Article pulled directly from wikiLeaks…
WikiLeaks: The Spy Files
It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but as of today, mass interception systems, built by Western intelligence contractors, including for ’political opponents’ are a reality. Today WikiLeaks began releasing a database of hundreds of documents from as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry. Working with Bugged Planet and Privacy International, as well as media organizations form six countries – ARD in Germany, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK, The Hindu in India, L’Espresso in Italy, OWNI in France and the Washington Post in the U.S. Wikileaks is shining a light on this secret industry that has boomed since September 11, 2001 and is worth billions of dollars per year. WikiLeaks has released 287 documents today, but the Spy Files project is ongoing and further information will be released this week and into next year.
International surveillance companies are based in the more technologically sophisticated countries, and they sell their technology on to every country of the world. This industry is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers. Users’ physical location can be tracked if they are carrying a mobile phone, even if it is only on stand by.
But the WikiLeaks Spy Files are more than just about ’good Western countries’ exporting to ’bad developing world countries’. Western companies are also selling a vast range of mass surveillance equipment to Western intelligence agencies. In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market.
Selling Surveillance to Dictators
When citizens overthrew the dictatorships in Egypt and Libya this year, they uncovered listening rooms where devices from Gamma corporation of the UK, Amesys of France, VASTech of South Africa and ZTE Corp of China monitored their every move online and on the phone.
Surveillance companies like SS8 in the U.S., Hacking Team in Italy and Vupen in France manufacture viruses (Trojans) that hijack individual computers and phones (including iPhones, Blackberries and Androids), take over the device, record its every use, movement, and even the sights and sounds of the room it is in. Other companies like Phoenexia in the Czech Republic collaborate with the military to create speech analysis tools. They identify individuals by gender, age and stress levels and track them based on ‘voiceprints’. Blue Coat in the U.S. and Ipoque in Germany sell tools to governments in countries like China and Iran to prevent dissidents from organizing online.
Trovicor, previously a subsidiary of Nokia Siemens Networks, supplied the Bahraini government with interception technologies that tracked human rights activist Abdul Ghani Al Khanjar. He was shown details of personal mobile phone conversations from before he was interrogated and beaten in the winter of 2010-2011.
How Mass Surveillance Contractors Share Your Data with the State
In January 2011, the National Security Agency broke ground on a $1.5 billion facility in the Utah desert that is designed to store terabytes of domestic and foreign intelligence data forever and process it for years to come.
Telecommunication companies are forthcoming when it comes to disclosing client information to the authorities – no matter the country. Headlines during August’s unrest in the UK exposed how Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry, offered to help the government identify their clients. RIM has been in similar negotiations to share BlackBerry Messenger data with the governments of India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Weaponizing Data Kills Innocent People
There are commercial firms that now sell special software that analyze this data and turn it into powerful tools that can be used by military and intelligence agencies.
For example, in military bases across the U.S., Air Force pilots use a video link and joystick to fly Predator drones to conduct surveillance over the Middle East and Central Asia. This data is available to Central Intelligence Agency officials who use it to fire Hellfire missiles on targets.
The CIA officials have bought software that allows them to match phone signals and voice prints instantly and pinpoint the specific identity and location of individuals. Intelligence Integration Systems, Inc., based in Massachusetts – sells a “location-based analytics” software called Geospatial Toolkit for this purpose. Another Massachusetts company named Netezza, which bought a copy of the software, allegedly reverse engineered the code and sold a hacked version to the Central Intelligence Agency for use in remotely piloted drone aircraft.
IISI, which says that the software could be wrong by a distance of up to 40 feet, sued Netezza to prevent the use of this software. Company founder Rich Zimmerman stated in court that his “reaction was one of stun, amazement that they (CIA) want to kill people with my software that doesn’t work.”
Across the world, mass surveillance contractors are helping intelligence agencies spy on individuals and ‘communities of interest’ on an industrial scale.
The Wikileaks Spy Files reveal the details of which companies are making billions selling sophisticated tracking tools to government buyers, flouting export rules, and turning a blind eye to dictatorial regimes that abuse human rights.
Sat Aug 20 23:25:00 2011 GMT
WikiLeaks does not record or retain source identifying information, however the claimed destruction of documents entrusted to WikiLeaks between January 2010 and August 2010 demands the revelation of inside information so sources can make their own risk assessments.
Early in 2010, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, (then “Daniel Berg”, “Daniel Schmitt”) (born 1978), who was responsible for keeping selected WikiLeaks backups, met and entered into a relationship with Anke Domscheit-Berg (then, “Anke Domscheit”) (born 1968) who described her job title as “Director Government Relations” for Microsoft, Germany.
DDB told me that ADB’s role was to interface with the German government on behalf of Microsoft. He was proud that he had been to a party at the German ministry of the interior, as ADB’s consort, and that ADB was on intimate terms with senior figures in the German government and bureaucracy.
DDB told me that he had moved into ADBs house in Berlin, without any counter-intelligence cover, going so far as to place his legal name on a street visible mail box and the interior door and that he would work from this location.
At this point WikiLeaks issued a policy directive that DDB not be permitted contact with source material.
ADB and DDB officially married within a few weeks and changed their surnames to “Domscheit-Berg”.
DDB secretly, and in clear violation of WikiLeaks internal security directives, recorded internal WikiLeaks encrypted “chat” conversations. He initially publicly denied having done so, but attempted to place many of these recordings into his ghostwritten book, most of which were rejected by his publishers’ lawyers as violations of german privacy law. Others he secretly conveyed to hostile media, such as Wired magazine, which had been involved in the arrest and persecution of US intelligence analyst Bradley Manning.
His book, “Inside WikiLeaks”, contains many proven malicious libels and breaches of WikiLeaks security policies. The book is promoted throughout U.S. military book stores, by the U.S. military.
After DDB’s suspension in August 2010, he managed, through guile, to convince a German WikiLeaks system administrator, who was an old associate of DDB’s, to obtain the keys and data for a large quantity of then pending WikiLeaks whistleblower disclosures.
In the last year there has been publicly declared task forces or investigations into WikiLeaks by the CIA, the Pentagon, the FBI, the Department of State, the DoJ, ASIO, ASIS, and the AFP (the last has now been publicly cancelled, finding that no Australian laws have been broken). Many other agencies, such as the NSA have also been involved, but not publicly declared.
I have received a warning from a current Western intelligence officer that DDB has been in contact with the FBI, on more than one occasion, and that the information from this contact was “helpful”. I do not know if DDB was complicit with the reported contact.
David House, of the Bradley Manning Support Network, stated publicly, and repeatedly, that U.S. investigative authorities attempted to bribe him to become an informant and infiltrate WikiLeaks activities.
I have been told that the girlfriend of a Berlin-based Israeli intelligence officer attended the wedding of ADB and DDB. This may not be significant.
I have received intelligence from current Western intelligence officer, that Anke Domscheit Berg, personally, came into contact with the CIA during her time working for the McKinsey & Company consulting group. This was a direct, volunteered statement of fact and warning, and not a statement of speculation. I do not know if ADB was complicit in the reported contact.
From The eXiled’s Special Australasia Correspondent
PERTH, AUSTRALIA–First, the Right accused WikiLeaks of endangering US soldiers and Afghan informers. Then after “Cablegate” the neocons conceded to the lack of evidence and switched to the opposite tactic: insisting there was nothing exciting at all about Julian Assange’s leaks. Spectator editorials appeared, claiming we already knew Sarkozy was a narcissist and Berlusconi was a womaniser. This didn’t work either. The cables had a lot of new information about DynCorp bribing Afghan police with “dancing boys” and Mubarak telling the US to install a “fair dictator” in Iraq.
Now a much easier way to discredit WikiLeaks has emerged: attacking Assange as a human being. It’s easy because there’s no need to touch any wider political issues. It’s damaging because (regardless of how right he is) Assange still needs technicians to work for him and a well-timed mutiny could hurt his organisation more than any external pressure. Worse, the man probably is a dickhead. He’s a brave dickhead, a talented dickhead, a necessary dickhead. He has a better chance of crippling the war effort than any of his competitors. But none of that makes him easy to work with. And WikiLeaks doesn’t just need volunteers, but extremely skilled ones who can maintain large servers and keep them running after all sorts of cyber attacks.
At the moment, Assange’s most notable competitor is a squishy little Kraut by the name of Daniel Domscheit-Berg (better abbreviated to “Shite”) who worked for WikiLeaks until last September. On January 28th, he announced that he was forming an “alternative” whistleblower site, “OpenLeaks.” Instead of publishing documents directly, OpenLeaks plans to provide a select list of media groups with inboxes and give leakers the choice of which inbox to send material to. They do not, however, have the choice of getting documents put up for the public to see. Instead they have to hope their selected editors will: a) find the document “newsworthy,” and b) publish as much of it as possible without trying to soften the impact. In other words, OpenLeaks isn’t really that open. And it gets creepier – Domscheit-Berg seems hesitant to put up more US documents, writing that WikiLeaks “should have ruled out any further publication of the American documents” after Bradley Manning’s arrest.
Domscheit-Berg’s attack on Julian Assange has been three-pronged. Not only has he formed a rival organisation, but he’s pinched several thousand documents from the WikiLeaks server and refused to give them back to Assange. He claims this isn’t theft – even though the leakers entrusted Assange with the docs, not him – because he doesn’t plan to publish them. Instead, he’s keeping them “in a safe environment,” whatever that means. Finally, he’s put out a memoir – Inside Wikileaks – attacking Assange for chauvinism, transvestism, uncleanliness, gluttony and animal abuse.
You see, Domscheit-Berg’s main advantage over his Australian adversary is his blandness. He’s monogamous, doesn’t play mind games with his employees and trusts his government to “respect the law.” He also objects to Assange turning Wikileaks into “a global political player – something it was never intended to be.” (Intended by whom, I wonder? Domscheit-Berg doesn’t dispute that Assange is the group’s “sole founder.”) He opposes Assange’s decision to give the name “Collateral Murder” to footage of a US helicopter gunning down Reuters journalists. And despite hanging around with an anarchist or two, Domscheit-Berg doesn’t really seem to have much against the Iraq-Afghanistan occupations. The worst he says is that “the suspicion can hardly be dismissed outright that the United States waged war partly for economic reasons.” (It’s the “partly” that does it.)
He even suggests Assange only gave so much attention to US military documents because focusing on Africa or Russia “wouldn’t have gotten him on the nightly news” or improved his “status.” It’s the same old argument the Right has always used: anyone who seriously challenges the status quo is just a narcissist. The goals they’re trying to achieve aren’t half as important as their motivation. Well, what if Assange is a narcissist? What if he is a jerk, a creep, a stalker, and an absolute pig to everyone who knows him? At least he’s actually trying to hurt the scum in power, fuck with bankers, and derail the war effort. Shite doesn’t even believe a whistleblower page should be about hurting, but, rather, about making the public “capable of behaving correctly” by giving them sufficient background information.
Domscheit-Berg’s nanny-leak philosophy is about as idealistic as he gets, if you call that idealism. In other regards, his blandness merges with a cheerful pro-corporate attitude. Regarding his wife’s job as a programmer, he says:
She worked for Microsoft on open government projects. In principle, she was trying to increase transparency from the top down, while [me and Assange] were working from the bottom up. I thought she was probably very good at her job.
And just in case you didn’t know what a perfectly bland, politically-correct teacher’s pet he is, Domscheit-Berg dedicates his book to “My wife Anke, who is my equal.”
This is Anke, Daniel’s equal
Domscheit-Berg seems like he’s trying to convince himself that he’s satisfied being bland, monogamous, and perfectly politically-correct. He admits that Assange’s alpha mindset threatened his pious Puritanism:
I must admit his fascination with women was contagious, even though I was already spoken for.
On our way back home from our absinthe evening, we both saw what amounted to an apparition. A woman in hot pants and a tight top whizzed past us on Rollerblades. We continued talking about the conference, other people we knew, and our future plans, but every once in a while one of us would say “What a woman!” Or “Boy, was she the business!”
Scary, scary picture. A debased Hessian IT worker who can’t fantasize about strangers without getting a sick feeling he’s deserves to be served with a restraining order. I don’t know if this retro Eurovision dweebiness is half as palpable in the original German, but the translator’s done a fine job nonetheless. You can almost hear ELO’s Xanadu soundtrack in the background when Shite mentions his “apparition… on Rollerblades.” And yep, the good Puritanical Domscheit-Berg’s favourite drugs are absinthe, weed and “a soft drink containing stimulants,” to which he gives a cosy product placement spot. I guess that’s supposed to show his healthy distrust of authority. Within acceptable limits.
But Domscheit-Berg’s Inside Wikileaks is more than just a cowardly smear job. It’s a well written one, too. Domscheit-Berg dictated the book to a journalist named Tina Klopp, whom, I suspect, is no stranger to Charles Portis novels. There are moments in the memoir when Domscheit-Berg’s thoughts about Assange are eerily similar to passages from Dog of the South. If you’ve read the great eXiled-recommended novel Dog of the South, you’d know what I mean – those bitter, jealous parts where prig-lord Ray Midge attacks the personal upkeep and manliness of his wife-stealing rival Guy Dupree (a leftist-radical megalomaniac). Klopp may have been trying to emulate them when she wrote these bits:
Julian ate everything with his hands, and he always wiped his fingers on his pants. I have never seen pants as greasy as his in my whole life.
Julian sat beside me, bitching. He was a terrible backseat driver. He complained the entire time that I was driving too fast, and to him as an Australian, the German roads seemed far too narrow and full of traffic. What’s more, he never quite got over the feeling that I was driving on the wrong side of the road.
When we reached Switzerland, I spent all my remaining money on Ovaltine. I love the Swiss chocolate drink, and for the rest of our tour, I couldn’t wait to get back home and make myself a huge cup of cocoa. But when we arrived back in Wiesbaden, the cocoa powder would be all gone. Julian had at some point torn open the packages and poured the contents straight in his mouth.
You usually couldn’t speak to him when he was working. He sat in deep meditation, programming or reading something or other. At most he used to leap up briefly without any warning and do some strange kung fu exercises. Some media reports said that Julian was at least the equivalent of a black belt in all known international martial arts. In fact, his improvised shadowboxing lasted a maximum of twenty seconds, looked extremely silly, and was probably intended to stretch his joints and tendons after all that sitting.
How much closer can you get to Ray Midge’s self-consolatory whine? We’re just waiting for Domscheit-Berg to tell us he can’t think of any Prime Minister who couldn’t handle Assange in a fistfight. He also mocks his former boss’s attempts at keeping a low profile (“You couldn’t have behaved more conspicuously than Julian did.”) and how he repeatedly loses his way through the streets of Wiesbaden. Yes, this makes our Julian seem pretty careless, but not as sloppy as Domscheit-Berg when he fails to make a back-up of the WikiLeaks server.
When the server breaks, Assange (rightly) tells Domscheit-Berg: “Wikileaks only survived because I didn’t trust you.” Seeing that Domscheit-Berg later stole several thousand files and kept asking for partial control of WikiLeaks’s money supply, I can’t help but wonder if this was deliberate sabotage on his part.
Domscheit-Berg is oddly incredulous, too, at Assange’s descriptions of his ancestry: “There were stories of him having at least ten ancestors from various corners of the globe, from the South Sea pirates to Irishmen.” Well, I’d believe a man had nine ancestors – but ten? That’s getting a bit excessive. And IRISHMEN?! Isn’t that just too exotic for words?
Klopp does a good job, though, of making Assange look like Portis’s Guy Dupree. He gets into a fight with a corrupt Italian ticket inspector, on the grounds that “the man in uniform has to learn his lesson.” He randomly attacks Domscheit-Berg’s cat “spread[ing] his fingers into a fork shape and pounc[ing] on the cat’s neck”:
“It’s about training vigilance,” Julian explained. Mr. Schmitt was a male cat, and male cats were supposed to be dominant. “A man must never forget he has to be the master of the situation,” Julian proclaimed. I wasn’t aware that anyone in my apartment or the courtyard had questioned Mr. Schmitt’s masculinity. What’s more, he was neutered.
Guy Dupree’s words–“I know your movements and have access to your pets”– might actually be scary coming from the founder of WikiLeaks.
However, there’s a key difference between Assange and his Portis-universe doppelganger. Our Julian might be a control freak, but there are plenty of reasons to believe he’s a genuine ubermensch. He works for days on end, hardly eats, has no fixed address, sleeps on cold tables in a Berlin convention centre and carries all his worldly possessions in a single backpack. He’s also taught himself to type completely blind, because “working without optical feedback was a form of perfection, a victory over time.” He refuses to bribe the Italian conductor even when he’s likely to miss a flight to Germany by doing so. Domscheit-Berg, on the other hand, the perfect Social Democratic yuppie, can’t stop mentioning how much he loves cooking and shopping at “lefty alternative macrobiotic” groceries. And yet he tells us he’s storing Assange’s files “in a safe, secure location” because “children shouldn’t play with guns.”
In fact, his whole OpenLeaks model is designed to keep as much heat away as possible from the website operator, who’s little more than a go-between between the leaker and the media. Domscheit-Berg isn’t even likely to get a threatening letter from someone’s attorney. That only happens when you’re publishing, not handing out exclusive email accounts. In his own words:
OpenLeaks can be seen as a kind of sober, neutral infrastructure. We see ourselves as technological engineers, not as media stars or global galactic saviors. Some people may even think we’re boring. That’s just how we want to be. The main thing is the system works.
Dickhead or not, at least Assange can deal with pressure. He’d rather go fugitive, sleep rough and live on his wits than surrender his servers. This is the guy I’d trust in a guerrilla war campaign, the old “inflict-and-endure.” Compare that with Domscheit-Berg, who claims to give homelessness a try for half a year before running to his fiancee’s doorstep. Even his tolerance for messy hotel rooms is much lower than any of Assange’s other lackeys.
In other words, a pussy. But aggressively marketing his pussy-ness, with the goal not so much of making the reader like Domscheit-Berg, as in trying to peel away Assange’s crucial left-progressive supporters.
But let’s take Domscheit-Berg at face value. How much value does he bring to the WikiLeaks movement, compared to Julian Assange? Here’s an easy way of telling if someone poses a real threat to the Powers That Be: How much can they endure? If a bit of ceiling mold is enough to make them hoist the white flag, they’re not the guy you want to back against the military-industrial complex. If they have real conviction – ANY real conviction, whether it’s self-sacrificing altruism or a self-inflated martyr complex, creepy or not – they’re much more likely to scare the neocons and see the battle through to the end. The difference between a careerist hanger-on and a martyr has nothing to do with selfishness and everything to do with posterity, a Higher Purpose. A careerist has no notion of posterity. A martyr does. That’s the difference. Domscheit-Berg’s pain-and-poverty threshold is so much lower than Assange’s that you wonder what he’s doing there, why he’s not delivering mail or serving in some safe job as a Social Democratic Party hack.
What about all the insane surveillance and death threats? Well, Domscheit-Berg won’t even admit that Assange was harassed, at any point in his travels, by cops or spooks. Take note: anyone who laughs death threats off into conspiracy theorist territory will buckle, and buckle fast.
There’s another odd thing about Domscheit-Berg’s memoir: the feel-good moments. In one scene, a corporate executive contacts WikiLeaks, praises the site and offers to organise a fundraiser in Manhattan for it – if Shite and Assange retract a document or two. He threatens to call his attorneys when they refuse and they tell him to get fucked. Later, the head of Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, emails WikiLeaks and demands they remove a confidential report. They reply, asking him to specify which “BND-related” doc he wants them to remove. He falls for it, admitting that a file titled “BND_Kosovo_intelligence_report” is authentic.
Domscheit-Berg doesn’t tell us whether these emails were his idea or Assange’s. It’s always the royal “we”: “we responded… we wrote back… our next answer… we got a few laughs… our response.” Seeing as Domscheit-Berg and Assange rarely met in person during 2008 and communicated almost exclusively over a chat program, you wonder if the emails to German intelligence were really the result of teamwork. The email to the BND chief ends with the name “Jay Lim.” In an earlier chapter, Domscheit-Berg suspects this is probably one of Assange’s pseudonyms, making it fairly likely that Assange caught the spook on his own. Still, he can’t stand the idea of Assange teaching an authority figure a lesson, so the credit goes to “we.” At the same time, he theorises that WikiLeaks was probably a two-man organisation for most of 2008. So, Domscheit-Berg, was it you or Assange? Stop leeching off of him with those cowardly first-person plurals when the going is good, and then distancing yourself when things get rough!
Domscheit-Berg insists his motives aren’t really malicious. He insists that he isn’t trying to compete with WikiLeaks but provide a “complementary” service. Just to show how well-meaning he is, he even gives Assange a pious shout-out in his Acknowledgements. But why did he release his memoir in the middle of the state attack on Assange, when he faces extradition and trial? If that’s not malice, I’d hate to see the real thing in Domscheit-Berg’s eyes.
Even more suspiciously, Domscheit-Berg really seems shocked when Assange finally tells him he wants to run Wikileaks as an “insurgent operation,” as if it’s a drastic change of direction. This actually explains a lot – for instance, why Shite didn’t know the number of volunteers WikiLeaks had in its early days. A well-organised insurgent group wouldn’t tell the lower rungs exactly how many other lower rungs there are. This protects the group from betrayal by individuals under torture, and by Domscheit-Berg’s standards, torture is a smelly Icelandic motel room. It’s also evidence that he never had real leadership in the group. He joined at the end of its second year, had no idea how WikiLeaks was structured outside of his own cell and now complains that Assange didn’t move it closer to “other charitable organizations such as Greenpeace or Worldwatch.” You wonder why it took him nearly three years to realise what Assange’s basic strategy was. Didn’t he ever watch Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers?
I guess not, because even if his motives are innocent, the guy’s still a White Hat. Before joining WikiLeaks, he worked as a private IT security consultant for “a large American company that did IT work for civilian and military clients.” (We have to take his word for it that he didn’t work for any war profiteers.)
Twice in the book, he mentions Adrian Lamo and doesn’t call him anything stronger than “ex-hacker.” Lamo, it turns out, was a member of WikiLeaks’s original donor list. When Assange accidentally forgets to blind-carbon-copy a mass email he sends to his donors, Lamo sends him the addresses as an “official leak.” Instead of treating it like the brutal sabotage carried out by what everyone and his grandmother assumes is a government informant, Domscheit-Berg seems to think Lamo was only throwing the chin-strokers a bone:
It was interesting because we had spent some time philosophizing about what would happen if we were compelled to publish something about our own organisation. We agreed that we had to release things that were bad as well as good publicity. In fact, our internal leak went down well with the press. At least we were consistent and none of the donors complained.
I don’t know whether Domscheit-Berg is a spook himself or just one of their useful idiots, but he’s in for a long, long year of rat comparisons.
Ramon Glazov lives and writes in Perth, Western Australia. Email him at “ramonglazov at gmail dot com”
Copied in it’s entirety from NothingIsPermanent.BlogSpot.com
martes 16 de agosto de 2011
Dear friends and supporters of Wikileaks,
I am a human rights and information rights lawyer working in Central America. I met both Daniel Domscheit-Berg and Julian Assange during the summer of 2008 at the Global Voices conference in Budapest.
Since then Mr. Domscheit-Berg and I kept in touch via e-mail and instant messaging service. When I met them I was very interested and excited by Wikileaks’ potential, particularly for human rights practitioners in Latin America, where institutions are very weak and offer little protection to human rights defenders. In May 2009 I stayed at Mr. Domscheit-Berg’s home in Wiesbaden, Germany for a week while I was visiting a research center located a few hours from his home. On arriving at Mr. Domscheit-Berg’s home, Mr. Assange had just left. Mr. Domscheit-Berg explained to me that he had only asked Mr. Assange to leave because there was not enough space for all three of us to stay in his home. During my stay, he told me that he had had a great time with Mr. Assange. He even went so far as to say it was the best time of his life. It was clear to me that he had very much enjoyed Mr. Assange’s company. He was full of admiration for Mr. Assange, saying what a pleasure it was to talk to him and that he could listen him for hours. For example, he described the time they spent in Italy, at the journalism conference in Peruggia, giving interviews and spending time with Italian colleagues as “a wonderful time”.
Before leaving I gave WikiLeaks some documents detailing proof of torture and government abuse of a Latin America country. The documents were only in hard copy. I entrusted those valuable documents – the only copy available – to Wikileaks because of the expertise of the people running it, their procedures and the mechanisms they used to maximize impact when published. I did not intend to give such material to Mr. Domscheit-Berg personally, as was made clear to him by me at the time. My intention was to give it to the platform I trusted and contributed to; to WikiLeaks. The material has not been published and I am disturbed to read public statements by Mr. Domscheit-Berg in which he states that he has not returned such documents to WikiLeaks.
Mr. Domscheit-Berg and I stayed in touch, he invited me to his wedding in mid 2010 but I was unable to attend. After his wedding, I noticed that his enthusiasm, his interest and priorities regarding WikiLeaks changed significantly. His interest and dedication to WikiLeaks work had decreased. After the arrest of Bradley Manning became public, I asked Mr. Domschiet-Berg how I could help the young soldier, but he did not appear to be interested. He was on holiday. I sent him contact details of human rights workers I thought would be able to support Manning, which he said he forwarded on to someone else. He never followed it up. I was under the impression that he didn’t care or that someone else must have the situation well in hand. It was only after he was suspended from WikiLeaks that he became outspoken about Manning.
The last time I saw him was on 7 October 2010 in Berlin – less than a month after he had been suspended from WikiLeaks. This was during the time of WikiLeaks’ stand off with the Pentagon and the State Department. By that time his behavior had changed a lot and he was clearly very hostile towards Mr. Assange. He had changed in other ways too. In the past he was seldom in the limelight; suddenly he was surrounding himself with journalists, arranging meetings and giving disparaging interviews as “former spokesperson” and “second in command” of Wikileaks to both local and international media. He criticized Mr. Assange constantly. We arranged to meet at a landmark and then we walked to his home. It was not a private meeting; he was in the company of an American journalist Heather Brooke who said she was leaving for the US in a few days and a person who identified himself as researcher writing about “the internet”.
I found it quite odd that someone usually very careful with strangers was inviting such people to his home. Mr. Domscheit Berg, his wife and Heather Brooke were toasting with Champagne. All the people there were offered a glass but the reason for the toast was unclear and the conversation between them was cryptic. I left quietly. Heather Brooke subsequently published an article about her upcoming book in the UK tabloid, The Daily Mail (on August 7, 2011), entitled “The WikiFreak: In a new book one author reveals how she got to know Julian Assange and found him a predatory, narcissistic fantasist” in which she states “one of his disaffected colleagues gave me a full set of the US diplomatic cables that Assange was planning to use in his next publication.”
I was surprised and disappointed to read that Mr. Domschiet-Berg, both in his public interviews and in his paperback book (published in February 2011), makes a number of extraordinary statements about his work with WikiLeaks and about Mr. Assange.
I have been surprised by the number of statements he has made that I know from first hand experience to be false. One of the most extraordinary statements Mr. Domscheit-Berg has made is that Mr. Assange abused his cat (in Germany) so severely it was driven to psychosis. This is a serious allegation because animal cruelty is a crime in Germany and it is very damaging for someone to be presented as an animal abuser, especially when that is not the case.
The allegation was made by Mr. Domscheit-Berg in his book and subsequently reprinted by the New York Times and AFP newswire. I understand from press reporters that Mr. Domscheit-Berg has sold the book to Steven Spielberg’s Hollywood production house, DreamWorks.
I can confidently say that, while visiting Mr. Domscheit-Berg in Wiesbaden, I was able to meet and observe his cat. This was immediately after Mr. Assange had been staying with him. I myself have a cat and from my observations it was a perfectly normal and healthy cat that, like all cats, enjoyed attention. Mr. Domscheit-Berg was too busy to pay him much attention, as he was often on the telephone or on the computer, so I spent quite a bit of time playing with the cat. Mr. Domscheit-Berg watched and replied, laughing fondly, that the way I was playing with the cat was “exactly the same way” as Mr. Assange had played with the cat the week before. There was absolutely no mention from Mr. Domscheit-Berg that the cat had been abused or mistreated in any way by Mr. Assange. Therefore, it is very unlikely that a healthy animal, behaving normally and playing with strangers, had any disorder provoked by Mr. Assange’s behavior, as suggested by Mr. Domscheit-Berg.
I was alarmed by all the private details Domscheit-Berg was disclosing to journalists, irrelevant details that only yellow press or groups hostile to WikiLeaks or Mr. Assange would care about. Useful details for someone willing to divert the attention from all the important information disclosed by WikiLeaks’ sources.
I am still surprised at the importance Domscheit-Berg gives to every tiny detail of Mr. Assange’s conduct while at the same time ignoring or choosing not to explore what WikiLeaks sources reveal. The revelation of torture in a country receiving international aid to equip their security forces, would seem to me be a better use of time, to those claiming to care about transparency, than the eating habits and clothing styles of an ordinary citizen leading a tiny NGO with a micro budget.
Now with the announcement of OpenLeaks two questions arise: the first will be if those behind the new platform have access to copies and they intend to publish documents people like me sent to WikiLeaks? If that is the case, such conduct would be wrong and largely disrespectful of the will of the sources – those who sent the documents wanted WikiLeaks to publish them. They did not intend for Mr. Domschiet-Berg to keep them for himself, for almost a year. The other is will Openleaks request their permission to publish it? And if so, how? Is it legitimate to free ride on the trust of people like me have in WikiLeaks?
These are valid questions, still waiting for a response. Journalists also owe a response to their public, waiting for relevant content to be published, like the largely ignored content of the prisoners in Guantanamo or the relevant facts unveiling abuse in Syria, the threats faced by union leaders in countries like mine, relevant facts that a platform like Wikileaks and the courage of sources made possible to surface.
The purpose of this letter goes beyond clarifying Mr. Assange’s behavior. It is a reflection and an invitation to move the conversation to what is relevant, what is urgent and how to behave accordingly.
Guatemala City, August 15th. 2011
cc. Wikileaks, Chaos Computer Club Board
Publicado por Renata Avila en 08:26
WikiLeaks vs News Ltd: Jail Murdoch, not Assange
When it comes to comparing the cases of two publishers of secret information — WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch — the hypocrisy from politicians and media is huge.
The key difference between the two is obvious — one seeks to challenge the establishment, the other exerts huge control over it.
Papers run by the Murdoch-owned News International — the British arm of his media empire — were caught stealing personal information from hundreds of people as well as engaging in widespread police bribery.
Their motivation was purely cynical: to produce trashy, sensationalised stories to make money.
The people targeted included victims of crimes and their relatives, as well as celebrities and politicians.
Murdoch’s punishment for this, so far, has been for the British government — under huge public pressure — to block his bid to take over even more of the media for now.
British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg asked Murdoch to “reconsider” his multi-billion pound bid to take over British Sky Broadcasting, saying it would be the “decent and sensible thing” to do, DailyRecord.co.uk said on July 12.
The bid was withdrawn on July 13 shortly before parliament was due to vote for a motion put by opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband urging Murdoch drop the offer.
Murdoch has already closed News of the World — the tabloid at the centre of the scandal — and will likely have to sacrifice a few editors to satisfy public outrage.
But given his obscene wealth and power to make or break politicians, Murdoch’s empire will use its enormous resources to try to isolate the scandal and come out with the empire more or less intact.
Independent journalist Antony Loewenstein told Al Jazeera on July 8: “Clearly the problem is not so much the staff that worked for the paper, although clearly some staff transgressed and broke laws. The issue is more the direction the newspaper organisation has from the top, from Murdoch down.”
Murdoch is renowned for using his media empire to bully and pressure politicians and governments. This has led pro-corporate politicians all over the world to ingratiate themselves to Murdoch.
Loewenstein told Al Jazeera: “What you’ve seen over the last two or three decades in Australia [from] both sides of politics, a bipartisan agreement that Murdoch should have more and more power, to the point now where there is virtually no transparency between his empire and the political elites.”
The treatment of Assange differs dramatically.
WikiLeaks received the harshest criticism from politicians and the media for publishing US government secrets.
Unlike Murdoch’s, WikiLeaks’ motivation was admirable: to expose lies and human rights abuses, and to make powerful people accountable for the decisions they make behind closed doors.
Unlike NOTW, WikiLeaks stole nothing: the secret US cables it published were given to it by an anonymous source, alleged to be US soldier Bradley Manning.
This did not stop Assange being branded a “hi-tech terrorist” by US vice president Joe Biden, and some leading politicians and commentators called for him to be executed.
Assange is an Australian citizen, but this did not prevent the Australian government from alleging WikiLeaks had committed crimes and initiate a criminal investigation into it — which found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Murdoch’s media outlets all over the world led the charge in condemning WikiLeaks, hypocritically moralising about a government’s “right” to secrecy.
While defending a government’s right to keep secrets about its activities from its citizens, Murdoch’s leading tabloid violated this right for many ordinary citizens — including grieving families.
Assange is under home arrest in London, fighting attempts to extradite him to Sweden over sexual abuse allegations — despite the fact he is yet to be charged with any crime.
The unprecedented circumstances of the extradition attempt have led many to believe the legal action is politically motivated.
Assange appeared in a London court over July 12 and 13 to appeal his extradition to Sweden. His defence lawyers said that since Assange is wanted only for questioning, the extradition warrant was “disproportionate” as there were other means for Swedish investigators to question him.
The ruling was deferred to an unspecified date.
Regardless of Assange’s innocence or guilt, it is clear the case has been hijacked by those who wish to curb his political activity.
The US government has relentlessly pursued WikiLeaks and its supporters in its quest to criminalise the media organisation under espionage laws.
For months, a grand jury in the US has been trying to find evidence of a connection between Assange and Manning in an effort to charge them with espionage.
WikiLeaks has also faced attacks from the corporate world. A financial embargo from financial companies Visa, Mastercard and Paypal has hampered WikiLeaks’ ability to receive donations.
Visa again suspended payments on July 9 after accidentally re-activating WikiLeaks’ account, TheInquirer.net said on July 12.
A plot by internet security firms to bring down WikiLeaks and its supporters — allegedly at the behest of the Bank of America — was also uncovered in February.
The double standards are blatant: the rich and powerful commit crimes with impunity, those who challenge them face persecution.