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
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
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.