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WikiLeaks 'a Clear and Present Danger,' Says WaPo 837

bedmison writes "In an op-ed in the Washington Post titled 'WikiLeaks must be stopped,' Marc A. Thiessen writes that 'WikiLeaks represents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States,' and that the US has the authority to arrest its spokesman, Julian Assange, even if it has to contravene international law to do so. Thiessen also suggests that the new USCYBERCOM be unleashed to destroy WikiLeaks as an internet presence." Reader praps tips an interview with another WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt, who says they have no regrets about releasing the Afghanistan documents, and says WikiLeaks is "changing the game." Several other readers have pointed out that WikiLeaks posted a mysterious, encrypted "insurance" file on Thursday, which sent the media into a speculative frenzy over what it could possibly contain.
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WikiLeaks 'a Clear and Present Danger,' Says WaPo

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  • And they should know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vm146j2 ( 233075 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:33PM (#33115232)

    They could only publish it if they were getting the acceptable, authorized leaks which told them so.

  • too late (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:35PM (#33115270)
    the cat is out of the bag, even if they killed wikileaks the information they posted is most likely on other people's computers already and it would be a trivial task to setup another server somewhere else with that same info or the very least seed some torrents of it all at various bittorrent sites.
  • by oh-dark-thirty ( 1648133 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:41PM (#33115354)
    One of the major complaints by the gov't was that some of the Afghan informers that were named will now be Taliban targets. Seems an easy way to flush out more Talibs...just set up surveillance on the informers, and wait for the rats to find their way to the cheese...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:45PM (#33115438)

    Therefore the entire article is suspect. (from a logical view point)

    While technically correct that wikileaks disseminates american classified information, it also disseminates any information that governments may want to keep secret. By saying that wikileaks targets the US is a factual misrepresentation, wikileaks doesn't target any country, they are just a clearing house where individuals can anonymously whistle blow.

    Of course the plethora of American information currently available could simply be an artifact of the mainly English based web, the massive amount of media attention that the broadcasters have put out, or a simple case of individuals with access to classified information feeling ethically obligated to bring injustice into the light.

    That being said it wouldn't surprise me terribly if the CIA and mossad came to a quiet agreement about what happens to the staff of wikileaks.

    And I want to know whats in the insurance file. Guaranteed the NSA has had that file bumped to the top of their decrypt list.

  • by Chicken_Kickers ( 1062164 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:45PM (#33115444)

    It is not Wikileaks that is the danger, it is the trigger happy US and allied military and the uncaring and arrogant US government that is jeopardising the safety and image of Americans to the world. To turn the oft repeated slogan on its head; "If you got nothing to hide, you should not fear Wikileaks". I am sick of hearing "political analysts" and politicians saying Wikileaks is endangering American soldiers because they expose atrocities committed by American soldiers, and as the flawed logic goes, emboldens the enemy. Seriously, this is something Goebbles or Stalin might say, not the leaders of the free world. Wikileaks is actually helping the US by creating negative consequences for excesses of its military. Instead of trying to silence Wikileaks by extra-legal, Gestapo/NKVD/Kempetai-like "rendering" of the founder (which will only worsen the US image), maybe the US should rein in their cowboy soldiers and walk the "spreading freedom and democracy" talk.

  • by oh-dark-thirty ( 1648133 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:47PM (#33115472)
    Nor was I taking a position on the morality of the leaks, just positing one way to make lemonade after the lemons fell off the truck.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:47PM (#33115486)

    The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel got the documents in advance. Washington Post didn't. I'm going to take a big leap and say that reporters of those newspapers might have a slightly more positive attitude towards WikiLeaks than other reporters, including WaPo (even though in theory they shouldn't).

  • by mdm-adph ( 1030332 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:48PM (#33115502)

    He he -- you're funny.

    One could argue that the reason why leaders like Fidel Castor and Kim Song Il aren't assassinated or gotten rid of in some way is because they help, indirectly, to give the Military Industrial Complex a reason to exist.

    But that would be just crazy, and I certainly wouldn't try and espouse it.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:49PM (#33115514) Journal

    According to The Register, there is a huge encrypted file [] up on wikileaks now, called 'insurance.' The US goes after wikileaks or Julian Assange, the key to that file goes out to the world. And according to Assange, everything dangerous was redacted out of the Afghanistan documents. Cryptome's John Young speculates that the 'insurance' file contains all the redacted bits.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @04:54PM (#33115596)

    if I'm an Afghan considering becoming an informer, that's sure going to make me think twice about it, especially if I have a family.

    Isn't the death rate already well over 100% due to them killing suspected informers whom aren't informers?

    Its very much like a slashdot story from earlier today, where elderly people should not be allowed to live near Chernobyl because they'll get cancer in 75 years from the radiation, which would be a real bummer if you make it to 160 years old and then living in Chernobyl back in the 00s kills you.

  • Re:too late (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Inzite ( 472846 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:01PM (#33115722)
    This is neither about putting the cat back into the bag nor about preventing future leaks. This is about responding by doing something , regardless of whether or not that something that must be done is justified, legal, pragmatic, ethical, or effective.

    Reacting has become the solitary goal of take some kind of action when their constituents feel threatened, regardless of whether that action is appropriate, or if there even exists any action whatsoever is appropriate.

    Cases in point:
    The TSA
    The War on Terrorism
    Warrantless Wiretapping
    The War on Drugs
    Felony Time for Personal Drug Use
    The Pledge of Allegiance
    The Witchhunt to Determine Who Killed Michael Jackson
    Laws Banning Assisted Suicide
    Censorship of (insert media here)
    Laws Against Flag Burning
    The RIAA
    The MPAA

    It's a tragedy of this fully-padded, 100% sterilized, risk-free, instant-gratification, 24/7-connected dreamworld that we are increasingly inhabiting that there has to be an immediate cure for every evil. People no longer accept that sometimes the best action is no action at all.
  • Re:I love it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dlsmith ( 993896 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:13PM (#33115882)

    On the other hand, if an American soldier dies because of our actual freedoms, such as freedom of speech, well, thats a clear and present danger, etc, etc, bs bs bs.

    Do you really believe this without qualification? That under no circumstances should the free flow of information be inhibited by the government, even if it means people will die?

    I think most people understand this to be a matter of degrees -- if you don't think WikiLeaks's releases are serious national security problems, then you would probably still at least agree that it would be possible for WikiLeaks to release information that *would* be a serious national security problem. And so the argument against Thiessen's article isn't that his line of reasoning is fundamentally wrong, but just about where you draw the line.

  • Re:I Do Not Love It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:14PM (#33115894)

    Two of the most recent wiki leaks (Collateral damage and Afghan War diary) are examples of not strategic information but examples of information that shows that the wrong things are done in the wrong places and in the wrong way.

    One of those tells us that the strategic efforts of the USA in the war were wrong in many ways; the other tells us that civilians were killed by a psycho that was imploring to kill civilians.

    I don’t see how this can be of any use to an “enemy” if this is just a report of things your enemy knows but you don't.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki.cox@net> on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:16PM (#33115944)

    WikiLeaks is in a great place for the press in that it allows WikiLeaks to be the source of scandalous documents; rather than actually being responsible for the leak itself.

    What this means is that they have a huge overarching story they can flog for quite awhile and not have to worry about retribution for running any given story. WikiLeaks is a total win-win for an ever more lazy media.

  • Re:I Do Not Love It (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mariushm ( 1022195 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#33116044)

    If they have my credit card information and details, it means somebody else who may not be "a good guy" may have the data, or the data may already be somewhere where there's little to no accountability.

    I'm already screwed, so by making things public I may be inconvenienced but it forces the banks to take measures in protecting the clients and some changes may happen that would improve the security of all people.

  • Re:Summary is Wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:29PM (#33116158)
    Not at all. They provide ongoing column space to a number of writers with wildly different viewpoints. Their regular Op-Ed writers hold wildly different views. As long as the Op-Ed writers don't go wildly out of line (unambiguous libel, unambiguous lies, unjustifiable profanity), most newspapers generally print it as is. No one on the WaPo editorial board is signing off on the content of these columns. It's the same at other newspapers too. Op-Ed columnists are signed to contracts and produce a regular column which is edited largely for spelling and grammar, not for content. The Post does publish editorials that represent the views of the Post's editorial staff, but those editorials don't have a byline. Personally, I think Thiessen (and to an even greater extent, Gerson) are intellectually bankrupt windbags, but some of the other conservative writers occasionally raise good points, or at least lay out a conservative argument in an intellectually sound manner, even if I frequently disagree with their conclusions. But those Op-Eds reflect solely on their authors; both credit and blame lay with the writer, not the Washington Post itself.
  • Re:I Do Not Love It (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stan Vassilev ( 939229 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:32PM (#33116204)

    I'm not implying that our current scenario is as cut and dried as World War II but how would you react if Wikileaks had been broadcasting over a magical radio station that blanketed the Earth the location of allied forces in 1942? Would you so callously respond that "maybe the Allies shouldn't be doing that in the first place?"

    The problem with that "if" you're constructing is that merely a diversion from a real discussion. Anyone could easily list a number of other historical "ifs" to sharply counteract yours. And by doing so both sides of the conversation would achieve absolutely nothing, beside cheap entertainment.

    We have the current situation in which WikiLeaks is acting, we see how they're acting, and we see how affected people and organisations are reacting to them, today, and in reality.

    If you want to say WikiLeaks has done wrong in reality then, of course, list your concrete factual points, and we may or may not agree with you. No "ifs", time machines and historical paradoxes required.

  • Re:too late (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:32PM (#33116214)

    It's all about playing the game. The insurance file might have something really interesting in it. Or it could be a bluff. If you're a member of the political/military/industrial complex, do you want to risk taking action against people who have a history of releasing sensitive information? If they're easy targets, why would they not? Let's change the parameters: What if they they have a dead man's switch, to release an encryption key in this case, to something that may (or may not) be even more sensitive?

    Yeah, that might change your mind, or influence your decision making. That's part of the predator mentality, and that's why smart hunters stalk prey least likely to resist.

  • Re:srsly govt? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:36PM (#33116264) Journal

    He isn't a US citizen, so, is he breaking any Australian laws by publishing US state secrets? If not, then publishing more state secrets is not a crime either. He has not made any statements about the contents or use of the 'insurance' file, so it would be hard to pin extortion on him.

  • Re:Summary is Wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NoOneInParticular ( 221808 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @05:54PM (#33116536)
    No, that is not the way Op Ed pieces work. The only thing you can conclude is that the paper decided that the opinion is worth to be expressed, be it because of the content or because of the messenger (both are important here). Do you really think that if there's a debate raging through the pages of the Post that there is an actual battle of opinions going on between the chief editor and himself?
  • Re:I love it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:08PM (#33117476)

    Wikileaks is a small group of people dealing with lots and lots of data. It's not surprising that they screwed up and released papers with personal info in them.

    Well, actually, they didn't released papers with personal info - Only Rupert Murdochs paper The Times/Fox media mouthpieces tried to make that shit stick - however the echo chamber [] that is the US mainstream media has tried (successfully I might add) to amplify this lame point despite there being not one single shred of evidence to back up the claim. Oh yeah, the one name that they do mention as already dead - died two years ago... but they fail to mention little facts like that, or tell you buried down on page 13 [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:21PM (#33117590)

    Whether or not that I like all that they do, I vote for my government. They get to decide on oversight, what's classified, what's not... I didn't elect that self important Swede. For crying out loud those documents contained the names of informants! Wikileaks has blood on its hands. Fuck your accountability. Heads will literally roll over this and we can no longer opperate in Afghanistan. Who will help the US now?

  • by shilly ( 142940 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:52PM (#33117888)

    Well now....the reason that people are relatively relaxed about Israel having 200 nukes and yet freaked out by the Iranians having just one is because Iran is run by a messianic fascist theocracy which really couldn't give a shit about killing several million people while Israel is a semi-secular rightwing democracy dedicated to keeping a few million people alive. So the cases aren't exactly parallel.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @08:44PM (#33118290) Homepage Journal

    The Washington Post was one of the chief cheerleaders in the rush to war in Iraq, in the determination to "stay the course", in the attacking of any discussion of any metrics towards or for withdrawal (like a timetable) as surrender.

    Since around 2007 and Iraq's government forcing the US to commit to the withdrawal timetable now nearing its 50,000 troops milestone, that editorial policy has been moot. It did its job. Now the WP can go ahead and act like it wasn't the cheerleader, because people's memories aren't that long, and its business is the current manipulations.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:29PM (#33119350)

    How would they grab him off the street? He's secured by multiple three-letter agencies who won't let him out of his sight. The pissed-off Taliban sympathizer has no chance to take their boy just like that.

    No need to grab him. Just kill him. He probably stupidly gave people a "if anything happens to me" clause. Terrorist/Russian Spy/Chinese Spy/NK Spy/E. coli kills him... encryption key released... Now everyone can see the dirty bits. He just put a big fat target on his head.

  • Re:Summary is Wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <william DOT chuang AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:22AM (#33119676) Homepage

    So is Slashdot responsible for your statements? Look at the blurb at the bottom of Slashdot. Dododododododo. Oh wait, you're zealot. That means you'll make something up on why it's different even though it isn't.

  • by hajus ( 990255 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:26AM (#33119702)

    The thing is, that one day, the AES-256 encryption will be cracked. Maybe tomorrow, or in 20 years, who knows. So the best the powers that don't want this information out can hope for, is time. But this file is out, and you can rest assured that whatever it contains will one day be known. If it's names for the informants in the afghan war, hopefully revenge won't be brought against them 10 years from now or to their kids. If it's Kennedy assassination information, well eventually we will know that instead.

  • by Ninja Programmer ( 145252 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:41AM (#33119790) Homepage

    There's one reason why this is a poor method of insurance. Suppose there's somebody out there with an even bigger axe to grind than Assange, who will stop at nothing to get the contents of this "insurance" file released. With over six billion people in the world, and a substantial number of them having a beef with the U.S., it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

    The implication here is that if something happens to Assange, then the key gets released. So, it logically follows that if you want the key to be released.......

    (For my own safety, I have no interest in the contents of that file. And while I personally think Julian Assange is a self-righteous ass, I don't wish physical harm on him or any of the other people involved with Wikileaks.)

    But you have not thought this all the way through. The US itself is a big enough entity that nobody's axe is bigger than theirs. Knowing that someone might want to force Assange to give up the key, its probably in the US's best interest to protect Assange.

  • My Deep Fear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pugugly ( 152978 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @01:48AM (#33120078)

    I look at all these relics of the Nixon administration that got us into this, and can't help but think . . . as much as I have to believe that Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in good faith, so much of their actions seems to me to indicate that they took that pardon as a validation of the kind of imperial presidency Nixon sought to create. "If he had been *wrong*, then why would Ford have pardoned him?" goes the rationalization in my mind.

    And I have to wonder, are we going to be dealing with these fools again in another 30 years. McCarthy begat Nixon, Nixon begat Cheney, Cheney begat . . . Yoo, Thiesen, Gonzales, Bush himself . . . another cabal of contemporaries determined to rewrite history after the fact, to show the world "No . . . we were *right* and we will prove it to you" again in thirty years.

    We can't keep having this "Well, politics is politics" attitude that pardons and covers for the crimes of an administration as Obama and the Media has done here. We need to make sure that the historical record is clear that these people are war criminals.

    Or we're going to go through this again in a generation.


Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl