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Censorship The Media Your Rights Online

Wikileaks Was Launched With Intercepts From Tor 157

Posted by kdawson
from the secrets-have-to-exit-somewhere dept.
The New Yorker is featuring a long and detailed profile of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. From this Wired's Threat Level pulls out one salient detail: that Wikileaks' initial scoop came from documents intercepted from Tor exit routers. The eavesdropping was pulled off by a Wikileaks activist — neither the New Yorker nor Wired knows who or even in what country he or she resides. "The siphoned documents, supposedly stolen by Chinese hackers or spies who were using the Tor network to transmit the data, were the basis for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's assertion in 2006 that his organization had already 'received over one million documents from 13 countries' before his site was launched ..." Update: 06/02 06:31 GMT by T : In reaction to the Wired story, and the New Yorker story on which it drew, Andrew Lewman of the Tor Project points to this explanation / reminder of what Tor's software actually does and does not do. Relevant to the claims reported above, it reads in part "We hear from the Wikileaks folks that the premise behind these news articles is actually false -- they didn't bootstrap Wikileaks by monitoring the Tor network. But that's not the point. The point is that users who want to be safe need to be encrypting their traffic, whether they're using Tor or not." This flat denial of the assertion that Wikileaks was bootstrapped with documents sniffed from the Tor network is repeated unambiguously in correspondence from Wikileaks volunteers.
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Wikileaks Was Launched With Intercepts From Tor

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  • Worry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cappp (1822388) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @09:20PM (#32426486)
    Personally reading the linked articles made me really, really uncomfortable. Obviously wiki-leaks as a site has its own particular biases and political goals, everyone does, but the way in which they went about gathering this payload fills me with a really agonising ambivalence.

    It really strikes to the heart of my feelings about wikileaks itself. Democracies require informed populations and accountability – they’re premised on the fundamental idea that the voting public makes choices based on more than partisan, or self, interest. For the most part, when considered on a population-wide basis, this tends to happen. For every insane extremist there is a balance on the opposite side of the political spectrum leaving those who cluster around the middle to chart a more reasonable course. That being said, moderation is not always the best of all options (only killing half of all people with foreign accents is hardly the ideal resolution to the war on terror) but it’s the best one we have. Wiki gives us a level of information we previously lacked.

    However, the fact that they were born out of some ethically questionable actions worries me. It makes me question the source of their information, its reliability, and its purpose to a far greater extent than previously. I am forced to wonder what their goal actually is, and worry that I’ve been naive in believing that they’re interested in mature and reasoned public discourse. Perhaps that’s an over-reaction. Does the idea of Fruit-from-a-poison-tree apply here?
  • Wikileaks funds? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @09:38PM (#32426632)

    If you want to see how even Wikileaks volunteers don't know how funds are used in their organization read the following link at Cryptome

    http://cryptome.org/0001/wikileaks-funds.htm

    Cryptome has also published a lot of Wikileaks founder's personal emails in which, like many of us at different points in time in our lives, he speaks of how broke he is. After founding Wikileaks, he told an Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald that he did not use a single cent from Wikileaks for funding his personal expenses, but he has substantial private investments. Where did the money come from?

    Cryptome has all the inside information about Wikileaks.

    I am a supporter of the site thought. Not of the shady founder. Wikileaks good.

  • Re:Worry (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:24PM (#32426984)

    Hard to see how we can talk about public reason when one side has information the other doesn't. In Soviet Russia much of the samizdat was of a purely factual nature, and by contradicting official reports delegitimized the government.

  • by linzeal (197905) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:38PM (#32427082) Homepage Journal
    The DMV has been given extraordinary powers since all these MADD sponsored mandatory DUI sentencing guidelines have begun to be expanded. My friend was arrested for suspicion of DUI in Oregon 2 years ago and was never charged but he still can't get it off his record.
  • Re:Worry (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cappp (1822388) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @10:39PM (#32427094)
    That's an interesting point, I'd not heard of Samizdat before. For anyone else who's out of the know - wikipedia defines it as

    Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader, thus building a foundation for the successful resistance of the 1980s

    . I guess what I'm trying to say is that WikiLeaks is straddling the gap between public interest and public concern in a way that is beginning to make me feel uncomfortable. Just me. Despite what the mods have deigned from on high I'm not trying to troll or anything like that. I am genuinly concerned that the project is grounded in what I consider to be ethically-suspect actions that potentially reflect an attitude to privacy, security, and mature discussion that I find distasteful.

    As to the accuracy, who knows what they're chosing not to show? That's a somewhat facicious point but there is an element of truth. If they're not above a little serrupticious information gathering then how can I trust that they're not also willing to make a few alterations here and there in what they chose to publisize. When they posted that video of military action the New Yorker ran an interesting piece at http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2010/04/truth-but-not-the-whole-truth.html [newyorker.com] which makes some compelling points about the video as presented:

    The producers themselves have chosen not to provide them. There appears to be a purpose to the omissions, which is underlined by the Orwell quote at the start, the prefatory explanation, the quotes and dedication at the end, even the way the helicopter crew’s cruel remarks are edited in a few places for effect. Although the producers identify the camera of the Reuters journalist who, along with his assistant, will be killed by Apache cannon fire, they don’t point to the AK-47 or the RPG launcher carried by other men with whom the journalists are walking in a group. Stripped of much context and weighted with commentary, this video is both an important document of the war, courageously leaked after the military had steadily refused to release it, and, in its way, a propaganda film.

    I'm concerned that we're trading one kind of spin for another.

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