Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Best Part About WikiLeaks

Edit: Ugh. When I wrote that piece, I hadn't counted on Thiessen's site being a festival of terrible HTML. Invisible post fixed.

Honestly, the best part about the whole Wikileaks phenomenon is the spectacle of Mark Thiessen saying that America should invade Iceland to kill or capture Julian Assange:

Assange seems to believe, incorrectly, that he is immune to arrest so long as he stays outside the United States. He leads a nomadic existence, operating in countries such as Sweden, Belgium and Iceland, where he believes he enjoys the protection of "beneficial laws." (He recently worked with the Icelandic parliament to pass legislation effectively making the country a haven for WikiLeaks). The United States should make clear that it will not tolerate any country -- and particularly NATO allies such as Belgium and Iceland -- providing safe haven for criminals who put the lives of NATO forces at risk...we do not need permission to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators anywhere in the world.
So, what, you're going to send the troops into Reykjavic? Do you even know what the charge would be? It's not illegal to publish sensitive information in the United States, after all. There's no Official Secrets Act, Robert Novak isn't in the slammer, and there's no way that you could justify extradition on this.

But it gets better.

Arresting Assange would be a major blow to his organization. But taking him off the streets is not enough; we must also recover the documents he unlawfully possesses and disable the system he has built to illegally disseminate classified information.

This should be done, ideally, through international law enforcement cooperation. But if such cooperation is not forthcoming, the United States can and should act alone. Assange recently boasted that he has created "an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking." I am sure this elicited guffaws at the National Security Agency. The United States has the capability and the authority to monitor his communications and disrupt his operations.
Monitor, perhaps. But how are they going to stop it, exactly? We know that the Wikileaks people are both very paranoid and very, very careful. They'll have distributed this stuff all over the place, and I doubt that any of them know exactly where all of it is. Much of it will almost certainly be in countries that would take a very dim view of the United States attempting to cut off their access to the Internet. And "attempt" is the key word. What is the US supposed to do to, say, keep this stuff from being disseminated on servers in Europe? Are they going to DDOS the ISPs? Are they going to try to hack in there and delete it off the servers? Are they going to send the Green Berets in to blow up the server farms?

Does Thiessen not think that the Wikileaks guys would have thought of that and spread the data out? Does Thiessen even know how the Internet WORKS?

No, Mark, they aren't going to start a war with Europe over Wikileaks. They aren't going to try a DOS attack, or nuke Iceland from space, or any of this other crap. They aren't even going to send a black-bag squad to arrest Assange, either, because it'd instantly become the most important, embarrassing story in the World and just raise questions about why Novak and the Pentagon Papers guy walk free. Stop pretending that this is a Clancy novel.

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