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Wikileaks and Anonymous Join Forces Against US Intelligence Community 268

pigrabbitbear writes "The most recent bombshell of confidential documents dropped by infamous watchdog organization Wikileaks is already looking to have an enormous impact on our understanding of government security practices. Specifically, intimate details on the long-suspected fact that the U.S. has been paying a whole lot of money to have private corporations spy on citizens, activists and other groups and individuals on their ever-expanding, McCarthy-style naughty list. But perhaps more importantly, the docs demonstrate something very interesting about the nature of U.S. government intelligence: They haven't really got much of it."
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Wikileaks and Anonymous Join Forces Against US Intelligence Community

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  • by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:17PM (#39203501)

    I don't know about you, but I trust them more than our politicians - truthfully. Says enough.

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:25PM (#39203547)

    I used to think of doctors as nearly infallible. Then I graduated college and realized that they, and every other human being on this planet, are just human beings. It amazes me that anything we, as a society, builds actually works. The problem with someone believing there are all these agencies out to get them is that they credit your fellow human beings too much. These agencies are not nearly as organized or capable as we give them credit for. You want to know how Rlatko Mladic, the Serbian war criminal, was caught? Some woman in the CIA asked one of his former associates, "so uh, you don't happen to know where he is, do you? I know your child is ill, and I could help get them into the States for medical treatment." That's not particularly high-tech, nor does it take much coordination, discipline, or creativity.

  • Re:Surprising? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dodgy G33za ( 1669772 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:25PM (#39203549)

    I have worked in government circles for years now, and by far the majority of people in public service are time servers whose focus is not their jobs, but rather their lives. The focus is far more on complying with policy than with outcomes, and delivering "something", whether or not that something ends up being of any use to anyone.

    Those is public service who are ambitious tend not to focus on the particular job at hand, but instead charting a path up the greasy pole.

    All in all the resemblance to a feudal court is uncanny. The peasants do the work under sufferance, the lords fight amongst each other, and any progress that is made is down to a few people with drive, or not at all.

    Actually come to think about it the private sector isn't THAT different, it is just that times have moved on and the Landed Gentry are quite happy to enact Acts of Enclosure and evict the peasants if sheep farming turns out more profitable with less headcount.

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:35PM (#39203595)

    Gossip and proven fact are very far from each other. Now that there is proof of the wrongdoings it's much harder to label them conspiracy theories.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:38PM (#39203613)

    Wikileaks doesn't go after any targets. People leak stuff which wikileaks then publishes. If they haven't published anything sensitive enough for you, then that means that people haven't leaked that information to them, not that they "go after soft targets".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:39PM (#39203617)

    Yep, big yawn-o-rama.

  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:58PM (#39203791)

    The fact that I can't believe we're equating Stratfor with the entire Intelligence Community aside...perhaps an examination of the Iraq WMD situation is in order.

    There is no truth. There is only perception. — Gustave Flaubert

    The motto of CIA's National Clandestine Service is the Latin Veritatem Cognoscere: Know the truth. It's no wonder that so many believe the function of intelligence services is to discover the "truth".

    Mark Lowenthal spends time explaining that intelligence is not about truth at all, but rather about arriving at some informed conclusion about reality, or possible future realities, neither of which can be considered strictly to be "truth".

    "Intelligence is not about truth. If something were known to be true, states would not need intelligence agencies to collect the information or analyze it. Truth is such an absolute term that it sets a standard that intelligence rarely would be able to achieve. It is better — and more accurate — to think of intelligence as proximate reality. Intelligence agencies face issues or questions and do their best to arrive at a firm understanding of what is going on. They can rarely be assured that even their best and most considered analysis is true. Their goals are intelligence products that are reliable, unbiased, and honest (that is, free from politicization). These are all laudable goals, yet they are still different from truth." (Lowenthal 2009)

    Perhaps the biggest issue with "truth" in intelligence work is the absolute nature of "truth". If it is an analyst's job to find the "truth", then any deviation from that analysis by actual events means that the analysis was a "lie".

    "Is intelligence truth-telling? One of the common descriptions of intelligence is that it is the job of 'telling truth to power'. (This sounds fairly noble, although it is important to recall that court jesters once had the same function.) Intelligence, however, is not about truth. (If something is known to be true then we do not need intelligence services to find it out.) Yet the image persists and carries with it some important ethical implications. If truth were the objective of intelligence, does that raise the stakes for analysis? [...] A problem with setting truth as a goal is that it has a relentless quality. [...if] an analyst's goal is to tell the truth — especially to those in power who might not want to hear it — then there is no room for compromise, no possible admission of alternative views." (Lowenthal 2009)

    This creates an environment where success is impossible, because discovering "truth" by every measure is a standard that can never be reached. It also discourages differing analytic viewpoints, each of which may be equally valid. Ultimately, someone needs to look at the available information and make a decision:

    "[T]he role of intelligence is not to tell the truth but to provide informed analysis to policy makers to aid their decision making." (Lowenthal 2009)

    The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths. — William James

    Clark (2010) takes a different approach, likening analysis to legal wrangling in a courtroom, where the truth is discovered by the back-and-forth of the adversarial process. Like truth itself, defining the barriers to finding it can be just as subjective. Clark highlights three important facets which must be ascertained before ultimately arriving at the "truth":

    Is it the truth? — Is the information in question a fact, or an opinion? Does it conflict with other information? Or does other information support the same conclusion? All-source analysis can help confirm information that is collected via one discipline, helping to establish a hypothesis as fact.

    Is it the whole truth? — The reliability of the source, whether technical or human, must be critically considered. Is the information incomplete? A lie of omission, or significant missing information, can erase whatever "truth" is being supp

  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:59PM (#39203793) Homepage

    What utter nonsense. The US government has been hiring "private" companies to do what they themselves are forbidden to do. Among other things, especially for spying on Americans.

  • by crow_t_robot ( 528562 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @07:59PM (#39203799)
    You, sir, are correct. That is why the US has "classified by aggregation" status for documents. The individual documents would not be classified individually, but when you combine them with others they end up becoming classified.
  • Newsflash (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crow_t_robot ( 528562 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @08:02PM (#39203829)
    Newsflash, dickbags:
    US intelligence services have ALWAYS been fucking awful. I don't care how many Jason Bourne movies you have watched, US intel has been shit since the day it started as the OSS. Please take the time to read the book, Legacy Of Ashes and you can begin to see what a clownshow US intelligence services have been for the past 60+ years.

  • by Radical Moderate ( 563286 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @08:03PM (#39203837)
    but rather lack of integrity. The US intelligence wouldn't give Cheney & friends an excuse to invade Iraq, so they created a new intel unit [] that somehow found all kinds of WMD-related intel...which, surprise, surprise, turned out to be bogus.
  • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @08:16PM (#39203919) Journal

    The three companies that made up 'Team Themis', the team planned to help Bank of America respond to a never-completed wikileaks dump of BoA data, by character-assassinating journalists and 'activists', were all govt contractors.

    Berico Technologies - owned by ex-military, run by ex-military, major customer = us government.

    Palantir Technologies - makes software to help aggregate data about people, us govt contractor

    HB Gary - this is the one that Anonymous hacked and dumped the data on. they were a us govt contractor, and they routinely spied on all kinds of groups.


    does that prove that the govt is paying companies to spy on citizens? no. its just that dozens of companies whose main purpose and expertise is to spy on people, and who are staffed by people who spent their entire military career spying on people, just so happen to be receiving billions and billions of dollars from the government to do various jobs that we are not allowed to know about, because of 'national security'.

    now, then, of course, there is the long relationship between the US govt and private companies, and spying, going back to World War I, and then later on the ITT corporation, Western Union, and so forth. Then there was AT&T in more recent years, as well as the major phone network companies, who agreed to cooperate with NSA without caring about the law, except for QWest.

    then there are the 'fusion centers'. should i go on?

  • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @08:49PM (#39204175)

    Because this article is silly.

    Let's leave aside the fact that the article's thesis is self-contradictory (either government is spying too much, or not enough), the simple fact is that the emails linked to have nothing to do with any government. They're work Stratfor did for Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. We know this because if you go to the link the to: addresses do not end in .gov. They are to,,,, and some Canadian website.

    Stratfor does intelligence for private companies and the government. This means that, while some of their work may have something to do with public policy, most of it doesn't. In this case it's pretty clear what happened:

    The CEO of Dow (which owns Union-Carbide), noticed the Yes-Men and said "somebody should keep an eye on them." His buddy/trusted subordinate said "What's the budget? I think I know a company?" And since then Stratfor has been raking in the dough for sitting on their asses browsing the website.

    There's no governmental violation of the Yes Men's privacy rights because the government isn't involved. There's no waste of public funds because no public funds are being spent.

    This kind of confusion is probably actually what WikiLeaks was looking for. They are too lazy to find actual government waste (and if it was easy to do so the pols in DC would have done it already, and then had a Press Conference crowing about it), so they find an organization that other lazy people will assume is part of the government, and release documents proving it's kind of silly. *poof* millions of people too lazy to click the link will assume Wikileaks has helped them ferret out government corruption.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire