Posts tagged Wikileaks
Here are some tidbits of news or other interesting items from this last week. (Go on, try some of the links.)
There have reportedly been sightings of the elusive Gadhafi. Katia threatens the Gulf, while Eric Cantor threatens victims of Irene. Mitt Romney has decided to run against Rick Perry. George Bush says, despite the kiss-and-tell book, he’s still BFF with Dick Cheney. Speaking of JarJar and Emperor Palpatine, George Lucas tinkers once again with Star Wars. WikiLeaks claims they got hacked (OMG! do people do that?) Humans have been around much longer than some people think. September 11, 2001 is still claiming victims.
And on that note, we are about a week away from the tenth anniversary of that tragic day. We will have a series of articles over the next week discussing the day itself, and its impact on us in the following decade. There’s also going to be a debate among the Republican Presidential candidates on Wednesday, followed on Thursday by President Obama’s announcement to Congress and the American public of his plan to address the chronic high unemployment in the United States. All in all, we will have much to discuss.
But there are some stories we won’t comment on.
Don’t see an article on a particular topic, but want to talk about it somewhere? This is Open Mic. Talk about whatever you want, but stay respectful.
We create a new Open Mic every week to give a clean slate, but feel free to add to this topic at any time.
- George Lucas’ Star Wars Changes And Project Pitches In Today’s Twitter Report (splashpage.mtv.com)
- George W. Bush: I’m fine with Cheney’s memoir (cbsnews.com)
- BLITZER’S BLOG: Cheney, Iraq, and WMD (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
This week, WikiLeaks released a new round of diplomatic cables. This time, they included information identifying citizens of various countries, whose activities place them at risk of imprisonment as political dissidents.
The organization proclaims its innocence, alleging (in a thinly-veiled manner) that The New York Times was responsible for distributing the unredacted data. But this doesn’t pass the smell test. If WikiLeaks is in possession of the unredacted data, and distributed it to the Times, then WikiLeaks is responsible for distributing the data. This doesn’t necessarily absolve the Times of all responsibility, but WikiLeaks doesn’t earn a halo.
Update: 12⁄9 4:40PM PST
Last week, a growing number of attackers worked to prevent access to WikiLeaks, primarily through various forms of denial of service attacks. But, as I mentioned in an earlier article, there is a significant subculture of free information among those in the computer security community.
The free information people began to fight back this week. (more…)
WikiLeaks is a new concept to the global stage, though hardly new to people who have been involved in computer security for a while. This article does a very good job of boiling down the essence of the site.
The question keeps arising, why do people do this? The answers are varied, but money is among the least-likely reasons. Pfc. Manning was a classic “disgruntled employee” case. Others may be traditional whistle-blowers. Still others may be working for competing companies or foreign governments. In all cases, there is reason to release the information only if it is more valuable to the leaker if the information is public than if it is privately held by the leaker.
But there’s more to the equation than this. Why does Julian Assange do this? To get a sense of the answer, one needs to look at his past. He was born in 1971, and so was among the first generation of people who could have used a computer in the home. WarGames was written about people like him, who had the normal curiosity of a teenager, coupled with a knack for cryptography.
This interest in cryptography is important. It appears that there is a high concentration of people within the cryptography community that have Asperger Syndrome. Such people tend to be intelligent, in part because one of the symptoms is an intense focus on things that they can study alone; but they also have an inability to empathize. It also tends to breed unrealistic hubris, as a side effect of years of experience in outsmarting others, coupled with the inability to see social warning signs because of the lack of empathy. This could help to explain why he seems to be unable to understand the degree to which his actions are putting himself at risk.
Furthermore, there is a substantial “freedom” subcommunity within the broader computer technology world. The fundamental tenets of this subcommunity are that software and information should be freely available, without profit motive. It was this group that produced Linux and other open-source software. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a more formal and refined manifestation of an aspect of this philosophy. In a less formal and more raw fashion, so is Hacktivismo.
When you put these pieces together, it becomes much easier to understand Assange’s motivations. It’s not that he wants to bring the United States down. Rather the free-information philosophy is more important to him. A lack of empathy and ability to see the bigger picture leads to this behavior. It should be easy to understand this if you look at it through the lens of an individual’s personal political ideology. We see this sort of behavior on this very site all the time.
It’s hard to say what will happen if he loses his life over this. Perhaps someone else will fill the void; there is certainly no shortage of people who share his philosophy and mental state. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine one who would consider Assange a martyr, and would take up the mantle in his honor.
- WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Is Now Not Accused of Rape (Updated) [Wikileaks] (gizmodo.com)
- “Sweden Issues Second Arrest Warrant for WikiLeaksâ€™ Assange” and related posts (hawaiireporter.com)
- Meet the people who want Julian Assange “whacked” (arstechnica.com)
- Could WikiLeaks Survive Without Julian Assange? (abcnews.go.com)
- Legal process keeps Assange free for now (foxnews.com)
Update: November 30, 10:40AM PST
There’s plenty of talk about the information recently released by Wikileaks. But there’s more information there than is generally being reported.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the vulnerability of our infrastructure to cyberattacks. Do you think Wikileaks is the only organization to have obtained classified information without authorization? (more…)