A day after Amazon was forced to block Wikileaks, the site is again offline in an alleged campaign by the United States to prevent the public from seeing the whistleblower material. This includes a disclosure, discussed last night on Countdown, that the Obama Administration has been misleading the public and actually moved to force Spain to drop its prosecution of American officials for war crimes and torture.
This is the third time that the public has found itself cut off from Wikileaks material. The question is whether the United States is attacking carriers — in this case, Everydns, which cut off Wikileaks at 3am GMT on Friday (10PM EST Thursday). Everydns complained that it did so to prevent its other 500,000 customers of being affected by the intense cyber attacks targeted at WikiLeaks. Wikileaks accuses the United States of the attacks.
An anonymous source has come forward to claim “credit” for cutting off public access to the material. Calling himself “Jester” and a “hackitvist for good,” the individual claims to be a former soldier. It is not clear if such a claim is to be believed or accepted at face value. Here you have someone bragging that he is serving “the good” by preventing other citizens from reading these disclosures on the alleged misconduct of their government. The claim will certainly not end speculation that the widespread problems are being directed or assisted by the government. Moreover, it would be interesting if any of these companies go to court to seek information on this individual as we have seen in recent cases where anonymous individuals have been forced into the open in litigation. It is also curious why the United States government is not using its oft-cited cyber units to find an individual who is allegedly causing such property damage and shutting down parts of the Internet.
The question is, if the allegation is true as many expects assume, what authority does the United States have in conducting dangerous attacks on private companies and endangering thousands of other sites? If the President can order such attacks without legal authority, the government could engage in an obvious form of restraint on free speech — targeting critics and whistleblowers. It would be the equivalent of stopping newspapers from publishing.
The disclosures from Wikileaks have been embarrassing for both Republican and Democrats in Congress — who have joined in calling for prosecution. The disclosures, once again, show the public has been intentionally misled on major policies and that Congress has continued to exercise no oversight in these areas. These disclosures constitute the most extensive record ever produced of how our government routinely misleads the public and engages in activities that conflict with our stated policies and values. It is an indictment of our political system — perhaps the greatest in history. It has led many to question whether our democracy is based a carefully constructed illusion of half-facts and outright lies — routinely denying citizens the true facts in major policy areas. The impression left by these documents is that we have a two-party monopoly that treats citizens as uneducated dolts who should be fed comforting and misleading information while the real actions of our government are confined to the power elite. On issues like torture, Obama has clearly misled the public in his blocking of any investigation into our torture program. He was first challenged before he actually took office when Bush officials revealed that (while campaigning against torture) he secretly promised Bush officials that no one would be prosecuted. We now know that, while claiming to be studying the issue, his Administration was threatening allies if they tried to enforce international law. Putting aside the merits of covering up for war crimes, the Wikileaks disclosure is the latest example of how our leaders now show little restraint in knowingly misleading the public like children who have little ability to understand or need to know the true facts behind U.S. policy. It is the modern version of bread-and-circus politics used by Roman emperors. This is a view that appears shared by leaders in both parties.
The result is that both Congress and the White House are embarrassed and eager to prevent public review of this material. However, there is little discussion of the legality of such cyber attacks directed against a whistleblower and claimed journalist.
What is equally striking is the relative mild reaction of mainstream media. If the New York Times had revealed the Obama Administration’s secret efforts to pressure the Spanish courts to drop its prosecution, it would have been viewed as a major investigative breakthrough. However, there is a discernible hostility in some coverage of Wikileaks and a reluctance to accept the site as either a whistleblowing or journalistic enterprise.