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Posts Tagged ‘Wikileaks’

Bank of America Sets Up War Room, Hires Army of Lawyers

In Financial Markets, High Frequency Trading, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Technology on 22.01.11 at 01:18

Wikileaks, and its founder Julian Assange, has certainly stirred up some murky waters releasing confidential documents and emails on government activities. Recently Assange stated that he has a large batch of confidential documents that could lead to problems for a major bank, and in at least one interview he has identified that bank to be Bank of America. And the bank are taking the possible threat serious – deadly serious! So does the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The nation’s largest bank has set up a war room and assembled a S.W.A.T.  team of lawyers.”

FOX Business Network


According to FOX Business, the largest US bank has set up a war room and assembled a S.W.A.T.  team of lawyers and company officials to deal with the matter if anything should arise. And now the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is focusing in on the case too.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is keeping a close eye on Bank of America’s (BAC) Wikileaks dilemma to determine whether anything that the info-leaking website might release should have already been turned over to regulators who have conducted numerous investigations into the bank’s activities, FOX Business Network has learned.

The same goes for WikiLeaks.

It is, in fact, illegal to withhold information about criminal activities.

See also: Wikileaks Obstruction of Justice?

If and when the document dump occurs, the SEC – Wall Street’s top cop –  will be examining the material to determine if Bank of America has failed to include the emails and other documents in demands for information the commission has made as part of its many investigations into BofA activities.

Bank of America has been the subject of several high-profile probes by the commission, including issues surrounding its Countrywide Financial subsidiary, and its ill-fated purchase of Merrill Lynch during the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008.

Countrywide, which was the largest issuer of so-called subprime mortgages, has been accused of issuing mortgages to people with little if any documentation of work history or  means to repay the loans.

Neither SEC’s spokesman or BofA’s spokesman had no immediate comment, FOX reports.

If Bank of America purposely failed to turn over documents involving an investigation, the bank could face possible criminal charges of obstructing justice.

But so far, BofA has said that despite all the talk about it being a target, it has no evidence that Assange’s organization has documents involving the bank.

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MORE:

Bank of America vs. WikiLeaks, the inside story
WikiLeaks should motivate information security managers
Bove: WikiLeaks bluffing about Bank of America
The Most Sued Companies in America

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Internet Nuke Bomb Ready To Blow (Update)

In Financial Engeneering, Financial Markets, Health and Environment, High Frequency Trading, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Learning, National Economic Politics, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Trading software, Uncategorized, Views, commentaries and opinions on 16.01.11 at 20:29

The Swapper have been warning about this since last summer when the mysterious Stuxnet worm was discovered at several critical energy and water supply facilities around the world. However, research by Symantec have later reveled that 60% of the infections are found inside Iranian borders. The threat from cyber space has risen to the top of the list over potential global risks in 2011, alongside pandemic diseases and terrorism. The internet, once seen as the solution to all of mans problems, have instead become one of the most severe threats to all of us.

“The primary involvement of states in cyber security, as both protagonists and principal targets, fundamentally changes the nature of the risk.”

Eurasia Group


By the end of 2010 McAfee Security counted 60.000 new pieces of malicious software being released on the internet every day, the hacker attacks on Java platforms (used in practically every security system, including online banks and the Pentagon) rose by 1.200% last year, and for the first time ever the value of theft of digital assets exceeded the theft of physical assets. And for Stuxnet; that’s only the beginning.

More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to break into US networks, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn wrote in the September/October issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Some already have the capacity to disrupt U.S. information infrastructure, he says.

The US government’s main code-making and code-cracking agency now works on the assumption that foes may have pierced even the most sensitive national security computer networks under its guard, Reuters reports.

“There’s no such thing as ‘secure’ any more,” Debora Plunkett of the National Security Agency said last month, amid US anger and embarrassment over disclosure of sensitive diplomatic cables by the web site WikiLeaks.

“The most sophisticated adversaries are going to go unnoticed on our networks,” she said.

Plunkett heads the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate, which is responsible for protecting national security information and networks from the foxhole to the White House.

“We have to build our systems on the assumption that adversaries will get in,” she told a cyber security forum sponsored by the Atlantic and Government Executive media organizations.

The United States can’t put its trust “in different components of the system that might have already been violated,” Plunkett added in a rare public airing of NSA’s view on the issue.

“We have to, again, assume that all the components of our system are not safe, and make sure we’re adjusting accordingly.”

The NSA must constantly fine tune its approach, she said, adding that there was no such thing as a “static state of security.”


And the US is not the only nation struggling to keep its sensitive data safe.

According to Iain Lobban, head of GCHQ, the UK’s core infrastructure is under constant attack. He says thousands of targeted emails are hitting the systems every month, planting worms that cause “significant disruptions.”

Mr. Lobban’s claims are supported in a national security report, naming cyber attacks as a top threat to the UK, alongside pandemic diseases and terrorism, according to the PC Pro Magazine.

A Global Threat

“Cyberspace is contested every day, every hour, every minute and every second,” the British security expert says.

The international risk analysis company Eurasia Group put cyber security at number 3 amongst the top 10 risks of 2011.

“For the past decade, increasingly technologically capable hackers and organized crime organizations have elevated cyber security as a business risk, but not as a political risk. The centralization of data networks, both in energy distribution (the move to the smart grid) and information technology more broadly (the shift to cloud computing) are now metastasizing the cyber risk, and governments are becoming more directly and actively involved in playing both offense and defense in cyberspace. The primary involvement of states in cyber security, as both protagonists and principal targets, fundamentally changes the nature of the risk. The new roles of governments and their antagonists bring geopolitics and cyber security together in three different ways,” Eurasia writes.

(Link to full report below).

Java Systems Under Heavy Fire

One of the main components in practically every security system today is the Java platform, produced by Oracle.

So it’s no wonder that attacks on the Java system increased by more than thousand percent in 2010.

“The number of attacks against flaws in Java has jumped by 1.000% – even outstripping attacks against vulnerabilities in Adobe PDF’s,” Microsoft says.

The attacks against Java code – not the Java script – rose from 500.000 at the beginning of last year to about 6 million in the last quarter of 2010.

Even if Oracle have manged to patch the vulnerabilities in Java, the have the same problem as Adobe – people forget to update their software.

And on top of that; Java is a piece of software that’s used in almost everything, it runs in the background, making more visible components work, PC Pro Magazine points out.

“How do you know if you have Java installed, or if it is running?” researcher at Microsoft Malware Protection, Holly Stewart rightfully asks.

(If you want to know more about Java, click the link below.)

1 in 3 Companies Exposed To Data Theft

According to the latest issue of Kroll Annual Global Fraud Report, suggest that the theft of digital assets has overtaken that of physical stock for the first time ever in 2010.

A Survey, conducted in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit, indicates that the numbers of companies reporting theft of information has risen sharply – from 18% to 27,3% – in 2010.

“There’s a growing awareness among thieves of the intrinsic value of intellectual property,” Kroll vice president, Robert Brenner explains.

The survey also suggest that 88% of the  participating companies had been victim of some kind of fraud over the past year, nearly half of them are now fearful of expanding globally because of the cyber threat.

The experts emphasize that the numbers probably not are 100% accurate.

However, the message is pretty clear.

(Download the report below)

The Most Scary Thing

I guess most of you have heard about the Stuxnet worm/virus/malware in the news by now, and are familiar with the speculations that the extremely sophisticated malware might be some kind of cyber weapon, developed by government related scientists somewhere.

I sounds like a plot in James Bond movie – but the truth might be even more vicious.

Davey Winder

According to experts is not unlikely to be a prototype of the first ever cyber-weapon-of-mass-destruction.

Davey Winder, award-winning journalist, business consultant and security expert, explains:

“So what do we know about Stuxnet and the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems?  Well, we know that Stuxnet is designed to be disseminated via USB sticks, and that it was developed to exploit specific zero-day vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system. To expand on that a little, Stuxnet actually exploits no fewer than four zero-day Windows vulnerabilities, a statement that alone should set the hair on the back of any security analyst’s neck prickling. Zero-day vulnerabilities are extremely valuable to the shady world of both hackers – where a zero-day is a kudos-generating device – and to criminals where zero-day equals pay-day. It’s relatively rare to see a single exploit being used in a piece of malware, and totally unheard of to see four expended in such a way.”

“Ask yourself, why would anyone waste three highly valuable zero-day exploits in a single piece of code when one would most likely do the job? Security experts recognize that this isn’t the modus operandi of the average hacker, nor the average criminal,” Winder writes in a recent article.

Personally, I believe that Stuxnet 2.0 is already out there – it just hasn’t been discovered yet.

The Internet Nuke Bomb

According to trend analyst, Gerald Celente, CEO and founder of Trends Research Institute, will cyber wars cause stir and come to fore in 2011.

And. as Eurasia, he is concerned about the government’s involvement.

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Here are some of the other highlights in Mr. Celente’s predictions for the year to come:

  • Every citizen in 2011 will realize that we are in the “greatest depression”
  • In 2011, the game’s gonna run out
  • Digital money, not worth the paper it’s not printed on
  • The youth of the world has mountains of debt to climb, and no way to get to the top
  • The greatest fear that governments have is freedom of speech
  • Your growth industries are the gangs
  • Crackdown on crime will lead to crackdown on liberties
  • Drones flying over your city looking in windows
  • The more government loses control, the harder they crack down

You may not take all of Gerald Celente’s forecasts equally serious, but many of the situations he describes is. in fact, common human behavior, observed in times of crisis since the collapse of the Roman empire thousands of years ago and up to our time.

At the latest count by McAfee Security Lab, about 60.000 pieces of malicious software is released on the internet every day.

And here’s how the last six months of 2010 looked like from the security software producer Kaspersky‘s point of view:

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Perhaps it’s time to upgrade?

 

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The EU Files: USA See Norways Military Proposal As Ridiculous

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 16.01.11 at 02:11

First we find that the US Embassy in Oslo for years have been requiting retired police officers to spy on Norwegian citizens, without anyone knowing anything about it, and now we find that the former ambassador to Norway, Benson Whitney, more or less have buried the Norwegian proposals for a future military strategy in the Nordic region. Mr. Whitney right out ridiculed the plans for a renewed Nordic military strategy put forward by former Norwegian foreign minister, Thorvald Stoltenberg, newly leaked documents by WikiLeaks show. The Norwegians are generally very tolerant people, there is a limit.

“The proposals are dreams in polar fog, but may be useful for keeping an eye on polar bears and Russians-”

Benson Whitney


The US ambassadors irrelevant remarks came after the 74-year-old Thorvald Stoltenberg in 2009 put forward 13 ideas for military co-operation. including a NATO-style mutual defense pact among the Nordic countries. Mr. Stoltenberg, highly respected among international politicians, spent several years working on the proposals. But as a result of Mr. Whitney’s mockery, the leaders of  the Nordic and Baltic countries has very little to debate when the meet with the UK prime minister next week to discuss the topic.


Of the 13 proposals, the US ambassador predicted the Nordic mutual defense plan as the most unlikely.

Thorvald Stoltenberg

“Officials including the PM’s foreign policy adviser and the foreign ministry’s political director have privately indicated to us that there is little or no interest in a Nordic solidarity declaration within the Government of Norway,” he reportedly said.

(Despite the fact the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, is Thorvald Stoltenberg’s son.)

On joint surveillance flights in Icelandic airspace, he added: “Surprisingly, Norwegian officials have been very critical of this proposal … expressing strong dislike for this item.”

The former US ambassador seem to know a helluva lot more about what’s going on inside the Norwegian government than most Norwegians do!

On diplomatic and consular co-operation, Mr Whitney said: “Co-operation between foreign services is much more difficult and will likely be limited to countries where none of the Nordics have representation now.”

Benson Whitney

However, in his concluding remarks, Whitney said: “Joint Nordic transport capabilities, medical teams, amphibious units, a stabilization task force and maritime awareness could be important contributions to UN, NATO or US missions.”

(Well, I assume it was the Norwegian military who provided him with transport back to the USA…)

LINK_1_ Oslo

The Swedish Connection

A separate cable, also release Thursday, illustrate the close connection between the US and Sweden at the time WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange was arrested in Stockholm on rape charges.

In the cable, dated July 2009, Swedish diplomat Jonas Wendel told the US charge d’affaires in Stockholm, Robert J. Silverman, about sensitive issues in an upcoming EU foreign ministers meeting.

Mr Wendel spoke in detail about the position of fellow US ally Britain on Iran sanctions, but maintained some discretion.

Speaking of whether or not the EU will use tough language against Russia, he said the move is being opposed by the “usual members,” but did not name them.

LINK 2_Stockholm

The Wendel dispatch comes after Swedish diplomat Johan Frisell in 2008, in a previously leaked US cable, dished up painful details on internal EU divisions on the Georgia-Russia war.

This revelation raised some eyebrows among some senior EU officials because internal EU debates are supposed to be kept secret.

Mr. Wendel indicated that EU countries are capable of sticking together in times of crisis.

Today we may see the ironic in these statements.

LINK 3_Russia

No Knowledge

Commenting on whether EU states might withdraw their ambassadors from Iran after it detained a British embassy worker, the cable said: “Solidarity among EU members is strong, and if the discussion is emotionally charged, then the ministers might agree to a withdrawal.”

And Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, in a dispatch dated December 2009 and published in December 2010, gave a partly upbeat opinion on the newly-minted EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

Mr Bildt said that he “knew and liked” Ms Ashton. He describe her as a “street fighter” with a disciplined mind for bureaucratic battles, competent and intelligent, but says she has “no foreign affairs knowledge.”

Julian Assange

LINK 4. Brussels

This is even more entertaining than the British tabloids. Thank you, Mr. Assange!

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h/t: EUobserver.com

About the links:

Since I’m not sure how long the cables will be online, I’ve made transcripts of the text files and uploaded them a few other places.

At the moment, you’ll find them here:

Link 1. Oslo Cable

Link 2. Stockholm Cable

Link 3. Russian Cable

Link 5. Brussels Cable

Read other EU files here.

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Bank Of America’s Website Crashes – Another Attack?

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 15.01.11 at 16:57

Bank of America says all customers are now able to use their online banking system. However, the BoA website have been down much of the day for an unknown number of customers. There’s no word on when the site will be fully restored. On Twitter the speculations are buzzing that the site has been taken down by hackers who support WikiLeaks.

“We are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it as fast as possible. Please accept our apologies.”

Bank of America (via Twitter)


The bank is responding to users about the problem on Twitter via @BofA_Help. For some users, the website hasn’t been responding for many hours . A BofA spokeswoman said the problems began for the bank’s website at 4 a.m. PST Friday.

BofA says there is no timetable yet for when the website would be back to normal, but says the online banking outage affects “a small population of its customers.” The BofA spokesperson could not provide the number of customers currently affected, Halah Touryalai at Forbes.com writes.

The message also notes that the problems were not because of malware and customer information was not compromised.

On Twitter there’s a lot of buzz about the BofA website failure right now.

At least one Twitter-user speculates about the possibility of the website being hacked by WikiLeaks’ advocates anonymous:


Last year eBay’s, PayPal and Mastercard were faced with down websites after being targeted by groups supporting WikiLeaks.

However – a Bank of America spokesperson says its outage today is not the result of anything WikiLeaks related.

Last night @BofA_Help began addressing the load of complaints.

The responses from  have been pretty standard so far. Most are along the lines of: “We are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it as fast as possible. Please accept our apologies” and Online Banking Outage: Bank of America is working to restore capability as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

But that’s obviously not stopping the stream of complaints from Twitter users.

Friday is payday for a lot of people, (at least for those lucky enough to be employed these days), and many are probably trying to pay their bills online and check balances.

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LATEST:

It now looks like BoA’s Online Banking Service is up and running again.

But still no information from the bank about what caused their site to crash.

Wikileaks About to Dump Its 5 Gigabyte Bank File?

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 10.01.11 at 20:18

Something curious is going on at WikiLeaks. The last release of diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks came out on January 4th. This three-day gap between Wikileaks releases is the longest ever to occur since Wikileaks began releasing the diplomatic cables, senior editor John Carney at CNBC points out.

“I suspect this means something big is about to come out of WikiLeaks.”

John Carney


We still don’t know for sure what bank the documents will allegedly indict. But all indications point to Bank of America. There have also been frenetic activity on the inside of the bank giant lately, with lawyers and spin doctors going through every little piece of stored information that might incriminate Bank of America as an “ecosystem of corruption” or expose the banks fraudulent practice in handling foreclosures. A court ruling on Friday sent ripples through the real estate industry yesterday ruling that banks and lenders must have proper documentation before foreclosing on a home.

Something curious is going on at WikiLeaks.

Or, rather, something is not going on. And that’s curious, according to CNBC senior editor John Carney.

John Carney

“I suspect this means something big is about to come out of WikiLeaks. Something they are taking their time to put together. And that is likely to be the much talked about release of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange shows a culture of corruption inside an US bank,” he writes in a new blog post.

“I do not think its a stretch to expect something big to follow Wikileaks’ silence. They published new documents when Assange was arrested. There was a release on Christmas eve and Christmas day. They didn’t rest on New Year‘s eve or New Year’s day.”

And now we’ve had three days of silence.

“Something is coming,” Carney concludes.

Read also:

* Wiki-Founder Compare Upcoming Bank Leak To Enron

* WikiLeaks With 5GB File On Bank of America

Well, to me it seems like the snowball started to roll last Friday after the ruling in the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, stating that banks and lenders must have proper documentation before foreclosing on a home.

Bank of America have been at the center of the foreclosure scandal, together with Wells Fargo. JP Morgan Chase and US Bankcorp.

In second half of 2010 it became clear that the banks had automated the foreclosure process, leaving homeowners no or little possibility to negotiate new terms for their mortgage payments.

As a result thousands have wrongfully been forced out of their homes.

(Read more at; loanworkout.org)

This is just getting better by the minute….

Stay tuned!

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Related by The Swapper;

Julian Assange’s Letter of Defence

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Philosophy, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 07.12.10 at 18:08

WikiLeaks founder Julain Assange was arrested in London Tuesday after Swedish police issued an international arrest order for Assange based on the rather loose sex-charges from earlier this year. Assange, who has been “Americas Most Wanted” for a week, in hiding when his family and children received death threats, has just released a letter in which he asks for protection – not prosecution.

“WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.”

Julian Assange


“People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.”

The letter from WikiLeaks is titled; “Don’t shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths,” with the sub-title; “WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.”

It’s just published at the website of the newspaper The Australian.

recommended read. Here it is:

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran’s nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange

Editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks

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WikiLeaks: The Diversion of A Decade?

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Natural science, Philosophy, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 06.12.10 at 20:54

There’s a lot serious stuff going on in the world at the moment. But somehow the center of attention is a young man who has managed to piss of some politicians and generals by publishing documents that proves what most people already know – or at least suspected. The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now subject to the most intense manhunt by international authorities since Osama bin-Laden for having sex without a condom. The fact that a stack of reports have been issued, warning about further deterioration of the global economy, currency wars, political instability and exploding social unrest, seems to be mostly overlooked. Am I the only one to  think it’s a little peculiar?

“The WikiLeaks saga is trying its best to offer distraction, but the crisis in the euro zone remains impossible to ignore.”

Robin Bew


It’s been a strange, almost surreal, weekend. Personally I’ve been fighting off a couple of attempts to hack into my computer system, and never in the 15 years I’ve been online have I ran into so many error messages when trying to load pages on the internet. What makes it even more strange is that the WikiLeaks frenzy is happening at the same time as EU and NATO is conducting its first ever cyber war exercise, the US launch a massive operation to seize close to hundred file-sharing web sites and thousands of hackers all over the world gathered at an event organized by Google, Microsoft, NASA and the World Bank.

And all this have been planned long time ahead. The latest release of documents from WikiLeaks was also notified months in advance.

So was the scheduled release of several economic forecasts for 2011 last week. However, these have more or less been drowned in the avalanche of more or less (un)important Wiki-stories filling up both mainstream and alternative medias.

So, I think it’s time to get the focus back where it belongs; on the developments of our global economy, as the Eurogroup meet for another crisis meeting this Monday and Bloomberg reports that the euro’s worst is yet to come.

“The WikiLeaks saga is trying its best to offer distraction, but the crisis in the euro zone remains impossible to ignore. With fears of contagion increasing, our ViewsWire service examines scenarios under which countries might exit the single currency,” chief economist Robin Bew at The Economist Intelligence Unit writes in an email to subscribers. Adding: “We think the euro will ultimately survive, but significant political and economic hurdles will have to be overcome, with Portugal now likely to follow Ireland and Greece in requesting emergency EU/IMF funding.”

Last week EIU released a bunch of reports, based on separate analysis on each topic.

You have to look very hard to find something positive to hold on to. In fact, I can’t remember having read anything like this from The Economist in a very long time.

This is the headlines:

The EIU label the three first predictions with “High Probability,”  the next three as “Moderate Probability” and the two last are seen as “Low Probability”.

As I’ve been pointing out since the financial crisis became visible to most people, we are in fact dealing with a three-part crisis; the financial, the environmental and the social.

There three problems are connected, they interact with each other, feeds on each other, making each other stronger – and it’s impossible to solve one without solving the others.

Robin Bew writes:

“The UN climate summit under way in Cancún, Mexico is highly unlikely to produce a global accord on emissions cuts, though modest gains, such as on forest protection, remain possible.”

Well, the possibility of rescuing a few trees is not gonna make much difference.

As for the social (poverty) crisis, Economist Intelligence Unit concludes:

“The risk is that instability becomes systemic, with political crises in certain countries affecting others through contagion or through the actions of populist new regimes seeking to assert themselves. Potential widespread disruption poses a considerable downside risk to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global economic forecasts.”

That’s right. Sovereign debt problems isn’t the only thing that is contagious.

The Economist Intelligence Unit‘s baseline global forecast assumes some increase in social and political unrest, but with serious fallout largely avoided. If economic circumstances were to worsen again, however, there is a danger though that incidents of unrest turn into far more intense and long-lasting events: armed rebellions, military coups, civil conflicts and perhaps even wars between states. In such circumstances, a repetition of the pressures that transformed global politics in the 1930s, though a far-removed worst-case scenario, could not be dismissed.”

In other words: If the economy gets worse, we may face a World War II scenario.

Now, take a look at the top three scenarios again…

First: Sovereign debt

“There are considerable concerns about the sustainability of public debt positions in a number of countries. Heavily indebted sovereigns – including developed economies, notably in the euro zone – could struggle to raise private financing even at higher interest rates, and some could default.”

“The US and the UK also face drastically increased fiscal deficits. They could moderate their debt burdens through inflation and devaluation but this risks undermining their bond markets, and the resultant spike in bond yields could force an acceleration of fiscal tightening, with highly negative implications for economic recovery.”

“Emerging-market defaults would create some ructions more widely, but as developed-country sovereign bonds have traditionally been considered risk-free, developed-country defaults in particular would wreak havoc on investor psychology. Banks would face write-downs on their government debt portfolios, and financial-sector guarantees by governments that default would be exposed as worthless.”

(Forecast: High probability, high impact, risk level 16)

Second: New Asset Bubble

“A flood of cheap money from stimulus measures, in particular carry trades drawing on record-low interest rates in the US, prompted a strong rally in a range of assets in the second half of 2009 and in 2010, particularly emerging-market stocks and bonds, but also in risky asset classes such as equities, high-yield bonds and commodities more broadly.”

“New bubbles could continue to grow for a considerable period of time, potentially several years, during which they will help to boost growth in the economies concerned. But they would burst suddenly, and still-fragile risk appetite could be a factor in this – a decline in risk tolerance could see investors pull their money out of emerging-market assets. Indeed, the rally in asset markets has been subject to periodic reversals in 2010 as concerns about the outlook for the global economy have re-emerged.”

“New asset bubbles may be vulnerable to painful corrections as central banks in emerging markets tighten monetary policy, fiscal stimulus is withdrawn, and the weak foundations of recovery become apparent. The resultant dislocations, including a shock to banks and a renewed rise in risk aversion, would reinforce and deepen a new economic slowdown.”

(Forecast: High probability, high impact, risk level 16)

Third: Currency Manipulation

“Tensions are rising over attempts by some countries to weaken their currencies, and the US and China remain at odds over the value of the renminbi. A global “currency war” would raise the danger of protectionist responses.”

“Tensions over exchange-rates have risen in recent months. The US Congress has been holding hearings on China’s exchange-rate policy, with a view to potential legislation to punish China for what the US regards as a mercantilist strategy of keeping the renminbi artificially low. A growing cohort of other countries are also worried about the strength of their currencies, including Brazil, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea. Market interventions by policymakers in some countries to weaken their currencies prompted Brazil’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, to warn of an “international currency war”.”

“Given the closely integrated nature of the global economy, governments will find it difficult to close off many aspects of trade, even if they want to. But trade disputes are likely to increase as populist policies clash with countries’ international obligations.”

(Forecast: High probability, high impact, risk level 16)

All eight summaries are uploaded on Scribd.

By the way – here’s the latest WikiLeaks stories:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in UK (BBC)

Feds block workers from WikiLeaks (CNET.com)

MasterCard pulls plug on WikiLeaks payments (CNET.com)

Swiss Bank Closes WikiLeaks Founder’s Bank Accounts (RadioFreeEurope)

WikiLeaks‘ Swedish servers come under attack again (The Herald Tribue)

Barack Omama Is More Dangerous Than WikiLeaks (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research)

WikiLeaks Releases List of “Vital” US Facilities (Slate.com)

Google refuses to disclose whether they’d allow users to repost Wikileaks‘ State Department cables (The Atlantic)

Related by The Swapper:

The Guardian Site Crashed During Assange Chat, WikiLeaks Removed From The Internet

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Philosophy, Views, commentaries and opinions on 03.12.10 at 16:57

The British newspaper experienced a heavy spam attack Friday when they set up a live chat with Wiki-leader Julian Assange. The attackers managed to crash the whole Guardian site, but it seems like the website now is up and running again. Internet Service Providers (ISP) all around the world have started to block all links to Wikileaks from their servers.

“Pressure appears to have been applied to close the WikiLeaks domain name.”

Mark Stephens


Friday morning in Europe, WikiLeaks’ domain name system (DNS) provider based in the United StatesEveryDNS.net . pulled the virtual plug on the controversial site Wikileaks.org, meaning that it is no longer reachable at that Web address. Several other DNS providers are now doing the same, accordingly after pressure from US authorities.

DNS is a key part of the Web, which translates Internet Protocol (IP) addresses – strings of numbers – into an actual domain name, like Wikileaks.org.

“EveryDNS.net provided domain name system (DNS) services to the wikileaks.org domain name until 10 PM EST, December 2, 2010, when such services were terminated,” EveryDNS says in a statement on its website.

“As with other users of the EveryDNS.net network, this service was provided for free. The termination of services was effected pursuant to, and in accordance with, the EveryDNS.net Acceptable Use Policy.”

US government pressure on the technological side of WikiLeaks has caused the organization to be driven further into the arms of European online service providers and web hosts.

EveryDNS.net is now the third such US-based company that has pulled the virtual rug out from WikiLeaks in recent days after increased pressure from the American government.

Earlier in the week, the Seattle-based data visualization company, Tableau, which had previously provided graphs and other services to WikiLeaks, removed its data after a public request from US congressman Senator Joe Lieberman.

The US Witch Hunt

Most notably, on Wednesday, Amazon.com also removed WikiLeaks’ data from its online hosting services and said that Wikileaks’ presence violated its terms of service.

On Thursday, Senator Lieberman and two other US senators introduced a new bill, called the “Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination (SHIELD) Act.”

The bill supposed to be an amend ment to the American Espionage Act, which already forbids publishing classified information on wiretapping or American cryptography secrets.

The new law would extend this ban to human intelligence as well, “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government.”

Americas Most Wanted

WikiLeaks are no being chased around the world with more intensity than the hunt for Osama bin-Laden ever had.

And the whistleblowers is finding it more and more difficult to find a sever that’s willing to host them.

The DNS companies are afraid of spam attacks, capable of shutting down their whole system, if they allow access to WikiLeaks.

“You know how they work, they move around a lot,” said Mikael Viborg, the CEO of PRQ, in an interview with Deutsche Welle. “They don’t want to get caught in one place.”

Viborg added that his company prides itself on providing hosting with “100 percent anonymity.”

“It means that I don’t want to know who you are and you might want to know who I am, but when the authorities comes to us, we have no way of knowing,” he says, adding that WikiLeaks told his company who it was and that the organization, through an intermediary in Sweden, recently paid $11,000 for three months of hosting service.

A second French host, Octopuce, based in Paris, was also a Wikileaks host for approximately the last six weeks up until this week, when the WikiLeaks site sustained a decent-sized cyber attack of 10 gigabits per second.

“We are no longer hosting as of Wednesday since they had a great number increasing distributed denial of service attacks, and the latest one was too much for our infrastructure and we were forced to ask them to find another safe haven for their machines,” Benjamin Sontag, the head of Octopuce, says in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

(http://www.dw-world.de/dw/0,,266,00.html)

According to Benjamin Sontag,  WikiLeaks came to Octopuce, adding that his company currently hosts a number of high-profile French sites, including the highly respected journal, Le Monde Diplomatique.

“One of our current customers knew them and they asked us to give [WikiLeaks] some hosting and some infrastructure advice,” he says, decline to elaborate on how much WikiLeaks paid, nor what specific services they paid for.

Another one of WikiLeaks’ hosts, Jon Karlung, chairman of Bahnhof in Sweden, agree with Hoffman, saying that his company was treating WikiLeaks as any other customer. While he declined to say exactly what WikiLeaks paid for, he did say that its level of hosting and bandwidth would ordinarily cost 500 to 1,000 euros per month.

Assange Chat Scrambled

The British newspaper set up an online chat session with Julian Assange from an unknown location Friday, but just after a few minutes The Guardian’s website was bombarded with spam – enough to crash the whole site.

However, the newspapers technicians were able to get the site up and running again after not too long.

Here you’ll find the questions and answers from the chat session: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-julian-assange-online)

Latest from The Guardian: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-knocked-off-net-dns-everydns)

(For some reason, the WordPress server won’t allow me to insert these links as ordinary hyperlinks).

Gaining Support

In spite of the US (or whoever) attempt to crush WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the organisation is rapidly getting more and more support.

“We do not shut down clients unless there are solid legal claims to do so from the appropriate authorities and in Sweden that would be the Swedish authorities and not American authorities, and not an American senator,” Karlung says, adding that his company has had no contact with a law enforcement agency concerning Wikileaks thus far.

Karlung added that he has had no contact with Julian Assange, the elusive head of WikiLeaks, except for when they spoke on the phone initially to activate WikiLeaks’ service “a few months ago.”

In the end, even if American authorities are somehow able to shut down WikiLeaks on its European servers, the organization already has significant support amongst many tech-savvy people worldwide, which continues to be able to thwart the best efforts of all governments.

“I believe the public has a right to all information, in order to make the right decisions,” added Mikael Viborg, the chief executive of the Swedish host, PRQ.

“We do live in a democracy, in some sense. And I think that everyone needs to know everything before they can form an opinion. And I think that what WikiLeaks is showing us the underbelly, the worst that governments can do. I think that people need to know this even if this information is somehow dangerous to soldiers, dangerous to national security. I still think that people need to know this. And I think that doing this with WikiLeaks, yeah sure, I’m getting paid, but this is something I believe in.”

Related by The Swapper: