Tag Archives: WikiLeaks

Pompeo vs. WikiLeaks: It’s No Contest

English: A van that purports to be the 'WikiLe...
English: A van that [falsely] purports to be the ‘WikiLeaks Top Secret Information Collection Unit’ parked at the protest event Occupy Wall Street in New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last July, while stumping for then-candidate, now-president Donald Trump, US Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) gleefully referenced nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee emails released by the transparency/disclosure journalists at Wikileaks. “Need further proof that the fix was in from Pres. Obama on down?” Pompeo tweeted. The emails showed that DNC officials had worked overtime to rig their party’s primaries for eventual nominee Hillary Clinton and against challenger Bernie Sanders.

What a difference nine months makes! On April 13, Pompeo — now in charge at the Central Intelligence Agency — used the bully pulpit of his first public speech in his new job to call out his old ally as “a nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

WikiLeaks says that no, it is not in fact abetted by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

If I have to choose between believing WikiLeaks or believing Mike Pompeo, I’ll believe WikiLeaks six days a week and twice on Sunday.

Over the course of more than a decade, WikiLeaks has built a sterling reputation for delivering the real goods on various governments (including Russia’s). The next document it releases which is shown to be fake will be the first. WikiLeaks has earned the trust of the public — and moreover, it has shown that it trusts the public with information about what our governments are doing in our names and with our money.

The US intelligence community, on the other hand, spies on us, lies to us about it, and expects us to pick up the check even after decades of irrefutable evidence of its dishonesty and incompetence.

The publicly released evidence for Pompeo’s allegation that WikiLeaks is in bed with the Russians is: Zero, zip, zilch, nada, a big fat goose-egg. If Pompeo has any such evidence, he’s keeping it secret. And  that’s not very believable: After all, the CIA has done a pretty poor job of keeping secrets lately.  WikiLeaks is in the process of releasing “Vault 7,” a trove of CIA documents revealing the agency’s work to subvert the electronic devices we all use on a daily basis and spy on us through them.

If Pompeo had any evidence that WikiLeaks was working with or for Putin, someone (maybe even WikiLeaks itself) would likely have already procured and published that information. Just sayin’.

WikiLeaks has changed the world, and it’s changed it for the better. Pompeo and his old and busted spy mill, not so much.

 

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION  HISTORY

Vault 7: What it Means for You

The -foot ( m) diameter granite CIA seal in th...
CIA seal in the lobby of the original headquarters building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On March 7, the transparency/disclosure activists at Wikileaks began releasing a series of documents titled “Vault 7.” According to the New York Times, Vault 7 consists of “thousands of pages describing sophisticated software tools and techniques used by the [US Central Intelligence Agency] to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.”

If the documents are authentic — and WikiLeaks has a sterling reputation when it comes to document authenticity — every paranoid thriller you’ve ever watched or read was too timid in describing a hypothetical surveillance state. Even the telescreens and random audio bugs of George Orwell’s 1984 don’t come close to the reality of the CIA’s surveillance operations.

In theory, the CIA doesn’t spy on Americans in America. In fact, digital traffic pays no heed to national borders, and the tools and tactics described have almost certainly been made available to, or independently developed by, other US surveillance agencies, not to mention foreign governments and non-government actors.

Bottom line: You should accept the possibility that for the last several years anything you’ve done on, or in the presence of, a device that can connect to the Internet was observed, monitored, and archived as accessible data.

Paranoid? Yes. But the paranoia is justified.

Even if “they”  — the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, some random group of credit card thieves or voyeurs or whatever — aren’t out to get you in particular, they consider your personal privacy a technical obstacle to overcome, not a value to respect.

If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear? Everyone has something to hide. Somewhere, some time, you’ve said or done something you regret or wouldn’t want the world to know. And you probably said or did it within a few feet of your smartphone, your laptop, or your Internet-connected television. Maybe nobody was listening or watching. Or maybe someone was. The only plausible conclusion from the Vault 7 disclosures is that you should assume the latter.

Vault 7 confirms that as a state entity, the CIA answers to philosopher Anthony de Jasay’s description of the state as such. Just as a firm acts to maximize profits, the state and its arms act to maximize their own discretionary power. Even if it doesn’t do some particular thing, it requires the option, the ability to do that thing. It seeks omnipotence.

The abuses of our privacy implied by the WikiLeaks dump aren’t an aberration. They’re the norm. They’re what government does.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION  HISTORY

Snowden and Media Friends: L’etat, C’est Nous

Louis XIV (seated) and family. (Image credit: Wikipedia)

“[T]he return of this information to the public marks my end,” Edward Snowden told the Washington Post‘s Barton Gellman prior to telling that public — under the auspices of several journalists and publications — about the NSA’s PRISM program and other horrors of the modern American surveillance state.

Snowden did indeed suffer for his good deeds:  These days he lives in exile in Russia, awaiting a day when he might return home to some fate other than life in a prison cell at the hands of the criminals whose misdeeds he exposed.

It’s a shame to see Snowden picking a public fight with Wikileaks, an organization dedicated to a similar mission whose leader, Julian Assange, himself suffers a form of exile in Ecuador’s London embassy (one of his sources, American political prisoner Chelsea Manning, has it worse: She’s serving a 35-year sentence in Leavenworth for her heroism in exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan).

On July 28, Snowden took Wikileaks to task via Twitter: “Democratizing information has never been more vital, and @Wikileaks has helped,” he wrote. “But their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake.”

Presumably Snowden’s ire applies to previous Wikileaks operations such as “Collateral Murder” and “Cablegate,” not just to this last week’s uncensored dumps of emails exposing the internal workings of Turkey’s government and of the US Democratic National Commitee.

The Wikileaks response (presumably tweeted by Assange) dripped vinegar: “Opportunism won’t earn you a pardon from Clinton & curation is not censorship of ruling party cash flows.”

I hesitate to criticize Snowden, or to impute to him the motives implied in the Wikileaks response. The sacrifices he’s made command a great deal of respect from those of us who value truth and transparency.

Nonetheless, Wikileaks is right and Snowden is wrong here.

Good and honest motives or not, Snowden and the journalists who help him disseminate “curated” selections from the information in his possession have set themselves up as little governments. They’re not “return[ing] this information to the public” which theoretically owns it. They’re merely parceling out the information THEY’VE decided it’s OK for the public to have. But the the NSA and the US State Department do the same thing. Snowden and friends differ from those organizations merely on content selection criteria, not on the principles involved.

Snowden and Assange both serve the public. But only one of them seems to actually trust that public.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY