OK, it’s time for me to chip in about WikiLeaks. My opinion differs depending on which “leaked” document we are talking about here. If it’s just one of the “embarrassing” documents I could care less. If such and such diplomat or officer or whoever said something dumb and loses his or her job after the document is leaked, so what. They’ll just elect or hire or promote someone else. The only one who suffers is the one who said something stupid.
But it is a completely different thing when a leaked document actually endangers lives. That is completely unacceptable. But as angry as some jerk with an agenda and a website hurting people makes me, I’m angrier with the folks who are supposed to advise our government about cyber-issues.
Because they are complete morons.
There was such an easy fix to the WikiLeaks problem. But now that boat has sailed.
China has a solution, and it sounds like a communist Chinese solution too. They have blocked WikiLeaks. Chinese internet users can not even access the site anymore. Their government won’t let them. I’ll grant them that it’s a solution; but considering China’s attitudes towards personal freedom and human rights, I don’t think that is a solution for us here in the United States. Legal charges against the site’s creator is a useless solution, he’s not a citizen or resident of the United States. Unless Australia decides to levy charges against him, nothing will stick. It’s a complicated situation that our government made difficult to deal with by EVEN ACKNOWLEDGING THE ACCUSATIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
WikiLeaks is a WIKI. IT IS USER GENERATED CONTENT. WikiLeaks boasts that they verify the accuracy of every document they publish. I’m sure they do what they can, but there are a lot of exploitable holes in their logic here. Everyone who leaks a document is risking (at least) their job to do so. So obviously they have a problem with their employers (the government) if they would risk that or prosecution. That makes their motives questionable. WikiLeaks says that they evaluate the cost of creating a forgery, to help determine a document’s accuracy. That’s an invalid argument, if someone has access to a document, then they most probably have access to the tools necessary to create such a forgery. WikiLeaks says it cites source material in all of its releases. That’s an academically responsible thing to do, but useless considering that it’s the accuracy of the source material that’s in question.
Don’t get the impression that I think the documents on WikiLeaks are fakes, the government’s reaction to them makes it pretty clear that the documents are genuine. But that’s my point; it didn’t have to be that way.
All that the United States government had to do was issue a press release after the first leaked document was published on the site. It should say something to the effect of:
“The United States will not verify the accuracy of any document published on the website ‘WikiLeaks.’ WikiLeaks accepts material from unverifiable anonymous sources, many of which have publicly shown ill-will against the U.S. government.”
Ok, take that as a press release, and distribute another copy every single time another WikiLeaks story prompts a question from the public or media. Pretty soon WikiLeaks would no longer be “first page” type news. Given enough of this “silent treatment” WikiLeaks would eventually lower to the level of the tabloid publication only believed by the hardcore conspiracy theorist.
And it’s a situation exactly like this one that makes me skeptical about government cover-ups and conspiracy theories in general. This WikiLeaks thing would have been EASY to cover up. It does not get any easier than “ignore the problem and it will go away." I find it very hard to believe that our government has the level of competency necessary to pull off way more complicated cover-up operations. Heck, these idiots can’t even balance a budget. That’s a skill I learned when I was 16 years old and facing my first overdraft charge. But it’s too late to go with such a policy now. Instead of remaining silent on the issue, our government in effect shouted “Where did you get that,” tacitly implying that the document in question is genuine.
I’m not saying that Wiki sites are a bad thing. Wikipedia articles are fun reads which usually cite sources that you CAN use for proper research. I guess the point of this post is that our government needs FAR better advisors on information technology, the internet, and cyber-security. For a number of reasons.
Until next time…