« | Home | »

Open Source Fearmongering: What If Everything I Told You Were A Lie?

Topics: Politics | 2 CommentsBy admin | April 3, 2010

The Army’s assertion that whistleblower site WikiLeaks.org is a potential hotbed of disinformation makes me wonder if they created themselves. As William Burroughs said, “A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on”

You may have seen the episode in the original Star Trek series in which Spock said something like that to a female android, leaving her smoldering in the ears as she short-circuited from the paradox. Recent press about the web site WikiLeaks has left me with a little smoke coming from my ears for similar reasons. I first heard of the whistleblower site a couple of years ago, and as a countercultural, nearly apolitical sort of person thought “Hmmm. That’s a very cool idea”. If you haven’t heard of WikiLeaks, they publish “anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive governmental, corporate, organizational, or religious documents, while attempting to preserve the anonymity and untraceability of its contributors“, as this Wikipedia entry puts it (don’t be confused by WikiLeaks’ name however, it is in no way connected with Wikipedia). One of the main things that makes it possible for the site to remain in operation is the intentionally unregulated nature of the internet. By spreading the documents across many servers in many locations, the teeth are removed from most countries’ or companies’ ability to file injunctions of any kind against the site. Leave it to the US Military to put the “dis” in “disinformation” though. When WikiLeaks released documents revealing how the US Army was rendering roadside bombs in Iraq useless with radio jamming, the Army was understandably not too happy. In fact, if you believe the information shared on WikiLeaks, the Army assembled this 33 page document (556KB, PDF) assessing the site as a security threat. In its own un-self-conscious doublespeak, it then ironically outlines how the site’s ability to tell the truth and expose corruption is a threat to truth and democracy, going on to point out that the site uses “trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers” and that the “identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action” targeting these people could render the site ineffective. They also point out – letting the paranoid flag fly – that the site itself is a perfect platform to “post fabricated information, misinformation, disinformation, or propaganda and could be used in perception management and influence operations to convey a positive or negative message to specific target audiences“. Which, at the end of the day, leaves me with my own nagging paranoia that maybe Army Intelligence started the site in the first place, and is just playing their part in the elaborate con. What do you think? Should a site like WikiLeaks be allowed to exist and disseminate information so we can assess its truth for ourselves, or do we need a government or agency to assess it for us?

Read Comments

  1. Posted by » A Chain Is Only As Strong As It’s Wikiest Link - US Military Video Of Civilian “Collateral Damage” - Dissociated Press on 04.08.10 10:04 pm

    [...] Hellfire missiles because they’ve somehow mistaken your camera for an AK-47 and an RPG. We joked last week that maybe the US military had set up the whistleblower site WikiLeaks as a brilliantly recursive [...]

  2. Posted by Sick Of Hearing About Julian Assange & WikiLeaks? | dissociatedpress.com on 12.14.10 5:01 pm

    [...] countries’ laws he’s probably a criminal of some kind or another. In fact, early on, I jokingly suggested that WikiLeaks was a disinformation machine set up by the US government. But if Assange gets thrown under the bus by the British and Swedish [...]