On Friday, the rogue Web site Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. military documents about the Iraq war. This is the single largest leak in military history.
Remember our friends at Wikileaks? Previously, I wrote:
- June 14: Adrian Lamo, Wikileaks, and what it means to be a patriot
- June 21: Revisiting Wikileaks/Lamo and why antiwar fascists suck
- August 3: Should America tolerate Wikileaks or destroy it like any other national security threat?
- August 21: Nutball Wikileaks founder tries to blackmail Amnesty International
The question I've been asked is this: what do we do about it? I've previously explored the question of whether the site is "good" or "bad". As I discussed previously, it's reasonably clear that the site could well be a force for good, but because of its founder's quest for glory over right, Wikileaks is, instead a danger to us all.
The problem is obvious. This is a Web site located outside the United States that has received stolen classified U.S. government information, and not only is releasing it to the public, but also is conducting a wide-spread PR campaign in the process.
So, how should we treat Julian Assange, the site's more-than-loony founder?
Well, think about it. What type of activity is hacking into U.S. systems and stealing information, hiding it online and mirroring it from server to server to avoid the authorities? That's the typical modus operandi for an online pirate or cyberterrorist. It's not the behavior of a solid citizen.
Assange doesn't really have a home. He's on the run -- not just from U.S. authorities, but from pretty much all Western governments. He's not a terrorist in the sense that he didn't fly a plane into a building, but cyberterrorism doesn't work in quite the same was as meat-space terrorism.
Cyberterrorism has second-level effects, meaning that the actions of cyberterrorism don't, in and of themselves, cause damage or death. Instead, the cyberattacks create the environment where damage can occur.
Here's a good example. Assange's release of confidential data won't, as part of the action itself, kill anyone. After all, all he's doing is copying a pile of files up to a server. But, once certain people get ahold of that data, they'll get names of confidential informants, for example, and then go hunt down and kill those people.
It's still terrorism. It just works a little differently.
So, Assange is, essentially, a terrorist. He needs to be stopped. He needs to be treated by the allies in the same way we'd treat any other terrorist. He needs to be captured, arrested, tried, and probably jailed.
Since Assange is such a publicity hound, maybe they'll televise the trial.
So, is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden? I guess that depends on how many people die based on Assange's actions.