Daily Archives: August 6, 2010

Pentagon orders barn door closed…

I KNOW there are smart people working at the Pentagon.  How, then, can one explain this massive failure to understand modern technology and culture?

The Pentagon on Thursday urged whistleblower website WikiLeaks to “do the right thing,” calling on the site to hand over thousands of leaked US military documents and halt future public releases.

Ok, let’s leave aside for the moment that this is a ridiculous request.  Wikileaks is clearly opposed to the war in Afghanistan and the idea that they’d now go ‘Oh…I’m sorry.  You wanted those?  My bad here they are.’ just defies reality.

But let’s assume they did that.  Guys, the stuff has been online, available for a download for a week now.  You can download it on bit torrent websites like Pirate Bay which means, it’s out there and it’s never coming back.

The people at the Pentagon must know this which means this must be theater. For what reason remains to be seen.  It better be a good plan, however.  It’s bad enough we haven’t been able to catch a guy who reportedly needs dialysis in the Northwest Frontier Province for 9 years.  Hopefully, the DoD hasn’t just set itself up to get its ass kicked by scrawny, pale Australian.

In other Wikileaks news:  Obviously all the talk about taking out Mr. Assange has gotten him concerned and he appears to have taken countermeasures.

Online whistle-blower WikiLeaks has posted a huge encrypted file named “Insurance” to its website, sparking speculation that those behind the organization may be prepared to release more classified information if authorities interfere with them.At 1.4 gigabytes, the file is 20 times larger than the batch of 77,000 secret U.S. military documents about Afghanistan that WikiLeaks dumped onto the Web last month, and cryptographers say that the file is virtually impossible to crack — unless WikiLeaks releases the key used to encode the material.

That file has been available for download and we can safely assume it’s on thousands, if not millions, of machines now.

Kocher, of Cryptography Research, agreed, saying that the only conceivable way anyone outside of WikiLeaks could decode “Insurance” was if Assange and his colleagues had used a blatantly obvious password or experienced some kind of “catastrophic algorithm error.”

“We’re not going to find out what’s in that file unless somebody reveals the key,” Kocher said.

Looks like we might have a classic Mexican standoff.  But, I just don’t see how the DoD wins this one.  By engaging with Wikileaks and not reaching a favorable conclusion (which I can’t even imagine) which would not only recover all the documents but discourage everyone else from copying the Wikileaks model it makes the national security complex look more and more impotent.

And if the U.S. Government overplays its hand?  Maybe by snatching up Wikileaks personnel.  All you’ll do then is rally thousands of advocates around the world who’ll spread the docs further and turn prying secrets from the U.S. Gov’t into an even bigger prize.

The milk has spilled, gentlemen.  Stop crying and move on.

Oh…and check out this interview of Daniel Ellsberg (the guy who leaked the Pentagon Papers) about the WikiLeaks issue.