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Media/Tomorrow's Deep Throat: Wikileaks

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dialykos.com: Tomorrow's Deep Throat: Wikileaks

Forget parking garages. Tomorrow’s Deep Throats can go wiki. A new Web site that aims to encourage large-scale leaking of confidential government documents by allowing anonymous disclosure could launch as early as next month.
Link
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/1/13/205417/096
Date
January 13, 2007
By
Goverup


The new website, wikileaks.org, says it will provide "an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis."

Domestic spying and intimidation of whistleblowers by the Bush administration have created the need for a secure forum to expose waste, fraud and abuse by government officials. But, the plan also begs a number of questions. For example, can whistleblowers really be protected from the prying of government agencies like our own NSA? Could the site be abused by wrongdoers? Can we trust that the site is what it claims to be? These seem like good questions to pose to the Daily Kos community, with its broad base of experience and knowledge.

New Scientist writes:

Leaking a sensitive government document can mean risking a jail sentence - but not for much longer if an online service called WikiLeaks goes ahead. WikiLeaks is designed to allow anyone to post documents on the web without fear of being traced. The creators of the site are thought to include political activists and open-source software engineers, though they are keeping their identities secret. Their goal is to ensure that whistle-blowers and journalists are not thrown into jail for emailing sensitive documents. That was the fate of Chinese journalist Shi Tao, who was sentenced to a 10-year term in 2005 after publicising an email from Chinese officials about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Wikileaks, in its FAQ, offers this rationale.

The power of principled leaking to embarrass governments, corporations and institutions is amply demonstrated through recent history. Public scrutiny of otherwise unaccountable and secretive institutions pressures them to act ethically. What official will chance a secret, corrupt transaction when the public is likely to find out? What repressive plan will be carried out when it is revealed to the citizenry, not just of its own country, but the world? When the risks of embarrassment through openness and honesty increase, the tables are turned against conspiracy, corruption, exploitation and oppression. Open government answers injustice rather than causing it. Open government exposes and undoes corruption. Open governance is the most cost effective method of promoting good governance.

But, is Wikileaks truly the "tool to satisfy that need?" Can it really ensure anonymity and untraceability through "extremely sophisticated mathematical and cryptographic techniques?" Could the website even be a tool of the intelligence community? Wikileaks tells us the site is aimed primarily at China, Russia, and oppressive regimes in Eurasia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, which also happen to be targets of U.S. intelligence.

Terrorists as well as patriots could be drawn to a website described as "forum for the ethical defection of unaccountable and abusive power to the people." Is this a potential showstopper, or could misuse be monitored and interdicted in some way?

Steven Aftergood, author of Secrecy News, made this January 3 comment on the weblog.

Wikileaks invited Secrecy News to serve on its advisory board. We explained that we do not favor automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records. In the absence of accountable editorial oversight, publication can more easily become an act of aggression or an incitement to violence, not to mention an invasion of privacy or an offense against good taste. (Jan. 3, Secrecy News)

Aftergood told the Federal Times, "I’m sort of waiting to see how it works in practice."

Who is behind this effort? The website offers a response that is tantalizing, but - for obvious reasons - vague.

Wikileaks was founded by Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Our advisory board, which is still forming, includes representatives from expatriate Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst and cryptographers.

Wikileaks.org claims to have received more than a million documents already, even before its planned launch date in February or March 2007. Obviously, there are a lot of people out there with something to disclose, and probably an even larger number of people anxious to read what they have to say. Will the world be better for it? Tell me what you think.

Tags: Wikipedia, dissidents, whistleblower, spying domestic spying, Scam (all tags)

Permalink | 36 comments

Comments:ExpandShrinkHide(Always) |IndentedFlat(Always)
  • ===Very interesting idea (11+ / 0-)===
    Certainly something worth trying, it could be very big indeed. How it will work out, all we can do is wait and see.
  • ===interesting diary (8+ / 0-)===
    Wow, I am basically a caveperson when it comes to technology, so I have no idea of the viability of this in practice. But it is a very interesting idea and you have done a good job pointing out some of the "known unknowns".Recommended. Should be an interesting discussion. Daniel Ellsberg has very strongly urged government insiders to leak to help stop the war. Is there a legion of whistleblowers ready to step up?
    In the judiciary, standing is the new black.by whitewidow on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 07:52:52 PM PDT
    • ===Thank you for the recommendation (4+ / 0-)===
      Recommended by
      RickWn, Creosote, nancelot, willb48
      There's certainly a legion of potential whistleblowers in our federal government. But, government workers are notorious for avoiding risk to their careers, and whistleblowers is very risky. Would workers be more inclined to report wrongdoing on the proposed site. It's hard to say, just yet. In large part, it will depend on the site's credibility.
      • ===Ooops (1+ / 0-)===
        Recommended by
        RickWn
        It's a bit late in the day for me. Here's how the comment should have read.
        There's certainly a legion of potential whistleblowers in our federal government. But, government workers are notorious for avoiding risk to their careers, and whistleblowing is very risky.Would workers be more inclined to report wrongdoing on the proposed site? It's hard to say, just yet. In large part, it will depend on the site's credibility.
  • ==="Could the website even be a tool... (7+ / 0-)===
    ...of the intelligence community?"Unfortunately, yes, and likely.But the leaking of memos damaging to the Administration or with only domestic significance are unlikely to be intelligence-related.No, for that, we'll have to wait until such a site starts getting documents that embarrass liberal or radical political leaders. We know where that would come from.
  • ===On one hand I love the idea. (6+ / 0-)===
    On the other hand, it sounds like it will be a mound inextricable fact and fiction.
    The world dearly loves a cage.by epppie on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:06:41 PM PDT
  • ===Without editorial oversight... (10+ / 0-)===
    how would authenticity of the documents be verified? Would anonymous posting encourage the planting of forged documents for malicious purposes? Without the journalistic process, how could the source be questioned for context, or how could potential source biases be revealed?WIth great power to wikileak comes zero accountability. Thus the credibility of such documents and the source would have to be questioned.
  • ===Spy vs. Spy vs. Conscience vs. world (2+ / 0-)===
    On one hand, the Bush administration is the antithesis of open government and that's also true of any authoritarian government, so we know openness is an antidote.On the other, with the number of intelligence services in the world and the ability to forge docs - not to mention skilled forgers the world over - we would have to become high level intelligence analysts to validate anything, much less tie those docs to relevant connections.Of course, there are many out-of-work intelligence agents in this country these days, a virtual think tank worth of minds ever-present here and some resident ex-agents, so I would like to hear from them concerning this.And if wikileaks.org is for real, can they survive more than 20 minutes? I mean, this is the subversive's subversion in the Information Age - unless it is a sting operation to out those people of conscience within their respective governments.Interesting; thanks for bringing it to our attention.
    "Peace is more distant than might be thought." - Subcommandante Marcos.by walkshills on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:27:37 PM PDT
  • ===This is a little creepy (1+ / 0-)===
    Recommended by
    PatsBard
    notwithstanding the importance of the ability of people of conscience to speak up, even anonymously, sometimes there are legitimate secrets. Anybody old enough to remember "loose lips sink ships?"
    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.by marykk on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:34:03 PM PDT
    • ===Even more damage caused by the neocons (2+ / 0-)===
      Recommended by
      RickWn, marykk
      and BushCo.Rather than be assured that the secrets our government keeps are there to protect us and the country, we now live in fear/dread that those secrets are there to exploit us and the country...and from there, the world. How does one separate the legitimate secrets from the illegitimate secrets? And who decides?
      Diaries are the mines - comments are the gold.by PatsBard on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:44:56 PM PDT[ Parent ]
      • ===I don't know (1+ / 0-)===
        Recommended by
        RickWn
        and I don't disagree that this government is so corrupt that it's hard to imagine any secret they have that should not be held up to the light. But the general concept that government might, in the interest of national security, have secrets is not.That's why we have the FOIA. The question of legitimate vs. illegitimate secrets is supposed to be decidable by the courts. Of course we expect the courts to be an independent branch of government. . .
        If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.by marykk on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:51:55 PM PDT[ Parent ]
        • ===taking a chance (1+ / 0-)===
          Recommended by
          goverup1
          the whistleblowers always take chances, but if there are lots, then it's harder to go after them all. I'm sure it'll be shut down, but it's a great idea. It's sunshine. There was a time that loose lips could sink ships, maybe, but few people hold dangerous secrets, and if they're will to take the chance ...
          • ===That time is not gone forever. (1+ / 0-)===
            Recommended by
            goverup1
            In fact, it may be more so now than ever w/r/t national security. The problem is that this administration isn't using secrecy for national security, in it proper limited place. They are using it for the purposes of hiding their dark deeds.
            If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.by marykk on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 06:32:44 AM PDT[ Parent ]
            • ===Great dialogue (1+ / 0-)===
              Recommended by
              marykk
              Both anna shane and marykk make good points. What IS the correct balance between transparency and secrecy? This kind of dialogue is needed in order to arrive at a solution that enables us to make real progress against such problems that, like terrorism and threats to the rule of law, currently pull us in opposite directions.
  • ===I wouldn't trust them (8+ / 0-)===
    They've got a (202) area code (that Washington DC) and they used an American domain registrar 'protected' by a premium privacy service (pay an extra couple bucks to not get listed). That privacy shield will fall with the first subpoena.The only way wikileaks.org could NOT be forced to turn over IP addresses, etc, is if each single user, visitor and submitter were a client of an attorney.Me? My preferred Whistleblower method would be to give something to my attorney and instruct him to get it to the appropriate media source without having it come back to me.I'll post this and run a traceroute.
    • ===CIA? would work better if offshore (1+ / 0-)===
      Recommended by
      dannyinla
      "beyond the reach"
    • ===No protection for US leakers (7+ / 0-)===
      This is the money quote:
      Our roots are in dissident communities and our focus is on non-western authoritarian regimes.
      And they better have a warning for US leakers, because those people will get nailed in a hurry. China will have them banned pretty soon.From their FAQ page

      We design the software, and promote its human rights agenda, but the servers are run by anonymous volunteers. Because we have no commercial interest in the software, there is no need to restrict its distribution. In the very unlikely event that we were to face coercion to make the software censorship friendly, there are many others who will continue the work in other jurisdictions.
      A traceroute terminates at Google in Sunnyvale, after bouncing around the US. Their email list is hosted by RiseUp, a Seattle-based activist network. They're using PayPal to accept donations. Their pages aren't encrypted in any way.For an American leaker, there is NO PROTECTION.
  • ===hmmm.... (1+ / 0-)===
    Recommended by
    RickWn
    ...I don't believe there is anything on the internet that is completely "untraceable".There are means that very internet-savvy people can obscure their tracks, but it is very hard to be completely untracable.I don't like the sound of this. On one hand it's a great idea to make potential leaks public, bypassing the conventional media (once something's on the internet it is very hard to impossible to take it off again), but it's just a supoena/warrant away from internet detectives tracking down the source of the submission. Even if it were from a public source like an internet cafe or some otherwise public wireless source, it is still possible to determine who sent it.
  • ===Transcend the paranoia (3+ / 0-)===
    Recommended by
    RickWn, nancelot, old wobbly
    The uncensored, bullshittable nature of this thing makes it a microcosm of the Internet. Sure, there'll be abuses, cons and pathetic "lookatme!" types, but this sounds like an amazingly valuable tool in dismantling the reign of Junior & Co.I'm giving the concept, and the diary, a big, fat rec.
    Nanotechnology can take atmospheric CO2 and make diamonds and fresh air. New! Listen to crap at LouLost.comby Crashing Vor on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:51:26 PM PDT
  • ===I'm reminded of Curveball (2+ / 0-)===
    Recommended by
    Creosote, LNK
    Wasn't he a leaker promoted by Chalabi to the NeoCons who jumped upon Curveball's assertions that there were, indeed, WMD's in Iraq?What's to keep Wikileaks from unknowingly publishing carefully crafted disinformation?Without assurances, how can I know to trust the information supposedly provided by the leaker... especially if it disagrees with my assumptions or factual information that is in direct opposition to my collected facts?As for the leakers... what guarantee of protection do they have? The promise of anonymity from Wikileaks is nice, but what happens if they are exposed anyway? Do they forfeit all rights under the whistleblower law?Oh, I like the idea of a website dedicated to whistle-blowing, but I guess I've fallen victim to the constant mantra that there truly is no anonymity on the web.Still, I would wish such a project a hearty, "Hail and Godspeed"... a project born as reaction to policies of the most secretive administration in U.S. history.
  • ===I Knew These Guys in the 60's (5+ / 0-)===
    They came to my parties and absolutely HAD to get a joint real quick.
    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"by Gooserock on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:54:52 PM PDT
  • ===what's to prevent the "leaking" of disinformation (1+ / 0-)===
    Recommended by
    goverup1
    nothing?
  • ===OMG I love this (2+ / 0-)===
    Recommended by
    nancelot, LNK
    It's even better than all the rumors of layoffs and meltdowns and closings on fuckedcompany.com during the internet meltdown.
    Chaos. It's not just a theory.by PBnJ on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 09:30:24 PM PDT
  • ===From Mother Jones (2+ / 0-)===
    Recommended by
    nancelot, LNK
    Wikileaks was the subject of a recent post on MoJo Blog:
    The Wikileaks people...hope their user community will flag suspicious posts in much the same way as Wikipedia users. To be sure, a teaser document up on the site is fascinating: a memo purporting to establish the Islamic courts administration in Somalia (accompanied by a Wiki-style analysis). The memo, translated from Arabic, concludes: "Whosoever leaks this information and is found guilty should be shot."
  • ===Less Than Meets the Eye (2+ / 0-)===
    Recommended by
    LNK, terafnord
    Well, Slashdot got to this three days ago, and John Young, the well-respected guy in charge of the cryptome security mailing list, who was put forward as being in charge of the whole thing by the Wikileaks people, has stated that he now believes the whole thing is basically a scam.Not some kind of black-ops "trace the leaker"-type scam, mind you, but the old-fashioned, "raise a quick bundle in VC IPO money" dot-com scam.Although since the people involved evidently tossed around the notion of getting their funding from the CIA, the difference may merely be one of intent, rather than actual effect.

    "I play a street-wise pimp" — Al Goreby Ray Radlein on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 11:27:13 PM PDT
    • ===There are indeed many possibilities (1+ / 0-)===
      Recommended by
      Ray Radlein
      Hopefully, trusted members of the Internet community will ferret out the truth.Ultimately, the greatest contribution of Wikileaks may be to focus public attention on the absence of any secure process, or any meaningful protection from retaliation, for workers to disclose government abuses that threaten the public welfare.
  • ===Thanks (0 / 0)===
    Well, we just rolled off the list. Thanks to everyone who commented. This was a great discussion and I'm only sad that it couldn't go on longer.

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