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US Intelligence Planned To Destroy WikiLeaks 555

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the how's-that-working-out-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This document is a classified (SECRET/NOFORN), 32-page US counterintelligence investigation into WikiLeaks (PDF). 'The possibility that current employees or moles within DoD or elsewhere in the US government are providing sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out.' It concocts a plan to fatally marginalize the organization. Since WikiLeaks uses 'trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers or whistleblowers,' the report recommends 'The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Wikileaks.org Web site.' [As two years have passed since the date of the report, with no WikiLeaks' source exposed, it appears that this plan was ineffective.] As an odd justification for the plan, the report claims that 'Several foreign countries including China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have denounced or blocked access to the Wikileaks.org website.' The report provides further justification by enumerating embarrassing stories broken by WikiLeaks — US equipment expenditure in Iraq, probable US violations of the Chemical Warfare Convention Treaty in Iraq, the battle over the Iraqi town of Fallujah and human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay."
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US Intelligence Planned To Destroy WikiLeaks

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  • An easier plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@g m a i l .com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:02PM (#31483788)
    Wouldn't an easier plan to destroy the credibility of wikileaks be to overflow it with bogus leaks and fake whistleblowers, flooding them with misinformation?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:11PM (#31483904)

      Wouldn't an easier plan to destroy the credibility of wikileaks be to overflow it with bogus leaks and fake whistleblowers, flooding them with misinformation?

      Or at the very least, Slashdot it into oblivion?

    • Re:An easier plan (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cogitolv (821846) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:14PM (#31483952)
      Take a look at the doc itself, it seem to propose just that. "This raises the possibility that the Wikileaks.org Web site could be used to post fabricated information; to post misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda; or to conduct perception management and influence operations designed to convey a negative message to those who view or retrieve information from the Web site."
      • Re:An easier plan (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dgatwood (11270) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:17PM (#31484014) Journal

        Message to our government: why do you need privacy if you have nothing to hide?

        I mean, they use that B.S. line on us all the time. I think it's time we turned the tables and started using it back.

        • Re:An easier plan (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jayme0227 (1558821) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:25PM (#31484130) Journal

          Message to dgatwood: The government has plenty to hide. I'm sure that there are plenty of things that some people in our government know that should not be known by many (most, if not all) people outside of some agencies. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there aren't things that should be disclosed, the government is run by people, people seek power, power corrupts and all that, but there are definitely reasons that the government SHOULD have some secrets.

          • Re:An easier plan (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:30PM (#31484208)

            Just as there are definitely reasons that individuals SHOULD have some secrets.

          • Re:An easier plan (Score:5, Insightful)

            by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:37PM (#31484310) Journal

            Message to jayme: The individuals that make up "the people" have plenty to hide. I'm sure that there are plenty of things that some individuals know that should not be known by by the general populace, or more importantly the corrupt leaders at the top. Therefore:

            Stop tracking my cellphone.
            Stop monitoring my PC or net connection.
            Stop entering my home wtihout warrant, or peering inside with external cameras.
            Stop subjecting my to groinal patdowns when I enter an airport or train terminal.
            Stop taking my blood so you can trace or identify me (see GATTACA for why that's a bad idea).

            I want my liberty not harassment; nor serfdom to the noble class (US congress/EU parliament).

          • Re:An easier plan (Score:5, Informative)

            by nextekcarl (1402899) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:43PM (#31484416)

            And just as there are some things that the government should NOT be allowed to keep secret, for example the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment [infoplease.com].

          • Re:An easier plan (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:46PM (#31484464)

            Message to dgatwood: The government has plenty to hide. I'm sure that there are plenty of things that some people in our government know that should not be known by many (most, if not all) people outside of some agencies. . . but there are definitely reasons that the government SHOULD have some secrets.

            dgatwood was being ironic. The "if you have nothing to hide . . ." line we get from the government and others is disingenuous.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:50PM (#31484538)

            Message to jayme0227: You, sir, are an asshat. Those of us who are not asshats realized that dgatwood knows that the government has things to hide. Why on earth would you assume that private citizens do not? That was sort of his point.

            Message to the rest of Slashdot: Sorry to ruin the joke by explaining it to death.

            Message to self: Enough with the "Message to $name:" crap. It really wasn't funny the first time and now it's just getting annoying.

          • Re:An easier plan (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:55PM (#31484618)

            I guess the plan wasn't to actually get the gov't to unhide everything, but to stop them from using the "has nothing to hide" rhetoric everytimes they try another assault on privacy. Basically use the statement against the government, and when they request people to give up their privacy, reuse their answer (and make it obvious that it was _their_ answer to begin with)

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Odinson (4523)
            "Message to dgatwood: The government has plenty to hide. I'm sure that there are plenty of things that some people in our government know that should not be known by many (most, if not all) people outside of some agencies. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there aren't things that should be disclosed, the government is run by people, people seek power, power corrupts and all that, but there are definitely reasons that the government SHOULD have some secrets."

            That why it's not just a an anonymous BBS

    • Re:An easier plan (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Moof (859402) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:15PM (#31483980)
      I think it would actually reinforce credibility if a government officially tried to discredit a site dedicated to exposing what's going on behind closed doors in the government...
    • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:33PM (#31484258)

      Wouldn't an easier plan to destroy the credibility of wikileaks be to overflow it with bogus leaks and fake whistleblowers, flooding them with misinformation?

      Yeah, like posting a fake document outlining the governments secret plans to discredit wikileaks.org. That would be the kind of thing that those rubes would eat right up.

    • Re:An easier plan (Score:4, Informative)

      by sjames (1099) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:56PM (#31484646) Homepage

      The best plan would be to embrace Wikileaks as a valuable informant so that the bad guys could be rooted out of government, but of course that option won't even be considered. (Now, what might that say about the ones doing the considering....)

  • Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dropadrop (1057046) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:02PM (#31483792)
    Sounds like a great idea. If China, North Korea and Russia have already showed a good example I think the US should definitely follow their example.
  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Al's Hat (1765456)

    I wonder why the government is worried about them...

    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:06PM (#31483848) Homepage

      The "If you have nothing to hide..." argument, while fallacious when applied to individuals, actually works for government.

      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

        by s0litaire (1205168) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:08PM (#31483872)
        "If you have nothing to hide..."
        ...Then you're doing it wrong...
      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:12PM (#31483914)

        Primarily because the only way for a government to work is if it is accountable to its electors - and they only way to hold an organization accountable is to make it transparent. I'm not accountable to my neighbor for what I'm doing in my office, but my representatives are sure as hell accountable to me for what they're doing in their offices.

  • "China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have denounced or blocked access to the Wikileaks.org"

    To me, this means we should be helping them & not trying to destroy them.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:03PM (#31483810)

    When a government serves its own purposes it cannot serve its citizens.

    The war that began in the 60s has finally come to an end, and it looks like all the players switched sides. These 200 odd years were certainly a nice time.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:23PM (#31484092) Journal

      When a government serves its own purposes it cannot serve its citizens.

      I think that's a false dichotomy. Similar to your subject line.

      Look at China. It's own purposes overlap the needs of its people. It needs to artificially manipulate the value of its money for many reasons. Some for its own purposes, some for the betterment of some of the citizens. Now look at China again for your subject line. Yeah, absolute freedom is impossible with a tyrant running the country. And your likely to have more freedom in a republic. But you never have absolute freedom anyway in a group larger than one.

      I would rephrase your subject to read "Tyranny Often Finds Freedom Annoying" and since tyrants have complete control by definition, they often just get rid of the freedoms. And then there would be a revolution or something ... so historically there have been very clever tyrants to embrace the big freedoms and squash the tiny ones that matter to them. And that, in my opinion, is what China is doing. They don't hate freedom and I find personifying things like tyranny, terror and information saying that they hate, love or want is very detrimental to arguments.

      The war that began in the 60s has finally come to an end, and it looks like all the players switched sides.

      It's great purple prose but it's kind of erroneous. That's a great one liner there but I would have preferred a lengthy paragraph on COINELPRO [wikipedia.org] in today's contexts.

      These 200 odd years were certainly a nice time.

      And cut the goddamn fake apathy for crying out loud. Man up and speak about it to your friends and family ...

  • first? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bugi (8479)

    Surely, that would run counter to the US first amendment? What's happened to respect for the First that would let such a plan get beyond any US official's fantasies of power?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      To the best of my knowledge, to get a position dealing with secrets, you sign a paper saying you won't reveal the secrets.

    • The First Amendment does not apply to classified information, and for good reason. The government does not classify documents simply to hide information from the general populace; it truly is a matter of life or death in many circumstances.

      Abusing one's security clearance can result in severe penalties.

      I, for one, cannot read the document, as I no longer hold a clearance, and am legally obligated not to read or download it.
      • "it truly is a matter of life or death in many circumstances. "

        Yes, the government's life or death. The government keeps secrets so we don't string them up by their fucking necks.

        That's about to happen anyways. Civil war is brewing in the USA and it's about to come to a head. Silent meetings, etc. about 50 million people are about to rise up and end this bullshit once and for all.

        Thank god the US Military is only about 1.7 million people and a fair majority of the type of citizens that would fight the government far outnumber those, almost 40:1.

  • never implemented? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cenobyte40k (831687) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:11PM (#31483908)
    "As two years have passed since the date of the report, with no WikiLeaks' source exposed, it appears that this plan was ineffective" Or much more likely never implemented. There are hundreds of people paid to come up with ideas for fixing solutions in just about every govt org. By design these ideas are suppose to be a free thinking as possible while staying within the guidelines of the problem. In this case someone came up with an idea to deal with the leak problem by destroying the org that posted the leaks. This could have been a very potent fix, but also brought out the possibility of blow-back (public outcry, legal action, extra exposure of data, etc) as well as just pushing the problem off to another newer site that is even harder to deal with (Like shutting down Napster or Kazaa). It seems to me there is a good chance that they choose not to directly attack WikiLeaks and instead worked on keeping data from getting out to begin with (Can't get the data that's out back, so just keep them from getting more).
  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:14PM (#31483948) Homepage Journal

    Sorry to criticise people who are clearly on our side. The Wikileaks folk are great, and the job they were doing was great, and it will be great again when they start back up...

    ...but it was not a good idea for them to take all the leaked documents offline without notice in order to show their value so that people will donate. It was last year, probably December, and everything's still offline :-(

    For one example, they published the only (at the time) big ACTA leak. (There's since been a bigger one, hosted elsewhere [swpat.org]) Everyone was pointing to them, and they took their copy offline. To my amazement, no one had a back up, so us anti-ACTA campaigners simply lost the only leaked draft.

    At the implementation level, it was a bad idea to simply cause all pages to give error 404 [wikileaks.org]. A page of "We need donations, we'll be back up when we get them" would have been better.

    Lesson: take backups of important docs, even ones published by groups of good people.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:05PM (#31484826)

      They are demanding a budget significantly larger than Wikipedia's was just a few years ago... for a site that gets 1/1000th of the traffic. They could never hope to fight the legal battles directly with any amount of money, the only solution for materials with serious legal force behind them will be freenet.

      Meanwhile, Cryptome trucks on as they have since damn near the beginning of the internet. They'll send you a DVD set of their content for _free_ if you ask.

  • Be aware... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <[ten.00mrebu] [ta] [todhsals]> on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:15PM (#31483968) Homepage Journal

    This information is marked SECRET and NOFORN (i.e. not for export or foreign eyes); simply accessing it without a security clearance may be committing a crime against national security.

    Whether or not the US government will end up with a log of IP addresses that have downloaded it is a judgment for the reader.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Ender (156273)

      The US government has taps on all internet backbones. Even if you go through a proxy, they will be able to identify your IP address if you access such information.

      If the WikiLeaks had branded itself as a just whistle-blower site, it would have a chance at surviving. As is, its operators are certain to see jail eventually.

    • Re:Be aware... (Score:4, Informative)

      by 1729 (581437) <slashdot1729@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:36PM (#31484298)

      This information is marked SECRET and NOFORN (i.e. not for export or foreign eyes); simply accessing it without a security clearance may be committing a crime against national security.

      If you don't have a security clearance, then you don't have any obligation regarding classified information, and you don't even need to understand whether you are authorized to view a SECRET/NOFORN document.

      The burden of protecting and properly handling classified information belongs to those with a clearance.

      • Wrong... (Score:5, Informative)

        by MikeRT (947531) on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:18PM (#31485020) Homepage

        If you don't have a security clearance, then you don't have any obligation regarding classified information

        Only on slashdot would a statement so legally invalid as this be considered "informative."

        • Re:Wrong... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by 1729 (581437) <slashdot1729@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @02:46PM (#31485442)

          If you don't have a security clearance, then you don't have any obligation regarding classified information

          Only on slashdot would a statement so legally invalid as this be considered "informative."

          Okay, then, what obligation does an uncleared(*) individual have?

          (*) By uncleared, I mean someone who has never had a clearance. Once you've had a clearance, you're forever obligated to protect the classified information to which you had access, even if your clearance is no longer active.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Late Adopter (1492849)
          You're talking about prior restraint. The Supreme Court has had a fairly consistent view against it, even specifically regarding claims of "national security" [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stewbacca (1033764)

      You've got it backwards. It is not a crime to see a classified document if you aren't cleared for that level of classification. It is a crime to show somebody a classified document who isn't cleared to see it, however.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:21PM (#31484070) Homepage

    Far more likely that it was never implemented.

  • by GTarrant (726871) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:23PM (#31484102)
    One would note that most of the time, the things that governments fight so hard to keep secret are things that aren't so much of national security interest but rather things that are embarrassing or things they're keeping secret not because of the enemy but because their own citizens might be upset if they knew. Wikileaks has shown many useful things, from drafts of ACTA, to the spying on citizens in violation of any numbers of laws, hypocritical actions by governments all over the world, and clear violations of treaties. In fact, very little of what Wikileaks posts is "top secret national security information" from almost any country - they're often things that governments want to suppress because they don't want to face reprisal from their own citizens for undertaking them, or are trying to hide actions they undertake that they know are otherwise illegal - not because they're afraid some other country is going to use that information against them.

    Consider this - decades ago the US Supreme Court affirmed the State Secrets Doctrine, allowing the government to argue that trying a court case would reveal national secrets (and that the case must therefore be dropped without a hearing), because the government argued that revealing information about what was I think a plane crash would hurt national security. Decades later, when the files were unclassified, it turns out that there were no real secrets involved, certainly none that would have been revealed in a trial - the government was simply trying to hide the fact that there was government negligence involved. They wanted to avoid embarrassing themselves, not protecting secrets. Remember that next time the US Government invokes the doctrine (which they do with ever-increasing frequency).
  • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:28PM (#31484166) Journal

    So I read the pdf which appeared to me as a risk assessment of Wikileaks.org. It basically concluded that Wikileaks is or can be used as a threat to US military. But it said almost nothing about "destroying" Wikileaks.

    Remember, you don't have to destroy a threat right now. Use it or lose it.

    And /. editors should learn from the US military on how to choose a good title for news items. Duh.

  • by ghostis (165022) on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:34PM (#31484262) Homepage

    This leak feels like the ones Apple's secret police use. Since it's particularly inflammatory, I wonder if they only gave specific people access to it to track down who was doing the leaking...

  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Monday March 15, 2010 @01:48PM (#31484506) Homepage
    I read through some of the PDF file. Nothing new there, just the usual "if someone tells of the uber-sekret stuff we're doing, the bad guys might get us" type of information.

    However, one thing caught my attention on the 4th page: "The Wikileaks.org Web site could be used to post fabricated information,
    misinformation, disinformation, or propaganda and could be used in perception
    management and influence operations to convey a positive or negative message to
    specific target audiences that view or retrieve information from the Web site."

    Um, you mean like, Fox News? http://www.foxnews.com/

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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