I’ve been dealing with a family illness, but couldn’t let the Wikileaks Cablegate incident pass without comment. In between hospital visits, I’ve been jotting down links related to the historic leak.
It’s a stunning experiment of forced transparency, prying open government against its will without much care or concern about the ramifications. Wikileaks is the Pirate Bay of journalism — an unstoppable force disrupting whole industries because they can.
To help make sense of my own opinions about it, I rounded up some of the more interesting responses and visualizations. Enjoy.
The Story So Far
Wikileaks is offering the diplomatic cables directly from their website, with 278 available from over 250,000 to be released in stages over the next few months. View them here, or any number of mirrors. Alternately, StateLogs lets you browse and search the complete collection.
The Guardian offered the best coverage, in my opinion, including a data dump of all the metadata in CSV format and on Google Fusion. The Guardian’s liveblog from Monday showed how the story rolled out as it happened, and today’s liveblog is an excellent up-to-the-minute list of the fallout.
Reuters country-by-country summary of the revelations in the release.
In a long interview with Forbes, Julian Assange says that half their leaks are from the private sector, they’re getting an exponential increase in leaks, and are planning a leak for a major U.S. bank in early 2011. Bank of America shares were down on the rumors. In today’s interview with TIME, he says Hillary Clinton should step down.
If you’re wondering about Assange’s broader motivations for Wikileaks, this great post surfaces some of his earlier writing about hampering America’s ability to keep secrets. (Or you can dig around yourself through his old blog, available from Archive.org.)
Personally, I’d love to hear more about James Ball, a data journalist who worked closely with Wikileaks to analyze the data. In this NBC Nightly News interview, he says he’s not an employee, but in another Telegraph interview, says he’s paid by Wikileaks. I’d love more details.
Marc Ambinder explains some of the technical details about how modern diplomatic cables are stored and transmitted. In short: PDFs in Outlook PST files transmitted over SIPRnet (which was disconnected last week) and then burned to a mislabeled CD while lip-syncing Lady Gaga.
David Horn made a lovely tag cloud of the most commonly used terms in the cables so far.
You can download all the files yourself from the Pirate Bay.
Who supports Wikileaks?
Not many public figures!
Rep. Ron Paul is the most (only?) notable American politician to support them publicly. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”
Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. In an NBC interview, the Bradley Manning of the 1970s said the release was “useful… and the public deserves to know.” And Noam Chomsky, who also assisted with the Pentagon Papers.
In the media, the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins wrote a compelling column defending Wikileaks, saying, “It is for governments – not journalists – to guard public secrets, and there is no national jeopardy in WikiLeaks’ revelations.” Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, Slate’s Jack Schafer, and The Economist’s Will Wilkinson also defended Wikileaks.
The newspapers that had access to the material didn’t take a position, but obviously felt the material was newsworthy. The New York Times discussed the decision to publish, and responded to readers’ questions today.
In one of my favorite articles so far, the New Yorker’s Blake Eskin draws parallels to Facebook and other online privacy scandals.
Oddly, Rush Limbaugh seems to approve of the leaks.
In the tech world, EFF cofounder John Perry Barlow’s publicly supported Wikileaks and Assange from his Twitter account. Free Software Foundation/GNU creator Richard Stallman supports the Wikileaks release on his political blog.
It won’t surprise many that Pirate Bay cofounder Peter Sunde positions it as a free speech issue.
The ACLU agrees, saying “We’re deeply skeptical that prosecuting WikiLeaks would be constitutional, or a good idea… The American public should not have to depend on leaks to the news media and on whistleblowers to know what the government is up to.”
The EFF denounced Amazon’s decision to shut down Wikileaks’ hosting. “In the end, it’s not just WikiLeaks that suffers from corporate policies that suppress free speech, here on matters of intense public importance. It’s also readers, who lose out on their First Amendment right to read the information WikiLeaks publishes.” They later published a broader statement of support.
Reporters Without Borders made a public statement Saturday in support of Wikileaks. “Reporters Without Borders can only condemn this determination to hound Assange and reiterates its conviction that WikiLeaks has a right under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment to publish these documents and is even playing a useful role by making them available to journalists and the greater public.”
Who’s against Wikileaks?
Most US politicians, left and right, came out forcefully against Wikileaks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: told reporters, “It is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.”
NATO condemned the release, saying “it endangers civilians and military personnel… It is illegal, irresponsible and dangerous.”
George W. Bush, Senator Joe Lieberman. Rick Santorum calls the Wikileaks release “terrorism.” Mike Huckabee wants Assange executed. Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook that Julian Assange is “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands.”
Most world governments denounced Wikileaks. China won’t comment on the contents of the leak, but blocked access to Wikileaks, citing the preservation of US-China relations. The Russian government wants to destroy Wikileaks before they leak KGB info. In the UK, Downing Street and Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP (Chairman of the UK Intelligence and Security Committee and former Foreign Secretary) denounced the leak.
Bill O’Reilly says the leakers should be executed or spend life in prison.
Wikipedia cofounder (and critic) Larry Sanger wrote that, “I consider you enemies of the U.S. — not just the government, but the people.” He expanded on his view in a larger essay, stating, “Julian Assange is no hero. He is a twit… He gives hackers a bad name.”
In the middle?
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims the release wasn’t an accidental leak, but a psychological warfare campaign by the United States.
The Internet Responds
Taiwan’s NMA News does the obligatory CG reenactment.
Dan Gillmor posed some thoughtful questions for Wikileaks, journalists, and the U.S. government.
Also: Julian Assange and Bradley Manning costumes from Halloween. (No Rule 34 yet, though.)
4chan could not be reached for comment.
The Daily Show chimed in last night, making fun of everyone involved.
Bowing to political pressure from Joe Lieberman, Amazon kicked Wikileaks off of Amazon Web Services this morning leading to some temporary downtime. Wikileaks responded by moving to European servers, saying, “If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.”
Will Wilkinson at the Economist followed up his earlier Wikileaks defense with a thoughtful new post on how technology enables leaks, with or without Wikileaks. “Jailing Thomas Edison in 1890 would not have darkened the night.”
McSweeney’s: Fragments from Wikileaks: The Musical. “To radically shift regime behavior We must accept a new kind of savior; How can any authority control what we see When all information wants to be free?”
The Onion: Julian Assange Fired From IT Job At Pentagon
The ACLU spoke out in support of Wikileaks, saying it’s a First Amendment issue.
Tableau Software, the site that hosting the official Wikileaks visualizations, pulled them offline, citing copyright and the indirect public request from Joe Lieberman.
The free EveryDNS service canceled Wikileaks’ DNS service, blaming capacity issues, effectively making wikileaks.org inaccessible. Wikileaks is still in control of the domain, which is registered with the U.S.-based Dynadot domain registrar. For unknown reasons, they haven’t yet switched DNS to another provider, choosing instead to switch domains entirely Swiss domain wikileaks.ch, though also with DNS provided by EveryDNS. Unsurprisingly, the domain is currently inaccessible.
Don’t miss Julian Assange’s live Q&A with the Guardian this morning, with questions provided by readers. He confirms that the encrypted insurance torrent contains the complete diplomatic cables archive and, to the delight of conspiracy theorists everywhere, that “in yet-to-be-published parts of the cablegate archive there are indeed references to UFOs.”
The EFF denounced Amazon’s decision to shut down Wikileaks’ hosting. “In the end, it’s not just WikiLeaks that suffers from corporate policies that suppress free speech, here on matters of intense public importance. It’s also readers, who lose out on their First Amendment right to read the information WikiLeaks publishes.”
EFF cofounder John Perry Barlow is publicly supporting Wikileaks from his Twitter account. “Years ago, I wore a button for some time that declared: ‘I am Salman Rushdie.’ Now: I am Julian Assange.”
Some extended background that was new to me: an interview from September with Julian Assange’s 20-year-old son, Daniel.
Nieman Journalism Lab argues that the Wikileaks cables were a positive force for mainstream and non-traditional journalism.
Joe Lieberman, riding the anti-Wikileaks wave as far as he can, introduced legislation making it a federal crime to publish the name of a U.S. intelligence source.
Today, Rep. Ron Paul publicly supported Wikileaks become one of the only U.S. politicians to support Wikileaks, in a Fox News interview and from his Twitter account. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”
PayPal permanently suspended Wikileaks’ account used for fundraising, citing terms of service violations for facilitating illegal activity.
In response to the attempts to shut down Wikileaks DNS and hosting, hundreds of fan-made mirrors are appearing online. The Pirate Party site is hosting an automated mirror list, which periodically checks for uptime. Many more have been posted to Twitter with the #imwikileaks hashtag. The official Wikileaks site was offering a self-serve mirroring service, but the form currently submits to an inaccessible IP address.
Julian Assange’s Swiss bank account, used for personal assets and the legal defense fund, was closed. The bank claims the funds will be returned.
The official mirror list now shows more than 500 active Wikileaks mirrors.
The Atlantic made CableGateRoulette, a random leaked cable with every view.
Julian Assange was taken into UK custody related to the Swedish sex offenses and denied bail because he’s a flight risk. He’ll remain in custody until December 14, when his extradition hearing is scheduled. He’s promised that cable releases will continue in the interim.
Following Paypal and the Swiss bank PostFinance, Visa and Mastercard both cancelled the accounts used by Wikileaks for donations.
Senator Joe Lieberman expanded his attack on Wikileaks, told Fox News that the New York Times chould now be investigated by the Justice Dept.
In totally unrelated news, the U.S. State Department today announced the U.S. will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011. “New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.”
Anonymous successfully DDOSed Mastercard, taking down parts of their payments infrastructure in the process.
The EFF published a strong statement of support for Wikileaks. “Shutting down sites like WikiLeaks is a very serious attack on freedom of expression.”
Kevin Rudd, Australia’s foreign minister, said Wikileaks was not responsible for the security breach. More a statement of fact than actual support, he said, “The core responsibility, and therefore legal liability, goes to those individuals responsible for that initial unauthorised release.”
Julian Assange may be in a London prison, but the cable releases continue as promised, with new revelations daily.
So do the Anonymous DDOS attacks, with Visa successfully brought offline yesterday, an unsuccessful attempt at taking down Amazon, and fairly-successful shot at Paypal today.
Gregor Aisch visualized the Wikileaks mirrors on a map, and how it’s grown over the last few days. (Though calling it a network is inaccurate, the mirrors are static archives and not actually connected to one another. Some are pushed updates from a central source, others are periodically updated manually.)
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is perhaps the first world leader to publicly support Wikileaks. The Russian president’s office suggested Julian Assange should be nominated for a Nobel Prize.
This morning brings the most shocking cable so far, currently spreading like wildfire on Twitter.
SVT released a rough cut of WikiRebels, an hour-long documentary by two filmmakers who’ve followed Wikileaks since Summer 2010. It includes interviews with the key players, concluding just after the Iraq war papers in late October.
The Guardian published a collection of reactions around the world.
Former Wikileaks employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg talks about OpenLeaks, which is set to launch next week.
I’m wrapping up these daily updates. You can keep up on the news at The Guardian, the Wikileaks tag on Delicious, and Dave Winer’s new WikiRiver aggregator. And here’s an updated list of Wikileaks mirrors, checked often.