WikiLeaks has very much been in the headlines for the past two weeks. Its founder, Julian Assange has also been in the spot light and he has been interviewed by many news agencies. He was supposed to appear in Las Vegas at an International Reporters and Editors conference in the first week of July, but he has canceled his scheduled speech. It is rumored that federal agencies have been talking to the conference organizer about Assange’s presence.
Julian Assange, who in 2007 published a classified video of a U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad which killed 12 people (including two Reuters reporters), is in a mysterious cat and mouse game with the U.S. government. Julian Assange, who is Australian born, has been convicted for cybercrimes in Australia and he is a known black hat hacker with Math & Physics degree.
In January, Wikileaks published a classified cable from the U.S. embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland. It appears to describe conversations with Reykjavik officials about the country’s economic crisis and what the United States had been asked to do.
In July 25, 2010, Wikileaks disclosed more than 75,000 confidential files related to the war in Afghanistan. WikiLeaks gave the documents in advance to The New York Times, Germany’s Der Spiegel, and the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, which independently confirmed their authenticity.
The Guardian called the disclosure a “devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan,” saying it reveals how the U.S.-led coalition has killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have risen, and NATO commanders are worrying that neighboring Pakistan and Iran are aiding the insurgency.
WikiLeaks withheld 15,000 of the approximately 92,000 documents in the archive, that was released on Sunday July 25, 2010, to remove the names of informants in what Julian Assange called a “harm minimization” process. However, the 75,000 documents WikiLeaks put online, do provide detailed information about possible informants within Afghanistan.
In July 26, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it is “alarming” to find so many “top-secret documents” from the U.S. military in Afghanistan publicly available, thanks to the document-sharing site.
The Pentagon, spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said it could take weeks to evaluate the information that was released. Uncompressed, the files total about 100 megabytes, which is about 20 times the size of the complete works of William Shakespeare.
NBC News reported that David Lapan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, said that a preliminary review by a Pentagon team has so far not identified any documents whose release could damage national security. What’s more, Lapan said, none of the documents are classified above “secret”, meaning that the archive doesn’t contain any “top secret” documents.
The only things that I can see from the above statements, by the U.S. officials, is contradiction. There is room to consider the possibility of a counter intelligence program by the United States security agencies. WikiLeaks might be an intelligence honeypot trying to identify the possible security breaches within U.S. security agencies and military.
There is other evidence that could be useful in proving this theory. For instance, the released documents are mostly similar in their nature. There are from U.S. military overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, the leaked documents are mostly related to U.S. foreign policy. In other words, the leaked documents have been selected carefully and released in a controlled manner which Mr. Assange is calling the “harm minimization” process.
It is obvious that if WikiLeaks is a U.S. intelligence honeypot it must present itself as a legitimate and independent organization. Which it is managing to do by operating its website outside of the U.S. combined with the huge media coverage.
In addition, the U.S. government needs to align its foreign policies and military activities and this alignment may be triggered by the WikiLeaks document releases. The major changes in the top level of U.S. military service members in Afghanistan and Congress Approval for Supplemental War-Funding Bill might be other possible reasons.
Moreover, the U.S. government has recently demonstrated that it will not tolerate anything that jeopardize its national security. The best example is this CNET report about Blogetery.com.
CNET reported: Blogetery.com, a small blogging platform based in Toronto, was abruptly shut down on July 9 by Burst.net, its Web host, after FBI agents alleged Blogetery was home to links that led to bomb-making tips and the names of Americans targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda.
Now, I need to ask again, who is really behind WikiLeaks?