Tag Archives: Julian Assange

You won’t Remember Bradley Manning

But you will remember Julian Assange, and that’s the unfortunate hypocrisy in Wikileaks‘ organization. Manning is the 24-year-old American soldier charged with aiding the enemy (which carries a possible death penalty), wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records, transmitting defense information, and fraud and related activity in connection with computers.

All of these charges for allegedly providing Wikileaks with:

  • Video related to the notorious 2009 Granai air strike in Afghanistan
  • More than 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables
  • More than 400,000 U.S. Army reports from the Iraq War
  • Some 90,000 reports from the Afghanistan War

Whatever your opinion of Manning’s actions, or of Wikileaks in general, I think we can agree that Manning is bearing a far heavier burden than Julian Assange, who recently released a biography, and is set to host a political talk show in the next year. Manning is set to receive a life sentence (leniency is an afterthought; a court-martial traditionally boasts a military judge and jury).

Wikileaks was set up as one of the most effectively democratic means of online activism. They’ve since shifted from a horizontal structure to a vertical hierarchy, with Assange sitting at the top. Minions like Manning will take on personal risk in delivering sensitive material to Assange. He will decide how and when it’s released, and will receive the majority of the credit for his service to democracy.

On the website there’s an option to “donate to the WikiLeaks and Julian Assange Defence Fund” which I take, and of course I can’t verify this, to be a fund directed solely at paying off Assange’s legal fees. The other issue is that Assange’s charges are predominantly linked with sex crimes (which, yes, could be a criminal conspiracy, but could just as easily be true, and the proliferation of his public image may just be his attempt at perpetuating the conspiracy theory).

I don’t like to direct personal attacks; especially toward someone who is a valuable piece of an organization that I support (if sometimes reluctantly). What I’m trying to clarify is that Assange’s role is essentially a communicator, and any significant leaks should be attributed to the person who took the personal risk (ie. Bradley Manning) and not the guy who passed on the information to everyone else.

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The US Military’s new plan to beat Wikileaks

The US Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has put together a new strategy in combating Wikileaks and other American and international hackers: decoy documents.

The ultimate plan is to plant tracking software within the misinformation that will lead the Department of Defense to hackers and their networks.

“We want to flood adversaries with information that’s bogus, but looks real,” says Salvatore Stolfo, the Columbia University computer science professor leading the project. “This will confound and misdirect them.”

The fake document will alert authorities of the hacker’s IP address and the date it was opened, making it a particular threat to insiders.

So this presents three major problems for organizations like Wikileaks:

1. If a hacker breaks through the sophisticated firewalls and into the database, there will be no certainty that the document is real.

2. Once he/she makes the decision to take that document, they could be leading authorities to their location, and the locations of other hackers.

3. If they release the document and it isn’t real, it will permanently damage the reputation of organizations like Wikileaks.

Julian Assange would be well advised to stop worrying about how his hair looks, and come to realize how small a piece he is in a revolutionary social movement that is constantly facing extinction.

Read more on Wired.

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Why Julian Assange’s Autobiography Sold Only 644 Copies

When Wikileaks was launched in 2006 it revolutionized the function and purpose of online activism (I can’t use the term ‘hacktivism’, not everything has to have a clever abbreviation).

They had all kinds of epic leaks and, most would argue, were a valuable service to democratic transparency.

But by putting a name and face on the organization, Julian Assange made the whole idea of Wikileaks so much less than what it’s supposed to be. This is an organization that had a mandate of anonymity, and then their director is suddenly on the cover of Time as Person of the Year.

If you’re familiar with the Wikileaks site you’ll also notice that these days the banner at the top has a picture of Assange. He’s looking some sort of part that doesn’t fit.

American publications have made such an effort to honour his courage that they’ve forgotten that the real danger in leaking information is on those who extract the information, not on those who release it. Assange further protected himself from whatever little danger he was in by soaking up publicity.

And this self-obsession isn’t what people want to read about. I haven’t read it yet for that reason, but I’m sure Assange was against its release because it may reveal who he really is, and it likely isn’t what people want him to be. It’s in this way I see him as so much less than a Tom Paine, and more like a Mark Zuckerberg. Either way, nobody seems to give a shit.

 

 

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