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WikiLeaks: From Popular Culture to Political Economy (16 Essays)

In Archive, Assange, Chelsea Manning, WikiLeaks on December 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM

A special section of the International Journal of Communication on WikiLeaks, featuring a collection of essays by leading scholars on its relevance over time across a variety of academic areas.



Source: International Journal of Communication h/t Christian Christensen/Medium

Page 1 – WikiLeaks: From Popular Culture to Political Economy ~ Introduction – Christian Christensen (Stockholm University)

Page 6 – WikiLeaks, Transparency and Privacy: A Discussion with Birgitta Jónsdóttir – Christian Christensen (Stockholm University) & Birgitta Jónsdóttir (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative)

Page 15 – True Confessions: WikiLeaks, Contested Truths, and Narrative ContainmentWilliam Uricchio (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Page 22 – WikiLeaks, the State, and Middle-Aged MediaToby Miller (Cardiff University & Murdoch University)

Page 29 – Is WikiLeaks Challenging the Paradigm of Journalism? Boundary Work and BeyondKarin Wahl-Jorgensen (Cardiff University)

Page 41 – WikiLeaks and the Afterlife of Collateral Murder – Christian Christensen (Stockholm University)

Page 51 – We Are Bradley Manning: Information Policy, the Legal Subject, and the WikiLeaks ComplexSandra Braman (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Page 67 – Wikileaks, Surveillance and TransparencyMark Andrejevic (University of Queensland)

Page 79 – WikiLeaks and the Shifting Terrain of Knowledge AuthorityLeah A. Lievrouw (University of California — Los Angeles)

Page 94 – WikiLeaks: The Napster of Secrets?Axel Bruns (Queensland University of Technology)

Page 100 – Liquid Information LeaksNathan Jurgenson (University of Maryland) & PJ Rey (University of Maryland)

Page 114 – Himalaya of DataPelle Snickars (Umeå University)

Page 127 – Oh, WikiLeaks, I would so love to RT you. WikiLeaks, Twitter, and Information ActivismLisa Lynch (Concordia University)

Page 141 – The Privatization of the Internet, WikiLeaks and Free ExpressionAngela Daly (European University Institute, Italy & Swinburne University of Technology)

Page 152 – Digital Prometheus: WikiLeaks, the State–Network Dichotomy, and the Antinomies of Academic ReasonAthina Karatzogianni (University of Leicester) & Andrew Robinson (Independent Researcher)

Page 166 – WikiLeaks and the Critique of the Political EconomyChristian Fuchs (University of Westminster)

FBI Worked to Debunk “Conspiracy Theories” Re: Journalist Michael Hastings’ Death

In Archive, FBI, Michael Hastings on December 16, 2014 at 8:01 PM


Jason Leopold/VICE:

When journalist Michael Hastings died in a car crash in Los Angeles last year, rumors immediately began to surface on social media suggesting his death was tied to a federal investigation into his work.

The claims attracted widespread media interest when WikiLeaks tweeted the day after the crash that Hastings had contacted the anti-secrecy group’s attorney and said that the FBI was investigating him.

The FBI was then bombarded by inquiries from journalists who tried to confirm or deny the allegations, and the bureau struggled to come up with a statement to debunk what it referred to as “rampant conspiracy theories.”

“While we generally went with policy response of ‘can’t confirm or deny,’ I’m not sure how we’re supposed to even look into a tweet that says nothing about what he was allegedly being investigated for,” Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman with the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, wrote in an email to the FBI’s national press office in response to their questions. “I’ve asked reporters why they’re calling LA and they point to the car crash and fact that he appears to have lived here.”

VICE News obtained dozens of internal FBI emails that provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the bureau managed the inquiries into Hastings’ death and the rare steps it took to shoot down claims that he was the target of a federal probe. The documents were turned over in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit VICE News jointly filed with Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in FOIA research.

Related: Michael Hastings Autopsy Report

Two days after Hastings died, Eimiller sent an email to Andy Neiman, her counterpart at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), asking whether “fowl play” [sic] was suspected and whether the LAPD issued a statement.

“We’re getting slammed with inquiries regarding what appear to be conspiracy theories surrounding Michael Hastings car crash,” Eimiller wrote on June 20, 2013. “We’re trying to rule out, if possible, any suggestion that Hastings was targeted by someone with the crash based on his alleged involvement as a witness or target of an FBI investigation. I think we’re triple-checking but it doesn’t appear he was under any sort of investigation.”

Neiman responded to Eimiller stating, “LAPD investigators have not identified any evidence that suggests fowl play [sic] in the tragic fatal collision. The preliminary findings have lead investigators to believe that collision was a solo vehicle collision with speed being a primary factor. The investigation is ongoing. I hope that helps a little.”

Related: Michael Hastings Believed His Mercedes Was Being Tampered With, Asked to Borrow Neighbor’s Car Night He Died!

That day, Eimiller also sent out an email to FBI special agents across the country under the subject line “Urgent Media Issue” and linked to a New York magazine report about the growing conspiracy theories surrounding Hastings’ death. She said the reports had attracted the interest of then-FBI Director Robert Mueller and the Department of Justice, and that FBI headquarters “would like to debunk growing conspiracy theory if possible (assuming that’s what it is).”

“Has anyone’s division been contacted in relation to an FBI investigation that may have led to foul play in the car crash death Tuesday of reporter, Michael Hastings,” Eimiller wrote. “There are many reports on the Internet that Hastings was being investigated by the FBI. He died in a car accident in LA on Tuesday. Before his death, according to a tweet, he told others he worried he was the subject of an investigation. None of this is confirmed and the LAPD is reporting no foul play in car crash based on evidence. This is getting the attention of DOJ and the Director’s Office.”

FBI intelligence analysts were tasked with searching “all systems” to ensure there weren’t any records to suggest Hastings was the subject of an investigation. FBI officials searched several of its databases and did not turn up any documents on Hastings. Additionally, the bureau’s criminal division said Hastings was not on their radar.

“If all other divisions are comfortable that they have checked with the right contacts within your respective division, we’ll advise HQ that we have not been contacted regarding this matter,” Eimiller wrote. “We are getting ready to push out a statement to the press ruling out any investigation and want to ensure no info yet to be entered into the system surfaces after the fact.”

The statement originally said, according to an email FBI headquarters spokesman Paul Bresson sent to his colleagues at the bureau and the Department of Justice, “At no time was Michael Hastings, or anything related to his work as a journalist, ever under investigation by the FBI.”

Typically when the FBI is questioned about whether it is conducting an investigation, it responds by stating that it can neither “confirm nor deny.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said in an email that someone else suggested the statement should be changed: “At no time was journalist Michael Hastings ever under investigation by the FBI.”

The change is significant because the FBI did have one file about Hastings’ work. On June 11, 2012, the FBI’s Washington field office opened a file and submitted “unclassified media articles” to it in order to “memorialize controversial reporting by Rolling Stone magazine on June 7, 2012.”

The articles in question included an investigative report Hastings wrote about the disappearance of US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was rescued by special forces earlier this year in exchange for five Taliban Guantanamo detainees.

The FBI located the three-page file on Hastings in a “cross-reference” file that pertained to an international terrorism investigation involving Bergdahl’s disappearance. The bureau turned over the file about two months after Hastings died.

It’s unclear why the document did not turn up when FBI agents and spokespeople searched the bureau’s files.

Related: Excerpt from Michael Hastings’ Book “The Operators” Re: Death Threats

The media inquiries about Hastings continued, despite the FBI’s statement denying the rumors. On June 24, Eimiller sent an email to FBI headquarters:

Took a few calls over weekend using the Hastings statement. AP still asking today about it. Reporter says, “We just want to learn more about why Hastings thought FBI was talking to his close friends and associates – obviously rumor mill continues, anything to debunk rumors would be most appreciated ..” I told reporter, “I’m not able to help you with credibility of rumors. The FBI has confirmed that Michael Hastings was not under investigation. Not sure I can help you further. Let me know if there is anything I can do, or stop doing, in Los Angeles. Thanks.

“Nope. I think that’s perfect Laura,” Bresson responded. “Just keep referring to the statement. Appreciate the job you’ve done on this.”



Barrett Brown/FrontBurner:

For now, I’ll simply note that Coleman also claims, strangely, that I didn’t found my distributed think-tank Project PM until well into 2011, even though she spent much of a year sitting in our chat channel and even quotes from a 2010 Vanity Fair article I wrote in defense of the late Michael Hastings in which I note that I know him through his involvement in Project PM, which, thus visible as having existed by 2010, could hardly have been founded in 2011. Incidentally, Hastings and I had fleshed out some of the early ideas for Project PM in a couple of phone discussions a year before.

And as long as I’m talking openly about these matters, I suppose I’ll go ahead and ask for public support in getting the FBI to make public another phone conversation I had with Hastings a few weeks before his claim to his editors to be under investigation by the FBI and his subsequent death; the FBI themselves referenced this phone call at the gag order hearing, as may be seen from the transcript, and I believe it will shed some light on a couple of things that really could use some illumination, such as the FBI’s dishonest initial claim after his death that they had not been investigating him, when a subsequent Freedom of Information Act request proved otherwise. But I digress.

Related: What Was Hastings Working On?Christian Stork


Top Secret Documents Reveal How GCHQ Hacked Belgacom

In Archive, Belgacom, Belgium, Five Eyes, GCHQ, Hacking, NSA, NSA Files, Surveillance on December 15, 2014 at 9:50 PM



Ryan Gallagher/TheIntercept:

Last year, documents from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden confirmed that British surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters was behind the attack, codenamed Operation Socialist. And in November, The Intercept revealed that the malware found on Belgacom’s systems was one of the most advanced spy tools ever identified by security researchers, who named it “Regin.”

The full story about GCHQ’s infiltration of Belgacom, however, has never been told. Key details about the attack have remained shrouded in mystery—and the scope of the attack unclear.

Now, in partnership with Dutch and Belgian newspapers NRC Handelsblad and De Standaard, The Intercept has pieced together the first full reconstruction of events that took place before, during, and after the secret GCHQ hacking operation.

The origins of the attack on Belgacom can be traced back to 2009, when GCHQ began developing new techniques to hack into telecommunications networks. The methods were discussed and developed during a series of top-secret “signals development” conferences, held annually by countries in the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance: the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Between 2009 and 2011, GCHQ worked with its allies to develop sophisticated new tools and technologies it could use to scan global networks for weaknesses and then penetrate them. According to top-secret GCHQ documents, the agency wanted to adopt the aggressive new methods in part to counter the use of privacy-protecting encryption—what it described as the “encryption problem.”

When communications are sent across networks in encrypted format, it makes it much harder for the spies to intercept and make sense of emails, phone calls, text messages, internet chats, and browsing sessions. For GCHQ, there was a simple solution. The agency decided that, where possible, it would find ways to hack into communication networks to grab traffic before it’s encrypted.

The British spies identified Belgacom as a top target to be infiltrated. The company, along with its subsidiary Belgacom International Carrier Services, plays an important role in Europe, and has partnerships with hundreds of telecommunications companies across the world—in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. The Belgacom subsidiary maintains one of the world’s largest “roaming” hubs, which means that when foreign visitors traveling through Europe on vacation or a business trip use their cellphones, many of them connect to Belgacom’s international carrier networks.

The Snowden documents show that GCHQ wanted to gain access to Belgacom so that it could spy on phones used by surveillance targets travelling in Europe. But the agency also had an ulterior motive. Once it had hacked into Belgacom’s systems, GCHQ planned to break into data links connecting Belgacom and its international partners, monitoring communications transmitted between Europe and the rest of the world. A map in the GCHQ documents, named “Belgacom_connections,” highlights the company’s reach across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, illustrating why British spies deemed it of such high value.


Before GCHQ launched its attack on Belgacom’s systems, the spy agency conducted in-depth reconnaissance, using its powerful surveillance systems to covertly map out the company’s network and identify key employees “in areas related to maintenance and security.”


GCHQ documents show that it maintains special databases for this purpose, storing details about computers used by engineers and system administrators who work in the nerve center, or “network operations center,” of computer networks worldwide. Engineers and system administrators are particularly interesting to the spies because they manage networks—and hold the keys that can be used to unlock large troves of private data.

GCHQ developed a system called NOCTURNAL SURGE to search for particular engineers and system administrators by finding their IP addresses, unique identifiers that are allocated to computers when they connect to the internet. In early 2011, the documents show, GCHQ refined the NOCTURNAL SURGE system with the help of its Canadian counterparts, who had developed a similar tool, named PENTAHO.


GCHQ narrowed down IP addresses it believed were linked to the Belgacom engineers by using data its surveillance systems had collected about internet activity, before moving into what would be the final stages prior to launching its attack. The documents show that the agency used a tool named HACIENDA to scan for vulnerable potential access points in the Belgacom’s networks; it then went hunting for particular engineers or administrators that it could infect with malware.

The British spies, part of special unit named the Network Analysis Center, began trawling through their vast repositories of intercepted Internet data for more details about the individuals they had identified as suspected Belgacom engineers.

The spies used the IP addresses they had associated with the engineers as search terms to sift through their surveillance troves, and were quickly able to find what they needed to confirm the employees’ identities and target them individually with malware.

The confirmation came in the form of Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn “cookies,” tiny unique files that are automatically placed on computers to identify and sometimes track people browsing the Internet, often for advertising purposes. GCHQ maintains a huge repository named MUTANT BROTH that stores billions of these intercepted cookies, which it uses to correlate with IP addresses to determine the identity of a person. GCHQ refers to cookies internally as “target detection identifiers.”


Top-secret GCHQ documents name three male Belgacom engineers who were identified as targets to attack. The Intercept has confirmed the identities of the men, and contacted each of them prior to the publication of this story; all three declined comment and requested that their identities not be disclosed.

GCHQ monitored the browsing habits of the engineers, and geared up to enter the most important and sensitive phase of the secret operation. The agency planned to perform a so-called “Quantum Insert” attack, which involves redirecting people targeted for surveillance to a malicious website that infects their computers with malware at a lightning pace. In this case, the documents indicate that GCHQ set up a malicious page that looked like LinkedIn to trick the Belgacom engineers. (The NSA also uses Quantum Inserts to target people, as The Intercept has previously reported.)

A GCHQ document reviewing operations conducted between January and March 2011 noted that the hack on Belgacom was successful, and stated that the agency had obtained access to the company’s systems as planned. By installing the malware on the engineers’ computers, the spies had gained control of their machines, and were able to exploit the broad access the engineers had into the networks for surveillance purposes.

The document stated that the hacking attack against Belgacom had penetrated “both deep into the network and at the edge of the network,” adding that ongoing work would help “further this new access.”

By December 2011, as part of a second “surge” against Belgacom, GCHQ identified other cellphone operators connecting to company’s network as part of international roaming partnerships, and successfully hacked into data links carrying information over a protocol known as GPRS, which handles cellphone internet browsing sessions and multimedia messages.

The spy agency was able to obtain data that was being sent between Belgacom and other operators through encrypted tunnels known as “virtual private networks.” GCHQ boasted that its work to conduct “exploitation” against these private networks had been highly productive, noting “the huge extent of opportunity that this work has identified.” Another document, dated from late 2011, added: “Network Analysis on BELGACOM hugely successful enabling exploitation.”

GCHQ had accomplished its objective. The agency had severely compromised Belgacom’s systems and could intercept encrypted and unencrypted private data passing through its networks. The hack would remain undetected for two years, until the spring of 2013.


We’ve never established smoking-gun attribution for a governmental cyber attack against critical infrastructure before, and for the first documented example to show on EU member state mounting a cyber attack on another is a breathtaking example of the scale of the state-sponsored hacking problem.

If we say it’s OK for the UK to hack Belgium, we’re implicitly accepting the inverse. And if the UK can hit Belgium, China can hit the UK. When we find these massive holes in the security of our critical infrastructure, we ned to close them rather than tear them open, or else we’ll soon find everything is vulnerable and nothing is safe.

The people with the most to lose in that kind of world are the ones with the most complex systems. In other words, us, not them. – Edward Snowden


Nazis in the CIA

In Archive, Bolivia, Chile, CIA, Germany, Italy, Nazis on December 15, 2014 at 9:24 PM



Florian Hartung and Dirk Pohlmann have reconstructed a previously unknown dimension of the collaboration between Nazis and the CIA in the Cold War. Drawing upon recently released documents, the film exposes for the first time a perfidious, worldwide net that reaches deep into the power structures of the Federal Republic of Germany. Lending their authority to the fact-finders’ mission are high-ranking statesmen, journalists and historians.

Related Links:

In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 NazisEric Lichtblau

Operation Gladio: State-Sponsored Terrorism Exposed

Camp King & Project ARTICHOKE: CIA & Former Nazi Doctors LSD Interrogation/Behavior Modification on Soviet Spies During Cold War


Sydney Hostages Appear in Videos Relaying Terrorist Demands (Censored by MSM/YouTube)

In #SydneySiege, Archive, Australia, ISIS, Islamic State, Terrorism on December 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Four of the hostages being held in the Lindt cafe in central Sydney have appeared in videos, relaying demands of the terrorist linked to the Islamic State (now identified as Man Haron Monis) who is holding them captive. The videos are continuously being removed from YouTube and mainstream media has chosen not to air them. As you may know, LeakSource hates censorship of any kind, so here are the four videos that have been released:


  • Send an Islamic State flag to the cafe and 1 hostage will be released
  • Broadcast on all media that this is an attack on Australia by the Islamic State and 2 hostages will be released
  • To speak with Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott on a live feed and 5 hostages will be released
  • 4 bombs located in and around the cafe will be detonated if demands not met

UPDATE: Police Storm Cafe (VIDEO)

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