The document does note that “Organizations with properly trained cyber technicians, the proper equipment, and the proper technical software could most likely conduct computer network exploitation (CNE) operations”—in other words, infiltrate—“WikiLeaks.org‘s Web site, information systems, or networks” to determine the source and method behind the leaks. But it doesn’t say a word about who those organizations might be, nor does it counsel that any branch of the U.S. government should do so. (A later paragraph specifically mentions the possibility that foreign—not domestic—intelligence and security services, law enforcement, and corporations would be interested in such a course of action.)
The document also discusses the possibility that close scrutiny of the DoD’s own information technology logs and records could reveal the source of the leaks. Is it so shocking or nefarious that a branch of the government, suspecting that someone inside was leaking classified documents, might seek to see what its own IT records showed? The report says as much in its conclusions section, the closest thing to anything approaching a recommendation—rather than a report or analysis—in the document:
The unauthorized release of DoD information to WikiLeaks.org highlights the need for strong counterintelligence, antiterrorism, force protection, information assurance, INFOSEC, and OPSEC programs to train Army personnel on the proper procedures for protecting sensitive or classified information, to understand the insider threat, and to report suspicious activities. In addition, personnel need to know proper procedures for reporting the loss, theft, or comprise of hard or soft copy documents with sensitive information or classified information to the appropriate unit, law enforcement, or counterintelligence personnel. Unfortunately, such programs will not deter insiders from following what they believe is their obligation to expose alleged wrongdoing within DoD through inappropriate venues. Persons engaged in such activity already know how to properly handle and secure sensitive or classified information from these various security and education programs and has chosen to flout them.
Without a clear “plan” there’s no need for “justification,” Assange’s loaded characterization of the report’s undoubtedly true claims that a rogues gallery of states—North Korea, China, and Russia among them—had spoken ill of or blocked WikiLeaks’ site by the time of the report’s production in 2008, or the “further justification” he says is represented by the report’s anodyne and accurate catalogue of DoD documents that WikiLeaks has posted.
Last week, when writing about WikiLeaks’ latest claims, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald made similar claims about that report’s contents, while relaying Assange’s charges about the teenager’s interrogation before encouraging readers to donate to the site. Gawker’s Adrian Chen relayed Assange’s statement as well, with some caution as to its credibility.
While WikiLeaks is not one and the same as the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, the working group pushing for the journalism-friendly legal changes, the two groups are linked. According to Smári McCarthy, a spokesperson for the initiative who works with the Icelandic Digital Freedoms Society, the idea for the legislative package emerged after Assange and a WikiLeaks colleague proposed something like it in a keynote address delivered at a Society-sponsored conference that discussed, among other topics, the role of the Icelandic media in the run-up to the nation’s severe financial crisis.
Assange is listed as an advisor and a suggested interviewee on the IMMI Web site’s contact section. He has given many interviews to foreign media on the legislative project.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir, an Icelandic parliamentarian first elected in 2009 as part of a grassroots movement that arose from protests around the financial crisis, is a key backer of the Media Initiative. She is not worried that Assange’s claims of surveillance on Icelandic soil will do anything to discredit or impede the furtherance of the Initiative’s goals.
“It’s been extremely valuable to have someone like him help pushing it,” she says. “In Iceland, WikiLeaks and the IMMI is not as closely related as in international media.”
“I think he’s afraid that the Americans are on to him and are following him,” says Ingólfur of RUV. “I’m guessing when you run WikiLeaks you become slightly paranoid.”