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The Insurance File
Fighting both the government and the hackers

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
December 8, 2010

Julian Assange is in a British jail, awaiting an extradition hearing on being expedited to Sweden, where he may be accused of sexual molestation under Sweden's peculiar laws in which sex with a consenting adult can be deemed a sex crime if it concludes without use of a condom.

Pay Pal, MasterCard, Visa, and various Internet providers have frozen and / or shut down his accounts on the even stranger grounds that he is breaking the law, even though the laws he is supposed to have broken are ones that could only pertain to an American, in America, who was sworn by oath not to divulge the contents of the leaked cables.

Even the furious American politicians can't seem to figure out what law he has broken. Right wing idiots like Lieberman and Gingrich fume that he is committing treason. He's an Australian living in Sweden. He CAN'T commit treason, even if he drops a nuclear bomb on New York. He isn't a citizen of the United States.

Nearly as absurd is the claim that he's a terrorist. This one is coming from the Obama administration itself and demonstrates the peril and dishonesty of the “War on Terror” which in effect allows the government to take preemptive and draconian action against anyone whose actions displease them, even if such actions have done no harm beyond causing a few Americans some mild embarrassment.

That didn't stop Huckabee and other morons on Faux News from calling for his death. The small government crowd loudly applauds the right of the government to summarily kill anyone who is mildly annoying. Didn't Huckabee used to be some sort of Christian something or other back when he was running his loony “he only killed two people” campaign?

BofA and Mastercard, with their finely tuned moral compasses, were amazingly quick to determine that, despite fabricating no mortgage liens and offering no fraudulent and rapacious credit terms, Assange had managed to break the law. Of course, there are those rumors that Assange has a release pending that deals with Bank of America's practices in relation to the credit meltdown and housing implosion of 2008.

And yet, nobody can name the law Assange broke. He didn't steal the data, and he isn't an American, so has no legal or even moral obligation to keep it secret. And former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, despite the release of embarrassing material describing him, basically, as an ineffectual control freak, dryly noted that over two million people had access to those “confidential” cables, and suggested that the Americans could “tighten things up a bit”.

That's where the American government looks the most pathetic. With two, and possibly three million people viewing these documents, and any one of them capable of copying it all onto just one thumb drive, it's a near-dead certainty that most or all foreign governments have all that material already, plus a lot of the “top secret” stuff that WikiLeaks isn't releasing. The American government, festooned with idiots though it is, has to know this. So the only real complaint they have is that the general public now knows what every diplomat this side of Outer Mongolia already knows, but which the American press has utterly failed to report.

It's unlikely any governments will fall over this. Britain's Labour Party will have to repair the well-deserved reputation Tony Blair gave it of being a lapdog for the Americans, but that was already going on before the WikiLeaks reiterated it. Scotland's regional government will have to explain why it knuckled under to Libyan threats, but at least they'll be able to say they stood up to the Americans.

American media, when they discuss the leaks at all, are shocked to discover that American diplomats, more and more, find their country to be distrusted and resented. The diplomats know the damage the Bush-Cheney administration did to America's once-stellar reputation, but American media—which once had a good reputation itself—is utterly flabbergasted by all this.

The biggest part of this story is getting hardly any mention in the press, here or abroad. The entire WikiLeaks cable release, and the ham-handed efforts by the US government to squelch it, have resulted in a full blown war for control of the Internet, and through that, pretty much the world. Papers have been noting that “cyberattacks” have been shutting down MasterCard, WikiLeaks, PayPal, and other entities playing a role in all this, and web-cache has been used to undermine the claims of Assange's Swedish accusers in the sex trial, but nobody seems to have realized that this isn't just an exchange of small-weapons fire: this is a full-on war that may end up determining who, if anybody, has control of the Internet. Just as I finished writing this piece, RawStory announced that hackers had just managed to shut down MasterCard completely.

The Obama administration, in yet another of its endless sellouts, has embraced the notion of a two-tier Internet that basically would give strongly preferential treatment to major corporations at the expense of regular users. In order for that to work, though, stronger government control of the internet would be needed. And now, of course, America is pulling out all the stops in order to control information on the web.

The hackers can do considerable damage, and this isn't likely to go away quickly. Denial of Service attacks are just the beginning, and some are already beginning to use cyber weapons that had been previously unused because the damage could extend well beyond the intended victims. The battleground is the Internet, and the landscape and innocent bystanders will suffer.

It's a war I hope neither side wins conclusively. The American government cannot be trusted with that type of control, and indeed, no government should be. Hackers tend to be anarchists with engineer mentalities, and you wouldn't want that lot having control over your life. They make the Republicans look considerate and compassionate.

But what Assange is doing is, so far, admirable. It is the role of journalism “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”, a lesson long forgotten by America's bought-out media, and his efforts should be encouraged.

Since it's entirely likely that the American government will seek to imprison or kill Assange and anyone in his operation, he has taken the sensible precaution of putting ALL the material into an encrypted file, and putting that file in various places on the Internet. Assange has said that the information contained therein is “thermonuclear”. Hopefully not literally.

The file is available at WikiLeaks sites, and at last count there were some 1,200 mirrors of the site extant. (As a part of the cyberwar, there is a movement called “We Are WikiLeaks”, based on the “I am Spartacus” scene in that movie). They are under heavy attack, of course, and are up and down at various times.

The file, which is a 1.3 gb file, is known as “wikileaks_archive” or “wikileaks_insurance”. Depending on the location, they are zipped into either the rar format or the 7z. Both have freeware programs that can open them. The files, as noted, have a AES256 encryption on them, so if you open them, you won't be able to read them. And 256-bit encryption is extremely powerful. Even the NSA might have trouble getting into that. But if the encryption key is released, then it converts to a standard database file, viewable in Word, Open Office or Word Perfect.

The advantage to the Wikileaks is that you are likely to get a legitimate copy of the file. It's also the easiest way to obtain it. The disadvantages are that the sites are coming and going, and even with a high speed connection, a 1.3 gb file takes a while to download. And unless you use an anonymizer such as http://www.ninjacloak.com/ , or a proxy spoofer, there is a security risk. Remember, you're in a war zone.

There are two other options. One is Bit Torrents. You'll need software if you don't already use BitTorrents. For Windows, it's available for free on line. Bit Torrents is probably the best, followed by Bit Lord, Vuze and uTorrent. But there are dozens of others, and they all basically get the job done. For Mac users, there is one called Deluge that is getting good reviews. For Ubuntu users, the OS comes prepackaged with the friendly and entirely serviceable Transmission. There's hundreds of Torrents websites—the two that are likely to be the most helpful are piratebay.org, and kickasstorrents.com Simply type Wikileaks in the search window, and follow the directions. The advantage is that it's fairly quick and easy to do. The disadvantage is that like website downloads, it won't be secure unless you use anonymous browsing or a proxy. Also, pay attention to the date on the file. It was released in late November, and it's pretty likely that fake look-alikes are out there, both garbage files from the government and virus-infested files from opportunistic hackers. The more recent the file, the more likely it is to be a fake. Make sure your virus software is up to date, Windows users!

Finally, there's Usenet. The following information will probably only be useful to people familiar with Usenet. The big advantage is that it is very secure to use. The disadvantage is that it's 1980s systems, and so unfriendly for newbies. For Windows, the best known is Forte Agent, which can be downloaded. It is fully functional for 30 days, after which you have to pay $39 to keep it going. Macs have some software available. Ubuntu has an excellent reader called Pan.

The disadvantages are that you may have to buy a subscription to Usenet, since most of the major providers no longer carry it. The excuse given is that there is child porn available, but the real problem is that pretty much EVERYTHING is available, and RIAA and the government haven't figured out how to spy on people downloading music and movies. Setting Usenet up on your system will require a bit of concentration, so make sure whoever you get your Usenet from provides good, clear documentation.

Once it's set up go to a website called www.binsearch.info, and type “WikiLeaks insurance” in the search window. You will be looking for a file that ends with the suffix, “.nzb”. It's a batch file that tells your Usenet reader to seek out and collect about thirty other files that can be combined to form the Insurance encrypted file. Same warnings about viruses and fakes apply, and Usenet is a bit slow—even on high speed it might take most of a day to come in. Then, of course, you'll need software to combine the files, unless you are in Linux, in which case you can go into Bash and use the “cat” command.

I do recommend having a copy at hand. Even if you don't wholly support WikiLeaks, we don't want the American government to seize control over what is on the Internet. So do it, just for form, and to show that you want to keep the Internet free and independent. Remember, one of the “classified” bits of information WikiLeaks had was that a major US contractor in Afghanistan, DynCorp, may have been providing what are called “dancing boys” to tribal chiefs. That isn't a secret that helps make America strong.

If the government and major corporations demand the right to spy on us, then by gawd, we demand the right to spy on them.

Posted: December 10, 2010

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