Clumsy US Army harassment or recruitment attempts aimed at WikiLeakS.org suspects in the USA

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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 ?

3 Comments

We can only hope that Free World agents are watching that idiot from OZ

Clumsy US Army harassment or recruitment attempts aimed at WikiLeakS.org suspects in the USA

This event surely couldn't be serious. I bet if it was investigated further it would reveal that the so called US Agents were B grade actors that were rehearsing for one of Turner's Classic Movies" re-runs. By the way, what right did the "US Agents" confiscate the mobile phones that may not be registered in the US? Isn't that invasion of privacy?

@ chris williams - privacy at the US border ? That seems to be a casualty of the "War on Tourism"

https://www.eff.org/cases/foia-litigation-border-searches

Jacob Appelbaum has probably forgotten more about computer security and encryption etc. than any of those interrogating him ever knew in the first place.

There are reports that they gave him his computer back simply because it is not a Windows one, so they could not forensically image it.

There is no excuse for keeping the mobile phones, which they should have had the equipment at an airport, to forensically image the SIM cards and memory cards within 3 hours.

Such incompetent or half hearted "interrogation" gives the impression of political harassment rather than a genuine criminal investigation.

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.

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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)

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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

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