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.

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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'.

2010-12-30 Democracy Now: Interview with Robert Meeropol

ImageDemocracy Now interviews Robert Meeropol, the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the only U.S. citizens to be executed under the Espionage Act. He states:


Now, but it’s not surprising that the government would use conspiracy, whether it’s against my parents or whether it’s against the WikiLeaks people, because if you’re anybody who engages in conversation or discussion, and the government can get one person to testify that that discussion was to leak classified material, or to transmit information to the Soviet Union, in my parents case, they could be swept up in the dragnet. And you could get people to rat out their friends in order to get more lenient sentences. It sows distrust among the community of support. It scares other people into silence.


And so, what we see here is, if there is a criminal indictment for conspiracy, not an attack on just Julian Assange himself, but on the entire community of support that is seeking to promote the very revolutionary idea that the people have the right to know what their government is doing, that’s what this ultimately is all about. And every left-wing, every progressive organizer, every organizer, in general—how can you engage in organizing, in getting groups of people to protest and coordinating activities, without engaging in what the government would term a conspiracy? And so, it is a threat to all of us. And that is really why I issued my call for us to recognize this. This Espionage Act of 1917 has been the sword of Damocles, sitting quietly, mostly unused, ready to spring out and attack dissenters. And when you have it in the context of the growing secrecy that we face today ... and an authoritarian-oriented Supreme Court, it is a danger to us all.

2010-12-31 Iran blocks secondary news sites reporting on released cables

Iran has reportedly blocked access to El Pais, Jornal de Noticia and other secondary reporting sites in response to a cable released Thursday. According to Jornal de Noticia the cable in question refers to a confrontation between President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The telegram states that the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, slapped Ahmadinejad after a heated argument in the Supreme National Security Council in January 2010 on how to deal with the protests that followed the controversial elections June 2009.

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."

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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.)"

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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)

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