27 October 2010
After Wikileaks What Next
After the success of Wikileaks in establishing its brand of forbidden information release, what comes next from lessons learned?
1. Forbidden information distributed by the source, bypassing the threat of dupery, compromise and insecurity of an attackable center of collection and distribution.
2. Use of more advanced technologies and real world methods for concealing the source and means of distribution, including means for untraceable payments.
3. Inventive new means of distribution and less reliance on online, digital methods and traditional formats of print, educational and communications technologies.
4. Greater numbers of individuals distributing information, avoiding internal disarray, compromise, betrayal and authoritative control.
5. Greater amount of information made available through many sources, avoiding chokepoints of centers due to overload, incompetence, vanity, bias, ignorance and lack of funding.
6. Greater distancing from traditional media and other outlets for distribution, avoiding the constraints imposed by legal, financial and reputational limitations.
7. Greater amount of information now considered criminal to release, by passing chokepoints of self-serving legality.
8. Greater amount of information now considered "harmful" to release, bypassing chokepoints of self-serving ethics.
9. Less accountability, responsibility and transparency, bypassing chokepoints of vapid pretentiousness.
10. More allegations of information release criminality, desparately affirming traditional methods of control.
11. More attempts to crack down on distribution of information, by legislation, stigma, PR, smear, lies, entrapment, knee-jerk affirming traditional methods of managing public opinion.
12. More punishment of individuals as examples to cease allegedly criminal distribution, affirming official power to display cruelty.
13. More awards to heroes and undercover informants who catch information distribution miscreants, affirming official criminality to protect unwarranted concentration of power.
14. More awards to those who distribute banned information to entrap and convert to official use.
15. More information released on the personal lives of authoritative information distributors, affirming nobody is beyond the reach of exposure.
16. More competition among the banned information distributors by snitching, betraying, ridiciuling, affirming the value of disbelief in noble behavior.
Many of these were described in the early years of Cypherpunks where Assange with many others argued, studied, taught and faught, as well as means and methods developed since then to undermine authoritativeness, mostly out of sight to avoid the asymmetric dupery of open source, accountability, responsibility and transparency hawked by authoritatives to hide themselves with shallow admission from deep exposure.
The [Negative] Net Present Value of Cute
Not only do courts have no patience for cute, technically correct but highly disruptive legal theories involving technologies they barely understand, but the ultimate arbiter of whether the facts suggest that the defendant violated Title X Section Y of this or that statute is probably going to be a group of twelve people who lack the wherewithal to get out of jury duty."
In summary: Don't get cute.
This little ditty applies rather more directly when the matter involves issues of unparalleled weight and import to, for instance, the United States.
Entertainingly, a number of commentators, including Ann Woolner (who despite being the "Legal Affairs Columnist" for Bloomberg seems to apply no legal analysis to the Wikileaks- or any other affairs- in her columns) have gotten awfully cute in predicting exactly what sort of immunity (if any) Wikileaks enjoys with respect to its recent and not so recent dissemination of classified information.
Despite these works, it doesn't appear that any commentators have applied the specific facts (or such of them as are publicly known) surrounding the Wikileaks disclosures to anything like a detailed legal analysis. The fact is that arguments substantially resembling "Oh, the press is protected, remember the Pentagon Papers case back in the 1970s?" are simply too cute by half. Wikileaks may, in fact, be in far deeper water than anyone has bothered to realize.
Cryptome: That is a very impressive article which I hope Wikileaks will ponder, as should Cryptome. It matches what our lawyer and his counsel, an ex-US Attorney, told us over 10 years back. We thanked them for being available when the real stuff hit the fan rather than the usual bluffs which they acknowledged was the customary way to outfox miscreants.
Both said, you know, John, you should never tell a lawyer what you are really up to, officers of the court have higher duties than client confidentiality. We will never advise you to break the law, but welcome you with open arms when you do.
No doubt prosecutors will favor easiest-to-prove conspiracy charges to lump a host of alleged miscreants with demonized Wikileaks, squeeze those lumped, including volunteers, journalists, lawyers and supporters, to obtain disavowals, naming names and induced confessions, to reinstitute the very successful and lucrative Red Scare or more recently its makeover as the Threat of Global Terrorism. Based on the scramble to get approval from authorities before publication of Wikileaks material that campaign is working predictably. The result will be decreased trust in democratic processes and increased undermining underground. That invisible campaign too is working superbly with attention focusssed on the easily visible decoy.
More on this 5 November 2010 at NYU.