Just how many documents does WikiLeaks have?
Time‘s Barton Gellman pens a very good profile of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, a runner-up for the magazine’s 2010 person of the year. He also buries the lede on the last page of the story: that WikiLeaks’ cache of government documents may be much, much larger than the organization has claimed to date: The worst — ...
Time‘s Barton Gellman pens a very good profile of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, a runner-up for the magazine’s 2010 person of the year. He also buries the lede on the last page of the story: that WikiLeaks’ cache of government documents may be much, much larger than the organization has claimed to date:
The worst — or best, in the view of advocates for radical transparency — could be yet to come. John Young, a New York City architect who left the WikiLeaks steering committee after clashing with Assange, says the group members are storing "a lot more information underground than they are publishing on the surface." Some of it comes from a hacker-on-hacker sting in 2006, when data jockeys at WikiLeaks detected what they believed to be a large-scale intelligence operation to steal data from computers around the world. The intruders were using TOR, an anonymous browsing technology invented by the U.S. Navy, to tunnel into their targets and extract information. The WikiLeaks team piggybacked on the operation, recording the data stream in real time as the intruders stole it.
In an encrypted e-mail dated Jan. 7, 2007, decrypted and made available to TIME by its recipient, one of the participants boasted, "Hackers monitor chinese and other intel as they burrow into their targets, when they pull, so do we. Inxhaustible supply of material?… We have all of pre 2005 afghanistan. Almost all of india fed. Half a dozen foreign ministries. Dozens of political parties and consulates, worldbank, apec, UN sections, trade groups."
Gellman writes that "the theft scandalized some WikiLeaks insiders," and Assange decided to hold most of the information back from publication. (Whether it’s included in the "insurance" file the group distributed in July, when it released its stash of Afghan war documents, is unclear.) But if Assange has proven anything so far, it’s that whether these things stay hidden or not may no longer be something any individual can control.
Update 1: Salon‘s Justin Elliott, whose Googling skills are better than mine, finds the whole email in question, which was in fact sent to John Young and posted on his own document-dumping website Cryptome.