Wikileaks – an enemy of the State, just like Little Brother

April 7, 2010

The semi-underground Wikileaks site has become a news story in the last 48 hours thanks to the disturbing video of two Reuters staffers being gunned down in Baghdad in 2007.

Last year the site was named as the Amnesty International new media site of the year.

The April 2010 video released by Wikileaks [available at EM here] shows a group of Iraqis walking in a neighbourhood where the American military was staging a large “counter-insurgency” operation.

The Reuters men were there to cover the story on the ground. Unfortunately two trigger-happy Apache pilots mistook a telephoto lens for an AK47 and opened fire. Twelve people were killed, two children were wounded.

Wikileaks used a crowd source of hackers to decode the encryption on the Apache “gun camera” footage that was leaked to them by whistleblowers.

Now the US military and its Washington think-tank apologists are trying to hose down the story and imply that the Apache pilots were only doing their jobs.

No surprises there; but I didn’t know that in 2008 the American military machine has also listed Wikileaks as an enemy of the State.

This document is a classified (SECRET/NOFORN) 32 page U.S. counterintelligence investigation into WikiLeaks. “The possibility that current employees or moles within DoD or elsewhere in the U.S. government are providing sensitive or classified information to WikiLeaks.org cannot be ruled out”. It concocts a plan to fatally marginalize the organization. Since WikiLeaks uses “trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers or whistleblowers”, the report recommends “The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the WikiLeaks.org Web site”. [the document is no longer available at Wikileaks]

This is bizarre and shows just how twisted the whole concept of “homeland security” is. It reminds me of the plot in a great Cory Doctorow novel I’m reading at the moment: Little Brother.

In this book, the hero Marcus Yarrow faces down the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist bomb destroys the Oakland Bay bridge in San Francisco. The DHS locks down the city and ups the surveillance in school classrooms, on the street and via electronic devices so that everyone is under their gaze 24/7 (almost).

Yarrow is a 17 year-old school kid who’s into online gaming and computer coding. After his illegal detention by DHS agents, Marcus and his friends organise a jamming campaign using darknet software that plays on the Xbox.

In an interesting twist, Marcus and his family seek the help of a dead trees “investigative journalist” to expose the DHS clampdown on civil liberties.

I find this interesting because it possibly shows the limits of social media in terms of making a really big story public and driving public opinion.

It’s probably also a comment on the age gap. Yarrow’s father is old school so doesn’t understand the jamming culture of his kid.

I haven’t quite finished Little Brother yet; but I can’t wait to get home and read the last 80 pages.

You should get hold of a copy; it’s an interesting book and an important statement about how Homeland Security has become a war against the American people. You can also check out a fan page for the book on Facebook.

Writer, blogger and cool geek Cory Doctorow

Doctorow is behind the technology and culture blog Boing Boing and I like him even more now that he’s just published an anti iPad manifesto.

In particular there’s this biting swipe at the dead tree media:

I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who’ll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff.

The parallels between the military’s attitude to Wikileaks and the DHS crackdown on civil liberties is eirie.


Am I paranoid?

March 22, 2010

The last time I visited those great United States, in September 2008, I flew all the way from LA to NYC with a couple of stops on the way and didn’t really have too much trouble. The time before that in 2007 the locks on my bags were broken open by the Transport Safety Authority and Moac & I had to de-shoe in St Louis one time.

But on my way out of the US in the first week of October 2008 – British Airways to London – I was told that my name had appeared on a US Government “watch list”.

Nothing came of it really. I was allowed to travel and the woman who told me really played it down.

But today I got a notification that the United States Embassy in Wellington is following my blog via Twitter.

USA out of my Tweets

I¬† sent a polite message asking why the embassy wants to follow me and also seeking to know who the embassy staffer is who’s charged with keeping tabs on my blog.

I will block them tomorrow¬† if they don’t reply.

Am I paranoid?

I really am egotistical enough to think my words are pearls**, but unless there’s some closet radical working in the Embassy mailroom, I don’t think my brand of commentary would be to the Ambassador’s tastes.

This unwelcome attention comes on the first business day after I published my post supporting the Waihopai three.

We should all be self-aware enough to know that our electronic lives are not secure or private, but I do find this a little weird and sinister.

**Dribblejaws alert: That’s a joke, calm down


Australian Jihad: Now you read it, now you don’t

June 15, 2008

For some time I’ve been wanting to do a series of posts about a book that’s been withdrawn from sale, but I couldn’t find the right peg.

This morning I decided that I’d start a post on the book, Australian Jihad, regardless of the peg issue; and as coincidences are, this other story was kicking around about three men in Ohio who, on Friday 13 June, were convicted of a terrorist plot on the strength of evidence gathered by an undercover agent.

What’s the link? Australian Jihad is a journalistic account of “the battle against terrorism from within and without”, by Martin Chulov – a journalist with Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian. The link is that the main characters are also now on trial, facing similar charges to the three Ohioans.

The Ohio case too contains allegations of insider-trading within the so-called Jihadist organisations that are an issue “uncovered” in Australian Jihad.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sedition in Singapore – as easy as pi

June 10, 2008

I’m keen to keep up with the Gopalan Nair case, so today I visited Chia Ti Lik’s blog. Ti Lik is Nair’s lawyer and so fairly close to the case.

The most recent post is one I’ve already linked to, dated 5th June. But I started to re-read it and realised that Nair is likely to face a sedition charge when he appears in court again on Thursday 12 June.

Singapore’s sedition law is a product of old colonial rule – as is so much of “law” in former colonies – and it had fallen into disuse until recently. It was used in 2005 against a small group of bloggers who were allegedly inciting racism against Malays. This was apparently the first time since the mid-60s.

The sedition law was originally used to prosecute alleged communists in the early post-war years. The Cold War was very useful then and it still is today.

Read the rest of this entry »


Slap on the writs!

May 15, 2008

So the NZ police have finally acted against the Fairfax editors and journalists who wrote about the leaked “Urewera” terror case affidavit. The police issued a “warning”, but I can’t really see what the effect of that will be.

Is it supposed to “chill” any enthusiasm the media has for publishing similar details in the future? If so, one would hope that it fails miserably. On the other hand, if the reporters and editors have breached Section 312K of the Crimes Act, why aren’t they being prosecuted? Read the rest of this entry »


When suicide collides with politics

April 26, 2007

Parents should monitor children’s web use: PM – smh.com.au

Australia’s outgoing* Prime Minister, John Howard, says parents should monitor their kids’ internet use. Ths is the only thing he has to say about the suicide of two teenage girls recently in Australia. Both had posted suicide notes on their MySpace pages.
Howard you are a total hypocrite.
Why?
In this case he says that the Government can’t do anything because “you start running up against freedom of speech”. But when it comes to censoring other forms of communication over the web, the Howard Government has been in the frontline of increasing censorship, monitoring and surveillance.
This is a more accurate statement of the Coalition’s real sentiments:

Although he was always on the lookout for ways to tighten laws in the public interest, it was a difficult task because governments could not trample on people’s freedom of expression.

That’s right, the sedition laws, tightening adult content provisions for free-to-air broadcasters and on the internet and cracking down on Islamic preachers. Howard and his cronies have been vigilant in looking out for opportunities to tighten the laws in these areas. But is not, it seems, willing to do anything to prevent tragic suicides.

*There’s an election later in 2007 and I’m hoping Howard will go