2011-01-02 Bank of America hires Booz Allen Hamilton to help prepare for WikiLeaks

In Julian Assange's Nov. 29, 2010 interview with Forbes magazine, he indicated that he had information on a major US bank, to be released early this year. He did not specify the Bank of America, but they have been preparing anyway. The NY Times writes:

Since then, a team of 15 to 20 top Bank of America officials, led by the chief risk officer, Bruce R. Thompson, has been overseeing a broad internal investigation — scouring thousands of documents in the event that they become public, reviewing every case where a computer has gone missing and hunting for any sign that its systems might have been compromised.

In addition to the internal team drawn from departments like finance, technology, legal and communications, the bank has brought in Booz Allen Hamilton, the consulting firm, to help manage the review. ...

“This is a significant moment, and Bank of America has to get out in front of it,” said Richard S. Levick, a veteran crisis communications expert. “Corporate America needs to look at what happens here, and how Bank of America handles it.” ...

Last month, the bank bought up Web addresses that could prove embarrassing to the company or its top executives in the event of a large-scale public assault, but a spokesman for the bank said the move was unrelated to any possible leak.

Booz Allen Hamilton, who has been brought in "to help manage the review" is one of the largest and most controversial US intelligence contractors.

With revenues of $3.7 billion in 2005, Booz Allen is one of the nation's biggest defense and intelligence contractors. Under McConnell's watch, Booz Allen has been deeply involved in some of the most controversial counterterrorism programs the Bush administration has run, including the infamous Total Information Awareness data-mining scheme. As a key contractor and advisor to the NSA, Booz Allen is almost certainly participating in the agency's warrantless surveillance of the telephone calls and e-mails of American citizens.

2011-01-02 WikiLeaks, Ideological Legitimacy and the Crisis of Empire

Truthout has an article about quickly crumbling legitimacy of US empire written by Francis Shor:

Perhaps the drive to shut down WikiLeaks and prosecute Julian Assange is the last gasp of a dying empire to shore up its fading legitimacy in the world and among its own citizens. Hence, the hyperbolic criticism by US Attorney General Eric Holder that WikiLeaks has put "the lives of people who work for the American people at risk; the American people themselves have been put at risk." As the WikiLeaks publications make clear, the diplomatic corps is just another instrument of the US empire. Indeed, it is the empire itself that is putting its own citizens at risk through the reckless, illegal and immoral actions perpetrated around the globe.

2011-01-02 Saudi Arabia Regulates internet publishing

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Culture and Information has adopted regulation for internet publishing, including electronic newspapers, forums, and blogs. aitnews.com outlines the regulations in an article.

Besides the electronic press, forums and blogging, the thirteen forms of internet publishing include websites, electronic ads, mobile phone or other broadcasts, email groups, electronic archives, room dialogues, and "any form of electronic publishing the ministry wishes to add".

There are ten terms required to obtain a license, including good conduct and behaviour.

2011-01-03 Tech Eye: Anonymous defends WikiLeaks in Zimbabwe website attack

Tech Eye reported on an attack on various Zimbabwe government websites by Anonymous in response to censorship of WikiLeaks cables:


Graham Cluley writes from his bog, AKA Naked Security: "Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, was recently reported to be suing a newspaper for $15 million after it published a WikiLeaks cable that claimed she has benefited from illegal diamond trading."

Now government websites, including the Ministry of Finance, have been hacked and suffered from DDoS attacks. One page displays an outline of a black suit with the message: "We Are Anonymous. All your base are belong to us. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us..."

A Jan 3, 2011 article in the Sydney Morning Herald also covers the Zimbabwe attacks. Anonymous moved on to the Tunisian government on Jan 2.

2011-01-02 Update: Anonymous Attacks on Tunisian Government Sites

Update 1 :

Anonymous hacktivists have been busy today carrying out attacks on the Tunisian government site located here (IP address: 193.95.68.223). The site is still down as of the publication of this update, and has been down for several hours.

According to IRC chats with various Anonymous members who appear to be well-informed regarding current events in Tunisia, the motivations for the attacks are numerous, ranging from Tunisia's general and long-standing affinity to Internet censorship, to recent riots in Sidi Bouzid and surrounding towns being covered by various media sources.

Another relatively recent act of censorship that seems to have served as the basis for the present call to arms is the Tunisian government's decision to censor online access to Wikileaks and other whistleblowing sites (like TuniLeaks) that make reference to Tunisia or contain certain keywords that might suggest reference to Tunisia.

The Anonymous group, while diverse, intractable and virtually indefinable in terms of a steady membership class, is nevertheless united in its ideals pertaining to freedom of expression and a collective distaste for censorship, inspiring this most recent declaration:

The Tunisian government wants to control the present with falsehoods and misinformation in order to impose the future by keeping the truth hidden from its citizens. We will not remain silent while this happens. - Anonymous

There have been rumors of possible imminent attacks on 3 further Tunisian sites but they do not appear to be in progress at this time.

Read more here and here. For those who are unable to access media sources due to censorship in their own area, this screenshot may be accessible as an alternative (c/o @AnonymousIRC via Twitter).

Update 2 :

The following sites have also been taken down: www.marchespublics.gov.tn and www.pm.gov.tn. As of 9:05 Eastern Standard Time, the former site displayed this message. This is the welcome page for Mohamed Ghannouchi, the Tunisian Prime Minister. A cached version of the page can be viewed here.

Go to the third update, containing a more exhaustive list of sites taken down.

2011-01-02 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

New York Times: Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market

"The king of Saudi Arabia wanted the United States to outfit his personal jet with the same high-tech devices as Air Force One. The president of Turkey wanted the Obama administration to let a Turkish astronaut sit in on a NASA space flight. And in Bangladesh, the prime minister pressed the State Department to re-establish landing rights at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York."

Read more

El País: América Latina recela de la expansión de China (Latin America mistrusts the Chinese expansion)

"Los cables de la diplomacia estadounidense revelan desconfianza entre los líderes latinoamericanos tras la gira por la región de los dirigentes comunistas chinos Xi Jinping y Hui Liangyu y el aumento de las inversiones del gigante asiático. (The American diplomatic cables reveal mistrust between the Latin American leaders over the increasing investments of the Asian giant after the tour made by the Chinese communist leaders Xi Jinping and Hui Liangyu all over the region.)"

Read more (Spanish)

Aftenposten: Amerikansk ambassadør advarte mot Khader (U.S. ambassador in Copenhagen warned three years ago against the Danish politician and writer Naser KHAD and stamped him as too extreme in his attacks on Muslims.)

"We no longer see KHAD as a useful contact to promote Muslim integration in Denmark ... He has been so extreme in his attacks on both Muslims and believers in our programs that we are alienating more Muslims by working with KHAD than by ignoring him, writes the American ambassador."

Read more (Norwegian)

2011-01-02 Reining in freedom on the web

SFGate has an article about facebook and the internet translated from Philippe Rivière of Le Monde:

The world's most powerful online architects and its political leaders plan to "civilize" the free Internet, which they still see as a lawless zone. If they succeed in domesticating the Internet, stating your real identity will be the price you have to pay in order to enjoy full access. The word "web" was originally an image used to describe a decentralized system of interconnected information networks. Nobody imagined that a spider would actually take up residence at its center and start spying on the activities of all Internet users.

2011-01-02 Deeper Insights into Israel's Military

According to Haaretz, Israel has only 12 minutes to respond to an attack by Iran. This insight into military preparedness comes from a leaked cable released today.

The cable quotes Ashkenazi as saying that Israel is preparing for a large-scale war with Hamas or Hezbollah. Ashkenazi said that he believes Hezbollah to possess 40,000 rockets, while U.S. officials put the number at closer to 50,000 rockets. "Hamas will have the possibility to bombard Tel Aviv, with Israel's highest population concentration," Ashkenazi reportedly said.

2011-01-01 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

El País: Pacto fallido entre EE UU y Japón para reducir la caza de ballenas (Failed agreement between the United States and Japan to reduce the whale hunting)

"Tokio solicitó mayor dureza contra los ecologistas 'piratas' que acosan a su flota A. Hillary Clinton estuvo de acuerdo, pero Australia impidió el pacto. (Tokyo asked for a rougher attitude towards the "pirat" ecologists that harass their A fleet. Hillary Clinton agreed, but Australia stopped the agreement.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: EE UU no dio 'luz verde' a Sadam Husein para que invadiera Kuwait (The United States did not approved Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait)

"El presidente iraquí, desesperado por la ruina del país tras la guerra con Irán. (The Iraqi President, desperate due to the ruin of his country.)"

Read more (Spanish)

2011-01-02 Julian Assange given Press Freedom award by cotidianul.ro

Romanian online media organization cotidianul.ro has given the Press Freedom award to Julian Assange for service to freedom of expression and democratic values.

Criticizing Europe for today handing over the EU presidency to Hungary, which just implemented a widely condemned new media law severely curtailing freedom of expression in that country, the organization warns against trying to conceal dangerous and questionable decisions in countries vulnerable to economic and financial crisis. Besides a vote of solidarity with Julian Assange, the award is meant as a call to all fellow free citizens to "Defend freedom of expression!"

2011-01-01 Censorship of Tunisian Riots

Coverage of the Tunisian riots is being subject to censorship within the country and what some are calling a media blackout internationally. Excerpt from Global Voices coverage follows:


A game of cat and mouse and an actual “cyberwar” is taking place for two weeks now between Tunisian netizens and “Ammar”, the nickname of the very elaborated censorship system deviced by the Tunisian minister of interior. Blogger Astrubal explains its secret techniques.

Tunisian bloggers have long been using circumventing softwares, getting news on facebook and share censored posts, videos, photos or news updates ( like the beating of a journalist) on the main Tunisian blogging platforms and information gateways hosted overseas or via twitter and key words like #sidibouzid.

Still, “Ammar” also seem to want to be rid off social media network: ...

Tunisian netizens- the most connected community on facebook in North Africa- could not upload any photos or videos on facebook on the afternoon of december 30. ...

Demonstrations of support to the #sidibouzid movement took place in Paris, Munich, and Beyrouth. The “media black out” by the main international media outlets and western diplomacy, in addition to the domestic censorship, was a frequent subject of bitterness amongst many Tunisian activists. ...

No internet in Tunis but the media says that the situation is stable yet the protests continue in all regions #sidibouzid ...

The English press seems mostly exempted from the accusations of blackout directed at others.

2011-01-01 ScienceLeaks, GlobalLeaks, Crowdleak and Wikispooks

Meet ScienceLeaks.

This blog exists so that people may anonymously post links to peer-reviewed scientific papers that been liberated from behind journal-subscription paywalls. Use comments in the 'Requests for papers' threads to post requests for papers, and comments in the 'Papers available' threads to post links to the requested pdfs.

GlobalLeaks "a project to create a worldwide distributed Leak Amplification Network supporting whistleblowers all around the world."

Crowdleak (formerly Operation Leakspin) which is dedicated to summarization, translation and publication of the US state cables.

Wikispooks "building a comprehensive reference source of deep political structures and events, together with the people and organisations connected to them."

Note: Listing a site on WL Central in no way constitutes a recommendation of the site by WL Central or Wikileaks.

2010-12-31 The Guardian: Legal challenge follows exposure of UK complicity in training of Bangladeshi "death squad"

The family of a Bangladeshi MP who is alleged by Amnesty International to have been tortured by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Bangladesh's security forces, are calling on the UK government to intervene in the case of Salauddin Chowdhury after U.S. embassy cables published by WikiLeaks and the Guardian revealed that Britain has been providing the RAB with training in "investigative interviewing techniques" and "rules of engagement."

The RAB has come to be known as the "death squad" in Bangladesh, and admits to hundreds of extrajudicial killings.

The Foreign Office has defended the training offered to RAB as "fully in line with our laws and our values". A spokesman sought to suggest it was providing only "human rights training" for RAB, although RAB's head of training told the Guardian he was unaware of any human rights training since he was appointed last June.

Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, which is bringing the legal challenge on behalf of Fayyaz Chowdury said: "The UK government owe the clearest of international obligations to my client, a British citizen, in circumstances where they are complicit in the torture of people like Mr Salauddin Chowdury. These obligations reflect international law principles that prohibit states from aiding and assisting other states in international crimes such as torture and extrajudicial executions. The UK government must use all means at their disposal to secure the immediate release of my client's father and to ensure that he cannot face a kangaroo court for war crimes that he did not commit."

Read more

2011-01-01 EL PAÍS: Why EL PAÍS chose to publish the leaks

EL PAÍS editor, JAVIER MORENO, explains the decision to publish the State Department cables, which expose on an unprecedented scale the extent to which Western leaders lie to their electorates. MORENO provides some of the best analysis of Cablegate yet.

From Why EL PAÍS chose to publish the leaks

Cynics will argue that none of what we have learned from WikiLeaks differs from the usual way in which high-level international politics is conducted, and that without diplomatic secrets, the world would be even less manageable and more dangerous for everyone. Political classes on both sides of the Atlantic convey a simple message that is tailored to their advantage: trust us, don't try to reveal our secrets; in exchange, we offer you security.

But just how much security do they really offer in exchange for this moral blackmail? Little or none, since we face the sad paradox that this is the same political elite that was incapable of properly supervising the international financial system, whose implosion triggered the biggest crisis since 1929, ruining entire countries and condemning millions of workers to unemployment and poverty. These are the same people responsible for the deteriorating quality of life of their populations, the uncertain future of the euro, the lack of a viable European project and the global governance crisis that has gripped the world in recent years, and which elites in Washington and Brussels are not oblivious to. I doubt that keeping embassy secrets under wraps is any kind of guarantee of better diplomacy or that such an approach offers us better answers to the problems we face.

2011-01-01 WikiLeaks in the Jordan Media - Arabic Cable Translations

On November 30, 2010, an article appeared on 7iber.com criticizing the coverage of Wikileaks in the Jordan media:


It is arguably the biggest global story of the month, and quite possibly the year. Yet the biggest leak of confidential government cables in history has not been enough to elicit a proportionate reaction from the Jordanian media, even when Jordan plays an actual role in this bit of news. With the US embassy in Amman apparently being one of the top sources in the world when it comes to the leaks, and cables regarding Jordanian officials positions on Iran and the Middle East peace process being largely quoted in the international media, one is forced to wonder why the local media has initiated a self-imposed embargo on the story.

As the second day of the post-”cablegate” news cycle unfolds, local media in Jordan seems to have only stuck out its head enough to disseminate the government’s position in a slew of standardized articles in the major newspapers all reiterating the same denials and reaffirming the same positions.

Since then, 7iber.com has joined radio station and internet news provider AmmanNet, and Ammon News, all translating the US state cables from Wikileaks into Arabic.

7iber.com has eight cables so far, all mentioning Jordan. AmmanNet has three cables issued by the U.S. Embassy in Amman and eleven cables for Jordan and the Arab region.

2011-01-01 The Internet and the State Cables

For all those who felt that the world would never wade through 251,287 United States embassy cables, once more, they have underestimated the internet. Presenting, the US State Cables:

Cablegate Comix

Cablegate Chronicles

Haïkuleaks

And to warm up:

So why is Wikileaks a good thing again?

Leaky World

Wikileaks: The Game

Real-time Wikileaks Twitter search results set to the Beatles

It's going to be a great year.

2010-12-31 Democracy Now interviews with Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg

ImageDemocracy Now spends an hour reviewing their interviews with Julian Assange in July in London after the release of the Afghan war logs, and in October, again in London, after WikiLeaks published some 390,000 classified U.S. documents on the war in Iraq.

2010 can be defined as the year of WikiLeaks. The whistleblowing website first made headlines around the world in April when it released a video of a U.S. helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians, killing 12 people, including two Reuters news staff. In July, WikiLeaks created a bigger firestorm when it published more than 90,000 classified U.S. military war logs of the war in Afghanistan. Then in October, WikiLeaks published some 390,000 classified U.S. documents on the war in Iraq, the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history and the greatest internal account of any war on public record. In November, WikiLeaks began releasing a giant trove of confidential State Department cables that sent shockwaves through the global diplomatic establishment.

2010-12-31 Updates on the Investigations into "4chan" and "Anonymous" DDoS Attacks

Allegations and Investigation
On Dec. 16, the FBI raided a Texas server-hosting company in hopes of finding evidence to advance an investigation into the hactivist groups engaged in various attacks against Wikileaks-unfriendly institutions and individuals.

The investigation seems to have been set in motion as a direct result of PayPal's actions; PayPal is said to have supplied the FBI with various IP addresses hosting an IRC chat for current and prospective hacktivists. At least one hard drive was seized.

2010-12-31 CBS News: How WikiLeaks enlightened us in 2010

CBS News has compiled a substantial list of significant revelations made by WikiLeaks during the past year. Their links lead to many other sources and constitute a valuable reference tool and archive.

The distinguished blogger digby of Hullabaloo was moved to comment when she saw this list:

CBS News did something really, really unusual for a major news organization. It published an article about what Wikileaks has revealed. Evidently, CBS is not of the opinion that their job is to conceal these things from the public, which is fairly unique.

Ask yourself why it is that our governing institutions and major corporations believe they have a right to keep all this from you.

Read more

2010-12-31 The Guardian: Ministers must 'wise up not clam up' after WikiLeaks disclosures

UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is interviewed by the Guardian:


We are strongly of the view that things should be published. Where you're open things will not be WikiLeaked. Whatever view you take about WikiLeaks – right or wrong – it means that things will now get out. It has changed things. I'm saying government and authorities need to factor it in. Be more proactive, [by] publishing more stuff, because quite a lot of this is only exciting because we didn't know it. You can't un-invent WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen ... these are facts that aren't going to go away. Government and authorities need to wise up to that. ...

One response is that they will clam up and not write anything down, which is nonsense, you can't run any organisation that way. The other is to be even more open. The best form of defence is transparency — much more proactive publication of what organisations do. It's an attitude of 'OK. You want to know? Here it is'.

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