Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wikileaks: the war against Information is lost!

Millions of people already accessed to the information leaked by Julian Assange

Assange's Wikileaks opened the Pandora Box! Some want it close! Amazing story, this "Cablegate!" Astonishing! Unless the questions are asked about intentional inaction of the American Executive to stop the leaks. The first military power, financial and electronic world trapped and forced to drown politically, through incompetence, irresponsibility and paralysis because of a bunch of online activists? Or is it that the U.S. administration perceives a benefit by inaction and let the world focus on somber episodes of former administrations?

How could Assange breached the most guarded and privileged information that exist on earth? Besides, the US geopolitical position has remain unchanged since these exposures despite the embarrassments... To let the State Dept lose its credibility, such a monument, it appears as a political act. And the more it goes, the more the cables identify policies implemented during the sulphuric Bush presidencies. Now, about 750 mirror sites have sprung up to help WikiLeaks continue to publish its leaks of sensitive U.S. documents. It is not only a matter of sympathetic supporters of Internet Journalism or Mad Max of transparency.

The latest revelations came on a day that saw hackers sympathetic to WikiLeaks and targeted Master Card and Visa over their decision to block payments to the whistle-blowers' website, after Amazon and PayPal. Interesting enough Facebook and Twitter are not removing WikiLeaks!

Meanwhile, the U.S. and its allies have taken measures to interrupt WikiLeaks' activities. The French Industry Minister Eric Besson called for the site to be banned from French servers. Swiss bank announced it had frozen $41,000 in an account set up as a legal-defense fund for Assange.

Though, "there appears to be no statute that generally proscribes the acquisition or publication of diplomatic cables," the Secrecy News of the FAS writes today, according to a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service, "although government employees who disclose such information without proper authority may be subject to prosecution."

But there is a thicket of statutes, most notably including the Espionage Act, that could conceivably be used to punish unauthorized publication of classified information, such as the massive releases made available by Wikileaks.

A previous version of the CRS report, issued in October, was just cited by Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in support of prosecuting Wikileaks, though the report did not specifically advise such a course of action. Sen. Feinstein also seemed to endorse the view that the State Department cables being released by Wikileaks are categorically protected by the Espionage Act and should give rise to a prosecution under the Act.

But the Espionage Act only pertains to information "relating to the national defense," and only a minority of the diplomatic cables could possibly fit that description.

The new CRS report put it somewhat differently: "It seems likely that most of the information disclosed by WikiLeaks that was obtained from Department of Defense databases [and released earlier in the year] falls under the general rubric of information related to the national defense. The diplomatic cables obtained from State Department channels may also contain information relating to the national defense and thus be covered under the Espionage Act, but otherwise its disclosure by persons who are not government employees does not appear to be directly proscribed.

It is possible that some of the government information disclosed in any of the three releases does not fall under the express protection of any statute, despite its classified status."

The CRS report concludes that any prosecution of Wikileaks would be unprecedented and challenging, both legally and politically. "We are aware of no case in which a publisher of information obtained through unauthorized disclosure by a government employee has been prosecuted for publishing it. There may be First Amendment implications that would make such a prosecution difficult, not to mention political ramifications based on concerns about government censorship." Unquote.

Time writes, quote: "In the U.S., officials are finding that while there were certainly structural reasons like expanded technology and over-classification behind the theft of the leaked documents, practical reasons were equally important. Thanks to an imperative from then commander of the U.S. Central Command David Petraeus and others to share information with allies on improvised explosive devices and other threats, the Central Command allowed the downloading of data from its secret in-house network, SIPRNet, to removable storage devices, officials tell Time. The information was then carried to computers linked to secret networks used by allies and uploaded. The process was derisively called "sneaker net," because it was so inefficient, although it replaced the prior need to manually retype all information into the allied computers. Unquote.

The worst scenario would be new restrictions on the use of Internet but apparently no-one can do it today and this is the real victory that Assange and his fellow colleagues of WikiLeaks are trying to demonstrate. One can punish a traitor who grabs data he should not within his service duties but it can't be the messenger who publish them who is to be jailed. Otherwise there is a word to describe such act and it does not fit the language used by Democracies.

Sources: FAS, Agencies, Time, Reporter's notes

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Wikileaks: the war against Information is lost! by Asian Gazette is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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