‘Open-eyed conspiracy his time doth take’
Guy Rundle on WikiLeaks, Assange and vanguardism in the Information Age
‘Are you interested in being involved with a courageous project to reform every political system on earth – and through that reform move the world to a more humane state?’
Sometime in December 2006, a former Melbourne University maths student, still hanging around the common room, posted the question to the students’ society network. His rather alarming message explained that the organisers proposed to launch their campaign in two months but were being overwhelmed by a media cascade with more than 51 000 (!) page hits on Google and stories in the Washington Post and so on.
‘Now we have only twenty-two people trying to usher in the start of a world-wide movement,’ the post continued. ‘We need help in every area, admining, coding, sys admining, legal research, analysis.’
The organisation was WikiLeaks; the post’s author was Julian Assange – and, characteristically, the list of tasks included ‘writing, proofing, manning the phone, standing around looking pretty, even making tea’ (italics mine).
“Personally I’m in favor of democracy, which means that the central institutions in the society have to be under popular control. Now, under capitalism we can’t have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level — there’s a little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I’m opposed to political fascism, I’m opposed to economic fascism. I think that until major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it’s pointless to talk about democracy.”—Chomsky, dropping truth bombs as per (via eagleinyourmind)
“All our volunteers have sunk everything we have into our mission already and want to keep helping, esp with Bahraini “Blogfather” Mahmood Al-Yousif arrested a few hours ago. However we are all tapped out right now. We need Bahraini phone numbers, and will put them into service ASAP. The fastest way this can be done is if they are are purchased directly from mydivert.com on this page. or from this list of VoIP providers in Bahrain. Other ways to donate to our project are detailed on our main site here and include Paypal, flattr, bitcoin and major credit cards. Please come to our chatroom to discuss arrangements.”—URGENT: For a measly $20 you can give Bahrainis a Speak2Tweet service that could even save lives! - Interzone Uprizings
Bradley Manning's Early Years | The Private Life of Bradley Manning | FRONTLINE | PBS
1987 Bradley Manning born
Bradley grew up in Crescent, Okla., a small farming town about 40 miles north of Oklahoma City. His father Brian worked in the IT department at Hertz, and his work would take him away from home for weeks at a time. Bradley’s mother Susan, was a native of Wales, where his parents met while Brian was stationed there in the Navy. Susan, who had not learned how to drive, was often on her own in rural Oklahoma with Bradley and his older sister Casey.
At school Bradley kept to himself and didn’t have many friends. He was small for his age and not very athletic, but he did well in class. After school, he’d spend much of his time alone with his computer. He excelled at the school science fair, winning the grand prize three years in a row, according to his father.
But according to friends and neighbors, the Mannings were a troubled family. “I always got the feeling that Bradley was scared of his dad,” Bradley’s closest friend, Jordan Davis, tells FRONTLINE.
2000 Bradley’s parents divorce
Bradley’s parents separated when he was 13 years old. After a bitter divorce, his mother moved out, taking Bradley with her.
According to Jordan Davis, Bradley changed after the divorce. “As soon as his dad left … he started doing his hair and he got different clothes and he did different things. He was more open, and more, I guess, himself.”
Jordan also tells FRONTLINE that Bradley came out to him and another friend when he was 13. “He told me he was gay,” Jordan recalls, “And I said ‘OK. Whatever floats your boat man.’ And that was pretty much it.”
2001 Bradley moves to Wales with his mother
Bradley attended high school in his mother’s native country. At school, he was seen as a computer geek. He was not openly gay at the time, but classmates say he was often teased, and they describe him as short-tempered.
2005 Bradley returns to Oklahoma
After graduating high school, Bradley called his father and said he wanted to come back to the U.S. He moved in with Brian and his second wife in Oklahoma City.
Brian describes Bradley as “spoiled rotten” and “a different person” when he returned. They argued over money and the house rules. Bradley did not get along with his new stepmother.
Shortly after returning to the U.S., Bradley told his father he was gay. Brian says the news was a “surprise” but that he told his son, “That’s your decision, it’s fine.”
Bradley got a job at Zoto, a small software company, but coworkers described him as becoming increasingly erratic. He was fired after a heated confrontation with his boss.
March 29. 2006 Bradley leaves home after an explosive family fight
At home, tensions with his father and stepmother reached a breaking point. Brian Manning tells FRONTLINE the fight started as a discussion about following the house rules but then escalated.
FRONTLINE obtained the audio of a 911 call Bradley’s stepmother made during the altercation. She claimed he had threatened her with a knife.
Bradley was escorted from the house by police, but was not arrested or charged. The next day he moved out and never returned. Years later, Bradley would claim he was kicked out of the house for being gay.
2006-2007 Bradley bounces from job to job
After leaving Oklahoma City, Bradley moved to Tulsa, where he worked at a pizza parlor and a retail entertainment chain store. He then moved to Chicago, where he worked at Guitar Center. Finally he moved to his aunt’s house in Maryland, where he worked at a Starbucks and Abercrombie & Fitch and attended community college.
Summer 2007 Bradley joins the Army
Brian Manning tells FRONTLINE he encouraged his son to join the Army to get a sense of structure in his life. “I said, ‘Bradley, you’re not really going anywhere,’” he recalls. “And I said, ‘If you get into a place like the Army, you know, you’re going to have three square meals a day, you’re going to have a place to sleep and a roof over your head. And as long as you follow the path, it’s all you have to do.”
FRONTLINE will continue to report on Bradley Manning and Wikileaks — watch for our upcoming investigation in May.
According to the security company, the virus is designed to target a German-made program often used in systems managing water, gas and oil pipelines. The program is used at public utilities around the world, including in Japan.
So now the difficulty the Fukushima nuclear plant operators faced in recovering control over their runaway reactors takes on a darker significance. Remember that the first problem following the quake was that the automated shutdown systems failed to operate at some of the reactors, because pumps failed and valves would not open even while running on batteries; the very sorts of mischief Stuxnet supposedly was designed to cause at Iran’s power station.
Did we all just get hacked to death by Israel?
Would anyone reading this in Japan please forward to the Fukushima managers.
Yemen general is feared player: WikiLeaks | Reuters
(Reuters) - The top Yemeni general backing pro-democracy protesters is, like Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a crafty survivor who has wielded power for his own benefit, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.
General Ali Mohsen, a powerful figure close to Saleh, threw his support behind the democracy movement earlier this week and sent in troops to protect protesters in the capital of Sanaa, where they have gathered in the tens of thousands to pressure Saleh into giving up his grip on power after 32 years.
Yet as far back as 2005, Thomas Krajeski, then the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa, painted a picture in diplomatic cables of a brutal military commander likely to back a more radical Islamic political agenda and draw little public support.
"Ali Mohsen’s name is mentioned in hushed tones among most Yemenis, and he rarely appears in public," Krajeski wrote in a cable obtained by Reuters. "Ali Mohsen… is generally perceived to be the second most powerful man in Yemen. Those that know him say he is charming and gregarious."
Noting Mohsen’s role in ruling Yemen with an “iron fist,” the cable said he controls at least half of Yemen’s military. Despite its detail and strong opinions, other parts of the cable contained key inaccuracies, such as Mohsen’s estimated age as well as the region he commands.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have long relied on Saleh to try and stop al Qaeda from using Yemen as a base to plot attacks on both countries. The impoverished Arabian Peninsula country is deeply divided, and was already on the brink of becoming a failed state before protests erupted in January, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
After Mohsen’s defection on March 21, Saleh reacted by warning against a “coup” that would lead to civil war and beefed up his personal security for fear of an assassination attempt.
Days later, Mohsen told Reuters that he had no desire to take power or hold office, and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in “tranquility, peace and relaxation far from the problems of politics and the demands of the job.”
The diplomatic cable also indicates that Mohsen would be viewed by the public as an unpalatable successor to Saleh.
"Ali Mohsen would likely face domestic as well as international opposition if he sought the presidency… Yemenis generally view him as cynical and self-interested."
One reason, according to the U.S. ambassador at the time, was because of his side business in smuggling.
"A major beneficiary of diesel smuggling in recent years, he also appears to have amassed a fortune in the smuggling of arms, food staples, and consumer products," his cable said.
Although the opposition welcomed Mohsen’s support earlier this week, they are also wary of his loyalties, which fall along the country’s tribal and ideological fault lines.
Northern Shi’ite rebels see Mohsen as a ruthless military leader who led the military campaign against them in a bloody civil war. Leftists and southerners worry that their goals for democracy will be overtaken in a military power struggle, while the Islamist opposition is thought to view Mohsen more favorably.
More than likely, Krajeski wrote in the cable, Mohsen would try and orchestrate a transition where he could anoint Saleh’s successor: “If he holds true to form, Mohsen would likely prefer to play kingmaker, choosing another loyal military officer to hold the presidency.”
'The War You Don't See' for national TV broadcast in Australia
On Sunday 10 April 2011, the Australian broadcaster SBS will air ‘The War You Don’t See’ nationally at 8.30pm. On April 22nd (Good Friday), John Pilger will be speaking about the film at a special screening in Melbourne at 1.30pm as part of Marxism 2011.
WikiLeaks beef: Mexico's Calderon wants U.S. ambassador out | McClatchy
MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Felipe Calderon is waging a harsh campaign against the U.S. ambassador here, repeatedly demanding over the past month that he be replaced in a tiff that has strained ties between the two countries.
Calderon is barely on speaking terms with U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual, whom he has said publicly he doesn’t trust. Analysts say Calderon’s anger stems from both Pascual’s views critical of Mexico contained in secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by the WikiLeaks website and the divorced ambassador’s selection of a girlfriend — the daughter of a key opposition legislator.
Pascual has won praise in Washington as the architect of a broad U.S. strategy to help Mexico fight soaring drug-related violence, and analysts say the White House expects Calderon’s pique to blow over.
But the level of rancor is extraordinary. “We’re talking about levels of personal conflict that I don’t remember ever having seen,” former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda told the Dia Siete magazine Sunday.
Calderon lobbed his first salvo at the Cuban-born Pascual in an interview with the Mexico City daily El Universal on Feb. 22, saying the U.S. envoy suffers from “ignorance” and lambasting leaked cables under his name offering an unflattering view of Mexican security agencies.
One WikiLeaks cable from the U.S. Embassy under Pascual criticized Mexico’s “risk-averse” army and said it had turned a blind eye to U.S. intelligence leads on how to capture drug lords. Another cable from Pascual’s deputy said Calderon struggled with lack of coordination on security issues and “spiraling rates of violence that have made him vulnerable to criticism that his anti-crime strategy has failed.”
Hours before a March 3 meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, Calderon said his level of trust in Pascual had fallen steeply.
Since then, newspapers columnists supportive of Calderon have struck an intensely nationalistic chord here, with several this week suggesting that Calderon has to either work around Pascual or boot him from the country.
U.S. experts on Mexico said they’re perplexed by the tiff with Pascual, a former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine who has spent much of his career studying failing states.
“Pascual is the consummate professional,” said Jeffrey Davidow, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 1998 to 2002 who now heads the Institute of the Americas in La Jolla, Calif.
“He is a very cool hand on the rudder of the relationship.”
The U.S. Embassy offered no comment on Calderon’s unhappiness with the U.S. diplomat, referring to remarks on March 4 by the State Department’s then-spokesman, P.J. Crowley: “Ambassador Pascual is, in our view, doing tremendous work on behalf of the U.S.-Mexican bilateral relationship, and I know of no plans to adjust his status.”
Several analysts said it was remarkable that Calderon had personalized his frustrations with Pascual, knowing it would deprive him of a key go-between with the Obama administration.
“On top of that to do so in such a public manner — speaking to media in Mexico and in the United States, virtually asking for Ambassador Pascual’s removal — was more extraordinary yet,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a security expert at the Brookings Institution, a Washington research group Pascual has past ties to.
“It is hard to see how such a move could serve U.S.-Mexican relations and even Mexican interests.”
Even with the conflict, U.S.-Mexican security cooperation is reaching new levels. Mexico confirmed Wednesday that it is allowing U.S. drones to penetrate across the border to gather intelligence on organized crime.
“When these operations occur, they always come with the authorization, oversight and supervision of national agencies, including the Mexican air force,” said a statement by the office of National Security chief Alejandro Poire.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Global Hawk drones — which can fly at altitudes up to 60,000 feet — were in routine use over Mexican territory, and that Calderon had quietly renewed approval for their use in his March 3 meeting with Obama.
As U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Pascual is no run-of-the-mill diplomat. He oversees more than 2,100 employees from more than 40 U.S. government agencies, and helped design a U.S. strategy moving from disruption of drug cartels to include reforming the police and judiciary, and even fostering programs to lessen violence in Ciudad Juarez, a border city that suffered more than 3,100 homicides last year.
News reports say Calderon is irked that since Pascual’s arrival in Mexico in 2009, he travels to Juarez more often than the president. Pascual’s most recent trip was on Monday.
Another factor said to nettle Calderon is Pascual’s personal life.
The ambassador is romantically linked to Gabriela Rojas Jimenez, the daughter of a legislative chief belonging to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which is in opposition to Calderon’s National Action Party.
Davidow said Calderon’s spat “cannot go on forever before it generates blowback” from Washington, but that he expects the tensions to fall off.
VIDEO: John Pilger - breaking the silence on Wikileaks and freedom (2011-03-23)
Pacific Media Centre
23 March, 2011
Independent journalist John Pilger spoke on “Breaking Australia’s silence: WikiLeaks and freedom” at a public forum on 16 March 2011 at the Sydney Town Hall.
The event was staged by the Sydney Peace Foundation, Amnesty International, Stop the War Coalition, and supported by the City of Sydney.
Chaired by Mary Kostakidis, it featured speeches by John Pilger, Andrew Wilkie MP (the only serving Western intelligence officer to expose the truth about the Iraq invasion) and Julian Burnside, QC, defender of universal human rights under the law.
Pilger began his remarks by citing leaked documents from the British Defence Ministry and the Pentagon, in which WikiLeaks was described as a threat due to its exposure of the secret dealings of government.
The Pentagon document, dated March 2008, called for a campaign to “destroy WikiLeaks’ centre of gravity, its public trust” through “threats of exposure and criminal prosecution.”
Pilger told the audience: “The real threat is not WikiLeaks or Julian Assange, but you. The real threat is you finding out the truth about those who pretend to be democratic, and to act in your interests, and to promote a peaceful world. The real threat is you being able to call your government to account.”
Pilger proceeded to call for the broadest political action in defence of Assange and WikiLeaks. “Unless we make our voices heard now,” he said, “Julian Assange is likely to end up in a Kafkaesque judicial system in the US, which is now so corrupted that not a single detainee since 9/11 has been accorded any redress in America’s courts, including innocent people detained for years and tortured.”
Pilger announced the presence in the front row of the audience of former Guantánamo Bay detainee David Hicks, provoking lengthy, thunderous applause.
David Hicks, who was seized in Afghanistan during the 2001 US invasion, was imprisoned as an “enemy combatant” for six years. He suffered severe abuse and torture, with the full support of the former Howard conservative government in Australia. He only secured his release by pleading guilty to the fabricated terrorism charges levelled against him by a US military court, in exchange for transfer to an Australian prison and a short sentence.
“Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have broken no law and are charged with no crime, and yet it’s clear the Gillard government is trying to do to Assange what Howard did to David Hicks,” Pilger said. As WikiLeaks began publishing leaked US diplomatic cables, Gillard publicly denounced Assange’s actions as “illegal”, while Attorney-General Robert McClelland declared that the Labor government would cooperate with efforts to prosecute him in the US.
Pilger noted the recent revelations that the Gillard government had gone so far as to secretly investigate whether Assange could be charged with treason under Australian law.
Dissident members of the internet hacktivist group Anonymous, tired of what they call the mob’s “unpatriotic” ways, have provided law enforcement with chat logs of the group’s leadership planning crimes, as well as what they say are key members’ identities. They also gave them to us.
They demonstrate that, contrary to the repeated claims of Anonymous members, the group does have ad hoc leaders, with certain members doling out tasks, selecting targets, and even dressing down members who get out of line. They prove that, contrary to their claims, at least one of the hackers responsible for releasing the publishing the e-mail addresses of thousands of Gawker users last December is in fact a key member of Anonymous. They show a collective of ecstatic and arrogant activists driven to a frenzy by a sense of their own power—they congratulated one another when Hosni Mubarak resigned, as though Anonymous was responsible—and contain bald admissions of criminal behavior that could serve as powerful evidence in criminal proceedings if the internet handles are ever linked to actual people.
Full sizeThe logs are from an invite-only IRC chat channel called #HQ, populated by people calling themselves Sabu, Kayla, Laurelai, Avunit, Entropy, Topiary, Tflow, and Marduk.
They were supplied by two individuals who go by the names Metric and A5h3r4 and describe themselves as former Anonymous supporters who became increasingly disenchanted with the movement’s tactics, particularly the extent to which the group’s more sophisticated members tolerate children and teens participating in risky operations (British authorities arrested a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old in January, and Dutch police arrested a 16-year-old in December). They recently launched a firm they call Backtrace Security.
"The bastards are becoming arrogant sociopaths," said A5h3r4 via chat. "Acting first, not thinking of the consequences. They’re recruiting children. I am a pretty far left person—I believe in privacy and free expression, but Anonymous is a vigilante group now. A mob without conscience. And I worry they will radicalize even more. In short, I believe they’re on their way to becoming a genuine threat."
While Anonymous describes itself as a leaderless collective, the #HQ channel had a clear head honcho, a hacker who goes by the name of Sabu who claims credit for conducting the HBary hack. In plotting his next attack, on Hunton and Williams, a law firm that discussed hiring HBGary to conduct dirty tricks campaigns against Wikileaks supporters on behalf of its client Bank of America, Sabu threatens to “rape these niggers”:
17:46 <&Sabu> hunton.com will be a nice fucking hit 17:46 <&marduk> hm see potential vulns [vulnerabilities]? 17:48 <&Sabu> yeah 17:48 <&Sabu> I see some potential openings 17:48 <&marduk> :] 17:49 <&Sabu> we could rape these niggers
Here is Sabu directing the other channel members to come up with a target list for their next hack, including potential media outlets and so-called “whitehat” internet security firms, and ordering Kayla to get working:
17:52 <&Sabu> can you guys put together a private pad containing a list of whitehat targets, lawyers, reporters, any media that requires counter-intelligence attack
18:31 <&Sabu> guys im going offline I will be back online toorrow 18:31 <&Sabu> tomorrow I should have a new laptop 18:31 <&Sabu> muah 18:31 <&Sabu> and kayla 18:31 <&Sabu> please work on whitehat targets 18:34 <&marduk> will request 18:34 <@kayla> Sabu ofc <3 :)
And here he is excoriating Laurelai, an HQ member who had created a set of instructions for how to carry out an Anonymous attack. Sabu derided it as a stupid move that would help federal investigators make a conspiracy case if leaked and generally make Anonymous look as devious as HBGary. In the same breath that he insists Anonymous is disorganized and leaderless, Sabu plays the role of a leader, enforcing unit discipline while the other members stand by. Laurelei fights back by criticizing Sabu for quickly going public with the HBGary hack, rather than secretly listening in on their e-mails for weeks, and Sabu responds by openly admitting to his involvement: “I’m the one that did the op, I rooted their boxes, cracked their hashes, owned their emails and social engineered their admins in hours.”
04:44 <&Sabu> who the fuck wrote that doc 04:45 <&Sabu> remove that shit from existence 04:45 <&Sabu> first off there is no hierachy or leadership, and thus an operations manual is not needed
04:46 <&Sabu> shit like this is where the feds will get american anons on rico act abuse and other organized crime laws 04:47 <@Laurelai> yeah well you could have done 100 times more effective shit with HBgary 04:47 <@Laurelai> gratted what we got was good 04:47 <&Sabu> if you’re so fucking talented why didn’t you root them yourselves? 04:47 <@Laurelai> but it could have been done alot better 04:47 <&Sabu> also we had a time restraint 04:48 <&Sabu> and as far as I know, considering I’m the one that did the op, I rooted their boxes, cracked their hashes, owned their emails and social engineered their admins in hours 04:48 <&Sabu> your manual is irrelevent.
04:51 <&Sabu> ok who authored this ridiculous “OPERATIONS” doc? 04:51 <@Laurelai> look the guideline isnt for you 04:51 <&Sabu> because I’m about to start owning nigg3rs 04:51 <&marduk> authorized??? 04:52 <@Laurelai> its just an idea to kick around 04:52 <@Laurelai> start talking 04:52 <&Sabu> for who? the feds? 04:52 <&marduk> its not any official doc, it is something that Laurelai wrote up.. and it is for.. others 04:52 <&marduk> on anonops 04:52 <&Sabu> rofl 04:52 <@Laurelai> just idea 04:52 <@Laurelai> ideas 04:52 <&Sabu> man 04:52 <&marduk> at least that is how i understand it 04:52 <@Laurelai> to talk over 04:53 <&Sabu> le sigh 04:53 <&marduk> mmmm why are we so in a bad mood? 04:53 <&Sabu> my nigga look at that doc 04:53 <&Sabu> and how ridiculous it is
04:54 <&marduk> look, i think it was made with good intentions. and it is nothing you need to follow, if you dont like it, it is your good right 04:55 <&Sabu> no fuck that. its docs like this that WHEN LEAKED makes us look like an ORGANIZED CRIME ORGANIZATION
Members of the HQ chat were, understandably, obsessed with security. But they seemed to believe that they were safe in that chat room, candidly discussing their own efforts to distance themselves from any illegal activity. Here is Topiary, who has given a number of media interviews, discussing plans to stop speaking for Anonymous in the first person in order to “avoid being raped by Feds”:
15:13 <@Topiary> also I’m going to start saying, with future press, that I’m an observer/associate of Anon that agrees with Anonymous actions, rather than say I’m Anon 15:13 <@Topiary> kind of like Barrett/Housh [Anonymous spokesmen Barrett Brown and Gregg Housh] 15:13 <@Topiary> to avoid being raped by Feds 15:14 <@tflow> aw 15:14 <@tflow> why
15:15 <@Topiary> all I have to do is stop saying “we” and start saying “they” when referring to Anon 15:15 <@tflow> it will decrease the lulz in interviews 15:15 <@Topiary> hm, valid point
And here, in the same vein, they discuss how to interact with the press without being seen as an actual member of the group, including references to Sabu, Kayla, and Tflow’s efforts to maintain plausible deniability about their roles in the HBGary hack.
23:12 <&marduk> i would refrein from using “rep” ever 23:12 <&marduk> simply because.. that makes you/us directly tiable/responsible for what happens 23:12 <&marduk> no need to 23:12 <&marduk> example: the penny lock 23:12 <&marduk> yeah sabu/kayla/tflow obviously were involved in the hack. but they never admitted to 23:13 <&marduk> from the logs, you can only deduct that they knew about the operation
Sabu didn’t feel the need to be as discreet in the HQ chat. Here he is taking responsibility for the HBGary hack, which involved tricking a Nokia network security specialist named Jussi into handing over passwords:
02:39 <&Sabu> “Greatest social hack of all time: http://is.gd/duaZcG - Anonymous vs. hbgary.com.” 02:39 <&Sabu> rofl 02:39 <&Sabu> people are really enjoying the socialing of jussi 02:39 <&Sabu> man I was talking to my little brother who witnessed the whole shit 02:39 <&Sabu> I think he and I were as excited as people are about it now 02:39 <&Sabu> we were fitdgeting and giggling and shit 02:40 <&Sabu> as jussi dropped firewall 02:40 <&Sabu> then reset the pw 02:40 <&Sabu> then gave us the username
The logs also seem to prove that members of Anonymous were involved in hacking into Gawker’s servers last December. Gnosis, the group that claimed credit for the hack, claimed in interviews to have no affiliation with Anonymous. But Kayla, a member of the HQ chat who was intimately involved with the HBGary attack, implicitly takes credit at one point for the Gawker attacks after someone mentions a Gawker article:
18:26 * kayla h8’s gawker :D 18:26 <@kayla> Nick Denton especially h8’s me :D
Kayla claims to be a 16-year-old girl, and has publicly admitted involvement with the HBGary infiltration (some, including Metric and A5h3r4, doubt Kayla’s claims and suspect her to be in reality Corey Barnhill, a New Jersey hacker in his late 20s who also goes by the name Xyrix). Whoever Kayla is, she was definitely involved in the attack on Gawker. The HQ chats show that Anonymous made use of a the domain internetfeds.mil.nf in preparing HBGary e-mails for release. According to Matt Keys, a journalist who infiltrated the group, the Internet Feds (and not Gnosis), were the real Gawker attackers. And Kayla was one of them. “Kayla was one of two hackers who broke into the Gawker database,” Keys told Gawker. “It was her idea. She coordinated the attack. She carried it out with another hacker. A third was involved in the distribution of the torrent, but the brainchild of the Gawker hack attack was Kayla.” Keys provided Gawker with screengrabs from the Internet Feds IRC chat as evidence.
Ever since Anonymous began taking down the websites of PayPal, Mastercard, and other firms that refused to do business with Julian Assange, Wikileaks has insisted that it has no connection with Anonymous. But the logs seem to show that Laurelai, one of the HQ chat members, is a Wikileaks volunteer. When Sabu asks fellow chat members who she is, they respond that she’s affiliated with the group:
04:51 <&Sabu> who the fuck is laurelai and why is he/she/it questioning our owning of hbgary 04:51 <&marduk> uhm.. she is with wl 04:51 <&Sabu> and? 04:51 <&marduk> and kayla knows her. 04:51 <&Sabu> bleh
Laurelai is also involved in Crowdleaks, a site devoted to translating and disseminating Wikleaks’ material. According to Metric and A5h3r4, Laurelei has claimed in chats to be affiliated with the group. They caution that it could be puffery, though, as not everything she’s claimed has been reliable.
Speaking of puffery, the HQ chat’s reaction to Mubarak stepping down in Egypt serves as a handy indicator of just how seriously Anonymous takes itself, and it’s power:
18:13 <~Avunit> and mubarak is gone 18:13 <~Avunit> for if you dont watch the news 18:15 <&Sabu> oh wow i didnt know fuck yes 18:15 <&Sabu> congrats all 18:15 * Avunit bows to sabu.
The logs show an obsession with media coverage, and HQ members take delight in interacting with reporters, whether it’s a genuine attempt to get the word out or a chance to fuck with gullible reporters. Here they are doing the latter to a Guardian reporter:
11:59 <@Topiary> Goddamnit this Guardian bitch is requesting access to “secret” inner-circle channels so she can tell everyone about how hard Anon works and to have first-hand experience at our inner workings 11:59 <@Topiary> I say we fake a secret channel and discuss in BATSHIT CODE 11:59 <@Topiary> and then invite her 11:59 <@tflow> lol
12:01 <@Topiary> fuck niggahs, do you wanna make one on anonops called #over9000 or something? 12:01 <@Topiary> then we invite her and just, I don’t know 12:01 <@Topiary> we just go to town in hackers on steroids talk 12:02 <&marduk> mhh not sure but i could utter some cryptic stuff 12:02 <~Avunit> bitch: create it
12:03 <@tflow> Topiary: so she’s not actually believing that anonymous isn’t secretive? 12:03 <@tflow> if so, epic troll the guardian and teach them a lesson 12:03 <@Topiary> epic troll time 12:03 <~Avunit> speak like cryptic, only to eachother and be blunt to her 12:03 <~Avunit> god yeah 12:03 <~Avunit> lets roll 12:03 <@Topiary> she wants to delve into the secret underbelly, we’ll give her a trolling hellstorm
The obsession with secrecy and security in HQ led naturally to paranoia, as seen in this account from Entropy, who became convinced when his boss called him into the office unexpectedly—earlier in the logs he referred to talking the “CCIE security written test,” suggesting he’s an internet security specialist—that it was some sort of sting.
14:50 <@entropy> my boss called me 14:50 <@entropy> ans asked me if i can come into work 14:50 <@entropy> they couldnt have got anythign this fast right 14:51 <@entropy> my hands are fuckign shaking 14:51 <@entropy> should i go there 14:51 <@tflow> gahh.. 14:51 <@entropy> its way to fats right 14:52 <@entropy> fast 14:52 <@kayla> for what? 14:53 <@entropy> for the police to do anything? 14:53 <@kayla> i’d say so 14:53 <@entropy> thats what i think 14:53 <@kayla> why would they go to your work and not your house? 14:53 <@entropy> i have no idea 14:53 <@kayla> i think you’re being paranoid :D 14:53 <&marduk> yah that makes no sense, rly 14:53 <@entropy> ok fuck 14:54 <@entropy> too many wierd things now im fuckign paranoid as shit 14:54 <@entropy> i need to calm the fuck down 15:10 <@entropy> theres two people with my boss in my conf room 15:10 <@entropy> two guys 15:10 <@entropy> i have no fucking idea whats goign on 15:10 <@entropy> should i call a layer before i go in there or ? 15:10 <@entropy> just to be safe? 15:16 <~Avunit> djklgadklgjdlgjak 15:16 <~Avunit> sdgmldgjklal 15:17 <~Avunit> dgjdklagjldgjkladjgkladg 15:18 <~Avunit> we’re getting bullshitted badly rite? 15:18 <~Avunit> entropy 15:18 <@entropy> i fucking wish i was bullshitting 15:18 <@entropy> im goign to fucking throw up 15:19 <~Avunit> jesus shitting fuck
Turns out it was nothing!
Metric and A5h3r4 also provided us with what they say are the actual identities of Sabu, Kayla, Laurelai, Avunit, Topiary, and other members of the chat. We couldn’t connect the handles to the names provided with any certainty, so we’re not publishing them.
But they say they provided the same information to the FBI. When we called the special agent they gave it to, he replied, “as an agent on that case, I’m not going to discuss ongoing investigative matters” and referred us to a spokesman, who had no immediate comment. Metric and A5h3r4 also say they’ve handed the material to the Department of Defense, but declined to identify to whom.
Barrett Brown, who is generally regarded by Anonymous members as a spokesman for the group, said he has known about the “security breach” for some time: “We’re aware of the security breach as other logs from ‘HQ’ have been posted before (and I should note that HQ is not really HQ anyway — you will note that the actual coordination of performed hacks will not appear in those logs). I can tell you that those who were responsible for pulling off HBGary … no longer use that room due not only to this security breach, but other factors as well.” When we repeated Metric and A5h3r4’s claims that Anonymous had become megalomaniacal and vindictive, Brown replied: “I can also confirm that we have become vindicative megalomaniacs.”
An interesting development on the media front of the Japan quake-tsunami-nuclear disaster: some British newspapers are using WikiLeaks’s U.S. embassy cables to report on just how much warning the Japanese government may have had that such a triple-threat disaster was a possibility.
The Guardian ran one such report Monday, headlined “Japan radiation leaks feared as nuclear experts point to possible cover-up.” The article, by reporters John Vidal and Damian Carrington, centered on the debate about whether the Japanese government has been forthcoming in providing information about the fast-changing situation at Fukushima Daiichi, and used an October 2008 U.S. embassy cable to show that there might be a history to such behavior. Carrington and Vidal report:
In a newly released diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks, politician Taro Kono, a high-profile member of Japan’s lower house, tells US diplomats that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry - the Japanese government department responsible for nuclear energy - has been “covering up nuclear accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry”.
In 2008, Kono told them: “The ministries were trapped in their policies, as officials inherited policies from people more senior to them, which they could then not challenge.” He mentioned the dangers of natural disasters in the context of nuclear waste disposal, citing Japan’s “extensive seismic activity, and abundant groundwater, and [he] questioned if there really was a safe place to store nuclear waste in the ‘land of volcanoes’.”
The same cable, which The Guardian has put online, also mentioned that Kono “is relatively young, and very outspoken, especially as a critic of the government’s nuclear policy. During this meeting, he voiced his strong opposition to the nuclear industry in Japan, especially nuclear fuel reprocessing, based on issues of cost, safety, and security.”
Today, another British newspaper, The Telegraph, used a 2008 cable documenting a meeting of the G8’s Nuclear Safety and Security Group in Tokyo to report that an unnamed official “from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a ‘serious problem’ for nuclear power stations.” Steven Swinford and Christopher Hope report:
A US embassy cable obtained by the WikiLeaks website and seen by The Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed expert who expressed concern that guidance on how to protect nuclear power stations from earthquakes had only been updated three times in the past 35 years.
The document states: “He [the IAEA official] explained that safety guides for seismic safety have only been revised three times in the last 35 years and that the IAEA is now re-examining them.
“Also, the presenter noted recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants, and that this is a serious problem that is now driving seismic safety work.”
The cables also disclose how the Japanese government opposed a court order to shut down another nuclear power plant in western Japan because of concerns it could not withstand powerful earthquakes.
The court ruled that there was a possibility local people might be exposed to radiation if there was an accident at the plant, which was built to out of date specifications and only to withstand a “6.5 magnitude” earthquake. Last Friday’s earthquake, 81 miles off the shore of Japan, was a magnitude 9.0 tremor.
The cables may or may not be particularly damning—they are essentially records of dissenting opinions. But it is interesting to see that the WikiLeaks cables are finding a place in the story, just as they did in recent revolutions in the Middle East. We will keep an eye out for any cable-based Japan stories coming out; if you see any, let us know.
While the recorded section played, bombing resumed and Mo went out with his phone to report from where the anti-aircraft guns were being fired. He called in but he noise was so great it was hard to hear or understand what was going on, and then the call dropped out. We don’t know for sure what happened after that. People on twitter said that he was OK but had dropped his phone so I don’t know when it happened. All I have is an unconfirmed report that he was shot in the head by a sniper later that night.
My posterous account and/or tumblr is being buggy and autoposting my Emergency Communications posts to this tumblr instead. Hopefully this will get sorted out soon. Right now is arguably the worst time possible for autoposting problems! Ah!
WikiLeaks sheds light on Monitor Group work with Libyan security organization |
As Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy battles rebels seeking to topple his authoritarian regime, the international media continues to explore the dealings of Cambridge-based Monitor Group. The Massachusetts consulting firm, formed by a group of Harvard University professors, is at the heart of an academic scandal.
The Monitor Group was hired by Khadafy to modernize Libya’s business environment and polish the image of the Khadafy regime. Monitor worked on a flattering biography of the dictator that was never published and helped son Saif Khadafy write his Ph.D. thesis for the
London School of Economics.
Monitor also ran a “visitor” program that may have put the company in violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act and is driving the media scrutiny of the Monitor Group. Less well reported is the work of Monitor to reshape Libya’s security structure.
In a bid to expand the company business with Khadafy, a proposal was made by Mark Fuller, the Monitor Group CEO, to develop and train a new security apparatus. On August 22, 2006, Fuller wrote to Tripoli, “We agree that it is time to set the National Security Council to work.”
Monitor proposed a “personal tutorial curriculum” for Mutassim Khadafy, the dictator’s fourth son and current National Security Advisor. Monitor is a privately held company and it is unknown if Fuller was successful in selling Khadafy his training package.
Fuller, in proposing the National Security Council to Libya, closed Monitor Group’s initial proposal letter, “We are keen to start.”
A WikiLeaks cable from Tripoli. dated December 23, 2007, shows that Monitor’s recommendations were at least partially implemented. Classified “Secret” by Charge d’Affaire Chris Stevens, the WikiLeaks diplomatic cable was sent to the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council.
The secret cable summarized the situation: “Libya’s newly-constituted National Security Council continues to experience growing pains. A shortage of skilled staff, questions about its mandate, and friction between National Security Advisor Mutassim al-Qadhafi with some senior GOL [Government of Libya] officials have limited the NSC’s organizational effectiveness.”
The WikiLeaks cable says the NSC was established in early 2007 by “Law Number Four” and by the end of the year was “experiencing growing pains” with a “shortage of skilled, trained individuals.” Mutassim pulled operatives from various branches of Libyan security agencies over objections because of feared “repercussions if they refused requests from a son of Leader Muammar.”
“NSC as an organization is still trying to define its role,” noted the cable author. Mutassim used his clout to “grow his fiefdom” and recruited the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Public Security and Chief of Defense to serve on his council.
The secret cable concluded: “Mutassim’s ambitions have caused frictions with others in the leadership accords with the view of some local observers that Mutassim is an increasingly important player in the political firmament.”
“Private Manning, unlike most other prisoners, is never allowed to mingle with other prisoners. We consider that to be ‘solitary confinement,’ but the Pentagon says it is not because he is allowed to shout to prisoners elsewhere in his cellblock.”—From a clarification posted to the New York Times’ editorial on alleged WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning. (via danielschulman)
Japan syndrome shows why we need WikiLeaks | The Australian
The damaged third and fourth reactors of the Fukushima No1 power plant. Source: AFP
IN December 2008, an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency pointed to “a serious problem” with nuclear reactors in areas of Japan prone to earthquakes.
Recent earthquakes “have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants”, he told a meeting of the Nuclear Safety and Security Group of the Group of Eight countries. Moreover, safety guides for seismic activity had been revised only three times in the past 35 years, he added.
The information was recorded in a US diplomatic cable and comes to us courtesy of WikiLeaks. So do other cables, including one two years ago in which American officials described Tomihiro Taniguchi, a senior IAEA nuclear safety official and former head of the Japanese agency responsible for nuclear plant security following earthquakes, as “a weak manager and advocate, particularly with respect to confronting Japan’s own safety practices”. A few months earlier, Japanese MP Taro Kono told US diplomats the government was covering up nuclear accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry. The following year, the government reversed a court ruling that a nuclear plant in western Japan had to be closed because it could withstand an earthquake of only 6.5 magnitude.
Unfortunately, all this information, including the original cables, was released only this week, through The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers in Britain. If publicised earlier it might have increased public pressure on the Japanese government to do more to ensure the safety of reactors.
But without WikiLeaks most of it probably never would have seen the light of day. One of the justifications governments use for not releasing information is to avoid “unnecessary” fears.
The Japanese government did not completely ignore the IAEA concerns: it built an emergency response centre at the Fukushima plant. But it was designed to withstand a magnitude 7.0 quake, whereas last week’s was 9.0.
This week Julia Gillard said she had a lot of respect for whistleblowers. Deep Throat had done the right thing in leaking information about Watergate, she told the ABC1’s Q&A program. So had those who had exposed information about the operations of the big tobacco companies.
"They’ve acted for a moral purpose," she said. "I respect that. At the centre of WikiLeaks, I don’t see that moral purpose I can respect whistleblowing if your motivation is to right wrong." But Julian Assange’s motivation was "sort of anarchic". Gillard’s attitude is a rationalisation of her feeling that she has to side with the US on this issue. It is for the same reason that she earlier claimed Assange was acting illegally, though she has been unable to identify which law he has broken.
The Obama administration portrays Assange as a spy, if not terrorist, who is endangering national security. He is not: he heads an organisation that is the recipient of information, which invites leaks but says it does not actively solicit them. It releases documents through news organisations, which then apply normal journalistic procedures, including considering risks to national security or whether any lives could be put in danger.
Assange’s motivation, as interpreted by Robert Manne writing in The Monthly and Inquirer, seems to be to break down authoritarian structures that are preventing the free flow of information. Whether or not that is anarchic, it sounds impossibly idealistic. The US is responding to the leak of cables by increasing the security of its internal communications rather than giving up the fight and opening its files.
In the absence of threats to national security — and the US has yet to identify any — many of the diplomatic cables released so far fall into the same category as Watergate, as well as the Pentagon papers, which exposed US lies about the Vietnam war.
Sometimes governments do not live up to the democratic ideal. If their leaders say one thing in public and another in private, then voters deserve to know.
One clear example of this is in a cable released by WikiLeaks canvassing US concerns that the Rudd government’s 2009 defence white paper appears to rule out support for an American missile defence system because it would harm nuclear deterrence.
This, explained Defence Department deputy secretary Michael Pezzullo to the American embassy in Canberra, had been written to appeal to the anti-Star Wars attitude in Labor’s Left, “but in reality will allow the GOA [government of Australia] to continue its missile defence research and development co-operation with the United States”.
Rudd’s attitude was very different from that of the Left, Pezzullo assured the Americans.
Sure enough, the Gillard government is continuing Australia’s co-operation with development of a missile defence system, which it says publicly is a threat to global nuclear stability. That such a leak is acutely embarrassing to the government is obvious. More important is that Australians deserve to know the truth.
Talking about hypocrisy, we can only marvel at the extent to which Saudi Arabia has the US over a barrel. The Saudis supply not only oil but terrorists, including 15 of the 19 who hijacked the 9/11 planes. Instead of waging war against Saudi Arabia, the US sells it large amounts of defence equipment and keeps pleading with it to do more about terrorism.
In a cable sent to embassies in Riyadh and other capitals in the region in 2009, Hillary Clinton wrote that it had been “an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority”.
Though there had been some important progress, “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide More needs to be done, since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Toiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack] and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan.”
International relations can involve some least worst choices, particularly if you are a superpower. But it still comes as a surprise that the US can have so little regard for the wishes of even its most important allies. Russia insisted in negotiations over a new arms control treaty that it be given more information about Britain’s Trident nuclear missiles. The US asked Britain to agree but it refused. The US gave the Russians the information anyway.
In other respects, the US sometimes behaves as though the Cold War never ended. The cables reveal the US spied on British Foreign Office ministers to collect gossip on their private lives and professional relationships. What are friends for if not to be able to compromise them?
US diplomats do not spend all their time reporting on momentous events. Two years ago, the US embassy in Tripoli passed on to Washington “a cautionary tale” about dealing with Libya.
Italy paid for a Libyan to join students from other countries in a training program in Rome on underwater explosives. After several days of classroom instruction, the instructor told the students to jump into the pool. When the Libyan did not comply, the instructor pushed him in. He “sank like a stone” and had to be pulled out of the pool and have water pumped out of his lungs.
Rather than the anticipated government employee, the non-swimming frogman was the cousin of an official “and had simply wanted a vacation in Rome”. When the Italians raised the matter with Libya, they received “a formal written reply [averring] that it was the responsibility of the Italian government to ensure that candidates for its training programs were properly qualified and that the Italians should have taught him how to swim”.
If they had, he might be mining a few rebel vessels right now.
Turkish newspaper Taraf signs contract with WikiLeaks - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review
Daily Taraf has become the first Turkish partner of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, joining internationally known publications in signing a contract to publish the site’s leaked documents firsthand.
The Turkish daily was picked by WikiLeaks because it is “the bravest newspaper in Turkey,” as described by the site’s founder, Julian Assange.
Taraf will begin publishing Thursday the 11,000 documents it has received regarding Turkey from the era between 2000 and 2010.
According to chief editor Ahmet Altan’s column Wednesday, the documents feature content regarding religious leader Fethullah Gülen, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, the alleged Ergenekon gang, the alleged coup plot codenamed “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, “conflicts between generals” and “secret negotiations of war from business circles.”
The contract between Taraf and WikiLeaks does not include money; nothing was paid between the two parties. Taraf guarantees sensitivity in editing out the names of individuals who might somehow be hurt if exposed but the identities of “people who have the power to defend themselves in an impartial legal process or by employing their political and financial power will not be redacted no matter what judicial system they answer to.”
The original documents will appear online on Taraf’s website and WikiLeaks will perform a “final check” on the stories.
The whistleblower site already has similar contracts with The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel.
Unredacted cable from Sofia shows the total invasion of the state by organized crime (Update: Cable Comparison) | WL Central
UPDATE: The Wikileaks site has now been updated with the uncensored version of the 05SOFIA1207 cable. The full text scores 5226 words compared to the 1406 words in the Guardian redacted version published on December 1 2010. The redactions are shown clearly here (thanks to commenter rhill for pointing it out). The parts that were redacted are green.
That spokesman, who goes by the name Hubris and calls himself BackTrace’s “director of psychological operations,” tells me that the group (Backtrace calls itself a company, but Hubris says it’s still in the process of incorporating) aims to put an end to Anonymous “in its current form.” That form, Hubris argues, is a betrayal of its roots: Fun-loving, often destructive nihilism, not the political hacktivism Anonymous has focused on for much of the past year. “[Anonymous] has truly become moralfags,” says Hubris, using the term for hackers who focus on political and moral causes instead of amoral pranks. “Anonymous has never been about revolutions. It’s not about the betterment of mankind. It’s the Internet hate machine, or that’s what it’s supposed to be.”
Backtrace has posted a triple-encrypted torrent file labeled “insurance”–a tip of the hat to WikiLeaks–on its website, BacktraceSecurity.com, and says it’s posting hundreds of links to copies on filesharing sites. Early next week the group plans to release the keys to unlock that file, which contains the names, pseudonyms, chat logs and methods of the Anonymous hackers. It’s a tactic, Hubris says, designed to cause “maximum fear and distress” for the individuals Backtrace is outing.
Backtrace’s members largely haven’t been active in Anonymous for years–Hubris says he only participated in the anti-Scientology protests in 2009 and none of its more recent operations. But he and others with Backtrace gained access to Anonymous hackers’ information by infiltrating the group with false identities and other “social engineering” tricks that he says fooled members into revealing themselves. “The whole point of this is that we didn’t break any laws,” Hubris says. “All we did was hack peoples’ minds, because they’re fucking retarded.”
An image from the group’s site, Backtracesecurity.com
Backtrace hopes to turn those digital dark arts into a business. Hubris sent me a “mission statement” for the group that calls Backtrace “an information security provider” focusing on “psychological operations/social engineering and deep investigative research.”
“Backtrace Security assists our clients predict and neutralize emerging social threats,” the statement reads. “While other security companies specialize in hardware/software vulnerabilities and exploitation; Backtrace specializes in the human experience.”
Hubris says he’s confident Backtrace won’t face the same fate. He calls the Anonymous hackers “script kiddies” and downplays their skills, arguing that the HBGary hack was based merely on the company’s reusing passwords and falling victim to social engineering. ”If you do enough damage to someone, you don’t have to fear retaliation.” says Hubris. “Once the world sees who these kids are and what they stand for, no one will follow them.”
Hubris hopes to launch Backtrace as a startup while also calling attention to what he sees as Anonymous’ hypocrisy. “They say they fight for free speech, but then they use fear and intimidation, like Scientology or Fox News,” he says. “That’s not freeodm of speech, and we won’t put up with that crap.”
And how would Hubris prefer Anonymous spend its time? “Making fun of stupid people on the Internet. Laughing at natural disasters. Like back to the good old days,” he says. “Not trying to overthrow governments.”