By Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
August 26, 2011
Whether or not you believe that Wikileaks and Julian Assange are functionaries of Washington’s sophisticated intelligence web, what is clearly undeniable is that the existence of the document dumping site is being used by the State to end internet privacy, and place restrictions on free speech, availability of public domain information, and to legally prosecute users of certain websites.
Presently, the United States is conducting its own secret Grand Jury investigation into Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. At the centre of Washington’s effort is the targeting of WikiLeaks’ DNS host, Dynadot, based in California. With this case, the US Government is hoping to rewrite the current rulebook regarding freedom on internet.
The government’s ability to shut down any website’s DNS means that it will be able to effectively lock the users’ gateway into any website deemed to be in violation by invoking the dubious and wholly unconstitutional USA Patriot Acts I & II.
With the majority of the world’s DNS houses residing within the US, a precedent like this could give the US Federal Government carte blanche to seize and liquidate any number of websites that might fall into the state’s new and elastic definition of ‘espionage’, or are deemed to be a ‘threat to national security’.
With the backing of a Federal Court order, Washington soon hopes to gain the right to ‘legally’ sequester confidential user information including subscriber names, user names, screen names, mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, temporary IP addresses and credit card payment and billing details.
Few will doubt that this act of Constitutional aggression on the part of the State could have far reaching consequences for any online publisher.
The legal and academic basis for this case revolves around the state’s attempt to redefine the term espionage in relation to the content uploaded on to Wikileaks site. Washington’s redefinition of this particular word is catered to suit to the every-increasing appetite of the encroaching new police state. According to Websters dictionary, es·pi·o·nage is defined as follows:
1. the act or practice of spying.
2. the use of spies by a government to discover the military and political secrets of other nations.
3. the use of spies by a corporation or the like to acquire the plans, technical knowledge, etc., of a competitor: industrial espionage.
Attempting to prosecute any website who might be displaying so-called ‘leaked’ material online under the umbrella term espionage may seem like a legal and intellectual stretch, but for a US Federal Government that has hung its hat for the last 10 years on Stasi-style laws like the Patriot Acts I & II, stretching the definition of a single word is merely a routine legal exercise.
Above all this, remains the fact that under the cloak of official state secrets, employees of the US government, have, and probably still are, using Wikileaks as a dumping ground for disinformation, fake material, counterintelligence, and as an intelligence back-channel- all to suit any disinformation program or psychological operation that they may be running at any particular time. From a legal standpoint, judges and scholars in the US should pay attention to this important point when deciding on what moral and legal grounds the state is actually standing on.
More to the point, Washington’s attack on Wikileaks and its frontman Julian Assange appears to be no more than a trojan horse errected by the state to compromise user rights to privacy and freedom of speech. Experts have shown already that Wikileaks has been working directly with the US Department of Defense , in one intance at least, in order to avert attention from a massive black market in sensitive information, partially highlighted by the Washington Post’s infamous expose entitled Top Secret America.
Governments using Wikileaks to spread disinformation?
Based on this revelation, one can see now that Washington is not actually after Wikileaks, rather, it is actually targeting any remaining rights to privacy, anonymity and data protection currently enjoyed by free users in the United States and abroad.
Yesterday, Rabble.ca reports:
Further proof has emerged of the United States secret Grand Jury investigation into Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Further information has been demanded on the organization and its founder for the US courts, this time under the PATRIOT Act. The Grand Jury has been meeting in Alexandria, Washington DC, trying to work up an espionage case against the organization’s founder Julian Assange. The latest information demanded is anything held by WikiLeaks DNS host, Dynadot in California, regarding wikileaks.org, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
WikiLeaks have just received a copy of the recently unsealed court Order from the United States, signed by a US magistrate judge on the 4th of January 2011. Using the terms of the PATRIOT Act the Order was issued to Dynadot, the domain registrars for wikileaks.org, for all information they hold on WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and wikileaks.org.
The Order demands Dynadot handover the following information for the time period November 1st 2009 to present, within three days of the date of the Order:
1. Subscriber names, user names, screen names, or other identities; 2. mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, e-mail addresses, and other contact information; 3. connection records, or record of session times and durations; 4. length of service (including start date) and typos of service utilized; 5. telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity; including any temporarily assigned network address; and 6. means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number) and billing records.
1. records of user activity for any connections made to or from the Account 2. non-content information associated with the contents of any communication or file stored by or for the account(s), such as the source and destination email addresses and IP addresses. 3. Correspondence and notes of records related to the account.
WikiLeaks do not know what, if any, information Dynodot provided the US courts with. This demand follows a subpoena earlier this year to Twitter for the information it holds on WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and some of his associates. For further information please read the full Dynadot court Order here.