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Pentagon Seeking Out Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange 628

Posted by timothy
from the just-a-few-words dept.
clustro writes "The Pentagon is desperately seeking the 'cooperation' of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in order to stop him from releasing over 250,000 pages of confidential foreign policy documents. The documents were allegedly provided to Assange by Bradley Manning, the same solider who leaked a video showing a US Army helicopter killing unarmed civilians and international press correspondents."
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Pentagon Seeking Out Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange

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  • by linzeal (197905) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:10AM (#32546700) Homepage Journal
    He reportedly will seek asylum in Kenya or Iceland [youtube.com] if he is worried he might need protection. Iceland currently has some of the most liberal laws regarding whistleblowers and offers significant protection to them like many of the other Scandinavian countries. You know how we always portray the Minnesotans as honest nice folk, well this is where they get it from.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:11AM (#32546712)

    treason (plural treasons)
    noun
    Definition:
    1. betrayal of country: a violation of the allegiance owed by somebody to his or her own country, e.g. by aiding an enemy.
    2. treachery: betrayal or disloyalty
    3. act of betrayal: an act of betrayal or disloyalty

  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:11AM (#32546714) Homepage Journal

    Ever hear of the Pentagon Papers?
    Classification is supposed to be used to protect the American people, not protect criminals in office, or protect certain classes' privileges, or protect certain corporations' contracts, or to DECEIVE the American public.

    If you are privy to misuse of the law in such a way or of such abuses, it's the patriotic and moral thing to do to expose them.

    We don't know (yet) what this information is, but breaking the law is sometimes justified if the law is unjust or is being used to protect uinjust actions.

    The person taking such action, choosing to break a law they see as wrong faces the consequences knowingly. History will judge whether they were right or wrong.

    And in general we should be uncomfortable with the idea of our government deciding that we don;t have a right to know what its doing - pretty much goes against the ideas behind the founding of this country and is abhorrent to anyone not having an authoritarian mindset.

    Somehow I'm sure our country and citizens will manage to survive the release of this information that the government feels it must protect us from.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:14AM (#32546740)

    Did you bother watching the video?! THe guy did NOT have a ROCKET LAUNCHER. It was a god damn camera with super long lens. (I am not trying to be funny, that's what really happened)

  • by jdpars (1480913) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:18AM (#32546768)
    Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted. Constitution > Webster
  • by cappp (1822388) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:41AM (#32546930)
    The Wired article http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/state-department-anxious/ [wired.com] provides a little more detail.

    The things that stood out to me:

    According to the Daily Beast, Manning apparently had “special access to cables prepared by diplomats and State Department officials throughout the Middle East regarding the workings of Arab governments and their leaders.” The cables date back several years and traversed interagency computer networks that are available to the Army. They contain information about U.S. diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones, the diplomat said.

    In chats with Lamo that Wired.com has examined, Manning said he had access to two classified networks from two separate secured laptops: SIPRnet, the Secret-level network used by the Department of Defense and the State Department, and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System which serves both agencies at the Top Secret/SCI level. The networks, he said, were both “air-gapped” from unclassified networks, but the environment at the base made it easy to smuggle data out. “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like ‘Lady Gaga,’ erase the music then write a compressed split file,” he wrote. “No one suspected a thing and, odds are, they never will.” “listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history,” he added later. ”Weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counterintelligence, inattentive signal analysis a perfect storm.” Regarding the State Department cables specifically, Manning told Lamo, “State dept fucked itself. Placed volumes and volumes of information in a single spot, with no security.”

    Manning described personal issues that got him into trouble with his superiors and left him socially isolated. He said he had been demoted after he punched a colleague in the face during an argument, and was reassigned to a job in a supply office pending early discharge. He also told Lamo, “I’m restricted to SIPR now, because of the discharge proceedings.”

    But in his chats with Lamo, Manning told the ex-hacker that all traces of evidence had been deleted from his work computers as part of the troop-withdrawal procedures that have started in Iraq. “I had two computers. One connected to SIPRnet the other to JWICS,” he wrote. “They’ve been zero-filled. Because of the pullout, evidence was destroyed by the system itself.” He also told Lamo that network security monitoring and logging was ineffective or nonexistent. “There’s god-awful accountability of IP addresses,” he wrote. “The network was upgraded, and patched up so many times, and systems would go down, logs would be lost. And when moved or upgraded, hard drives were zeroed. It’s impossible to trace much on these field networks."

  • MOD PARENT WRONG (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @02:06AM (#32547092)

    I watched the whole video. It doesn't mention wikileaks, the wikileaks founder, or anything surrounding this case at all. The video is about an entirely different leak (of which almost no details are given), and Obama doesn't even threaten to arrest that guy.

  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @03:03AM (#32547366)

    Er, this was thoroughly explained at the time of the original article - his passport was 'confiscated' because it was old and damaged and wouldn't pass through the bloody readers. It was returned 15 minutes later, and he was informed THAT passport would need to be cancelled. That is, he'd have to go to the post office at some point and request a new one. NOT that his right to a passport had been removed altogether.

    No conspiracy there, just customs informing him his old and tattered passport needed replacing. Happens all the time to regular travelers.

  • by Protoslo (752870) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @04:15AM (#32547700)
    First of all, I think that people do need a video to realize that war, and in particular the Iraq war, is tragic and disturbing. It's one thing to hear that lots of civilians are mistakenly killed in the course of our military occupations, it's another thing altogether to see some of the exact circumstances in which that occurs.

    Do you recall the story that broke soon after the video, regarding a house that special forces stormed on bad intel, in which various people were killed, including two women that the soldiers apparently arranged deceptively so that they could claim in their report that they were previously killed in an "honor killing?" The incident that the commanding general of SOCOM had to fork over a wad of cash and apologize for? If there had been a video of that, with black-clad soldiers going "Oh shit! I think these people were just civilians!" and then digging out their rounds from the bodies, tying them up, artfully arranging them, and discussing their cover story, how do you think that would have gone over? Instead of everyone forgetting in a few weeks, we'd still be watching the congressional hearings on CSPAN.

    Regarding the guncam video, do you find the destruction of the van, and the attack on the building with missiles while apparent bystanders walk by to be equally unavoidable as the deaths of the journalists? I am a little surprised that the video didn't at least make you wonder at all about the wisdom of the RoE they were operating under. You don't have to demonize the pilots and gunners personally to find fault in the incident. The military's reports found that the crewmen did make the right call in every case, and summarily declared all 20+ men killed in the various attacks "AIF" (Anti-Iraq Forces), so you can't write everything off as a tragic mistake; it was tragic official policy.

    Even if all of these things are rendered "unavoidable" by our political need for near-airtight force protection (like the dozens of unarmed civilians killed at Afghan road checkpoints), many people are not aware that they occur. If everyone knew exactly what went on in Iraq and Afghanistan, they might not support the military missions there (or future hypothetical invasions) so much; war reporting certainly had that effect during Vietnam. If no one ever gets outraged, what motivation is there to avoid these entanglements, or even to try harder to avoid civilian casualties in the conflicts we are already fighting?

    I can only imagine that all the random milita members on the streets with rifles and RPGs that day didn't realize that the helicopters ~1km away were or could be targeting them. I agree that the Reuters stringers took a foolish risk, and that the initial incident is not indefensible. Maybe "AIF" ambushes are always that ridiculously nonchalant. Everything that happens afterward, though...

    Also keep in mind that the only reason anyone (any American) ever cared about this incident was that it was subsequently discovered that two of the "AIF" were Reuters stringers. Imagine how many incidents there must have been where people who didn't work for a major Western news organization were creatively classified as insurgents. I'm sure that some of them weren't pointing giant telephoto lenses at the Bradley convoy down the block, and would be harder to blame for their own demises.
  • by KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @05:34AM (#32548028)

    With the last decade of torture and other war crimes, I wouldn't trust the Pentagon further than I could throw it.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @08:09AM (#32548650)
    My security engineering textbook actually has a chapter on nuclear launch codes and how that system was designed. You could, in the absence of all other security mechanisms, simply brute force the codes, since they are of deliberately limited length; the military did some research and discovered that when people are under stress (which is likely if they are being asked to arm a nuclear weapon), they can only accurately enter a certain number of digits even if those digits are being read to them.

    In my opinion, though, the most interested detail is the motivation for nuclear launch codes. As you pointed out, there should be (and there is) some physical security measure in place to ensure that some random guy does not launch a nuclear missile. The purpose of the arming codes is not to prevent Joe Schmoe from starting World War 3, but to prevent the soldiers themselves from doing so without authorization. Prior to the Kennedy administration, nuclear bombs were armed when they were deployed (dropped from an airplane), and the only measure in place to prevent a pilot from doing so without orders was a single soldier standing near the plane, who was supposed to shoot the pilot in such a situation -- but the commander might issue the order to strike without authorization.

    As for the codes being leaked...that was considered as well. The codes change frequently, some change daily (i.e. the codes that the president carries -- there are other codes, like maintenance codes), so even a leak would have a low potential for causing a problem (a pair of rogue soldiers hell bent on launching a nuke would have to get the authorization codes on the same day they are leaked).

    Really, people bring up nuclear secrets (and for some reason, launch codes) whenever they want you to abandon all logical thought and stop questioning the need for broad secrecy. A lot of things that people think are secret really are not secret, or are things that were once secret but are not anymore: it used to be the case that anything related to nuclear weapons, even chemical data about the fuel, was automatically classified, but that policy was relaxed somewhat. Sure, there are things that are secret and that are better kept secret, like the locations and planned movements of US military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the identities of spies in foreign countries, but there is a limit and things are supposed to be declassified after a certain amount of time, with certain rare exceptions.
  • Re:This guy Manning (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nimey (114278) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:29AM (#32549022) Homepage Journal

    If you score high enough on the ASVAB test (IIRC 90th percentile & above), recruiters are apt to push you into Intelligence. That's what the recruiter who reviewed my test scores in high school said.

    Assuming he enlisted right out of high school, he could have been assigned to an intelligence unit (or assigned intelligence duties in a line unit) for approx. four years, which is plenty of time to get enough experience to be a "specialist".

  • by siddesu (698447) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:37AM (#32549066)

    And Hitler was elected in democratic elections as well.

    No, he wasn't, stop spreading that BS please. Hitler was appointed by Hindenburg, then engineered the Reichstag fire, then enacted draconian laws on grounds of security, used that to rig the next election, which still didn't bring him majority. He then forced Hindenburg out, forced the new Reichstag into giving him legislative powers, effectively suspended the constitution, and then proceeded on to murder his opposition in and outside of his party, and, finally, using the "emergency" legislative powers to declare himself a Furher. Or somesuch. But he was never elected at any point of his national political career by a majority.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @09:50AM (#32549162)

    That is the wrong question. According to the Geneva Convention, the question is, "How did those helicopter pilots know that none of those people were civilians?"

  • by knightsirius (1617607) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @12:58PM (#32550586)
    This brings to mind a classic quote from the 1980s BBC series 'Yes Minister': "The Government Official Secrets Act is not there to protect Government Secrets, but Government Officials"
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @01:15PM (#32550774) Homepage Journal

    No, you don't - but it helps when you know what you're talking about.

    If you have never stood at the wrong end of a gun, it's near impossible to imagine being there for days, weeks, or even months.

    Personally, I've only spent several hours of my life standing at the wrong ends of lethal weapons. I don't consider myself qualified to judge the actions taken by front line soldiers, day in and day out. But, at least I have a few clues about what they are going through.

  • Re:This guy Manning (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 12, 2010 @02:25PM (#32551318)

    I'm not in the military, only acquainted with one person who is, pretty much guessing about all this, and mostly writing this for those who scored this "Insigtful" instead of "Funny"...

    "Specialist" is a class of ranks above private -- it means you've had some kind of "special" training (i.e. took a class on how radio frequencies bounce around inside a cave, or something) on a particular track beyond the Basic Training, which everyone gets. In this case, the guy had some "special" training on how to grab 260k documents he wasn't supposed to, and hand them over to the public. :-)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specialist_(rank)

  • by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Saturday June 12, 2010 @03:37PM (#32551806) Journal
    Point of clarification: They didn't know there were kids inside the vehicle before they fired. They only knew after the kids were pulled out by the troops, and were notified as such. Now, the "It's their own fault for bringing kids into a war zone" line was said, but only after the kids were pulled out, and well before it was known that the people on the ground were innocent civilians. I watched the HQ video myself, and the "kids" were pixels. I was inches away from my screen, staring at the paused video, and they were pixels. Same for the "rocket launcher". On the helicopter, he's got a smaller screen, he can't pause the action, and he's always moving. It is a case of failing to identify, yes, but it wasn't the shooter's fault. He saw a bunch of guys that looked like they were threatening his buddies, he requested permission to fire, and he got it. If you saw a guy pointing a gun at your friend, what would you do?

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

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