yours, in regards to issues like this, are comical.

      Also, as to the suggestion that the “insurance file” is a bluff? Ridiculous. If it was my ass on the line, I certainly wouldn’t want my insurance to be bunk.

  5. Thanks, Xeni and proginoskes. I didn’t mean to suggest that you should advise Wikileaks in any way, Xeni…I was simply curious as to your opinion. But I can see how it might appear to be stepping on toes.

    Proginoskes, I salute your screen name. I read the entire series aloud to my children.

  6. Threats, counter-threats, testosterone poisoning on a global scale between parties that were supposed to be improvements over old evils. This bodes ill for keeping the internet an open, largely uncensored, place for the exchange of ideas. What if a well-meaning attempt to reveal the evils of war just ends up causing a new sort of war?

  7. I think Joe on NewsRadio said it best when he said that trying to take something off the internet is like trying to take pee out of a swimming pool.

  8. Personally, I think the whole ‘insurance policy’ file is either a) a fraud, or b) shows that WL is incredibly hypocritical. If they truly believe in transparency, they would reveal the contents regardless, no? But they are willing to hold it back to safeguard their own existence.

    So either there is nothing in the file, or it is a revelation of about the same calibre as the previous documents (and will therefore not function as much protection), or it is something drastically more revealing – and if the latter, doesn’t that put paid to all their grandiose claims?

      1. I don’t suspect the file to be “a fraud.”

        Then they are as bad as those that they condemn – and the ends justify the means.

        1. This isn’t that complicated.

          In the first release they redacted some information to prevent a degree of harm. It takes time and effort to do such redaction, thus there are some materials that are in process.

          The encrypted file is likely the unredacted complete volume. They have presented the “authorities” with an ultimatum – bring the hammer down and the key is automatically revealed (this could be set up many different ways), releasing all documents.

          Their position on transparency need not be binary. They have already shown that they believe that there are materials whose release would cause preventable harm, and they withheld those materials.

          1. The encrypted file is likely the unredacted complete volume. They have presented the “authorities” with an ultimatum – bring the hammer down and the key is automatically revealed (this could be set up many different ways), releasing all documents.

            This goes exactly back to my original thesis. So they would release the unredacted documents, despite any possible harm, AND the request of their informant, to save their skin?

    1. I’m wondering if the “insurance” file is something outrageous? Something that was encrypted only for the public, but in a way so the government could get at it easily enough. If it was something that would cause an uproar within the public it could explain the more intense tone the government has taken towards wikileaks lately. They know. Doing it this way could be a move in itself.
      At anytime wikileaks could send the government something and say we have this, but by encrypting wikileaks could essentially be playing dumb “huh, well how ’bout that eh? you cracked it.”
      I guess the insurance isn’t that they have it, it’s that the public has it? What if it’s damaging to the downloaders? what if? I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. This is as good as the Xfiles, almost.

  9. I love how the blame is on Wikileaks, and not the government for doing these things. Something is completely backwards when the people who are supposed to be protecting us are actively covering up their crime scenes. We never learn.

  10. I think I need TO bRing something to the attention of the audience — Marc Thiessen, who called for arresTing OR assassinating Julian Assange, seems TO be Ridiculously ignorant of the way TechnOlogy woRks. ThOse Ranting pundits who feel that the death of human beings is a legitimate TOol of statecRafT have fORfeited their humanity and the birthright of humaniTy. fOR shame, Marc Thiessen, fOR shame, washington post.

  11. This administration has talked about having the right to shut down any site they think is a threat to cyber security. Australia, for the love of Godot, is talking about national filters for the internet and searching visitors’ hard drives to stop child porn. I don’t know if they are so stupid that they don’t know about Google cache, torrents, TOR, and any of the other elebenty billion ways to move data or if they just want to seize power for the sake of seizing power. I’d send an email to the administration’s transparency and ethics czar except they just eliminated the position.

  12. Oh yeah: that Apache gunship was well out of any RPG’s range when they lit ’em up…they were in NO danger, and they knew it, orbiting a kilometer or more away.
    Killers of children, by remote control.
    And proud of it.

  13. From next week’s Washington Post op-ed: “The U.S. has the house-keeping capabilities to un-shit the bed.”

  14. @Ugly Canuck

    Are you implying that you believe the actions taken by the gunship crew was a war crime? It certainly looks that way from your last two posts.

    If so, what ‘war crime’ was committed?

    I don’t mean to suggest you’re wrong in being outraged over the actions of the crew, but I do believe there have been several incidents on BB (and, of course, elsewhere) of people propagating incorrect definitions of the phrase ‘war crimes’, and it sounds to me like you’re going in the same direction.

    I am honestly curious as to your knowledge of the Geneva Conventions etc. and I apologize if I am out of line.

  15. you know wat would be totally boss, if wikileaks put a VNC in the encrypted file, so when all the senators opened it up, they could steal all the secrets off their desktops!

  16. I think you might misunderstand what sort of tactics the US cyber command could do. Specifically, they could set up a program to sniff out specific documents (on torrents), or simply log the list of servers hosting said files, then create a DDOS attack. Each time the end server tried to reroute traffic to a different IP, a script would log the new IP, then redirect the DDOS, literally crippling the end servers. Simplistic in explanation, but basically that’s what one would do if one wanted to show force and shut down a group.

    But it would probably freak the hell out of everyone around the world, and thus is likely not to happen.

    1. If it was that simple, do you think RIAA/MPAA (in the form of companies created/hired for that purpose) wouldn’t already try it?

      There are very many people worldwide who are irked at the warmongers and the lies and the hot air. Poke into this, try to DDOS the torrent, and you will see thousands of torrents sprouting up, way more than your brute-force DDOSing capabilities can reach. And then see the ISPs clamping down on you, cutting you off the Net as the source of malicious network overload; that takes just a few BGP entries. Either you’ll be inefficient and laughed at, or you’ll cause collateral damage in the form of third-party traffic being influenced, and you’ll be cut off and routed around; your choice.

      You can also try to poison the torrents, seed fakes, pose as nonresponsive or poorly responsive nodes to hinder the downloading. But the world is not only Bittorrent. There’s Gnutella, there’s eMule, there’s Tor and Freenet and many more, and even the ultimate – manual sending of files over IM or IRC; many warriors were trained and many weapons were developed in the Copyright Wars.

      You can flood the Net with fake files. But then you’ll get people with established reputation posting hash values of the genuine files.

      You can take the whole Internet down; you can fragment it to smaller networks. But the files are already sprinkled around the world, so e.g. cutting Europe off USA won’t achieve anything in this context. And even without the Net traffic there are still telephones (and existing friendship structures between people across the borders), and multigigabyte amounts of data can be mailed internationally on a microSD card.

      And there are the blogs, the news, mailinglists, twitter, Facebook groups, instant messaging between individual people, and the nuclear option known as 4chan and its ilk. You can take down any of them. But good luck taking down all of them.

      So please tune down the testosterone and think twice before pissing off The Internets.

      1. Well put. I recall a certain code a few years ago – can’t remember what it was, something about DRM I think – that once cracked was released via photos (I have a pic of the code written on someone’s hand), tunes, puzzles… How would you search for that as they can be named whatever you want – all you have to do is disseminate the name to search for. Mnemonics would work, too.

      2. Shaddack, no a non-governmental/military group would not do that even if they could – it would be pretty extra-judicial. However a military/governmental group could do it if it was in the interest of national security.

        I agree with the previous Anonymous post. My bet is the US (and other governments) really can bring down a shitload of storm onto the internet if they want. As Anonymous points out, the repressions would be pretty intense though. A nuke would be a great way to tell another nation, “don’t you EVER do that again” but you know it would cause a global, “Woah…”

        1. A government/military entity can *try*. They may even achieve a local and temporary success – for the cost of making more enemies than they can handle, losing allies, and causing a buildup of defensive systems against that particular sort of attack.

          Mentioned excrement cargo of angry weather is certainly achievable, but only with temporary results. A few days of trouble, until the technicians of the world get their little kingdoms back into operation, this time hardened against that kind of attack. And the reputation of the perpetrator will then be damaged and their further actions will be viewed with suspicion.

          You can cripple the Internet’s infrastructure for a while; it has its weak points. You can’t stop the spread of an undesired information once there’s enough copies in the wild – people will just swap physical media, and instead of downloading individual files will be getting Blu-Ray disks burned with entire collections. All you’ll achieve is damaging the innocents, making yourself enemies, and giving them the motivation to do bad things to you just to show defiance.

          You can attack people’s infrastructure; but you end up just making them stronger, and more pissed. Being a government/military does not make you any exception.

      3. “So please tune down the testosterone and think twice before pissing off The Internets.”
        Absolutely – otherwise, consequences will never be the same.

  17. So Wikileaks threat is that if anyone does something they don’t like, they’ll help the Taliban kill a bunch of Afghan civilians and US soldiers. And some how people think this is OK?

    If France had intervened to stop the Rwandan Genocide, would helping kill civilians who cooperated with France somehow be cool?

    1. That’s not what they said: that’s what you say.
      And Afghanistan had a but a minor and stalemated civil war going on at the time of the invasion, not a genocide.

      How many more decades is this war against the Taliban…wait…how did that happen, anyway? Was this whole invasion not about Al-Qaeda’s band of f***heads? Isn’t this “let’s destroy all Taliban” just a wee bit of “mission creep”? – going to go on?
      And when are serious negotiations with the Taliban in quest of a settlement going to start?

      1. i think you missed Stephens point. If it is the complete file without the redaction then WL would be threatening to release info that would put lives in danger because that’s why they redacted the original file, because they felt what they took out was info that was too sensitive (put lives at risk)and would be irresponsible to release. So if the insurance file was the leaked info with that information, essentially they would be saying fuck those people we had taken into consideration.

        This fact, however, is why I don’t believe the insurance file is same old same old.

  18. Attempting to extort the u.s. military and by extension, the u.s. intelligence community? Does anyone honestly think that is a good idea?

    1. Attempting to extort the Vegas boys and by extension, the Chicago outfit? Does anyone honestly think that is a good idea?

    2. Hey…did I miss something? How much money has Wikileaks demanded to keep the rest secret? That’s extortion, right? Or is it more like…
      Demanding political changes, or they publish? Akin to…Demanding political changes in Country X, or they attack?
      That kind of extortion?
      How immoral.

  19. Last in reply to Anon #22.

    I’ll leave it to the lawyers to sort out whether or no this mistake can form the basis of a charge of criminal negligence causing death, or whether such is a charge is even possible, in a theater of war.

    As to Wikileaks, that whole deal may simply be a dog-and-pony show to build public support for a clampdown on info as to what’s going on in America’s war zones.

    You Americans have an out-of-control “intelligence” sector, I have heard somewhere:


    Who knows what people operating in secret with unlimited funding can get up to?

  20. As is clear from my posting history, I don’t particularly support Wikileaks in their disclosure. (Or to the extent that I do, I equally believe in the right of the government to prosecute people who leak classified information.)

    But… this is the Internet. The proverbial horse has already expired. The US government and security agencies need to stop beating the issue with non-credible threats and noise making. If there’s a US person to chase, fine, go for it, but no one is going to effectively threaten the Internet, insurance file or not.

  21. The CIA has surely been watching Assange for some time. No doubt they have files on all of his contacts as well. They could arrest Assange and all of his contacts and confiscate all of their computer equipment. There would only be a small chance that they would not have obtained all of the copies of the code to decrypt the “insurance” documents. Note that the CIA doesn’t need the decryption code or anything. They have copies of all the documents (and more!). They just need to prevent the code from being released.

    So as for having the “technology” to shut down Wikileaks, that would be it.

    1. Too many assumptions. You think the CIA is more powerful than it is. You assume cooperation of all the governments around the world, from Australia to Iceland – or risk an extralegal operation. You assume the key holders don’t have any backup themselves, as they may be quite aware of such risk. You assume such operation can be done at the very same moment everywhere, so none of the targets has enough time to release the key.

      Assange travels a lot, and therefore has many people whom he meets physically, without necessity of electronic (and traces-leaving) communication. If the encryption used is symmetric, the key may be pretty small; 256 bits of information is just 64-digit hexadecimal number, even less when base64-encoded. This can be easily written on a strip of paper, or marked in a book by highlighting the letters with an UV-reactive marker, or encoded in colors of a girlfriend’s bead necklace (256 black and white beads being a crude example, 64 when 16 colors are used) or written down in many other ways, unnoticeable even in plain sight.

      Your jackbooted thughs would have to raid the entire world, arrest everybody and seize everything that can record information, from computers to books to clay tablets. Even then they could not be certain of success.

      As jungletek said, you are full of it.

    2. “There would only be a small chance” that this wouldn’t trigger the release of the code.

      Say Mr Assange sends an email message or an IM, a few times a day, to an address somewhere in the world. If the message doesn’t arrive (or maybe if two or three don’t, for safety), a few thousand machines all over the world start tweeting, emailing, IMing, etc, the code.

      The deadman switch, and the negative sign, are elementary.

    3. lol guess you have never seen Dr. Strangelove. Or hell even Terminator 2. The deadmans switch has been around a long time.

  22. Dag nabbit!

    HR beat me to it…


    in b4 the government back-traced it.

  23. Whether the government has the technological capabilities to do this completely skips over whether they have the legal capabilities to do it.

  24. Personally, I think the whole ‘insurance policy’ file is either a) a fraud, or b) shows that WL is incredibly hypocritical. If they truly believe in transparency, they would reveal the contents regardless, no? But they are willing to hold it back to safeguard their own existence.

    I’m sorry, in what bizarre world did ‘insurance’ mean ‘threat’? You’ve been watching too many bad films.

    Wikileaks has laid out their plans to release those documents in time. It’s pretty obvious that their ‘insurance policy’ is just insuring that those plans will be carried out. It’s probably a time-delayed arrangement that will release the decryption material N years in the future, so that nobody can prevent their plans to release them.

    1. I’m sorry, in what bizarre world did ‘insurance’ mean ‘threat’? You’ve been watching too many bad films.

      Well, I am hardly unique in coming to that conclusion. It is one of the possible interpretations, as is yours. We will simply have to wait to see which one is correct.

  25. Step 1). Think of a common large, public domain image file. The Mona Lisa for example. Step 2). Find a .jpeg of it using your favorite search browser. Step 3). Open the .jpeg using a presentation or word processing program. Step 4). Save the file using that application’s common file extension and close. Step 5.) Rename the file “insurance” and remove the file extension. Step 6.) Don’t do anything else.

    1. Step 1). Think of a common large, public domain image file. The Mona Lisa for example.

      I’ve read Al Qaeda uses this technique. I tried it myself maybe eight years ago; open the pic in notebook, cut and paste some text, save and it doesn’t look different unless you sneak the phone book in there. I’ve been reading about the Cold War lately and the way that spies communicated back then. We don’t need microfilm in a pumpkin to hide data when we can use a picture or a mp3 file or a CD or a DVD or a microSD or email or a file sharing site or any of a hundred other methods. Hell, I’ve seen a paper wheel version of the Enigma code machines (think you can order them from the Bletchley Park site) that, combined with any other type of code would make data almost impossible to crack.

      The US government became paranoid before WW2 when there were pro-Nazi spy rings operating among the various German-American Bund groups. Look up ‘Venona’ (a Soviet code we broke) and you’ll learn that McCarthy was actually right about soviet agents in the government (top people in the Treasury and State departments) and the Rosenbergs (Kruschev admitted it in his autobiography). FDR and Truman couldn’t imagine rich white guys being Soviet spies and ignored the evidence. The FBI was ordered at one point to stop decoding Soviet cables (they ignored the order). I think what made the government secret-happy and paranoid was that the intelligence community knew the top levels of the State Department and the Executive Branch were infiltrated. The intel part of the government started keeping things from the rest of the government and seventy years late you get the mess we have now.

      We keep secrets that we don’t need to and we do things we shouldn’t do because we can keep them secret.

  26. Another point that I don’t thin has been brought up… it may not be the US government wikileaks is intending the “insurance” to address. I’d be more concerned about getting snuffed by someone else like Blackwater.

    Perhaps in the documents was found a very specific smoking gun providing evidence of a single person’s criminality. Or even the swiss bank account numbers for where some of those $billions of shrink-wrapped cash on pallets went in the weeks after the Iraq invasion.

    I’d be more worried about individuals than governments taking panicky drastic actions to avoid prosecution.

  27. Julian Assange is a dead man running. It’s a matter of when, rather than if, the US will get him, and at this stage, he cannot count on the niceties of a civilian trial.

    Assange has made himself the second most wanted man in the world, after only Osama Bin Laden. At the moment, the full might of the US/NATO/UKUSA/ANZUS intelligence establishment is searching the globe for him. ECHELON computers are scouring global telephone and VOIP traffic for his voiceprint, satellite and CCTV imagery is being searched for individuals matching his bone structure or gait, and armies of agents and stringers around the world are quietly keeping an eye open. Should confirmation be relayed back, there are teams with SUVs and light planes waiting with the engines idling to swing into action at a moment’s notice. Whether he’s in Greenland, the Kalahari Desert or a provincial city in Slovenia, he won’t escape notice for long, and he can be spirited out or neutralised with or without the host government’s approval.

    As for the decryption keys, what if the NSA has a record of everybody he has been in communication with since uploading the file. Then the CIA could, theoretically, send a few dozen teams to neutralise them in one swoop. Some would be snatched off the street, some shot by snipers, and others would perish in mysterious gas explosions in office buildings. (Yes, it’s a shame about the collateral damage, but from the US Government’s point of view, there are much more serious things at stake here.)

    1. Neither CIA or NSA are that powerful. Sure, they are monitoring many nodes of the Net, but many more are outside of their reach. Encrypted VoIP is a tough nut to crack, increasing the cost of fingerprinting the content VERY significantly. The very volume of the traffic makes it difficult to merely just switch/route; adding a layer of complete monitoring on top is prohibitively costly.

      Read the WW2 and Cold War history. The intelligence tends to be sketchy and incomplete, even when you have a lot of resources at your hand. The only thing you can know for sure is that you are missing some pieces.

      Also, direct face-to-face interpersonal communication is somewhat difficult to monitor, unless you know in advance to bug the premises.

      If the CIA sends dozens of teams to kill civilians in foreign countries, say goodbye to cooperation of most of the governments involved in the future cases. Or, at least the cost of cooperation will go up significantly. In addition, the public perception of USA as a world bully will be strengthened even more.

      And the dead man switch, so often mentioned here, is pretty much a certainty. So, for all the collateral damage, the gain will be… nothing. And they know it because they are not dumb.

      It must surely suck to be a superpower and be so powerless against a small group of individuals.

    2. @acb: Too many bad thrillers have addled your brain. I love the bit about the “full might of the US/NATO/UKUSA/ANZUS intelligence establishment” hunting for Assange, when at least the ANZUS part has been out of business for 25 years, and the rest is just Europe, much of which isn’t particularly sympathetic to wild goose chases set off by dimwits in Washington.

      Not that Julian Assange is that big a deal to track, anyway — Galileo should be enough in the real world. It’s not that he’s particularly inconspicuous either. True, he’s probably not going to show up in the US for a while, but that leaves the rest of the planet, where US commands (thank God) don’t apply.

      Here’s a thought: instead of devising sadistic fantasies about how you’re going to catch Assange and his pals and what you’re going to do to them when you do, why don’t you try lobbying your elected representatives for a foreign policy that doesn’t involve acting in a way that would embarrass you if the details were to become public?

      Also (with respect to Collateral Murder) how about training your troops not to gloat when they’re shooting people up? That stuff may strike Americans as appalling, but here in the rest of the world where the US military is assessed more critically we’ve come to think it’s entirely predictable. Revolting, but predictable.

    3. John Ringo novels are fun to read… but they do not represent reality. If Julian Assange is on a wanted list “second to Osama Bin Laden,” then he’s rather safe! (I only partly jest here)

      But here’s the real problem with your analysis: the big, powerful governments of the world already have a bad reputation. It’s already well known, in the open, common knowledge that they do not respect the laws they endorse. Everyone saw the pictures from Abu Graib, etc… Everyone already heard about it. And everyone yawned. Sure, some of us got pissed. Some of us got resentful. Nobody wheeled guillotines out into the streets and started correcting politicians and bureaucrats though.

      And “outraging” disclosures of truths is all that Assange is planning. That’s his big “threat” to the US or any other government. He’s not planning to launch WMDs on civilian targets; the group he represents is busy redacting civilian names from the documents he plans to release!

      If our amazingly powerful governments couldn’t so much as stop 9/11… if our amazingly powerful governments couldn’t even capture they guy 9/11 is attributed to… if our amazingly powerful governments couldn’t figure out which of their own guys was mailing out Anthrax for years… What prompts you to think they’re going all out with ACTION MOVIE STYLE efforts to get Assange, the PR dude for WikiLeaks? What makes you think they could possibly succeed at that if they did? And further, why would they even begin to worry about WL as a “threat” after so many “black eyes” in the media over the last decade, which had ZERO impact on them continuing business as usual?

      Here’s the sad thing about WikiLeaks. Here’s the part to get people enraged about the situation: it does not matter what evidence is released, and it does not matter how bad the crimes are… The People, the voters, they do not care. They are busy watching TV. And those who care enough to read, who get upset… we have lives to live, and that is incompatible with going out and being a revolutionary. And so, nothing will change. Not one thing.

  28. If I were Assange, I would have set up a system that depends on constant input in order to prevent dissemination of the key; it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to set up an automated program that required him to log in every 72 hours or so that would automatically upload the key to every form of file distribution and social network available without his input. That would seem to be a very good insurance policy that would prevent his untimely “disppearance”.

  29. hum..
    “But if they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval”

    Is this not based on a US law, one that has absolutely no bearing on the foreign territory in question? If so then yes, they can arrest him anywhere.. just not legaly..

    as for “The United States has the cyber capabilities to prevent WikiLeaks from disseminating those materials”
    If memory serves the basis for TCP/IP was developed by your DOD to prevent such things..

    The one good thing about the whole RIAA/MPAA mess has been that more or less anyone now has access to easy to use crypto and decentralized information transmission tools.

    Oh, and acb. The rest of the world isn’t that bother about Assange, the full force of the US is all your getting. And even that is way less than you think, the whole echelon voip voice print only really works in tom clancy novels, unless someone outside a research lab has figured out stable qubit quantum processors..

  30. … and the Rosenbergs (Kruschev admitted it in his autobiography).

    And you don’t think there is any chance that a Soviet premier wouldn’t toss out something like that just to screw with his old enemy? Not to mention the evidence that McCarthy was in fact a soviet agent in the first place.

    1. And you don’t think there is any chance that a Soviet premier wouldn’t toss out something like that just to screw with his old enemy?

      The memoir was published after his death and the end of the Soviet Union. There were four fellow members of the spy ring that fingered them, including Ethel’s brother. The venona intercepts also proved their guilt. Hell, their former Soviet handler said they were spies.

  31. On a somewhat related note, I recently (for the first time) saw what the print media was saying about Wikileaks. It seems as though the journalists writing those articles had never been on the internet, let alone been to wikileaks.

    My understanding of the process is this:
    – a leak is submitted to wikileaks
    – the editors check to see if it’s obvious disinfo or nonsense. If not, they put it up.
    – after putting it up, they see if a source can independently verify that the leak is legit

    The print journalists I’ve read (on both sides of the party lines) have been talking it up like Assange chose to leak things directly to reporters for political reasons. This is a particular fantasy that I didn’t realize anyone believed until reading this. Is this a common interpretation? I was reading it in The Week, and assuming it was representative.

  32. I posted about this before (i was drunk so it was a bit rant-ish), but the governments ultimate(and big brother preferred) conclusion would likely be some sort of law that would prevent something like these leaks from happening again in the future. We would lose more rights, and this could enact a flurry of laws designed to strip away our rights (a-gain). Like a cyber 9/11. Though we know that its not really that, the average American could easily be led to believe this was very bad and put a lot of Americans in jeopardy. I bet if spun the right way Americans could be talking about “that cyber terrorist, julian!” at the ole mill in a month or two.

    And as i ranted on about, nothing past forgettable bad p.r. (though we know its full severity) by government standards has been leaked. Maybe it’s secretly welcomed, maybe even (incoming conspiracy theory) a government assisted and controlled leak (who knows?!) that will allow them to enact those laws that would prevent really damning future leaks, that would be out of their hands had wikileaks not have leaked and allowed them to prepare for it. This could bring about the beginning of the end of the internet as we know it (whether or not we will be aware, if they are good at it, we wont be) I dont know if Julian has done us a favor, only if he leaks something truly damning will we know whose side he is really on. And if he is on our side, he better let it all fly because the fact this was even touched on in mainstream media means the GUV is adjusting for it in the future. Bye bye Mrs. American Pie, conspiracy theory or no, it amounts to the same endgame.

  33. Too many people get wrapped up in silly cinematic cliches about espionage and Jason Bourne-esque skullduggery with this WikiLeaks situation. I get the impression that a lot of people are regarding this as a mini-series or reality show and not making any connection to how this information and its fate impact their own existence. People are casually opining on what should to Assange (“He should be killed.” “He should be kidnapped.” “He should be tortured.”) as if they are not under the same scrutiny and mechanism of suppression as Assange. Assange does not live in some parallel universe. He lives in your universe. He is you, whether you approve of his hair, demeanor, or politics.

    It’s astonishing how conditioning on a mass scale has managed to convince people that their interests lay with global networks of generational wealth. You have people one paycheck from the street or servicemen being manipulated as cannon fodder reasoning as if they were billionaires vacationing above the fray in Dubai. People who imagine themselves as solidly in the middle class just because they have a big screen TV and their cable bill is paid up for the month. But their car, TV, home are all on lease from the bank. They don’t own shit.

    The judgment and ultimate sentence carried out against Assange and WikiLeaks by not just the United States, but all of the first world nations who have an interest in killing this type of citizen-based insistence on information sharing, is the sentence which will ultimately descend on your head and the heads of your family and friends. It won’t be as easy at that time to regard the mayhem with detached amusement, popcorn in hand.

    You may think: “Holy shit! These seats are great! I can see the lions up close. It’s almost as if I could reach out and touch them,” but by the time you figure out you’re inside the arena with Assange, they’ll be making a lunch of our empty head. You may be expressing yourself with comparative ease and abandon in 2010 (as opposed to those in China, Iran, North Korea and the other oppressed and barbaric nations of whom we hear so much), but you’re a fool if you think freedom is some inevitable trajectory that only moves forward and cannot be altered or impeded. The status of the lower orders (you and me) and the freedoms accrued over centuries of conflict are not eternal and there are factions who are confident that they can roll those freedoms back. Reforms that you and I consider victories and the achievements of participatory government are regarded as blemishes and atrocities by some who have the power and resources and will to reverse them and “set the world right.”

    Much of what we have is given to us, not earned. Your food, your access, your home can be taken away and what do you have to back you up, spoiled consumer that you are? Are you going to file a complaint on your blog? Call the 800 support number? Maybe a letter to the editor? Or do you still believe that an honest lawyer can wrestle honest justice from an honest jury and honest judge because honest laws still exist in our honest nation? Is it the Constitution? Does that magical paper shield you? Your family? Your friends? Who are you really counting on to protect you?

    Look hard.

    Consider. Before you dismiss Assange as some castaway Kardashian or online meme-cracker to snack you through another 24 hours of distraction. This matters.

  34. The US may have had the potential to continuously DoS wikileaks and prevent this from being released through that channel, but it didn’t make use of that potential at the time.

    Now the documents are on myriad computers throughout the world. The US might be able to remove a handful of torrents and web servers, and they may have been able to take down the thousands that would spring up in protest, and they may even be able to get Assange. All of that is irrelevant when anyone who cares has already had the encrypted files handed to them. Some might even have managed to decrypt them.

    The taliban almost certainly haven’t got the capacity to decrypt the “insurance”. What matters now is preventing the release of the encryption key. To do that, the US must either fail to capture Assange or find, capture and destroy every extant copy of that key.

  35. There are two ways out of the fiasco: one is easy, one is right. The easy way is to try and DDoS wikileaks, force down the freedom of the internet, disconnect USA from the rest of the world and start a regime that treats its own people like slaves. This will not work anyway, so only people like Thiessen could propose such a nonsense. The right way is to investigate further in which way wikileaks can be used to produce a bit more transparency and freedom for the sake of all people. Most secrets are only a threat if they stay secret.

    But as I reckon, the USA will either choose the easy way or find another one to omit what is right.

  36. Assange and WikiLeaks are “threatening” to inform Americans about the actions of “their” own government… KILL THEM! Quickly! Before the words reach our ears and eyes and we become informed.

    Fruit of tree of knowledge and all that.

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