03-17-2011 by L. S. Carbonell
What if everything we think we know about WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning are not entirely accurate? How does that change the whole narrative about both of them?
Tucked deep inside the February 7-13 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, on pages that aren’t even numbered, at the staples, is a four-column story by Michael Riley about a report from the Internet security firm Tiversa that offers evidence that WikiLeaks rarely deals in documents put into their drop-box by whistle-blowers, but is actually hacking for its “big revelations.”
There is something called a Peer-to-Peer, an application that people use to share files such as pirated movies, music and porn. As Tiversa explained it, an employee of a company or government agency, bored out of his or her mind, decides to get on one of the P2P sites and download a new movie. There is a factor to these sites that can allow someone else on the site to enter the company or agency network through the portal that has been opened up for the download. (If I didn’t get that all in the right language, please excuse me. I’m barely one step up from a total tech-dummy.) Tiversa says that any P2P network has the capability of entering any network that it is contacted by.
Tiversa has tracked very heavy traffic from a “cluster” of computers in Sweden two months before their “release” of secret documents relating to the technical capabilities of the U. S. Navy’s Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. It was probably through a P2P link that WikiLeaks found the documents. This wasn’t the only incident they were able to track. All involved a group of computers in Sweden and were followed by releases from WikiLeaks.
Naturally, WikiLeaks’ London attorney, Mark Stephens, denied the report, saying it was “completely false in every regard.” WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have always insisted that they simply published documents that are sent to them, anonymously or otherwise.
There is an enormous difference, in purely legal terms, between accepting files from a whistle-blower and actively hacking into corporate or government networks. It’s the difference between being the New York Times handling the Pentagon Papers and charges of espionage. It is the difference between not facing any criminal charges and spending the rest of one’s life in prison. WikiLeaks leader Birgitta Jonsdottir is a member of the Icelandic parliament, a fact that could place the whole operation in far greater legal jeopardy than if they were all civilians. Multinational corporations pick and choose which country will be their corporate headquarters. If it can be proven that all those corporate files that Assange claims WikiLeaks has and routinely threatens the world with were hacked, he should stop worrying about the United States filing an extradition request for his butt, and start worrying about countries that are far less nice than we are. A jail cell in Sweden could look really good compared to where he might end up.
With all due credit and whatever apologies are desired by Mr. Riley, if he really wants WikiLeaks fans to “rethink their view of WikiLeaks and its founder as the Second Coming of Woodward and Bernstein” he needs a bigger circulation than Bloomberg Businessweek, or even being covered in business and tech magazines. Mr. Riley’s article is sufficient reason for people to stop suggesting Ralph Fiennes as a possible Assange in the movie and agree that the perfect actor for the role is D. J. Qualls of Memphis Beat and My Name Is Earl.