WikiFreaks, Pt. 2 “Reaction”

Peroxide Blonde Silver Platinum Hair Makes a Great Target

“Can we do anything legally about someone from another country leaking this information? Maybe not. Can we have a CIA agent with a sniper rifle rattle a bullet around his skull the next time he appears in public as a warning? You bet we can — and we should. If that’s too garish for people, then the CIA can kill him and make it look like an accident. Either way, Julian Assange deserves to die for what he’s done and he should be killed to send a message loud enough to convince other people not to publish documents like this in the future.”

When I find myself agreeing with a right-wing nut like John Hawkins, it forces me to take a step back. Personally, I’ve been greatly disturbed by the “hero worship” of Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks folks. As someone who tries to defend “The Left” from the usual Limbaughisms of “liberals want to destroy Amurrika”, all the lefties SUPPORTING someone who makes clear his disdain for American national security and has leaked files that name our overseas assets makes my job really hard.

If you think it is “cool” or “hip” to leak things like the names of courageous Afghans willing to stand up against the Taliban, then you need to check yourself. You are supporting information warfare against the people who fight and die to keep us safe, sipping mochas behind our keyboards.

However, I’m also not willing to just automatically jump on the “Julian Assange Must Die” bandwagon. I’ll ease myself slowly, with deliberation, onto that bandwagon, thank you very much. I think there are very complicated scenarios here that cannot be sorted out by the dogmatic “America-always right” conservatives or crapulent “Let’s destroy our own country!” Left.

Let’s start off with a less heated critique of the WikiLeaks people. This is from Chronicle blogger Yumi Wilson’s site. She posted a piece from a reader who served in Afghanistan. It is a nice, calm summation of why people are so pissed off about this.

In my recent posting, I noted that one of the reasons why critics are upset about WikiLeaks’ latest revelations is that it could put people’s lives at risk.It’s a point brought up by a reader, who says he is a staff sergeant who served in Afghanistan.

“I served in Afghanistan, working directly with the Afghan National Police in several provinces in southern Afghanistan. Among my duties was meeting with local nationals in various provinces who’d agreed to work with the ANP and the U.S. military in tracking down the Taliban, and securing their villages.

In other words: I know several of the individuals who are listed in the Wikileaks documents personally. I know how scared they were to even meet with us, let alone provide us with the vital information that we needed. If the Taliban knew they were working with us, they would be assassinated. Their families would be murdered.”

Next up, we have probably the best piece I’ve read from the conservative side critical of Assange. As the years go by, I can’t say that I’m “more liberal” or “more conservative” though people may think the latter. If anything, I find that I’m on the side of the GROWN-UPs. My joke of late is based on the bumper sticker “If it’s too loud, you’re too old”. My take: “it’s often too loud, I’m too old, and I’m perfectly OK with that”.

A big wakeup call for me was when I happened on the movie “Breakfast Club” a few months ago. I found myself rooting for the Principal and thinking “why don’t they just close the damn door and keep it shut”? While this commentator below is certainly more conservative than myself, I do find myself agreeing with him. He’s a grown-up. This is grown-up talk.  Cyber-brats stay out or grow up.

Principal Vernon: Hero? Damn I'm getting old...

WikiLeaks must be stopped
By Marc A. Thiessen
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Let’s be clear: WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise. Its reason for existence is to obtain classified national security information and disseminate it as widely as possible — including to the United States’ enemies. These actions are likely a violation of the Espionage Act, and they arguably constitute material support for terrorism. The Web site must be shut down and prevented from releasing more documents — and its leadership brought to justice. WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, proudly claims to have exposed more classified information than all the rest of the world press combined. He recently told the New Yorker he understands that innocent people may be hurt by his disclosures (“collateral damage” he called them) and that WikiLeaks might get “blood on our hands.”

With his unprecedented release of more than 76,000 secret documents last week, he may have achieved this. The Post found that the documents exposed at least one U.S. intelligence operative and identified about 100 Afghan informants — often including the names of their villages and family members. A Taliban spokesman said the group is scouring the WikiLeaks Web site for information to find and “punish” these informers.

Beyond getting people killed, WikiLeaks’ actions make it less likely that Afghans and foreign intelligence services (whose reports WikiLeaks also exposed) will cooperate with the United States in the future. And, as former CIA director Mike Hayden has pointed out, the disclosures are a gift to adversary intelligence services, and they will place a chill on intelligence sharing within the United States government. The harm to our national security is immeasurable and irreparable.

And wikiLeaks is preparing to do more damage. Assange claims to be in possession of 15,000 even more sensitive documents, which he is reportedly preparing to release. On Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told ABC News that Assange had a “moral culpability” for the harm he has caused. Well, the Obama administration has a moral responsibility to stop him from wreaking even more damage.

Assange is a non-U.S. citizen operating the territory of the United States. This means the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business.

The first step is for the Justice Department to indict Assange. Such an indictment could be sealed to prevent him from knowing that the United States is seeking his arrest. The United States should then work with its international law enforcement partners to apprehend and extradite him.

Assange seems to believe, incorrectly, that he is immune to arrest so long as he stays outside the United States. He leads a nomadic existence, operating in countries such as Sweden, Belgium and Iceland, where he believes he enjoys the protection of “beneficial laws.” (He recently worked with the Icelandic parliament to pass legislation effectively making the country a haven for WikiLeaks). The United States should make clear that it will not tolerate any country — and particularly NATO allies such as Belgium and Iceland — providing safe haven for criminals who put the lives of NATO forces at risk.

With appropriate diplomatic pressure, these governments may cooperate in bringing Assange to justice. But if they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval. In 1989, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum entitled “Authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Override International Law in Extraterritorial Law Enforcement Activities.”
This memorandum declares that “the FBI may use its statutory authority to investigate and arrest individuals for violating United States law, even if the FBI’s actions contravene customary international law” and that an “arrest that is inconsistent with international or foreign law does not violate the Fourth Amendment.” In other words, we do not need permission to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators anywhere in the world.

Arresting Assange would be a major blow to his organization. But taking him off the streets is not enough; we must also recover the documents he unlawfully possesses and disable the system he has built to illegally disseminate classified information.

This should be done, ideally, through international law enforcement cooperation. But if such cooperation is not forthcoming, the United States can and should act alone. Assange recently boasted that he has created “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking.” I am sure this elicited guffaws at the National Security Agency. The United States has the capability and the authority to monitor his communications and disrupt his operations.

Last year, the Obama administration stood up a new U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) to “conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations” in defense of U.S. national security. With the stroke of his pen, the president can authorize USCYBERCOM to protect American and allied forces by eliminating WikiLeaks’ ability to disseminate classified information that puts their lives at risk.

WikiLeaks represents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States. If left unmolested, Assange will become even bolder and inspire others to imitate his example. His group is at this moment preparing to release tens of thousands of documents that will put the lives of our troops and our allies at risk. Will President Obama stop WikiLeaks from doing so — or sit back and do nothing?

Thiessen received some criticism for the part where he said that the USG had the technological power to shut down WikiLeaks. In Part 4 (yes, this turned into a four-parter…), we will examine some of the myths that hackers (and their supporters in the media) have about their own “invincibility”. In my opinion, having studied these kinds of scenarios for years, yes, the USG could do this. However, the very notion of a “free and open Internet” has become a very American brand. Destroying servers would be bad PR and counterproductive. As we shall see later, the USG has many ways of dealing with WikiLeaks…

Next, we take a break from the right-wing testosterone rage and take a look from a different view, that of WikiLeaks supporter Glenn Greenwald of Salon. Greenwald pokes at the involvement of Wired Magazine in this whole Manning affair. This is key. While I have yet to see anything assuring me of Manning’s innocence, I find Wired’s involvement intriguing. An interesting tech magazine, it has always carried a tone of libertarian elitism that I find rather appalling. I have also long suspected it of having an intelligence agenda. They’re not really hiding anything. Co-founder Louis Rosetto is an avowed right-wing Libertarian, while longtime columnist Nicholas Negroponte is the brother of John Negroponte. Yes, THAT John Negroponte. Yet they are trusted by many in the tech sphere as somehow being “up against the man”. Not really. Sometimes people learn the hard way… I’m not entirely trusting Greenwald’s defense of Manning here, but he does add detail missing from other analyses.

On June 6, Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter of Wired reported that a 22-year-old U.S. Army Private in Iraq, Bradley Manning, had been detained after he “boasted” in an Internet chat — with convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo — of leaking to WikiLeaks the now famous Apache Helicopter attack video, a yet-to-be-published video of a civilian-killing air attack in Afghanistan, and “hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records.” Lamo, who holds himself out as a “journalist” and told Manning he was one, acted instead as government informant, notifying federal authorities of what Manning allegedly told him, and then proceeded to question Manning for days as he met with federal agents, leading to Manning’s detention.

On June 10, former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, writing in The Daily Beast, gave voice to anonymous “American officials” to announce that “Pentagon investigators” were trying “to determine the whereabouts of the Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks [Julian Assange] for fear that he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security.” Some news outlets used that report to declare that there was a “Pentagon manhunt” underway for Assange — as though he’s some sort of dangerous fugitive.

From the start, this whole story was quite strange for numerous reasons. In an attempt to obtain greater clarity about what really happened here, I’ve spent the last week reviewing everything I could related to this case and speaking with several of the key participants (including Lamo, with whom I had a one-hour interview last night that can be heard on the recorder below, and Poulsen, with whom I had a lengthy email exchange, which is published in full here). A definitive understanding of what really happened is virtually impossible to acquire, largely because almost everything that is known comes from a single, extremely untrustworthy source: Lamo himself. Compounding that is the fact that most of what came from Lamo has been filtered through a single journalist — Poulsen — who has a long and strange history with Lamo, who continues to possess but not disclose key evidence, and who has been only marginally transparent about what actually happened here (I say that as someone who admires Poulsen’s work as Editor of Wired’s Threat Level blog).

Reviewing everything that is known ultimately raises more questions than it answers. Below is my perspective on what happened here. But there is one fact to keep in mind at the outset. In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a classified report (ironically leaked to and published by WikiLeaks) which — as the NYT put it — placed WikiLeaks on “the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States.” That Report discussed ways to destroy WikiLeaks’ reputation and efficacy, and emphasized creating the impression that leaking to it is unsafe (click image to enlarge):

In other words, exactly what the U.S. Government wanted to happen in order to destroy WikiLeaks has happened here: news reports that a key WikiLeaks source has been identified and arrested, followed by announcements from anonymous government officials that there is now a worldwide “manhunt” for its Editor-in-Chief. Even though WikiLeaks did absolutely nothing (either in this case or ever) to compromise the identity of its source, isn’t it easy to see how these screeching media reports — WikiLeaks source arrested; worldwide manhunt for WikiLeaks; major national security threat — would cause a prospective leaker to WikiLeaks to think twice, at least: exactly as the Pentagon Report sought to achieve? And that Pentagon Report was from 2008, before the Apache Video was released; imagine how intensified is the Pentagon’s desire to destroy WikiLeaks now. Combine that with what both the NYT and Newsweek recently realized is the Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistle-blowers, and one can’t overstate the caution that’s merited here before assuming one knows what happened.
* * * * *
Adrian Lamo and Kevin Poulsen have a long and strange history together. Both were convicted of felonies relating to computer hacking: Poulsen in 1994 (when he was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, ironically because a friend turned government informant on him), and Lamo in 2004 for hacking into The New York Times. When the U.S. Government was investigating Lamo in 2003, they subpoenaed news agencies for any documents reflecting conversations not only with Lamo, but also with Poulsen. That’s because Lamo typically sought media publicity after his hacking adventures, and almost always used Poulsen to provide that publicity.

Despite being convicted of serious hacking felonies, Poulsen was allowed by the U.S. Government to become a journalist covering the hacking world for Security Focus News. Back in 2002, Information Week described the strange Lamo-Poulsen relationship this way: “To publicize his work, [Lamo] often tapped ex-hacker-turned-journalist Kevin Poulsen as his go-between: Poulsen contacts the hacked company, alerts it to the break-in, offers Lamo’s cooperation, then reports the hack on the SecurityFocus Online Web site, where he’s a news editor.” When Lamo hacked into the NYT, it was Poulsen who notified the newspaper’s executives on Lamo’s behalf, and then wrote about it afterward. Poulsen told me that the above picture was taken at a lunch the two of them had together with convicted hacker Kevin Mitnick back in 2001. When I asked Poulsen if he considers Lamo his friend, he would respond only by saying: “He’s a subject and a source.”
Actually, over the years, Poulsen has served more or less as Lamo’s personal media voice. Back in 2000, Poulsen would quote Lamo as an expert source on hacking. That same year, Poulsen — armed with exclusive, inside information from Lamo — began writing about Lamo’s various hacking adventures. After Lamo’s conviction, Poulsen wrote about his post-detention battles with law enforcement and a leaked documentary featuring Lamo. As detailed below, Lamo is notorious in the world of hacking for being a low-level, inconsequential hacker with an insatiable need for self-promotion and media attention, and for the past decade, it has been Poulsen who satisfies that need.

On May 20 — a month ago — Poulsen, out of nowhere, despite Lamo’s not having been in the news for years, wrote a long, detailed Wired article describing serious mental health problems Lamo was experiencing. The story Poulsen wrote goes as follows: after Lamo’s backpack containing pharmaceutical products was stolen sometime in April (Lamo claims they were prescribed anti-depressants), Lamo called the police, who concluded that he was experiencing such acute psychiatric distress that they had him involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for three days. That 72-hour “involuntary psychiatric hold” was then extended by a court for six more days, after which he was released to his parents’ home. Lamo claimed he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a somewhat fashionable autism diagnosis which many stars in the computer world have also claimed. In that article, Poulsen also summarized Lamo’s extensive hacking history. Lamo told me that, while he was in the mental hospital, he called Poulsen to tell him what happened, and then told Poulsen he could write about it for a Wired article. So starved was Lamo for some media attention that he was willing to encourage Poulsen to write about his claimed psychiatric problems if it meant an article in Wired that mentioned his name.

It was just over two weeks after writing about Lamo’s Asperger’s, depression and hacking history that Poulsen, along with Kim Zetter, reported that PFC Manning had been detained, after, they said, he had “contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo late last month over instant messenger and e-mail.” Lamo told me that Manning first emailed him on May 20 and, according to highly edited chat logs released by Wired, had his first online chat with Manning on May 21; in other words, Manning first contacted Lamo the very day that Poulsen’s Wired article on Lamo’s involuntary commitment appeared (the Wired article is time-stamped 5:46 p.m. on May 20).

Lamo, however, told me that Manning found him not from the Wired article — which Manning never mentioned reading — but from searching the word “WikiLeaks” on Twitter, which led him to a tweet Lamo had written that included the word “WikiLeaks.” Even if Manning had really found Lamo through a Twitter search for “WikiLeaks,” Lamo could not explain why Manning focused on him, rather than the thousands of other people who have also mentioned the word “WikiLeaks” on Twitter, including countless people who have done so by expressing support for WikiLeaks.

Although none of the Wired articles ever mention this, the first Lamo-Manning communications were not actually via chat. Instead, Lamo told me that Manning first sent him a series of encrypted emails which Lamo was unable to decrypt because Manning “encrypted it to an outdated PGP key of mine” [PGP is an encryption program]. After receiving this first set of emails, Lamo says he replied — despite not knowing who these emails were from or what they were about — by inviting the emailer to chat with him on AOL IM, and provided his screen name to do so. Lamo says that Manning thereafter sent him additional emails encrypted to his current PGP key, but that Lamo never bothered to decrypt them. Instead, Lamo claims he turned over all those Manning emails to the FBI without ever reading a single one of them. Thus, the actual initial communications between Manning and Lamo — what preceded and led to their chat — are completely unknown. Lamo refuses to release the emails or chats other than the small chat snippets published by Wired.
Using the chat logs between Lamo and Manning — which Lamo provided to Poulsen — the Wired writers speculated that the Army Private trusted Lamo because he “sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker.” Poulsen and Zetter write that Manning confessed to being the leaker of the Apache attack video “very quickly in the exchange,” and then proceeded to boast that, in addition, “he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables” to WikiLeaks. Very shortly after the first chat, Lamo notified federal agents of what Manning told him, proceeded to speak to Manning for the next several days while consulting with federal agents, and then learned that Manning was detained in Iraq.

* * * * *
Many of the bizarre aspects of this case, at least as conveyed by Lamo and Wired, are self-evident. Why would a 22-year-old Private in Iraq have unfettered access to 250,000 pages of diplomatic cables so sensitive that they “could do serious damage to national security?” Why would he contact a total stranger, whom he randomly found from a Twitter search, in order to “quickly” confess to acts that he knew could send him to prison for a very long time, perhaps his whole life? And why would he choose to confess over the Internet, in an unsecured, international AOL IM chat, given the obvious ease with which that could be preserved, intercepted or otherwise surveilled? These are the actions of someone either unbelievably reckless or actually eager to be caught.

All that said, this series of events isn’t completely implausible. It’s possible that a 22-year-old who engaged in these kinds of significant leaks, sitting in isolation in Iraq, would have a desire to unburden himself by confessing to a stranger; the psychological compulsion to confess is not uncommon (see Crime and Punishment), nor is the desire to boast of such acts. It’s possible that he would have expected someone with Lamo’s hacking and “journalist” background to be sympathetic to what he did and/or to feel compelled as a journalist not to run to the Government and disclose what he learns from a source. Still, the apparent ease with which Manning quickly spilled his guts in such painstaking detail over an Internet chat concerning such serious crimes — and then proceeded to respond to Lamo’s very specific and probing interrogations over days without ever once worrying that he could not trust Lamo — is strange in the extreme.

If one assumes that this happened as the Wired version claims, what Lamo did here is despicable. He holds himself out as an “award-winning journalist” and told Manning he was one (“I did tell him that I worked as a journalist,” Lamo said). Indeed, Lamo told me (though it doesn’t appear in the chat logs published by Wired) that he told Manning early on that he was a journalist and thus could offer him confidentiality for everything they discussed under California’s shield law. Lamo also said he told Manning that he was an ordained minister and could treat Manning’s talk as a confession, which would then compel Lamo under the law to keep their discussions confidential (early on in their chats, Manning said: “I can’t believe what I’m confessing to you”). In sum, Lamo explicitly led Manning to believe he could trust him and that their discussions would be confidential — perhaps legally required to be kept confidential — only to then report everything Manning said to the Government.

Worse, Lamo breached his own confidentiality commitments and turned informant without having the slightest indication that Manning had done anything to harm national security. Indeed, Lamo acknowledged to me that he was incapable of identifying a single fact contained in any documents leaked by Manning that would harm national security. And Manning’s capacity to leak in the future was likely non-existent given that he told Lamo right away that he was “pending discharge” for “adjustment disorder,” and no longer had access to any documents (Lamo: “Why does your job afford you access?” – Manning: “because i have a workstation . . . *had*”).

…None of Lamo’s claims that he turned informant out of some grave concern for “national security” and “the lives of his fellow citizens” make any sense. Indeed, Lamo several months ago contributed $30 to WikiLeaks, which he’s use to tout his support for whistle-blowing, and told me has has long considered himself on “the far left.” Yet in the public statements he’s made about what he did to Manning, he’s incoherently invoked a slew of trite, right-wing justifications, denouncing Manning as a “traitor” and a “spy,” while darkly insinuating that Manning provided classified information to a so-called “foreign national,” meaning WikiLeaks’ Assange. Lamo told me that any embarrassment to the U.S. Government could cause a loss of American lives, and that he believes anyone who breaks the law with leaks should be prosecuted. Yet he also claims to support WikiLeaks, which is run by that very same “foreign national” and which exists to enable illegal leaks.

…..And what about Wired’s role in all of this? Both WikiLeaks as well as various Internet commentators have suggested that Poulsen violated journalistic ethical rules by being complicit with Lamo in informing on Manning. I don’t see any evidence for that. This is what Poulsen told me when I asked him about whether he participated in Lamo’s informing on Manning:

At the time when Lamo was conspiring with federal agents to induce Manning into making incriminating statements, Poulsen, by his own account, was aware that this was taking place, but there’s no indication he participated in any way with Lamo. What is true, though, is that Lamo gave Wired the full, unedited version of his chat logs with Manning, but Wired published only extremely edited samplings of it. This is what Poulsen told me when I asked if Lamo gave him all of the chat logs:

“He did, but I don’t think we’ll be publishing more any time soon. The remainder is either Manning discussing personal matters that aren’t clearly related to his arrest, or apparently sensitive government information that I’m not throwing up without vetting first.”

This part of Wired’s conduct deserves a lot more attention. First, in his interview with me, Lamo claimed that all sorts of things took place in the discussion between him and Manning that are (a) extremely relevant to what happened, (b) have nothing to do with Manning’s personal issues or sensitive national security secrets, and yet (c) are nowhere to be found in the chat logs published by Wired. That means either that Lamo is lying about what was said or Wired is concealing highly relevant aspects of their discussions. Included among that is Manning’s explanation about how he found Lamo and why he contacted him, Manning’s alleged claim that his “intention was to cripple the United States’ foreign relations for the foreseeable future,” and discussions they had about the capacity in which they were speaking.

Second, one can’t help but note the irony that two hackers-turned-journalists — Poulsen and Lamo — are now the self-anointed guardians of America’s national security, the former concealing secrets he learned as a journalist on vague national security grounds and the latter turning informant by invoking the most extreme, right-wing platitudes about “traitors” and “spies” and decrees that his actions were necessary to “save American lives.”

Third, Wired should either publish all of the chat logs, or be far more diligent about withholding only those parts which truly pertain only to Manning’s private and personal matters and/or which would reveal national security secrets. Or they should have a respected third party review the parts they have concealed to determine if there is any justification for that. At least if one believes Lamo’s claims, there are clearly relevant parts of those chats which Wired continues to conceal.

This article also focuses on the Lamo/Manning/Poulsen connection. One of the main points to consider in all of this is that the inherent naivete and trust of hackers in each other is their fatal flaw. As they well know, the most significant hacks are not done by overwhelming technical superiority. They are achieved by exploiting weak human links, not weakness in software or hardware. This is part of the code of the hacker. It is also part of the code for the counterintelligence geeks who are after them. Code may be strong, but humans are usually weak. In fact, it is a very common thing for hackers who are caught to immediately turn into state informants, intelligence assets, or become security contractors who fight hackers. A personal friend years ago was involved in exactly this scenario. He broke into the state’s computers where he lived, got caught, and was given the option of prison or contracting for the state. What do you think he went for? Luckily, he only had to secure systems and didn’t have to rat people out. However, many are not given such a plump position.

…On June 6th, published a report that military intelligence analyst Bradley Manning had been arrested for allegedly leaking the famous 2007 Apache helicopter attack video to Wikileaks. Now Wikileaks and others are questioning Wired’s involvement in the story.

The post on Wired’s Threat Level blog was a great scoop and a thrilling read: It detailed how 22 year-old intelligence specialist Bradley Manning contacted a former hacker named Adrian Lamo via IM—”he sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker”—to confess that he was the one who leaked the Apache video and a quarter million sensitive State Department cables to whistleblowing website Wikileaks. After chatting with Manning for a few days, Lamo turned him in. He told Wired: “”I wouldn’t have done this if lives weren’t in danger.”

But Lamo’s claim to be motivated by concerns for national security appears to be undermined by a long history of desperate attention-seeking, as detailed today by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald writes that “Lamo is notorious in the world of hacking for being a low-level, inconsequential hacker with an insatiable need for self-promotion and media attention”. And apparently, Lamo’s need for attention has been fulfilled for years by Wired Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen—one of the two authors of the Manning post. Poulsen, himself a former hacker, has written a slew of fawning articles on Lamo’s hacking exploits, essentially becoming Lamo’s de facto PR guy, according to Greenwald.

Here’s how it worked in the Manning case: Manning first contacted Lamo by IM on May 21st. On May 24th, Lamo called Poulsen to let him know about the potential story, but witheld details. Lamo began working with the feds to nab Manning. On May 26th, Manning was arrested. The day after Lamo learned of Manning’s arrest, he told the whole story to Poulsen, who drove miles to pick up a zip drive with the chat logs, according to the CJR. Poulsen wrote the post and published June 6th.

We see here how Lamo functions essentially as an informal stringer for Poulsen. Lamo told the BBC that he had even told Manning he was a journalist. That Lamo then turned on his source is a pretty blatant violation of journalistic ethics, but never mind; Poulsen gets his story and Lamo gets his name in the papers.
In typical hyperbolic fashion, Wikileaks has been Tweeting allegations that this means Wired was in collusion with Lamo and, thus, the US government. Really, what’s going on doesn’t differ much from any source-journalist relationship.

But Wired’s role is indeed colored by Poulsen’s strong relationship with Lamo—and the fact that Lamo turned Manning into the authorities. When hackers come to the media with, say, evidence of a massive iPad security flaw, they usually demand some sort of anonymity. Manning didn’t have this option, since, technically he wasn’t speaking with a journalist. But the fact that Lamo presumably intended from the beginning to dish to Poulsen complicates things.

The exact role of Wired in this—and the extent to which Lamo misled Manning to think he was a journalist—could presumably be answered by looking at the full chat logs Lamo gave Poulsen. But Poulsen told Greenwald that Wired didn’t release the full transcript because it detailed “personal matters” or sensitive government information. Bullshit. Poulsen and Lamo have been working as an informal hacker-journalist unit for years. It’s time to get some Wikileaks-style transparency on how it all works.

While I will reserve most of my opinions of Assange for part 4, this one belongs in this chapter, and reveals some of what Assange is about. He is a grandiose freak on a power trip with little concern for the lives he affects. I have mixed feelings about wikileaks and the role it can play in the world. I do not have such mixed feelings about Assange.

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press – Wed Jul 28, 2010
….President Barack Obama said Tuesday the leak of classified information from the battlefield “could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations,” while Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Baghdad that there was “a real potential threat there to put American lives at risk.”
U.S. officials are worried that the raw data may prove useful not only to the Taliban but to hostile intelligence services in countries such as China and Russia who have the resources to make sense of such vast vaults of data, said Ellen McCarthy, former U.S. intelligence officer and president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden described the mass release as a big gift to America’s enemies.
“If I had gotten this trove on the Taliban or al-Qaida, I would have called it priceless,” he said. “If I’m head of the Russian intelligence, I’m getting my best English speakers and saying: ‘Read every document, and I want you to tell me, how good are these guys? What are their approaches, their strengths, their weaknesses and their blind spots?'”
Back in London, Assange agreed that the files offered insight into U.S. tactics.
But he said that was none of his concern, and he noted that his Web site already carried a copy of the U.S. Special Forces’ 2006 Southern Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Manual, among other sensitive U.S. military documents. “We put out that stuff all the time,” he said.
He seemed irritated when a member of the audience pressed him on whether he believed there were ever any legitimate national security concerns that would prevent him from publishing a leaked document.
“It is not our role to play sides for states. States have national security concerns, we do not have national security concerns,” he said.
You often hear … that something may be a threat to U.S. national security,” he went on. “This must be shot down whenever this statement is made. A threat to U.S. national security? Is anyone serious? The security of the entire nation of the United States? It is ridiculous!”He said he wasn’t interested in the safety of states, only the safety of individual human beings.

This is the attitude that annoys me. This is a person who has lived his whole life in the West, protected by Western military force, yet pretends such protection does not exist. He sees himself and his org as above the concerns that everybody else in the world has to deal with. Honestly, the best thing Assange could do to earn my support for WikiLeaks would just be to shut his mouth.

Now let’s turn our attention to an article from the Wall St. Journal about some of the interesting tidbits that were found in the Wikileaks documents. Obviously, it may be tough to discern my point of view on this whole thing. In theory, I could support something like WikiLeaks. However, I find Assange either so contemptible or naive (can’t make up my mind) that it just isn’t something I can get behind. Even if I agreed with leaking things like the State Dept. docs (I don’t), I think the supporters of WikiLeaks are way off on their analysis of how “secure” it is to post there, and I also KNOW that they are greatly underestimating the power of the people they are messing with, and the many methods by which they can work. Most significantly, as they quickly found out last month, the entire narrative was stripped from the Left in the media, and turned into a debate on how little we can trust the Pakistanis! Is that really what the people who celebrated the leaks wanted to happen? However, I wasn’t too pleased to find out that Hekmatayar (former US ally, Bin Laden buddy, and major heroin trafficker) was making trips to North Korea in conjunction with the Iranians. This story should be getting more attention, as with many stories from this region.

Reports Bolster Suspicion of Iranian Ties to Extremists
July 27, 2010
WASHINGTON—Cooperation among Iran, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups is more extensive than previously known to the public, according to details buried in the tens of thousands of military intelligence documents released by an independent group Sunday.

U.S. officials and Middle East analysts said some of the most explosive information contained in the WikiLeaks documents detail Iran’s alleged ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and the facilitating role Tehran may have played in providing arms from sources as varied as North Korea and Algeria.
The officials have for years received reports of Iran smuggling arms to the Taliban. The WikiLeaks documents, however, appear to give new evidence of direct contacts between Iranian officials and the Taliban’s and al Qaeda’s senior leadership. It also outlines Iran’s alleged role in brokering arms deals between North Korea and Pakistan-based militants, particularly militant leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and al Qaeda.
…One of the more remarkable reports describes a November 2005 trip that departed from Iran in which Mr. Hekmatyar, the militant leader, and Osama bin Laden’s financial adviser traveled to North Korea to close a deal with the North Korean government to obtain remote-controlled rockets to use against coalition aircraft in Afghanistan.

We’ll end with one more piece taking on Assange. Note: I suspect that the Daily Beast, among other blogs, is being used to attack Assange on behalf of the USG. And I can’t say I’m against that! By the end of Chapter Four, I think you will have a clearer view of things. In my opinion, Assange is someone who thinks he was able to turn the world’s intelligence agencies against each other while remaining above the fray. However, I think he is being used by some of those agencies in ways that may be too far above his head to understand. He may have started off viewing himself as a Robin Hood figure, but has become closer to a Bond villain. A man with a vision of a “better world”, which he will achieve no matter the cost in human blood.

The author Varadarajan gives a preview of what will be the subject of part 3, the fact that the videos WikiLeaks releases are selectively edited! Regardless of where one stands politically, WikiLeaks simply can’t be trusted as it is willing to edit submitted material to suit its own biases… and stupid enough to do it while a reporter sits right next to them! Unbelievable.

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange is a criminal
by Tunku Varadarajan

What does Assange want? Does he really want the free world to cringe under constant threat from al Qaeda? If we fail to defeat this threat, what does Assange think will happen? Do we have any sense that he cares? Or is it the case, frighteningly, that Assange doesn’t really “want” anything, in a programmatic, civilizational sense, and that these explosive episodes of “gotcha” leaks are an end in themselves, a personal moral terminus, a sort of self-righteous, self-congratulatory onanism?

These latest leaks weren’t, of course, Assange’s debut on the world stage. This episode was preceded by “Collateral Murder,” his own Breitbart Moment, when he infamously edited the leaked video of a gunship attack by U.S. forces in Iraq to make it appear more damnable. How is that different from the editing, by Andrew Breitbart, of the clip of the lady from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the NAACP meeting? The New York Times wouldn’t touch anything Breitbart was peddling, but it gave Assange, who professes not to know where these documents came from, the full Pentagon Papers treatment.

Unless there is evidence that Assange conspired with employees of the military to procure these leaked materials, there is no scope in the law to take action against him. But let us put the law to one side. Our aversion to Assange and his ways—to his posturing, gaudy psuedo-insurgency—need not be expressed in ways prosecutorial. Let us, instead, shower him with our most basic contempt, and dismiss him as the fraud that he is. WikiLeaks is a brothel of self-promotion, Assange its puffed-up pimp.

~ by psychedelicdungeon on September 4, 2010.

One Response to “WikiFreaks, Pt. 2 “Reaction””

  1. Hey there this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use
    WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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