Archive for Sunday, August 8, 2010

Not much can be done to stop WikiLeaks

August 8, 2010

Advertisement

— An online whistle-blower’s threat to release more classified Pentagon and State Department documents is raising difficult questions of what the government can or would do, legally, technically or even militarily to stop it.

Constrained by the global reach of the Internet, sophisticated encryption software and the domestic legal system, the answer seems to be: Not much.

But if the U.S. government believes that the release of classified documents WikiLeaks is preparing to disclose will threaten national security or put lives at risk, cyber and legal experts say the options could expand to include cyber strikes to take down the WikiLeaks website and destroy its files or covert operations to steal or disable the files.

At the center of the drama was the posting last week of a massive 1.4 gigabyte mystery file named “Insurance” on the WikiLeaks website.

The “Insurance” file is encrypted, nearly impossible to open until WikiLeaks provides the passwords. But experts suggest that if anyone can crack it — it would be the National Security Agency.

That file, coupled with WikiLeaks’ release of more than 77,000 secret military documents last month, prompted the Pentagon to demand that the website’s editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, cancel any new document dumps and pull back the Afghan war data he already posted.

WikiLeaks slammed the demand as an obnoxious threat, and Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell declined to detail what, if any, actions the Defense Department may be ready to take.

Few people involved, for the Pentagon and other agencies, would talk openly about what the Pentagon or the clandestine NSA could or would do to stop the expected document dump. It is not even clear if U.S. officials actually know what WikiLeaks has.

Officials say the data may also include up to 15,000 military documents related to the Afghanistan war that were not made public in the initial release.

Daniel Schmitt, a WikiLeaks spokesman in Berlin, said Saturday the new batch of classified documents the website is preparing to release will contribute to the public’s understanding of the war.

“Hopefully with this understanding, public scrutiny will then influence governments to develop better politics,” he told said.

Schmitt denied that the disclosure of the documents is a threat to U.S. security interests.

Assuming the documents contain highly sensitive information that threatens national security, the U.S. must weigh a number of options, experts say.

First, from a legal standpoint, there is probably little the U.S. government can do to stop WikiLeaks from posting the files.

It is against federal law to knowingly and willfully disclose or transmit classified information. But Assange, an Australian who has no permanent address and travels frequently, is not a U.S. citizen.

Since Assange is a foreign citizen living in a foreign country, it’s not clear that U.S. law would apply, said Marc Zwillinger, a Washington lawyer and former federal cyber crimes prosecutor. He said prosecutors would have to figure out what crime to charge Assange with, and then face the daunting task of trying to indict him or persuade other authorities to extradite him.

It would be equally difficult, Zwillinger said, to effectively use an injunction to prevent access to the data.

“Could the U.S. get an injunction to force U.S. Internet providers to block traffic to and from WikiLeaks such that people couldn’t access the website?” Zwillinger said. “It’s an irrelevant question. There would be thousands of paths to get to it. So it wouldn’t really stop people from getting to the site. They would be pushing the legal envelope without any real benefit.”

Comments

Liberty_One 4 years, 9 months ago

Good! We need more of this. If you haven't visited the website you should and read some of the crap your government is up to. The fact that the government is so worried about this site shows how credible it is.

AnonAmerican 4 years, 8 months ago

No, they're worried because thousands of names (informants, operatives, etc.) will be released to the public. If the public can access it so can the many enemies we have. Then guess what? Your neighbors, relatives, maybe friends, and acquaintances who you might not know or realize that are involved in the Afghan war will die. If that doesn't make it clear enough, let me rephrase. Those men, women, children of those men and women will all be killed, yes as in dead on the ground with a pool of blood. Maybe you don't care because the government is "evil" and deserves this for alleged "war crimes", but that justifies the lives that are now in jeopardy. So much for being better than your who or what you hate most. Oh and the government is lying to me right? How do you know you have the truth? How do you know you're not being lied to? Oh because the people on CNN or whatever media you pay attention to can't lie right? Because they're the "news" right? Not everyone is perfect and whatever wrongdoings that have been done are done and do not represent the whole, but I guess there won't be justice unless we endanger the lives of the people by violating PERSONAL SECURITY and OPERATIONAL (Mission) SECURITY. Hmmm, yes, that would probably satisfy you. Reporting is one thing, releasing classified data is another. How would you feel if someone were to release your information out in the public? Who you are, what you've done, where you've been, where you live, etc. How about your family's info? So you and Wikileaks must know this "crap" that my government is up to because you've been there right? You've taken small arms fire and lived through it right? Your name Liberty_One, do you know the price of liberty? It's paid for by the very blood of men and women who's selfless desire to give liberty to all. And I write this not with a love of my government, but a love of my country and the very people who fight for it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.