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    WikiLeaks: The Vorpal Sword

    On Fox/Mox above and as reported in The Raw Story, Ron Paul wishes that Wikileaks would smite the Fed, one of his personal Jabberwocks:

    "What we need is more WikiLeaks about the Federal Reserve," he said. "Can you imagine what it'd be like if we had every conversation in the last 10 years with our Federal Reserve people, the Federal Reserve chairman, with all the central bankers of the world and every agreement or quid-pro-quo they have? It would be massive. People would be so outraged."

    “In a free society we're supposed to know the truth,” Paul insisted. “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.

    Aside from the WikiLeaks angle, I find it sad that Libertarian Ron Paul seems more concerned about where the Fed is funneling money than any Democrat, except outgoing Alan Grayson. Meanwhile in, Why diplomats secretly love WikiLeaks, Foreign Policy claims that some diplomats wish WikiLeaks would make them look smarter:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials have condemned the WikiLeaks document dump -- but judging by my email traffic, not all American officials are all that upset. Some, in fact, are delighted with the whole affair, for reasons ranging from professional pride in their handiwork to the opportunity to air longstanding grievances over possibly wrongheaded public perceptions of foreign events.

    ... cables show one American official after another warning Saakashvili not to go to war, or face precisely the consequence that arrived afterward: permanent doubt in his leadership abroad.

    Diplomats labor under anonymity that some find unbearable; surely many of them dream of writing the next "Long Telegram." So it is that another diplomat told me he can barely wait for WikiLeaks to get around to those he has written over the years. "The leaks save me the trouble of FOIAing my cables," this diplomat told me by email. " ... I'm just anticipating with pleasure seeing some of my reporting."

    But in Cracks in the wilderness of mirrors, at Asia Times, Pepe thinks that the true purpose of WikiLeaks is to bring down the conspiracy:

    ... The bulk of the cablegate-inspired global-talk-show tsunami has totally missed the point. Once again, it doesn't matter that most cables are gossip - trashy tabloid stuff. See it as Assange's way of illustrating how the conspiracy works. He is not interested in journalistic scoops (as much as his media partners, from the Guardian to Der Spiegel may be); what he wants is to strangle the nodes that make the conspiracy possible - to render the system "dumb and dumber".

    Mo Rocca is on CBS Sunday Morning right now playing up the trashy "Us Magazine" aspect of WikiLeaks, while 9/11 truthers think it is a CIA or Mossad plot because none of the leaks support their theories.

    Update: MoxNews clips a CBC report that Paypal is blocking donations to WikiLeaks.

    Silly season: UFO watchers cite a Guardian article in which Assange slightly mentions UFOs to claim that WikiLeaks next dump will contain revelations about aliens. Russia Today thinks the media is trying to distract us from WikiLeaks, then distracts us by asking the man-in-the-street what he thinks.



    I watched a few minutes of Fox News and they were stressing that Assange is threatening a doomsday dump if the attacks and threats to him do not cease. This begs a question if true as presented.
     If such documents exist and are in his hands, is he not then required by his own stated standards and philosophy to release them? How could he hold them back as insurance so that he could continue to release only embarrassing documents and still maintain any credibility as  a principled actor?

    The dump has already occurred, but Assange holds the encryption key. Your observation is similar to Another Trope's contention that Assange is unlike say, Nelson Mandela, who was willing to spend time in prison as part of his protest.

    Right, but I consider that the verdict is still out because we do not yet know how Assange will play out the end game.
     With all the speculation I am still wondering what could be leaked that would be a "doomsday dump". Conspiracy theory standard debunktion says that it could not involve too many people or else we would already know about it, or at least have had hints. I would speculate that actions by an organization like the CIA which are surrounded by a developed methodology of secrecy might fit the bill. Maybe proof that something completely outrageous by such an organization was signed off on by the leader of a country. Maybe something referencing a small tight knitted group like the Fed. Maybe................?

    From what I've read, the zip file isn't large enough to be the BoA revelations.

    The file is old news, BTW. And the reason being given for the file may partly be rumor started by Cryptome?

    WikiLeaks Posts Mysterious ‘Insurance’ File

    By Kim Zetter
    July 30, 2010

    In the wake of strong U.S. government statements condemning WikiLeaks’ recent publishing of 77,000 Afghan War documents, the secret-spilling site has posted a mysterious encrypted file labeled “insurance.”

    The huge file, posted on the Afghan War page at the WikiLeaks site, is 1.4 GB and is encrypted with AES256. The file’s size dwarfs the size of all the other files on the page combined. The file has also been posted on a torrent download site.

    WikiLeaks, on Sunday, posted several files containing the 77,000 Afghan war documents in a single “dump” file and in several other files containing versions of the documents in various searchable formats.

    Cryptome, a separate secret-spilling site, has speculated that the new file added days later may have been posted as insurance in case something happens to the WikiLeaks website or to the organization’s founder, Julian Assange. In either scenario, WikiLeaks volunteers, under a prearranged agreement with Assange, could send out a password or passphrase to allow anyone who has downloaded the file to open it.


    continued @

    Can anyone find a reference to Assange or Wikilieaks giving a "blackmail" or "insurance" type reason for that file? I didn't, but I didn't look long.


    Can anyone find a reference to Assange or Wikilieaks giving a "blackmail" or "insurance" type reason for that file? I didn't, but I didn't look long."

    What? I heard it on Fox! What more do you want?

     Seriously though, it is possible, maybe likely, that the insurance dump is merely the original material that was cached before any redactions were made. 
     I know you are averse to speculation but the article you linked to includes this:

    "Additionally, Manning said he sent Assange video showing a deadly 2009 U.S. firefight near the Garani village in Afghanistan that local authorities say killed 100 civilians, most of them children...."

     I can imagine that if it is as explicit as the helicopter video and shows U.S troops targeting what was known to include a large group of children, it could be/should be, very explosive. Bad as it was, if there had been video footage of Medina and Calley ordering their troops to fire into th ditch at MyLai and footage of them doing so, it would have been much worse. 

    To my knowledge, it's not something they've discussed directly.  Rather, it seems to be an assumption based on the fact that the released file is named "insurance."

    Can anyone find a reference to Assange or Wikilieaks giving a "blackmail" or "insurance" type reason for that file?

    I don't know if they had done so previously (I sort of think they said in general terms when the file was first released - not entirely sure though). Either way, Assange's lawyer made statements of this nature just today.

    Thanks! So my bad on Fox--they were not just making stuff up this time or even just beating an old horse.

    It's not just Assange & the UK ramping things up:

    On Monday, as Mr. Assange’s lawyers said he would meet with the British police about criminal charges involving sexual encounters in Sweden, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Justice Department had “a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature” into the WikiLeaks matter.

    “I authorized just last week a number of things to be done so that we can hopefully get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable,” he said at a news conference, declining to elaborate.

    Mr. Holder’s statement followed Mr. Assange’s assertion that “over 100,000 people” had been given the entire archive of 251,287 cables “in encrypted form.”


    Founder of WikiLeaks Threatens to Release More Secret Dispatches
    By SCOTT SHANE, December 6, 2010


    You bring up a criticism Assange has been getting in the open-info community since the war dumps. Places like Cryptome have been criticizing him for not just dumping the whole dataset as acquired. Wikileaks has a layer that they call "harm reduction" in their policy that is kind of unique in the community - or at least an addition to the ethics of open-info proponents.

    I think you are mischaracterizing the "insurance" files. My understanding is that these are the raw files - unredacted and unfiltered. All of it. Informant names (for real), active tactical ops, the whole nine. The file is big enough to be holding something like 10.5x more data than the War Diaries. The implicit threat is: "You can't keep this stuff from seeing the light of day! Do you want it out there raw ... or do you prefer the Wikileaks harm-reduced coordinated releases where the data is previewed in advance by CIA/DoD intermediaries?". The NYT is clearly operating as a government asset in this regard.

    Currently, Wikileaks folks are blaming "harm minimization" for making the process of releasing stuff go very slowly - and harassing their organization is one way to slow it down from the US government side of the equation. Not sure why they want to prolong it instead of just letting it dump and quickly moving the narrative on during the holiday season (maybe their decision to slide in the Fed "audit" data using this a cover has something to do with it?).

    In the absence of any other evidence, why would we assume that it is a desire to only release only embarrassing cables that has prevented a wholesale release - and not simple logistics caused by the Wikileak's added layer? Browsing the data certainly shows a pretty strong mix of all sorts of crap ranging from banal/mundane to embarrassing/revealing. It appears to be the MSM picking out only the embarrassing ones to highlight.

    Browsing the data certainly shows a pretty strong mix of all sorts of crap ranging from banal/mundane to embarrassing/revealing. It appears to be the MSM picking out only the embarrassing ones to highlight.

    Because it makes for good television. Where as the banal/mundane does not.

    Here's what they say at Zero Hedge.

    ... from German website, google translated:

    These documents should include names of spies, informers, terrorists and dissidents, as well as many other "explosive information". The difference from the published documents at the beginning of this week is that this information has not been edited by English newspaper editors.

    Also that the file is only 1.4 Gb, smaller than what is expected for the BoA dump..

    You and Zero Hedge are both pretending to know more than you do.  First, it's an assumption that the file contains information about Bank of America specifically or strictly.  It's purely speculative and based on Assange stating that they had 5GB of BofA info about one year ago.  Of course, if you actually read what Assange said in the interview, then you know that that at least one of the reasons Wikileaks hasn't simply dumped the whole thing is because they want to process the info prior to release.  Additionally, he has recently said that the forthcoming bank dump will likely affect one or two banks.  It could very well contain some of the BofA and info and/or info acquired since.  It could contain strictly new info.  If the insurance file actually contains BofA data, it could easily contain some or none of it.

    Futhermore, the idea that you know anything about the contents of a file that is encrypted and compressed strictly based on the file size is silly.  For all anyone without the encryption key knows, the insurance file could simply be a bluff.

    You are pretending that I was pretending.

    No, I'm taking you at your word:

    From what I've read, the zip file isn't large enough to be the BoA revelations.

    As I explained above, you're basing this on a statement that Assange made a year ago about the (likely uncompressed) size of the information they have on BofA.  The bottom line is that you don't know what's in the file, but you're pretending like you know enough to rule out that it contains information about BofA.  There are some good reasons that it might not, but the file size has nothing to do with it.

    To put a finer point on it, the best English text compression algorithms can compress text by nearly 90% without the aid of an external dictionary.  So, hopefully this will put to bed your insistence that you can know that 5GB of data just can't be compressed to 1.4GB.  It is entirely possible that the insurance file contains not only the entire BofA dump, but much more.

    Also, the first commenter on the Zero Hedge link explains why their call to get the file decrypted is so stupid, which is that the insurance file is encrypted with AES256.  No one is just going to break the encryption.  Zero Hedge is clearly out of their depth on this story.

    So in your world, citing a source = "pretending to know." Not in my world, and not worth even this much discussion.

     KGB, Your comment appears to be directed at me. When I suggested the Assange was obligated to release everything I should have said "eventually". My thinking was that something bad enough to be insurance would need to be released or Assange would be violating his expressed policy and philosophy.
     As to my characterization of the "insurance files" my comment quoted Fox News' characterization of them as being a possible "Doomsday dump" and I wondered what they might contain to deserve that kind of name. Later, when AA pointed out that they had been released in encrypted form months ago, I acknowledged that, just as you say, they may be the raw files.
     I agree with your comment except that I think you got my comment slightly wrong.

    I really don't know why anyone takes Ron Paul, the anti-government crusader seriously, for God's sake the dude is in the government!!!!

    On to the analogies in the Asia times, thanks for link by the way, good article:

    That's how we get to the Assange strategy of deploying a tsunami of leaks as a key actor/vector in the informational landscape. And that takes us to another crucial point: it doesn't matter whether these leaks are new, gossip or wishful thinking (as long as they are authentic). The - very ambitious - mother idea is to undermine the system of information and thus "force the computer to crash", making the conspiracy turn against itself in self-defense. WikiLeaks believes we can only destroy a conspiracy by rendering it hallucinatory and paranoid in relation to itself.

    forcing the computer to crash, really.. well I think the problem with the Assange and the libertarian horde, so convinced they are right, and they have predicted one outcome. However, their own predictions have fallen quite short. Their over riding belief  that the system will shutdown fails to account for complexity.  The theory of complexity tells us that there are many outcomes because of the release of information, but first and foremost the system will react in a way that it will attempt to preserve itself. And that is the problem with the Paul's and Assanges of the world, they don't recognize complexity, to them the world is black and white.

    Thanks Donal!

    The system is going to fall. The ultimate example of planned obsolescence. Whether Assange is completely successful in his endeavors or not. Whether he is jailed or not. It was designed that way.

    What "system" do you mean that will fail because it was designed with the intention that it fail?

    Our pseudo Democratic Capitalistic system.

    Assange certainly is not a libertarian (or any faction of the US political diaspora). I think you are dead wrong on his understanding of complexity. More to the point, it appears Assange is counting on it. When dealing with something of this complexity, you've got to think of it more like reinforcement training in a neural network. Put roughly, the theory being that society can only operate as a healthy network in making good decisions if the agent performing action y[t] which forms the basis of observation [x]t and assessment of instantaneous cost [c]t is actually performing the actions they say they are. Otherwise x[t] and c[t] are weighted based on an invalid set of assumed actions leading the network to associate the observed outcome x[t] and assessed cost c[t] to the wrong action y[t] ... system weighting either in the direction of or away from that particular y[t] in a fashion unhinged from reality.

    It gets even more complex because what we really have is the agents who serve the role of feeding y[t] into the public neural process intentionally providing an invalid description of the actions - or trying to keep actions from becoming training inputs at all. These folks are maintaining their own parallel structure trained with accurate inputs for y[t] (from the standpoint of their own actions) with expected outcomes from those using the "public neural network" intentionally trained with inaccurate data becoming an additional y[t] point in their own neural process.

    What Assange is doing is weighting nodes - regiggering costs like crazy. For example, from the NYT perspective there is now a whole different cost assigned for parroting a "fact" on the wars or diplomacy from "unnamed administration officials" which everyone knows is untrue yet niceties require "journalists" to pretend otherwise. If something they print can be disproved with primary source materials available to anyone, publishing inaccuracy becomes a question of credibility for the organization ... if discredited, those who use it as a mouthpiece certainly wouldn't find the Grey Lady of such utility, so they tend to be more weighted to not using the tactic of asking the press to print untrue stuff anonymously. It's not just one outcome, it's tuning the system to statistically be weighted in one direction vs. another.

    There is no way in hell to just shut the machine down nor is that even necessarily a desired outcome (I think that would ultimately require extinction). It's more a matter of shorting out a series of bad decision-node clusters. As you point out, the function the network will be solving is always going to be "self preservation". His theory is that if enough nodes that are currently low-cost due to secrecy are weighted more heavily, the expected cumulative cost will tend to push solutions away from those nodes. The goal is to weight things in such a such a way that the least-cost solution to self preservation goes through a more desirable path. He believes that this is most likely if there is an accurate public perception of y[t] as it relates to x[t] and c[t] - if the neural processes used by both the public and policy makers are generally tuned. This idea actually relies on society behaving in reasonably close adherence to complexity theory in order to work.

    I'm not saying his theory is 100% right, time will tell, but don't sell it short. They've only been provided leaked documents related to the US within like the last 10 months or so, but Wikileaks has been doing what it's doing for quite some time. Too many people are trying to make Wikileaks out to be a group that exists to oppose or embarrass the US. Until quite recently our politicos were celebrating them getting information out from some seriously repressive regimes.


    Assange may not be a strict Libertarian, but he did say this to Forbes:

    It’s not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I’ve learned from many. But one is American libertarianism, market libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I’m a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free.

    Even though he's using the word "libertarian" here, what he describes is probably better termed "market liberalism," which is a very mainstream view in contemporary economics.  His statement about forcing markets to be free falls completely outside of the bounds of the Austrian economics that contemporary American libertarians seem to adhere to, which denies that monopolies ever exist without government support.  Forcing a market to be free is something that they would not suggest.

    Heh. I think he's making that a part of his rhetoric now; heard something really similar the other day from a different place. But his link is that he likes the idea of a free market "forced to be free". I'm wagering that in practice his assessment of how this is best accomplished would be akin to the EU model - not exactly a Libertarian-supported point of view. Pretty loose association.

    Your implied point that there is overlap between how open-data advocates and Libertarians view the world on several areas is sound. I was reacting to the boxing of Assange with Paul as having identical libertarian political views and then trivially dismissing both with a shallow treatment of complexity modeling and an assertion that libertarians only see their actions in terms of absolutes and don't take complexity into account. In context, I think it's fair to say Ron Paul and Julian Assange are from two entirely different universes (IMO the assessment of Paul is kind of off base too for an entirely different set of reasons ... I figured discussing Assange was more on-topic).

    I found the question about the founder's expectations of impact from what Wikileaks does far more interesting than what political box Assange can be crammed into.

    Fascinating. It's as if we may be spared years of rationing of "inside stories" by news machines, during which time dubious policies are enacted outside our purview, and brought around to real time observation of what actually is going on--hopefully in time to have a voice in things. A reordering of "news" and the fourth estate.  I think that's a good thing.  

    Assange sounds like the typical libertarian/anarchist adolescent nitwit with the usual contorted thinking about freedom and government.

    It's funny enough when Ron Paul manages to hit another one out of the park.

    He's sometimes quite the nutcake, and sometimes spot on.

    Better than these guys who always seem to be disappointing.

    good one. nice and good site

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