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US Intelligence Planned To Destroy WikiLeaks

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the how's-that-working-out-for-you dept.

Government 555

An anonymous reader writes "This document is a classified (SECRET/NOFORN), 32-page US counterintelligence investigation into WikiLeaks (PDF). 'The possibility that current employees or moles within DoD or elsewhere in the US government are providing sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out.' It concocts a plan to fatally marginalize the organization. Since WikiLeaks uses 'trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers or whistleblowers,' the report recommends 'The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Wikileaks.org Web site.' [As two years have passed since the date of the report, with no WikiLeaks' source exposed, it appears that this plan was ineffective.] As an odd justification for the plan, the report claims that 'Several foreign countries including China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have denounced or blocked access to the Wikileaks.org website.' The report provides further justification by enumerating embarrassing stories broken by WikiLeaks — US equipment expenditure in Iraq, probable US violations of the Chemical Warfare Convention Treaty in Iraq, the battle over the Iraqi town of Fallujah and human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay."

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*burp* *fart* *queef* (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31483770)

*burp* *fart* *queef*

Ooops, excuse me.

Third post? (-1, Offtopic)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483786)

The urinal is the proper place to take Wikileaks!

I'll be here all week. Thanks!

An easier plan (5, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483788)

Wouldn't an easier plan to destroy the credibility of wikileaks be to overflow it with bogus leaks and fake whistleblowers, flooding them with misinformation?

Re:An easier plan (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31483904)

Wouldn't an easier plan to destroy the credibility of wikileaks be to overflow it with bogus leaks and fake whistleblowers, flooding them with misinformation?

Or at the very least, Slashdot it into oblivion?

Re:An easier plan (0)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483942)

How do you know this isn't happening?

"In time of war, when truth is so precious, it must be attended by a bodyguard of lies" -- Winston Churchill

Re:An easier plan (5, Insightful)

cogitolv (821846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483952)

Take a look at the doc itself, it seem to propose just that. "This raises the possibility that the Wikileaks.org Web site could be used to post fabricated information; to post misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda; or to conduct perception management and influence operations designed to convey a negative message to those who view or retrieve information from the Web site."

Re:An easier plan (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484014)

Message to our government: why do you need privacy if you have nothing to hide?

I mean, they use that B.S. line on us all the time. I think it's time we turned the tables and started using it back.

Re:An easier plan (5, Insightful)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484130)

Message to dgatwood: The government has plenty to hide. I'm sure that there are plenty of things that some people in our government know that should not be known by many (most, if not all) people outside of some agencies. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there aren't things that should be disclosed, the government is run by people, people seek power, power corrupts and all that, but there are definitely reasons that the government SHOULD have some secrets.

Re:An easier plan (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484208)

Just as there are definitely reasons that individuals SHOULD have some secrets.

Re:An easier plan (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484310)

Message to jayme: The individuals that make up "the people" have plenty to hide. I'm sure that there are plenty of things that some individuals know that should not be known by by the general populace, or more importantly the corrupt leaders at the top. Therefore:

Stop tracking my cellphone.
Stop monitoring my PC or net connection.
Stop entering my home wtihout warrant, or peering inside with external cameras.
Stop subjecting my to groinal patdowns when I enter an airport or train terminal.
Stop taking my blood so you can trace or identify me (see GATTACA for why that's a bad idea).

I want my liberty not harassment; nor serfdom to the noble class (US congress/EU parliament).

Re:An easier plan (1, Troll)

AndrewBC (1675992) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484400)

... but there are definitely reasons that the government SHOULD have some secrets.

I can't help but notice that you didn't list any, or are those secret too?

Re:An easier plan (4, Informative)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484416)

And just as there are some things that the government should NOT be allowed to keep secret, for example the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment [infoplease.com] .

Re:An easier plan (1)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484362)

Alternatively, it could just be that a simplistic all-or-nothing solution doesn't fit either situation.

Re:An easier plan (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483966)

That's just one of the reasons why they vet all submissions; I guess you could overwhelm that process (and hope they get lazy/authorize things you can attack as fake) but it would be masked from end users.

Re:An easier plan (4, Insightful)

The Moof (859402) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483980)

I think it would actually reinforce credibility if a government officially tried to discredit a site dedicated to exposing what's going on behind closed doors in the government...

Re:An easier plan (5, Funny)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484258)

Wouldn't an easier plan to destroy the credibility of wikileaks be to overflow it with bogus leaks and fake whistleblowers, flooding them with misinformation?

Yeah, like posting a fake document outlining the governments secret plans to discredit wikileaks.org. That would be the kind of thing that those rubes would eat right up.

Wow! (4, Insightful)

dropadrop (1057046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483792)

Sounds like a great idea. If China, North Korea and Russia have already showed a good example I think the US should definitely follow their example.

The Great Circle of Hack (1)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483958)

Example? More like "everybody's doing it." Iran hacks US. US hacks Wikileaks. China hacks Google. /b/ gets mad/decides to join the fun and social engineers everyone else.

Re:The Great Circle of Hack (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484392)

The only difference between these governments is that the US leaders pretend to hold an election every 2 years. That's it.

Re:Wow! (1)

pyrothebouncer (1595641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484144)

Do we really want to be just like China, North Korea and Russia? Aren't they countries where freedom is suppressed if it even exists? I guess that shows you where our government officials want this nation to go, down the communist tubes...

Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

Al's Hat (1765456) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483796)

I wonder why the government is worried about them...

Re:Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483848)

The "If you have nothing to hide..." argument, while fallacious when applied to individuals, actually works for government.

Re:Hmmm... (4, Funny)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483872)

"If you have nothing to hide..."
...Then you're doing it wrong...

Re:Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483914)

Primarily because the only way for a government to work is if it is accountable to its electors - and they only way to hold an organization accountable is to make it transparent. I'm not accountable to my neighbor for what I'm doing in my office, but my representatives are sure as hell accountable to me for what they're doing in their offices.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31483988)

Do you really want to see them having sex with that tranny hooker they ordered 30 minutes ago?

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484290)

Somebody must, judging by the traffic RedTube gets.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484338)

umm... depends on the hooker, i suppose.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484380)

Yes

Re:Hmmm... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484236)

Really? There are legitimate and quantifiable reasons for the government to keep any current military information a closely-guarded secret.

Although this makes transparency extraordinarily difficult, I honestly see no way around it that wouldn't put the lives of soldiers and citizens at considerable risk.

Good. (2, Insightful)

glrotate (300695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483802)

Sometimes secrets are useful. Given all the money I pay in taxes I would hope my government is at least making plans to keep some of those secrets secret.

Re:Good. (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483918)

I don't think anyone could argue that there isn't a need for secrecy in some things. To be sure, there is information that, if revealed, could do great harm to national security. The problem is that self-serving individuals and groups will often try to hide their own misconduct under the guise of national security. Once you've put that cork in the bottle, it becomes extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to uncork it. In effect, these people undermine the notion of national security.

Re:Good. (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484402)

Of course the flip side is that self-serving individuals and groups will often try to gain political advantage or simply a smug sense of satisfaction and release secrets that could end up getting one or more people killed or otherwise severely impact the nation.

And once you've taken that cork out of the bottle, it becomes extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to put it back in.

The bottom line is that there are legal and effective ways to bring to light misconduct. Letting just anyone make decisions for the nation about what should and shouldn't be secret is insane.

Re:Good. (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484094)

Yeah, not holding secrets that employees have ethical obligations to report would be a pretty good method for that.
And finding those moles, of course.
You're penny-pinching-patriotism is being abused.

Re:Good. (4, Interesting)

Aurisor (932566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484162)

Would you prefer that the torture at Guantanamo had been kept secret?

Re:Good. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484352)

What torture? Fucking pansy. Smash a testicle with a hammer and when the victim regains consciousness tell him what he needs to do to keep the other one. OH NOES! WE DIDN'T GET A PRAYER RUG IN THE PATTERN WE DEMANDED. Guantanamo exists because our soldiers were prevented from correctly disposing of the enemy in the field.

Re:Good. (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484232)

What are the codes to launch the nuclear weapons is a valid national security secret.

How do we plan on breaking the law, local or international, is not.

The problem is, the government has used the latter often enough that no one believes them anymore when they have a valid instance of the former.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484404)

"Sometimes secrets are useful."

So, most of the time they are not.

Other countries.. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483806)

"China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have denounced or blocked access to the Wikileaks.org"

To me, this means we should be helping them & not trying to destroy them.

Re:Other countries.. (1)

LordAndrewSama (1216602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484146)

I thought something similar.. "and they want to JOIN that list?"

Tyranny hates freedom (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483810)

When a government serves its own purposes it cannot serve its citizens.

The war that began in the 60s has finally come to an end, and it looks like all the players switched sides. These 200 odd years were certainly a nice time.

Re:Tyranny hates freedom (1)

j4kl1ng3r (1735242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483882)

When a government serves its own purposes it cannot serve its citizens.

The war that began in the 60s has finally come to an end, and it looks like all the players switched sides. These 200 odd years were certainly a nice time.

You sir, have hit the nail right on the head.

Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of it (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483886)

Sometimes its for good national security reasons which in the long run protect the public. Reasons which a lot of wannabe Robin Hoods won't know about and as a consequence can put agents or even the entire country at risk.

Sure , some people in agencies will abuse their power occasionally, thats human nature. But people shouldn't write off all security issues as just the Men In Black trying to pull one over the little people. Life isn't that simple and only the naive would think it is.

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484174)

While there are reasons to keep some things secret, I also think it's naive to think that power doesn't corrupt. Secrecy is a form of power, it's a way to hide what's going on, and it's easy to keep dirty laundry hidden under the guise of national security. Also, even good intentions can go awry.

Also, so far, none of the leaks at WikiLeaks has compromised people or national security.

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484368)

Wouldn't it be nice if they would toot their horn about all the really important secrets they held back in the 50's and 60's. Stuff that's so old, everyone who would be compromised is dead or old enough not to give a fuck.

That way we would have some sense of how badly the "national secrecy" is being abused. Because right now we have no idea how many secrets are bosses with blow and hookers and how many are keeping militants at bay.

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (4, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484206)

And the problem with the above policy is that the government will regularly abuse its power to keep secrets.

Instead, it will spy on its own citizens, crush freedoms, trample the constitution, and generally run amok big-brother-style, all in the name of "protecting the country", when what it really is protecting is itself and its powers -- power for the purpose of power.

As far as I am concerned, this government lost its rights to keep secrets. They cannot be trusted to keep secrets. They cannot be trusted, period. When the government has lost its respect for its people, how can the people be expected to respect the government?

CAPTCHA == Founders

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484266)

All the stuff wikileaks has leaked has been in the category of avoiding embarrassment rather than anything that was truly a sensitive matter of national security.

For example, a detailed report on the exact weaknesses of various pieces of military equipment, identities of our spies, details of planned troop movements are all things I would consider important to national security.

Covering up the fact that we're torturing people because it would make a lot of people upset to learn that is not a matter of national security.

Wikileaks has performed an invaluable service for the years its been in operation.

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484284)

All good points. The trouble is, in a way, that once the secrecy becomes widespread and is not just for highly exceptional cases it is going to be really tempting to overclassify stuff for spurious reasons. It doesn't even need to be with the motivation of "pulling one over on the little people", it can just be extreme risk-averseness e.g. "why release this stuff that's probably OK when not releasing it means we don't have to make that call". And if people start finding legitimate-sounding justifications to cover up mistakes that should be public, it's a dangerous situation.

To a certain extent I'm of the opinion that the secrecy is a somewhat self-perpetuating thing - once you get involved in activities that have to be secret you find that you need to keep up the secret activity, hiding information, etc lest your skeletons jump out of their cupboards. That's why it's good to limit it as much as possible, even though in international politics it is a necessity.

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484296)

In theory what you say is important. It is important for the state to keep some secrets. But in practice the secrets we are protecting are merely whatever illegal actions they don't want the world to know about atm. While some secrets need to be protected(obv. one, nuke secrets), most(99.999%+) of the time they just want to cover up their latest mess. Protect the public my ass, thats a load of shit and you know it. If the price of keeping our govt accountable is the risk of a few deaths here or there, it is well worth it. People die for much stupider reasons all the time in massive numbers, I would think that dying in the name of freedom would be something approaching a noble death. We are so afraid of what could happen in this world, that we often ignore what we are doing to ourselves in the name of false security. Then we end up in a worse situation than if we had just ignored or taken minimal action against people trying to hurt us.

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (2, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484322)

Sometimes its for good national security reasons which in the long run protect the public. Reasons which a lot of wannabe Robin Hoods won't know about and as a consequence can put agents or even the entire country at risk.

You mean like revealing the identity of active agents on national television? Oh, ups, that was a high-ranking government official, my bad.

Bureau of Sabotage (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484334)

"Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil." ~ Jerry Garcia.

The problem is that while secrecy is necessary for some information such as a list of agents in a foreign nation for other things it is simply abused such as ACTA. What is needed is a watchers scenario, a board of citizens who are tasked with examining the "secrets" and determining which to make public and which are truly secret. Every citizen should have the right to apply to such a board and all should be truly considered. As a side, the true root of the issue is that perhaps beginning with the next generation of citizens they should be taught to question propaganda and learn citizenship skills such as dissent and holding government accountable. Perhaps this generation of politicians could even be persuaded to implement this in schools as hopefully by the time it made any real difference they would be dying off (naturally).

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (0, Troll)

Aurisor (932566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484348)

Given that our government has basically been up to no good for the last 10 years (and arguably last 40), I would be completely willing to sacrifice our "victory" in Iraq in exchange for citizen oversight.

I can't think of a single military action undertaken during the Bush tenure that benefits me as an American citizen, whereas nearly all of the "secrets" that have been coming out have been directly harming me (conspiracy to fabricate Iraq WMD evidence, ACTA, Guantanamo).

In short, I don't believe these people have my best interest in mind; most of this "secrecy" is just them trying to prevent me from finding out the ways they've been fucking innocent people over. I'm not one of these people who thinks the moon landings were faked or anything, but I think it's blind trust in the government that's naive, NOT skepticism.

Re:Governments don't keep secrets for the hell of (1)

OldSoldier (168889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484384)

Sometimes its for good national security reasons which in the long run protect the public. Reasons which a lot of wannabe Robin Hoods won't know about and as a consequence can put agents or even the entire country at risk.

Sure , some people in agencies will abuse their power occasionally, thats human nature. But people shouldn't write off all security issues as just the Men In Black trying to pull one over the little people. Life isn't that simple and only the naive would think it is.

You're right, but are arguing the wrong point. You're entire argument works just as well if the article mentioned US subpoenas to wikileaks trying to determine who leaked classified documents. Your argument also works if the article mentioned the US trying to shut down newspapers because they published classified documents. My point is that shutting down the MECHANISM is the wrong approach, you should focus on the PEOPLE doing the crime.

<soapbox>
This happens all the time and I wish people would realize it's the wrong approach. Instead of providing alternatives to abortion, anti-abortion activists kill abortion doctors instead. Instead of facilitating the use of existing gun laws, anti-gun activists want even more gun laws. And here... instead of the US government trying to prosecute folks who divulge national secrets, they seek instead to essentially block freedom of the press.
</soapbox>

Re:Tyranny hates freedom (1)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483930)

Yeah, I hope the reason they never went through with this is someone who understood what you just said looked at the plan and said "Are you insane?!".

Re:Tyranny hates freedom (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484286)

Calling this a "plan" makes it sound like someone was ready to act on it, and since they haven't (apparently), it's a fair guess that they weren't particularly serious about it. The US government is always considering ways to achieve its own ends by various (often very silly or stupid) means. I'd be cautious about attaching any particular significance to this. As a matter of fact, I'd be more surprised if they hadn't thought about trying to poison or marginalize wikileaks.

Re:Tyranny hates freedom (2, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484360)

No doubt what happened, similar to our battle plans to invade Canada in case there is a communist revolution up north. There is a huge part of the government security that is simply devoted to planning every and all scenario. We may have no particular intention of destroying Wikileaks, but that doesn't mean the government doesn't have an operation ready to go at a moment's notice JUST IN CASE. It's what our army of analysts do.

Re:Tyranny hates freedom (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483974)

What do you think would have happened if someone tried to leaked George Washington's plans to cross the Delaware? That right, he would have killed them.

Don't get all 'the olden days where on of roses and rainbows. There where never any secrets and the people where free to exercise their freedoms'.

In a lot of respects, things are actually more free now then ever.

More free" Free'er? do either of those make grammatical sense?

Re:Tyranny hates freedom (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484092)

When a government serves its own purposes it cannot serve its citizens.

I think that's a false dichotomy. Similar to your subject line.

Look at China. It's own purposes overlap the needs of its people. It needs to artificially manipulate the value of its money for many reasons. Some for its own purposes, some for the betterment of some of the citizens. Now look at China again for your subject line. Yeah, absolute freedom is impossible with a tyrant running the country. And your likely to have more freedom in a republic. But you never have absolute freedom anyway in a group larger than one.

I would rephrase your subject to read "Tyranny Often Finds Freedom Annoying" and since tyrants have complete control by definition, they often just get rid of the freedoms. And then there would be a revolution or something ... so historically there have been very clever tyrants to embrace the big freedoms and squash the tiny ones that matter to them. And that, in my opinion, is what China is doing. They don't hate freedom and I find personifying things like tyranny, terror and information saying that they hate, love or want is very detrimental to arguments.

The war that began in the 60s has finally come to an end, and it looks like all the players switched sides.

It's great purple prose but it's kind of erroneous. That's a great one liner there but I would have preferred a lengthy paragraph on COINELPRO [wikipedia.org] in today's contexts.

These 200 odd years were certainly a nice time.

And cut the goddamn fake apathy for crying out loud. Man up and speak about it to your friends and family ...

first? (1, Insightful)

bugi (8479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483834)

Surely, that would run counter to the US first amendment? What's happened to respect for the First that would let such a plan get beyond any US official's fantasies of power?

Re:first? (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483922)

To the best of my knowledge, to get a position dealing with secrets, you sign a paper saying you won't reveal the secrets.

Doesn't apply to classified information (3, Insightful)

mitkaffee (1767922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484032)

The First Amendment does not apply to classified information, and for good reason. The government does not classify documents simply to hide information from the general populace; it truly is a matter of life or death in many circumstances.

Abusing one's security clearance can result in severe penalties.

I, for one, cannot read the document, as I no longer hold a clearance, and am legally obligated not to read or download it.

Re:Doesn't apply to classified information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484242)

The U.S. Government has classified information just to hide stuff from the general populace.

Should there be ANY government secrets? (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483856)

I am pretty sure, the answer is a resounding "Yes". Some things should be kept secret for some time... No one seriously argues against that, even if there are disagreements over whether a particular bit of information needs to be classified or not (and for how long).

Now, if anything needs to be hidden, then somebody has to be making the everyday decisions on what gets classified, and enforcing them. Governments are the most natural pick for that, if only because they are — by design — charged with national security.

Any "leakers" inside the government usurp that decision-making to themselves and to the Wikileaks. Instead of relying on the judgment of people charged with making it, we will depend on the judgment of the "leaker" and of the Wikileaks editors. Personally, I'd prefer the government officials...

Thus any leakers (and the Wikileaks personnel) are to be prosecuted with the prosecutors having only to prove their involvement in leaking. They could counter by proving, that the particular leak was justified (see also "whistleblower laws"), but the burden of proof is on them...

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (1, Troll)

tmosley (996283) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484012)

I would, and do argue against that. When an organization that has absolute power to do anything it wants gets to act in secret, terrible, terrible things will happen.

But then, since you seem to think that peace is the absence of opposition to your chosen state-cabal controlled paradise, so I don't think you really have any credibility.

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (2, Informative)

Aequitarum Custos (1614513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484052)

If left up to the government, it will end up with everything being classified as a National Secret.

Majority of things I've heard about that were leaked, were only classified to avoid embarrassment and prevent protests against things people disagree with.

Can't speak for your experience on the matter, but in my experience, if government had things it's way, FOIA would not exist, and everything would be kept a secret until no one who can suffer consequences for their actions involved with something are long gone.

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484316)

In order for your argument to be valid, there can be no publicly available unclassified government documents. Your argument is demonstrably false because there are many publicly available unclassified government documents, some of which are damaging to the government.

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484060)

Now, if anything needs to be hidden, then somebody has to be making the everyday decisions on what gets classified, and enforcing them. Governments are the most natural pick for that, if only because they are — by design — charged with national security.

Correct.

Any "leakers" inside the government usurp that decision-making to themselves and to the Wikileaks. Instead of relying on the judgment of people charged with making it, we will depend on the judgment of the "leaker" and of the Wikileaks editors.

Correct.

Personally, I'd prefer the government officials...

I disagree. To some extent, because the people doing the leaking are government officials as well, just not as high up the food chain as the people who classify and declassify things. To quote Cheney, anything the president says is by definition declassified (I think it was him - see the Valerie Plame incident). That doesn't mean he's automatically right with his declassification.

Thus any leakers (and the Wikileaks personnel) are to be prosecuted with the prosecutors having only to prove their involvement in leaking. They could counter by proving, that the particular leak was justified (see also "whistleblower laws"), but the burden of proof is on them...

Not just "they could counter by proving that the particular leak was justified", but proving that the particular leak was justified needs to be a definitive defense for leaking classified documents.

By the way, I have no idea why you're trying to link a quote from Karl Marx with Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. Unless you're going for a Google bomb, in which case you're doing it wrong.

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484076)

If nuclear bombs could be constructed from everyday household items would you want the design to be public?

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484082)

Valid point. Certain state secrets should be kept secret for our protection. Secrets like the identity of CIA agents and weapons research.... I don't think anyone disagrees with that. However, most leaks on wikileaks aren't giving away necessary state secrets, they are divulging government abuses and inefficiencies that the public has a legal right to know about under conventional FoIA requests but has been denied due to cover ups.

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (1)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484086)

The leakers and Wikileaks personel are separate groups, rhetoric about the need for secrecy and irresponsibility of leakers does nothing to actually justify curtailing the speech of a third party. If you have a problem keeping your information in your organization then that is what you need to fix. The information is already out, assume hostile agents, agencies and goverments already have it, Wikileaks is just a PR problem that shows to your taxpayers that you are not doing your job keeping it secret, it is not a security problem unless the only people you want to keep in the dark is the general public.

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (1, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484210)

Wikileaks is also a criminal enterprise for distributing, encouraging the distribution of, and conspiring to distribute classified documents.

Anyone in the United States who works for or supports Wikileaks is guilty of a federal offense, just like the leakers, and if convicted, eligible to be sentenced to upto 10 years in federal prison.

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484110)

Any "leakers" inside the government usurp that decision-making to themselves and to the Wikileaks. Instead of relying on the judgment of people charged with making it, we will depend on the judgment of the "leaker" and of the Wikileaks editors. Personally, I'd prefer the government officials...

Thing is, government failures in this area tend to be, for a variety of reasons, false positives. In some cases just because all bureucracies are inherently secretive, in some because they are actively concealing information that is embarassing or damaging to powerful individuals and political parties. In this case, a "leak-proof" government is inherently somewhat anti-democratic - it will tend to conceal it's own failures and corruption. If you want to regularize this function by instituting panels composed of randomly selected (and subsequently security-cleared) citizens who get to access classified information and decide if it really needs to be classified, that's one thing. But to argue that the last word in concealing information should be given to people whose political influence and / or salary depends on concealing their own screw-ups is a serious failure of democratic hygiene.

You hit the nail on the head (2, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484136)

And not only that, in free and democratic societies, individuals deciding on their own to leak classified information is a subversion of that very democratic process. In the US, we have collectively decided, as a society, that some information should be kept secret, even from The People, and we have empowered and entrusted the government with the power to do so.

When an individual, on his or her own, decides that some secret information should be leaked, they subvert that process. It is nowhere near akin to leaking sensitive information from totalitarian or repressive regimes, or even from corporate entities.

Some might assert that information is overclassified, or classified such as to hide wrongdoing or illegal or questionably behavior. Fine, but:

1. You don't get to make that determination yourself, and

2. If you do, generally this kind of decision is a moral one which must be tempered with consequences. I.e., if, in a free and democratic society, you really believe that a piece of classified information should be released, you should be willing to pay your society's consequences for it. People leak to WikiLeaks because they believe (mostly accurately) that there will be no consequences. This creates an unhealthy environment for any kind of protected or sensitive information in a democratic society.

Your own personal view on whether something should or shouldn't be classified is irrelevant. There are well-known and established processes that govern classification.

Just about the only thing WikiLeaks believes should be protected from leaking is negative information about WikiLeaks itself [fas.org] .

Re:You hit the nail on the head (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484196)

It is nowhere near akin to leaking sensitive information from totalitarian or repressive regimes, or even from corporate entities.

You mean except for when the leaks are about the government doing things that you only see happening in totalitarian regimes?

Re:You hit the nail on the head (1)

trurl7 (663880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484306)

People leak to WikiLeaks because they believe (mostly accurately) that there will be no consequences.

Uhm...citation needed?

It couldn't be because people think that Guantanamo is morally offensive, could it? No, it's because people are irresponsible little twits who need a stern government hand to keep them in line, right? I don't know what your background is, be it security, espionage, or military that you hold such adamant views, but let me suggest this: the aggregate "harm" of all wikileaks' activities is less than the active harm caused by the Bush administration outing Valerie Plame. And those bastards did it on purpose.

Now, talk to me again about "lack of consequences".

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (2, Interesting)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484176)

Thus any leakers (and the Wikileaks personnel) are to be prosecuted

The risk of "unauthorized" public scrutiny of government actions is a powerful deterrent. The system you suggest we punish -- where individuals can make a moral decision which benefits the public regardless of orders or rank -- is a primary factor in the difference in conduct between the conduct of armies in democracies and armies of autocratic states. The moral responsibility that comes with military service is taught from day one, and these whistleblowers are in its best tradition. It is a transfer of some powers from the military machine back to the people who make it function, and by publishing that information (negating it's value for private gain), giving that power wholly over to the public. Democracy is more than elections.

But if you want to throw those people in jail, sure, whatever.

Also, if you're going to cite "whistleblowing laws" as a panacea, at least be specific, because they don't work in the way you describe. Reference: http://report.globalintegrity.org/United%20States/2009/scorecard/59 [globalintegrity.org]

Re:Should there be ANY government secrets? (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484282)

You are, of course, assuming that the decision making inside government is done with the interest of some greater good in mind.

Unfortunately, as it is done by humans, it is very often done with personal interests in mind. Many of the documents leaked on Wikileaks are testament to that. The only reason they were kept secret was that they'd embarass someone, with "embarass" in the widest sense including "prove criminal war crimes".

Whistleblowers are an (unofficial) part of the checks & balances system. Every time they blow the whistle on something that should not have been kept secret, should have been revealed, and the fact that it was covered up shocks the public as much or more than the actual content, the system is set right again a little bit.

Easier plan... have them run out of money (1)

gront (594175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483896)

Wikileaks appears to be down (not a slashdot effect, it's just down).

They also appear to be parked in fundraising mode, rather than spreading the word and fighting the good fight. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikileaks [wikipedia.org]

So maybe the plan worked?

Let see (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483898)

Tghe Government deals in some serious secrets*

Wiki leaks is an outlet for anonymously leaking secrets.

The government looks into wikileaks and wants to figure out how they could stop a serious leak.

Well.. duh. IN fact, that's a good thing for them to have done.

*WHile I believe not everything it deems secret is necessary, I do believe SOME things do need to be kept secret for a period of time.

never implemented? (5, Insightful)

cenobyte40k (831687) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483908)

"As two years have passed since the date of the report, with no WikiLeaks' source exposed, it appears that this plan was ineffective" Or much more likely never implemented. There are hundreds of people paid to come up with ideas for fixing solutions in just about every govt org. By design these ideas are suppose to be a free thinking as possible while staying within the guidelines of the problem. In this case someone came up with an idea to deal with the leak problem by destroying the org that posted the leaks. This could have been a very potent fix, but also brought out the possibility of blow-back (public outcry, legal action, extra exposure of data, etc) as well as just pushing the problem off to another newer site that is even harder to deal with (Like shutting down Napster or Kazaa). It seems to me there is a good chance that they choose not to directly attack WikiLeaks and instead worked on keeping data from getting out to begin with (Can't get the data that's out back, so just keep them from getting more).

Good job wikileaks beat them to it! (4, Insightful)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483948)

Sorry to criticise people who are clearly on our side. The Wikileaks folk are great, and the job they were doing was great, and it will be great again when they start back up...

...but it was not a good idea for them to take all the leaked documents offline without notice in order to show their value so that people will donate. It was last year, probably December, and everything's still offline :-(

For one example, they published the only (at the time) big ACTA leak. (There's since been a bigger one, hosted elsewhere [swpat.org] ) Everyone was pointing to them, and they took their copy offline. To my amazement, no one had a back up, so us anti-ACTA campaigners simply lost the only leaked draft.

At the implementation level, it was a bad idea to simply cause all pages to give error 404 [wikileaks.org] . A page of "We need donations, we'll be back up when we get them" would have been better.

Lesson: take backups of important docs, even ones published by groups of good people.

Re:Good job wikileaks beat them to it! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484098)

Sorry to criticise people who are clearly on our side...

It's precisely when someone is on 'our side' that we need to remain critical the most, please don't ever apologize for it. Great post.

Re:Good job wikileaks beat them to it! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484288)

...but it was not a good idea for them to take all the leaked documents offline without notice in order to show their value so that people will donate.

I agree. I was only tangentially familiar with WikiLeaks when they did their call from donations. I went to see what they had that was worth donated for only to discover that everything was unavailable. Instead of moving me to donate, they instead blew their chance at picking me up as a reader and potential donor.

Be aware... (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31483968)

This information is marked SECRET and NOFORN (i.e. not for export or foreign eyes); simply accessing it without a security clearance may be committing a crime against national security.

Whether or not the US government will end up with a log of IP addresses that have downloaded it is a judgment for the reader.

Re:Be aware... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484096)

Not true. The person who leaked the secret document can and should be prosecuted. What you're saying may apply to the UK where they have an official secrets act.

Re:Be aware... (1)

imunfair (877689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484156)

I've seen people say (on older articles involving classified info) that the only person who can be prosecuted is the one who used their clearance to leak it. I think the premise is similar to a NDA - if you don't sign/agree to secrecy, you can't legally be bound to it.

I don't know if those people are correct though, and I can think of at least one exception to that rule - I remember reading that if you are served with papers from one of those secret US courts you aren't even allowed to discuss it with anyone. (Which doesn't seem right to me, but apparently that's how it works)

Re:Be aware... (2, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484280)

The US government has taps on all internet backbones. Even if you go through a proxy, they will be able to identify your IP address if you access such information.

If the WikiLeaks had branded itself as a just whistle-blower site, it would have a chance at surviving. As is, its operators are certain to see jail eventually.

Re:Be aware... (3, Informative)

1729 (581437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484298)

This information is marked SECRET and NOFORN (i.e. not for export or foreign eyes); simply accessing it without a security clearance may be committing a crime against national security.

If you don't have a security clearance, then you don't have any obligation regarding classified information, and you don't even need to understand whether you are authorized to view a SECRET/NOFORN document.

The burden of protecting and properly handling classified information belongs to those with a clearance.

George Bush at it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484030)

Wow that evil George Bush is at it again. Wait, what?

The first casualty of censorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31484056)

I'm sure Wikileaks was due to be the first casualty of censorship. There's not much governments fear more than their secrets ending up out in the open.

"it appears that this plan was ineffective" (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484070)

Far more likely that it was never implemented.

Idiots (0, Flamebait)

trurl7 (663880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484088)

identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers...

I can understand that the government can harass, hound, and persecute those it does not like into oblivion. Comes with the turf. But if their objective is to destroy wikileaks, then this method, is, to put it bluntly, bass ackwards. How is it that the armchair wafflebutt who came up with this crock of sh*t never heard of the Streisand Effect [wikipedia.org] ?

Seriously, these are the people keeping the US safe? That their brilliant plan is to do precisely the kind of thing the Internet is really good at defeating?

Epic fail.

Serves a Useful Purpose (4, Insightful)

GTarrant (726871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484102)

One would note that most of the time, the things that governments fight so hard to keep secret are things that aren't so much of national security interest but rather things that are embarrassing or things they're keeping secret not because of the enemy but because their own citizens might be upset if they knew. Wikileaks has shown many useful things, from drafts of ACTA, to the spying on citizens in violation of any numbers of laws, hypocritical actions by governments all over the world, and clear violations of treaties. In fact, very little of what Wikileaks posts is "top secret national security information" from almost any country - they're often things that governments want to suppress because they don't want to face reprisal from their own citizens for undertaking them, or are trying to hide actions they undertake that they know are otherwise illegal - not because they're afraid some other country is going to use that information against them.

Consider this - decades ago the US Supreme Court affirmed the State Secrets Doctrine, allowing the government to argue that trying a court case would reveal national secrets (and that the case must therefore be dropped without a hearing), because the government argued that revealing information about what was I think a plane crash would hurt national security. Decades later, when the files were unclassified, it turns out that there were no real secrets involved, certainly none that would have been revealed in a trial - the government was simply trying to hide the fact that there was government negligence involved. They wanted to avoid embarrassing themselves, not protecting secrets. Remember that next time the US Government invokes the doctrine (which they do with ever-increasing frequency).

Slashdot edtorialoid, again. (3, Interesting)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484166)

So I read the pdf which appeared to me as a risk assessment of Wikileaks.org. It basically concluded that Wikileaks is or can be used as a threat to US military. But it said almost nothing about "destroying" Wikileaks.

Remember, you don't have to destroy a threat right now. Use it or lose it.

And /. editors should learn from the US military on how to choose a good title for news items. Duh.

US citizens plan to dethrone fascist regime (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484194)

I can hope, right?

Haven't you heard? (3, Funny)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484312)

Everything has "changed" under Obama!

Re:US citizens plan to dethrone fascist regime (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484336)

Sure! No problem! Where do you live? We'll have US ordinance delivered there shortly. Please keep low until the loud noises stop.

Smells like a lure... (3, Interesting)

ghostis (165022) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484262)

This leak feels like the ones Apple's secret police use. Since it's particularly inflammatory, I wonder if they only gave specific people access to it to track down who was doing the leaking...

Wikileaks isn't blocked in Israel (1)

Noam.of.Doom (934040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31484270)

I don't know who proclaimed this half-assed hallucination, but I can confirm that it isn't blocked here.
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