August 2010 Archives

We ave previously commented that WkiLeakS.org, or similar organisations, actually require the same sort off "tax haven" and "tax avoidance" techniques employed by the Private Banking industry which they so gleefully try to expose the details of "for maximum political effect".

The Wall Street Journal has been "investigating", without actually revealing the details of any of the front companies and foundations, apart from some of the ones which have appeared on the WikiLeakS.org financial contributions pages. It is is disappointing that a financial sector newspaper like the Wall Street Journal, cannot find, or will not publish, any more details, other than those provided by Julian Assange.

Have these been verified in any way e.g. is WikiLeakS.org really registered as a library in Australia ?

How WikiLeaks Keeps Its Funding Secret

By JEANNE WHALEN and DAVID CRAWFORD

The controversial website WikiLeaks, which argues the cause of openness in leaking classified or confidential documents, has set up an elaborate global financial network to protect a big secret of its own--its funding.

Some governments and corporations angered by the site's publications have already sued WikiLeaks or blocked access to it, and the group fears that its money and infrastructure could be targeted further, founder Julian Assange said in an interview in London shortly after publishing 76,000 classified U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan in July. The move sparked international controversy and put WikiLeaks in the spotlight.

In response, the site has established a complex system for collecting and disbursing its donations to obscure their origin and use, Mr. Assange said. Anchoring the system is a foundation in Germany established in memory of a computer hacker who died in 2001.

WikiLeaks's financial stability has waxed and waned during its short history. The site shut down briefly late last year, citing a lack of funds, but Mr. Assange said the group has raised about $1 million since the start of 2010.

WikiLeaks's lack of financial transparency stands in contrast to the total transparency it seeks from governments and corporations.

This lack of financial transparency is one of the major failings of the WikiLeakS.org project.

"It's very hard work to run an organization, let alone one that's constantly being spied upon and sued," Mr. Assange said in the The controversial website WikiLeaks, which argues the cause of openness in leaking classified or confidential documents, has set up an elaborate global financial network to protect a big secret of its own--its funding.

Some governments and corporations angered by the site's publications have already sued WikiLeaks or blocked access to it, and the group fears that its money and infrastructure could be targeted further, founder Julian Assange said in an interview in London shortly after publishing 76,000 classified U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan in July. The move sparked international controversy and put WikiLeaks in the spotlight.

In response, the site has established a complex system for collecting and disbursing its donations to obscure their origin and use, Mr. Assange said. Anchoring the system is a foundation in Germany established in memory of a computer hacker who died in 2001.

WikiLeaks's financial stability has waxed and waned during its short history. The site shut down briefly late last year, citing a lack of funds, but Mr. Assange said the group has raised about $1 million since the start of 2010.

WikiLeaks's lack of financial transparency stands in contrast to the total transparency it seeks from governments and corporations.

"It's very hard work to run an organization, let alone one that's constantly being spied upon and sued," Mr. Assange said in the interview. "Judicial decisions can have an effect on an organization's operation. ... We can't have our cash flow constrained entirely," he said.

Among the cases WikiLeaks has faced, the Swiss bank Julius Baer & Co. in 2008 sued for damages in federal court in California, alleging that the site had published stolen bank documents. The court ordered the disabling of the wikileaks.org domain name, but the bank withdrew its lawsuit after civil-rights advocates protested.

Though Mr. Assange declined to name donors or certain companies through which donations flow, he provided some insight into the funding structure that allows the group to operate.

The linchpin of WikiLeaks's financial network is Germany's Wau Holland Foundation. WikiLeaks encourages donors to contribute to its account at the foundation, which under German law can't publicly disclose the names of donors. Because the foundation "is not an operational concern, it can't be sued for doing anything. So the donors' money is protected, in other words, from lawsuits," Mr. Assange said.

Nonsense ! There are several Islamic Charities which not only have been sued, but have subjected to anti-terrorism investigations and have had their financial assets frozen, even though they have never been "operational concerns" either.

No "tax evasion" / "tax avoidance" trust funds and front companies registered in tax havens are "operational concerns" either, but that does not prevent various tax authorities going after them and their beneficiaries.

The German foundation is only one piece of the WikiLeaks network.

"We're registered as a library in Australia, we're registered as a foundation in France, we're registered as a newspaper in Sweden," Mr. Assange said. WikiLeaks has two tax-exempt charitable organizations in the U.S., known as 501C3s, that "act as a front" for the website, he said. He declined to give their names, saying they could "lose some of their grant money because of political sensitivities."

Surely the Wall Street Journal could investigate and find out the names of the Australian "library", the French foundation and the US 501C3s ?

Mr. Assange said WikiLeaks gets about half its money from modest donations processed by its website, and the other half from "personal contacts," including "people with some millions who approach us and say 'I'll give you 60,000 or 10,000,' " he said, without specifying a currency.

How have WikiLeakS.org solved the problem faced by many unincorporated voluntary organisations, who cannot get large sums of money from rich individuals or companies or trades unions etc. because these donors would become "jointly and separately liable" for any debts incurred by the voluntary organisations , and, just as importantly, vice versa i.e. the organisation could become liable for the debts or bankruptcy of these large donors.

The other big risks to rich financial donors involve the horrendously complicated and ineffective (in terms of catching real criminals and terrorists) anti-money laundering regulations and investigations, which various government bureaucracies have imposed on the financial industry, especially for foreign money transfers.

How does WikiLeakS.org provide any protection to financial donors in such cases ?

Retrieving money from the Wau Holland Foundation is a complicated task, he said. WikiLeaks must submit receipts to the foundation, which issues grants to reimburse them. Because German law requires the foundation to publicly disclose its expenditures, WikiLeaks uses "other foundations" to aggregate its bills and send them to Wau Holland, so that some of the companies WikiLeaks does business with remain anonymous, Mr. Assange said. This prevents anyone from seeing whom, for example, WikiLeaks pays for Internet infrastructure, or where that infrastructure is located.

To operate, the website needs several powerful computers linked to high-speed Internet connections. WikiLeaks particularly tries to obscure payments for "basic infrastructure that could be attacked," for "servers that are engaged in source protection," and for "security engineers," Mr. Assange said.

So far, Wau Holland has distributed €50,000 ($64,000) to a WikiLeaks account in Germany, strictly in exchange for receipts, according to Daniel Schmitt, spokesman at WikiLeaks, and Hendrik Fulda, deputy board chairman of the foundation. Mr. Schmitt controls the account.

The average donation to WikiLeaks via the Wau Holland Foundation is about €20, Mr. Fulda said. The largest donation through the foundation--€10,000--arrived from a German donor after the publication of the Afghan war documents, he said, declining to reveal further details.

Mr. Schmitt said WikiLeaks needs about $200,000 a year to cover its operating expenses--mainly network fees, rent and storage costs for the sites where the servers are, and some hardware and travel expenses. Should it decide to pay salaries to its five staff members, as it is now considering, it would need about €600,000 a year, he said.

Paying salaries is a "sensitive subject," he said, noting that outsiders might question the need for them.

Most of the financial supporters of WikiLeakS.org would not object to salary payments for key staff, but they do demand some sort of financial accounting and transparency, which is totally lacking at the moment.

Mr. Fulda of the foundation said WikiLeaks needs €10,000 to €15,000 a month to maintain its Web presence. Late last year, when donors were contributing only €2,000 to €3,000 per month, WikiLeaks was struggling to survive, he said. So it shut down its website in December, leaving up only an appeal for donors to transfer money to the group via the Wau Holland Foundation. Soon, donations per month increased 20-fold.

WikiLeaks reopened its website in May, but "within days ... donations dropped back to near their former level," Mr. Fulda said.

The fluctuation caught the attention of Wau Holland's banking partners including eBayInc.'s PayPal, which demanded explanations for the surge and fall in donations. "I explained it wasn't money laundering, just WikiLeaks donations," Mr. Fulda said.

Which shows how useless the anti-money laundering red tape is.

A PayPal spokeswoman said the company is "still processing payments for WikiLeaks." She said that she couldn't comment further on a specific account but that in general, PayPal is required by anti-money-laundering laws and its own anti-fraud regulations to investigate accounts when they exceed certain limits.

WikiLeaks has tried to diversify away from PayPal by adding other payment options to its site, including Flattr.com, a payment system based in Sweden, and Moneybookers, a system based in the U.K.

A spokeswoman for Moneybookers said the company used to provide services to WikiLeaks but "as they don't adhere to Moneybookers' standards, the agreement was terminated." She declined to comment further. Flattr didn't respond to a request for comment.

"as they don't adhere to Moneybookers' standards, the agreement was terminated" - points to WikiLeakS.org lack of financial transparency as being a major problem.

Note also that another online money payment system which WikiLeakS.org has used during their dispute with PayPal, called TipIt.to seems to have gone "tits up" at the end of February 2010 due to "fraudulent transactions"

http://blog.tipit.to/2010/04/gesloten-voor-preventie-%E2%80%94%C2%A0closed-for-prevention/

Write to Jeanne Whalen at jeanne.whalen@wsj.com and David Crawford at david.crawford@wsj.com

We have criticised the WikiLeakS.org core activists for their abuse of the https://twitter.con/wikileaks Twitter feed before. They use it in broadcast mode, making allegations which cannot be backed up with any detail in a short 160 character tweet.

Twitter is clearly unsuitable for the accusations and counter-accusations between the Pentagon and WikiLeakS.org, about who did or did not contact whom over the Afghan War Diary messages.

Similarly the denials and media storm over the accusation and Arrest In Absentia over alleged rape in Sweden and the rapid about turn by the Swedish State Prosecutor was made worse by this "anonymous" twitter feed.

WikiLeakS.org have not shown any evidence that "the Pentagon" orchestrated the now dropped rape allegation, a claim which is specifically denied by the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

The WikiLeakS.org activists, who increasingly resemble a dodgy religious cult, have plenty of other enemies, not associated with the US Military, who could have been behind such allegations, or it could have simply a "normal" media celebrity / tabloid press "story" - where is the evidence that is must have been organised, only the US Military ? Judging from some of the malicious emails which we have received through the incompetence of some of the people who hate WikiLeakS.org, there are plenty of individuals who would be prepared to smear Julian Assange, without any prompting from any organization.

However that has not stopped the Twitter feed from being used to make that unfounded "Pentagon smear" allegation and also to to link it to the previously leaked document which the WikiLeakS.org team have prefaced with their own conspiracy theory propaganda interpretation

https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/21822519941

Reminder: US intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeakS as far back as 2008 http://bit.ly Retweeted by 100+ people

Sun Aug 22 11:09:17 +0000 2010

U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks, 18 Mar 2008

http://file.wikileaks.org/file/us-intel-wikileaks.pdf

If you actually bother to read that document, it simply points out the obvious, that

(U//FOUO) Web sites such as Wikileaks.org use trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers. The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Wikileaks.org Web site.

which is something which also applies equally to the Private Banking industry etc. as it does to the US Military.

This old intelligence risk analysis document does not provide evidence of an actual US military plan to "destroy Wikileaks" and it certainly makes no mention at all of any "dirty tricks" as a viable option to contain the problems which Wikileaks poses to the US Military.

It is stupid of the WikiLeakS.org people to spin such conspiracy theories via their "official" Twitter feed, as doing so loses them journalistic credibility.

Twitter could be used to point people to Digitally Signed Press Releases or web site published statements such as that on the misnamed "Official WikilLeakS,org blog" http://blog.wikileaks.org/ (which does not permit even moderated comments and so is not really a blog), which contains just 3 entries in the July / August 2010 time period, when there have been about 300 tweets.

The end result is that WIkiLeakS.org and / or Julian Assange give the impression of being secretive, arrogant, control freaks, every bit as bad as the government bureaucrats, politicians and media spin doctors who they claim to be trying to expose.

Despite the clear warning where our email address is listed on this blog, some stupid people still think that they can email Death Threats against Julian Assange or "WikiLeakS.org" people in general to our email address, which is not associated with the WikiLeakS.org project.

Such Death Threats are:

a) Against the Acceptable Use Policy and legal Terms and Conditions of your contract with your Internet Service Provider and with your Email Provider.

b) Actually an extraditable Criminal Offence in many legal jurisdictions, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, regardless of any US First Amendment rights to free speech.

N.B.. this blog is not published in the USA

For example

Return-Path: <6937toni@att.net>

[...]

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Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2010 15:57:50 -0700 (PDT)
From: matthew brian <6937toni@att.net>
Subject: assange
To: blog@WikiLeak.org

It may will take me some time to find this creep and when I meet him face to
face the only and last thing he will see will be the barrel of a 45 cal. colt
thsat will swipe of the smirl of this creeps face permanently and the same
goes for the creep in berlin, he is a littel easire to find because we already
know where he leaves. SEE YOU VERY SOON

Note to "matthew brian" this blog post will continue to "name and shame" you in perpetuity via Google searches etc., unless and until you apologise and promise to donate, say 50 US Dollars to a suitable Afghan war charity.

If anything ever does happen to Julian Assange or to "Daniel Schmidt", guess who is going to be one of the prime suspects in a criminal investigation ? You are.


Instead of rebuilding their insecure SIPRENET infrastructure, their personnel security vetting procedures or their systems for handling Confidential Human Intelligence Sources, the US Army appears to be stupidly harassing WikiLeakS.org associates, or even people merely suspected of being associated with WikiLeakS.org i.e. "shoot the messenger"...

CNET report

July 31, 2010 4:16 PM PDT

Researcher detained at U.S. border, questioned about Wikileaks

by Elinor Mills

LAS VEGAS -- A security researcher involved with the Wikileaks Web site was detained by U.S. agents at the border for three hours and questioned about the controversial whistleblower project as he entered the country on Thursday to attend a hacker conference, sources said on Saturday.

He was also approached by two FBI agents at the Defcon conference after his presentation on Saturday afternoon about the Tor Project.

Jacob Appelbaum, a Seattle-based programmer for the online privacy protection project called Tor, arrived at the Newark, New Jersey, airport from Holland flight Thursday morning when he was pulled aside by customs and border protection agents who told him he was randomly selected for a security search, according to the sources familiar with the matter who asked to remain anonymous.

Appelbaum, a U.S. citizen, was taken into a room, frisked and his bag was searched. Receipts from his bag were photocopied and his laptop was inspected but it's not clear in what manner, the sources said. Officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Army then told him he was not under arrest but was being detained, the sources said. They asked questions about Wikileaks, asked for his opinions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and asked where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is, but he declined to comment without a lawyer present, according to the sources. He was not permitted to make a phone call, they said.

After about three hours, Appelbaum was given his laptop back but the agents kept his three mobile phones, sources said.

[...]

There is obviously no evidence that Jacob Appelbaum has committed any crimes,

The fact that there were US Army investigators present makes a nonsense of any claim that this was a "random security search".

What happened to the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution ?

Nobody who lives in a free society should tolerate being interrogated about their political opinions by Government bureaucrats or military officials. They are meant to protect freedom of speech and freedom of association, not to collaborate with our enemies by infringing or destroying these rights and freedoms.

The New York Times reports:

Army Broadens Inquiry Into WikiLeaks Disclosure

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: July 30, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Army investigators are broadening their inquiry into the recent disclosure of classified military information to include friends and associates who may have helped the person they suspect was the leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning, people with knowledge of the investigation said Friday.

Two civilians interviewed in recent weeks by the Army's criminal division said that investigators were focusing in part on a group of Private Manning's friends and acquaintances in Cambridge, Mass. Investigators, the civilians said, apparently believed that the friends, who include students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University, might have connections to WikiLeaks, which made the documents public.

It is unclear whether the investigators have specific evidence or are simply trying to determine whether one person working alone could have downloaded and disseminated tens of thousands of documents.

[...]

One of the civilians interviewed by the Army's criminal division, who asked for anonymity so that his name would not be associated with the inquiry, said Friday that the investigators' questions led him to believe that the Army was concerned that there were classified documents in the Boston area.

"I was under the impression that they believed that perhaps Bradley had used friends in Cambridge as a mechanism for moving documents," he said.

The civilian also said that the Army had offered him "a considerable amount of money if I were to keep my ear to the ground and be an in with them with WikiLeaks." He said that he had turned the Army down and that he had no connection to WikiLeaks. The other civilian also said in an interview on Friday that he had no connection to WikiLeaks.

The first civilian said it appeared from the questioning that Army investigators "are trying to build a network among Bradley's friends to infiltrate WikiLeaks."

[...]

The reported attempt recruit a paid informant associated with Wikileaks, appears to be rather inept and counterproductive.

Is the US Army also keeping , say, New York Times journalists under surveillance ?

Which other tentacles of the vast, competing US military / security bureacratic empires (comparable to the Russian Siloviki) as outlined recently by the Washington Post Top Secret America articles, are also involved in operations against WikiLeakS.org and against their associates, readers and potential whistleblower sources around the world ?

Is everyone reading this independent WikiLeak.org blog (no "s") also unfairly regarded as a suspect ?

About this blog

This blog here at WikiLeak.org (no "S") discusses the ethical and technical issues raised by the WikiLeakS.org project, which is trying to be a resource for whistleblower leaks, by providing "untraceable mass document leaking and analysis".

These are bold and controversial aims and claims, with both pros and cons, especially for something which crosses international boundaries and legal jurisdictions.

This blog is not part of the WikiLeakS.org project, and there really are no copies of leaked documents or files being mirrored here.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog@WikiLeak[dot]org

Before you send an email to this address, remember that this blog is independent of the WikiLeakS.org project.

If you have confidential information that you want to share with us, please make use of our PGP public encryption key or an email account based overseas e.g. Hushmail

LeakDirectory.org

Now that the WikiLeakS.org project is defunct, so far as new whistleblower are concerned, what are the alternatives ?

The LeakDirectory.org wiki page lists links and anonymity analyses of some of the many post-wikileaks projects.

There are also links to better funded "official" whistlblowing crime or national security reporting tip off websites or mainstream media websites. These should, in theory, be even better at protecting the anonymity and security of their informants, than wikileaks, but that is not always so.

New whistleblower website operators or new potential whistleblowers should carefully evaluate the best techniques (or common mistakes) from around the world and make their personal risk assessments accordingly.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

The WikiLeakS.org Submissions web page provides some methods for sending them leaked documents, with varying degrees of anonymity and security. Anybody planning to do this for real, should also read some of the other guides and advice to political activists and dissidents:

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

WikiLeakS Links

The WikiLeakS.org Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

WikiLeakS Twitter feeds

The WikiLeakS.org website does not stay online all of the time, especially when there is a surge of traffic caused by mainstream media coverage of a particularly newsworthy leak.

Recently, they have been using their new Twitter feeds, to selectively publicise leaked documents to the media, and also to report on the status of routing or traffic congestion problems affecting the main website in Stockholm, Sweden.

N.B.the words "security" or "anonymity" and "Twitter" are mutually exclusive:

WikiLeakS.org Twitter feed via SSL encrypted session: https://twitter.com/wikileaks

WikiLeakS.org unencrypted Twitter feed http://twitter.com/wikileaks

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

Temporary Autonomous Zone

Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) by Hakim Bey (Peter Lambourn Wilson)

Cyberpunk author William Gibson

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Wikileaks.org - the controversial "uncensorable, anonymous whistleblowing" website based currently in Sweden.

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