2010-12-30 Julian Assange named The Nation's Person of the Year, CNN's Most Intriguing

Julian Assange is The Nation readers' Person of the Year and CNN's Most Intriguing Person of 2010.

The Nation: The response was strong and, interestingly, WilkiLeaks founder Assange was also our clear-cut winner because, as Lorna Singh pointed out, "we need to see how we were lied to," and, as Mike Pribula wrote, "he has reminded us about the importance of integrity in diplomacy and democratic ideals in our republic."

2010-12-30 From Ion Cannon to BotTorrent: Potential new paradigm in hacktivism

The Low Orbit Ion Cannon, or LOIC, is a popular tool for taking down websites these days. It was used on Visa, Master Card, Paypal and other institutions by "Anonymous" hacktivists.

LOIC is easy to download and requires minimal technological savvy for its use. One runs the program, enters a targeted IP address, confirms, and watches as the program floods a site's host with TCP packets, UDP packets, or HTTP requests. Eventually, the ability to handle further requests is lost and the site goes down, becoming unresponsive. This is termed denial of service and the attack is a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the basis that the attacks are distributed across various sources.

The resulting downtime of the site is temporary, of course, but the attack's perceived consequences can range from slight inconvenience to severe paralysis. As is widely known, the stability of a web site is a strong determinant of its popularity. Yet the goal of such attacks, as articulated by some of the Anonymous group members, is not terminal destruction but to raise awareness.

A new weapon of mass awareness is in the horizon, however, that may very well step up the severity and efficiency of these attacks. If effective, it will set into motion attacks originating from thousands of computers worldwide. The difference? End-users will not necessarily know they are participating in the attacks. Here's how it would work.

A home user navigates to a torrent search engine to download a popular file (a film or TV show, for instance). As this image illustrates, the file may have several thousands of leechers or seeders; these numbers may increase to the hundreds of thousands in some cases, depending on the popularity of the file. For simplicity, think of each leecher as one computer attempting to download the file.

As a presenter at the most recent Chaos Communications Congress articulated, by manipulating the data being communicated through BitTorrent clients, one can create the appearance of availability for a given file and cause leechers to attempt a download. The leecher would not actually be downloading the intended file, but attacking a target IP without their knowledge. This would result in the flooding of the target host and, in many cases, eventual take-down of the target site.

This new technology, termed BotTorrent by TorrentFreak's editor-in-chief, would have revolutionary significance not merely in virtue of its creative underpinnings,* but in terms of legal responsibility. Clearly, it is unlikely that end-users would prosecuted for carrying out an attack of which they had no knowledge. Furthermore, given the number of unknowing users carrying out the attacks, the magnitude of the attacks would expand massively. Word on the tweets is the technology is capturing the imagination of developers.


* Addendum: This new derivative technology may clearly be used for a variety of other purposes that do not involve hacktivism. (Many thanks to Kris Kotarski for highlighting the importance of this fact.)

2010-12-30 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: Omar Bongo pocketed millions in embezzled funds, claims US cable

"Gabon's late president allegedly channelled money to French political parties in support of Nicolas Sarkozy.

Gabon's late president Omar Bongo allegedly pocketed millions in embezzled funds from central African states, channelling some of it to French political parties in support of Nicolas Sarkozy, according to a US embassy cable published by El País."

Read more

El País: El Pentágono presionó a Turquía para que aceptara el escudo antimisiles (The Pentagon pressed Turkey to accept the missil shield)

"El Gobierno de Erdogan se ha resistido a instalar un radar clave para el sistema defensivo. Ankara exigió a EE UU garantías para no enfrentarse con Irán. (Erdogan's government has resisted to instal a radar, key of the defensive system. Ankara demanded to the United States guarantees to avoid a conflict with Iran.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: Bulgaria no hace nada por evitar la corrupción que socava el Estado (Bulgaria does nothing to stop the corruption that currently ruins the state)

"Un alto funcionario europeo revela a EE UU el desencanto de Bruselas con Sofía. (A high ranked employee of the European government reveals to the United States the disappointment in Brussels with Sofia.)"

Read more (Spanish)

2010-12-30 Clearing the Air of Nick Davies' Misinformation

Today, Huffington Post published an article by Nick Davies, from the Guardian, in response to Bianca Jagger's Huffpost article. Jagger had been critical of Davies' role in the publication in The Guardian of the details from the police investigation report on the allegations against Julian Assange.

In his article today, Davies states that the publication of the details from the police report served the purpose of balancing out baseless speculation about the Swedish investigation. He claims it was necessary in particular to counterbalance a campaign of misinformation on the part of Wikileaks, and Julian Assange. This is very misleading. The substance of the claim is laid out below.

From Nick Davies: The Julian Assange Investigation -- Let's Clear the Air of Misinformation:

2010-12-30 Updated New Whistleblowing Sites and Games

Updated from the December 19th post.

BalkanLeaks "The Balkans are not keeping secrets anymore." According to an article in Sofia Echo this site is set up by a Paris-based Bulgarian, Atanas Chobanov and seeks confidential documents related to political, criminal or financial topics.

BrusselsLeaks This site is seeking corporation, consultancy, institution or NGO information in "Brussels – the European Capital and the place where decisions are made which impact the globe".

Many of these decisions happen behind closed doors and we have been working to make it more transparent for many years. Journalists, activists and communications professionals have now come together to form Brussels Leaks, a place to centralise intelligence gathered on the inner-workings of the EU.

IndoLeaks Jakarta Globe says this appeared on December 10.

israeliLeaks "Requesting information on WikiLeaks Organization, Events, and Content, WikiLeaks/Israel Connection, Palestine/Israel history and current events, Hacktivism. Nothing is off limits. Linkage between otherwise divergent topics / regions / organizations / movements is highly valued. Please send any and all information that would be of interest to the public, including journalism, education, and research."

OpenLeaks Started by ex-Wikileaks member Daniel Domscheit-Berg, this site is still "Coming Soon!" It will serve only as a conduit between whistleblowers and their media destinations without being involved in the publishing.

Pinoy Leaks is dedicated to exposing corruption in the Philippine national and local governments.

PinoyLeaks is similar to Wikileaks, except the mission is specifically focused on exposing corruption only, the scope is limited to the Philippines, and PinoyLeaks works with bloggers instead of traditional media. It is up to the bloggers whether to spread news about a leak.
This site is launching on Rizal Day, 2010. Our goal is to start publishing leaks by February 1, 2011. Please help us reach this goal by spreading the word about PinoyLeaks.

Pirate Leaks Started by the Czech Pirate Party to offer a service similar to Wikileaks but focusing on the Czech Republic and with transparent accounting, they want to tackle the network of political corruption and organized crime in the Czech Republic and are looking for classified materials related to crime or finance.

Rospil An extension of popular Russian blogger Alexei Navalny's website, he is actively seeking documentation of corruption in the higher echelons of the national government and economy.

thaicables is trying to combat the Thai government's censorship of over 300,000 websites.

We do not believe in censorship and think that everyone in Thailand should get access to any information available on the internet, which also includes Wikileaks. This is the reason for this blog.

Thaileaks makes all Thai-related content from the Wikileaks website available for direct download and provides magnet links to Wikileaks material.

TuniLeaks This seems, at least at present, to serve as a forum to post and discuss Wikileaks state cable releases as they relate to Tunisia, along with the Twitter hashtag #tunileaks . According to Global Voices Advocacy they have been under heavy censorship threats and actions since they were started.

For Fun:

Haïkuleaks provides Haïku poetry based on the US State Dept cables.

Leaky World is a Wikileaks based game.

Wikileaks: The Game is another.

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

2010-12-30 The Economist on Bruce Sterling on WikiLeaks

From Analysing WikiLeaks: Bruce Sterling's plot holes | The Economist:

What is most intriguing about the WikiLeaks saga is not the pathology of hacker culture as envisioned by Mr Sterling's fecund imagination, but the possibility that Julian Assange and his confederates have made dull liberal principles seem once again sexily subversive by exposing power's reactionary panic when a few people with a practical bent actually bother to take them seriously.

A post on the Democracy in America blog on economist.com addresses Bruce Sterling's much publicized recent article on Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. The criticism of Sterling's article is well placed, but the closing comments, quoted above, strike at the heart of the WikiLeaks controversy.

2010-12-29 OpEdNews: Whistleblower Protections Halted by Tyranny of One

OpEdNews has an interviewwith Shanna Devine, the Legislative Campaign Coordinator at GAP [the Government Accountability Project]. The US Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) was just defeated in the House. Ironically, the protection to expose secrets was blocked by something called a "secret hold", one anonymous person.

S. 372 would have increased opportunities for whistleblowers to expose wrongdoing within a system instead of relying on external organizations for exposure. It would have eliminated current loopholes such as:

Currently, you are not eligible for federal whistleblower protection if : you are not the first person who discloses given misconduct; you make a disclosure to your co-worker; you make a disclosure to your supervisor; you disclose the consequences of a policy decision; and the kicker: if you blow the whistle while carrying out your job duties.

2010-12-29 Amnesty: Sweeping new media law threatens freedom of expression in Hungary

As reported by Amnesty International and Der Speigel Hungary is introducing a new law coming into force on January 1, 2011 (the same time Hungary will be taking over the EU presidency) which will impose unprecedented restrictions on the freedom of the press in the European Union.

Amnesty:"A newly created National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) will have the power to impose heavy fines, ranging from up to 35,000 Euros for periodicals to up to 730,000 Euros for broadcast media, for content it considers to run counter to the “public interest”, “common morality” and “national order”. Fines can also be imposed for “unbalanced” news reporting.

None of these terms are clearly defined in the law and their interpretation is left to the NMHH. The NMHH also has the power to shut down news outlets.

There are also concerns about the political independence of the National Media and Communications Authority, whose five board members were appointed by the ruling Fidesz party without broader consultation or any parliamentary scrutiny."

2010-12-29 Peninsula: Many Arab officials have close CIA links: Assange

Peninsula has an article based on a continuation of last week's interview with Julian Assange by Ahmed Mansour for Al Jazeera Arabic.


The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA. ...

What is being published by the five media partners of WikiLeaks are only those details which they think are interesting for their readers. There are some Arab officials who are ‘stealing’ oil of their countries. “We need these media partners to focus more on this issue.”

2010-12-29 Pirate Parties condemn violence against employees of WikiLeaks

The following Pirate Parties of Europe have issued a joint statement condemning all attacks on the infrastructure of Wikileaks and employees of Wikileaks.

- Pirate Party of Germany
- Pirate Party of France
- Pirate Party of Italy
- Pirate Party of Austria
- Pirate Party of Russia
- Pirate Party of Switzerland
- Pirate Party of Luxembourg
- Pirate Party of the United Kingdom

2010-12-29 Chat Logs and Adrian Lamo

The Glenn Greenwald / Kevin Poulsen exchanges this week have centred around a dispute over the alleged Bradley Manning / Adrian Lamo chat logs that form the sole evidence currently implicating Manning in leaking classified information.

As a little more background into Lamo's reliability at the time the chat logs were published, here is a June 22, 2010 thread on Fairfax Underground where someone posted another leaked chat log involving Lamo's wife and Nadim, a person Lamo refers to as a "disgruntled fan".

The original poster also includes the portion of the chat logs which Lamo claims he leaked to Wikileaks, further claiming they then "outed" him as their source. This thread is discussed in an article in DailyTech which contains an update at the end when they discovered that Lamo had actually outed himself "in the form of a podcast interview Lamo gave to an Australian blog site".

All of the evidence into the mental state and reliability of the sole informant in this case raises the question of why chat logs, in the hands of a self proclaimed hacker, passed on to a journalist who professes great respect for the hacking skills of this source, are being treated as reliable legal evidence. In what format were they provided to Wired (and the DoJ)? Was there third party monitoring? Why did Wired believe these logs, knowing their source? Why should anyone?

2010-12-29 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

El País: El jefe de la Guardia Revolucionaria abofeteó a Ahmadineyad, según EE UU (The Chief of the Revolutionary Guard slapped Ahmadineyad's face, according to the United States)

"El presidente de Irán sorprendió a los clérigos con una propuesta de apertura. La diplomacia estadounidense asegura que su fuente es de gran fiabilidad. (Iranian President surprised the clerics with an offer of openness. The American diplomacy affirms its source is completely reliable.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: EE UU sospecha que el Gobierno de Bolivia simuló una trama terrorista (The United States suspects the Bolivian government faked a terrorist threat)

"Un testigo asegura a la Embajada en La Paz que los servicios de inteligencia prepararon un falso compló para matar a Evo Morales y culpar a la oposición. (A witness assure to the American embassy in La Paz that the intelligence services prepared a fake complot to kill Evo Morales and actually blame his political opposition.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: EE UU consideró a Enríquez-Ominami un candidato "poco serio" para Chile (The United States believed Enríquez-Ominami was not "a serious enough" candidate for Chile)

""Sus aptitudes son su encanto, sus apellidos y su hermosa mujer", dice un informe. ("His talents are his charm, his family name and his beautiful wife", says a cable.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: Estambul, nido de espías sobre Irán (Istanbul, nest for spies on Iran)

"El Consulado de EE UU recaba valiosa información entre una diáspora iraní en Turquía amenazada por Teherán. (The American Consulate compiles valuable information between an Iranian diaspora in Turkey threatened by Tehran.)"

Read more (Spanish)

2010-12-29 NPR Fesses Up to WikiLeaks’ Coverage Blunder, Now It’s Everyone Else’s Turn

In response to today's correction from NPR of their Wikileaks coverage, Matthew L. Schafer at Lippmann Would Roll has compiled a list of other news outlets who should follow their example. While NPR's correction focused on the number of cables published, 1,942 instead of roughly 250,000, Schafer points out other errors that media outlets should avoid:


Moreover, many outlets used phrases similar to “document dump” to describe WikiLeaks’ publishing, which likely leads to the misconception that WikiLeaks did cavalierly publish all 250,000 cables. According to a LexisNexis search, on 397 separate occasions, newspapers around the world used the phrase “document dump.” ...

It’s worth mentioning that often the word “release” is not attributed. That is, the articles do not say to whom the release was made. A release by the website to the public? WikiLeaks’ release of the documents to the newspapers? Thus, a newspaper may say that it was referring to WikiLeaks release of all cables to its newspaper partners, but this is far from clear.

2010-12-28 Wired Response to Glenn Greenwald

The Wired rebuttal to Glenn Greenwald's article yesterday is online. It is written by both Kevin Poulsen and Evan Hansen, each making their own points as follows.

The Case for Privacy

  • The cables were not released in their entirety out of "consideration, thus far, of Manning’s privacy."
  • Poulsen's criminal record is irrelevant. Agreed, until he starts cooperating too closely with the FBI, then it is worth a look at.
  • –Evan Hansen, Editor-in-Chief

    A Litany of Errors

    • Lamo was a very important and newsworthy hacker.
    • Greenwald should inform his readers that Jacob Appelbaum had an association with WikiLeaks before quoting him on Lamo.
    • Rasch, who worked for the Justice Department in Washington D.C., left government service in 1991. I had two prosecutors in my phone-hacking case: David Schindler in Los Angeles and Robert Crowe in San Jose, California.

    -Kevin Poulsen, Senior Editor

    By my assessment, this very long, two author rebuttal has one newsworthy point, which is the last. This was the reference Greenwald used.

    Update: Greenwald comes back here and provides more sources and dates for the Poulsen-Rasch connection here. He also states, and supports, that he was not aware of Jacob Appelbaum's association with WikiLeaks when he wrote the article in question.

2010-12-28 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

El País: El poder: la mejor manera de robar un banco en África (The power: best way of robbing a bank)

"Un confidente revela a EE UU el desvío de 28 millones de las reservas de seis países al clan del presidente de Gabón. (An informer reveals to the United States the skimming of 28 million from the reserves of six countries to the Gabon President's crew.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: Rania de Jordania es influyente y colabora en la gestión del reino (Rania of Jordan is influential and collaborates in the administration of the kingdom)

"La soberana no es una mera consorte, y su origen palestino divide a los jordanos. (The sovereign is not just a spouse and her palestinian origin divides the Jordan people.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: El futuro presidente de China es "elitista" y "muy ambicioso" (The next President of China is "elitist" and "very ambitious".)

"Los cables de la diplomacia norteamericana describen a Xi Jinping como un príncipe del régimen al que "solo puede corromper el poder". (The cables from the American diplomacy describe Xi Jinping as a prince of the regime to whom "power can only corrupt".)"

Read more (Spanish)

2010-12-28 Dave Winer on Amazon and Apple contracts with US government

Dave Winer published an excerpt of a promotional email from Amazon today which he calls "the 800 pound gorilla in the room." It sheds more light on Amazon's officially
stated reason for denying service to Wikileaks.

"Government adoption of AWS grew significantly in 2010. The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board became the first government-wide agency to migrate to a cloud-based environment when it moved Recovery.gov to AWS in March 2010. Today we have nearly 20 government agencies leveraging AWS, and the U.S. federal government continues to be one of our fastest growing customer segments. The U.S. General Services Administration awarded AWS the ability to provide government agencies with cloud services through the government's cloud storefront, Apps.gov. Additional AWS customers include Treasury.gov, the Federal Register 2.0 at the National Archives, the openEI.org project at DoE's National Renewable Energy Lab, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at USDA, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA. The current AWS compliance framework covers FISMA, PCI DSS Level 1, ISO 27001, SAS70 type II, and HIPAA, and we continue to seek certifications and accreditations that make it easier for government agencies to benefit from AWS."

He also references a December 14 post in AppleInsider and points out that Apple banned a Wikileaks app from their store just one week after this article.


The U.S. Army is interested in giving each of its soldiers a smartphone, and may give them a choice between Apple's iPhone or one running Google Android.

2010-12-28 FireDogLake: Manning-WikiLeaks Resource

The wonderful database of research into the Manning-Wikileaks prosecution evidence is growing at FireDogLake. They have given us the basic timeline of events, they merged all of the published portions of the chat logs into one version, and then documented everything that Lamo and others had said about the contents of the logs that were not contained in previously released versions here, and they have collected the key Wikileaks-Manning articles here.

They are now working on compiling transcripts for each video/audio Adrian Lamo interview. Already complete and well worth reading are the June 17th, 2010 interview with Glenn Greenwald, parts one and two, and several other key interviews. Thanks once again to FireDogLake for exemplary journalism, because in their own words:


The transcribed data will be used by Marcy Wheeler, Glenn Greenwald and others to try and piece together what actually happened — and hold journalists to a higher standard of more responsible coverage. We’ll also use it to work up a more detailed and extensive timeline of events.

Because it doesn’t appear that the New York Times and other marquee media outlets are going to stop printing Adrian Lamo’s ever-evolving gibberish like it was gospel until they are all able to see, in painful obvious detail, how his story keeps morphing over time.

2010-12-28 Operation Payback DDoS attacks on Bank of America

Shortly after Bank of America decided to halt the processing of Wikileaks-related transactions, it became the newest target for the anonymous group who set into motion Operation Payback, a hacktivist movement aiming to "raise awareness about WikiLeaks and the underhanded methods employed by ... companies to impair WikiLeaks' ability to function." (Press release in pdf format)

On Monday, Bank of America's web site suffered sporadic downtimes, apparently as a result of DDoS attacks--the same kind of attacks that also plagued Visa, Master Card and Paypal, each of which also recently halted its financial services to Wikileaks.

Raw Story was able to confirm, via two third party website verification services, [Bank of America's] site difficulties on Monday (with screenshots here and here).

Greg Mitchell, who pens The Nation's media blog, also noted sporadic outages on Bank of America's domain.

2010-12-27 WikiLeaks named the top newsmaker of 2010 by Al Jazeera, Postmedia and canada.com.

Wikileaks is named the top newsmaker of 2010 by Al Jazeera and senior editors at Postmedia Network newspapers and canada.com.


“Assange’s organization indisputably demonstrated the emerging power of social media, while illustrating the risks governments run when they say one thing in private and another in public,” said Marlon Marshall, managing editor of the Regina Leader-Post.

“This was a game-changer in terms of citizen journalism, as well as marking a shift in the balance of power between government, big business and the collective citizenry via social media,” agreed Patricia Graham, editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Sun.

2010-12-27 WikiLeaks writers killed in Kenya 5 March 2009

In a recent BBC interview Julian Assange stated: "People affiliated with our organization have already been assassinated." This was not pursued by the BBC interviewer, but apparently caused consternation among other members of the media who had not heard this story. So here it is for reference.

Wikileaks writers killed in Kenya


On Thursday afternoon March 5, Oscar Kamau Kingara, director of the Kenyan based Oscar legal aid Foundation, and its programme coordinator, John Paul Oulo, were shot at close range in their car less than a mile from President Kibaki's residence. The two were on their way to a meeting at the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights.

Both had been investigating extrajudicial assassinations by the Kenyan Police. Part of their work forms the basis of the "Cry of Blood" report Wikileaks released on November 1 last year and subsequent followups, including the UN indictment last month. ...

Two men got out, approached the vehicle of Oscar Kamau Kingara and John Paul Oulu, and shot them through the windows at close range. According to eyewitnesses, the driver of the minibus was in police uniform whilst the other men were wearing suits. The closest eyewitness to the incident was shot in the leg and later taken away by policemen.

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