Is Wikileaks on Uncle Sam's Hit List?

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The DoD's proposed solution? Hack Wikileaks to find out who's spilling the beans:

The obscurification technology used by Wikileaks.org has exploitable vulnerabilities. Organizations with properly trained cyber technicians, the proper equipment, and the proper technical software could most likely conduct computer network exploitation (CNE) operations or use cyber tradecraft to obtain access to Wikileaks.org's Web site, information systems, or networks that may assist in identifying those persons supplying the data and the means by which they transmitted the data to Wikileaks.org. ...

Successful identification, prosecution, termination of employment, and exposure of persons leaking the information by the governments and businesses affected by information posted to Wikileaks.org would damage and potentially destroy [its] center of gravity and deter others from taking similar actions.

This intelligence program has been brought to you by Big Brother. Please do not attempt to adjust your computer screen. We are watching.

The big caveat: We don't know what, if anything, came as a result of this memo. Wikileaks is still around, but just barely. No major exposures of its sources have come to light. Maybe somebody in the DoD saw this report and put it in the circular file (or, probably, shared it with Wikileaks).

Still, this is the kind of document that makes you believe all your paranoid conspiracy theories are true.

Wikileaks has many flaws, as I've noted several times in this space over the years. The staff doesn't always exercise sound editorial judgment, in my opinion. And it could very well be gamed by people with an agenda posting false information -- though it seems most of the complaints about the site are about the opposite.

The sad truth is that sites like Wikileaks and Cryptome exist because the mainstream media can no longer be trusted to assume its role as the "fourth estate." Just one example: The New York Times sat on the NSA warrantless wiretapping story for a full year before running it, and nobody in the mainstream media wanted to touch AT&T whistle-blower Mark Klein before he handed his documents over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Imperfect as it is, we need sites like Wikileaks. If they present information that's misleading, there will always be plenty of folks out there willing to correct the record. The fact that our government wanted to turn off its lights -- as China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have attempted to do -- is chilling to me. I hope it's chilling to you too.

So what do you think, Cringesters? Is it chilly enough out there for you? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Did Uncle Sam try to kill Wikileaks?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog.

This story, "Is Wikileaks on Uncle Sam's Hit List?" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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