In March 2008, the Department of defence published a memo about a perceived national security threat. The target: Wikileaks, a site that had previously put out sensitive information about Abu Ghraib. The method: hack them until they talk.
It's been two years since that memo, and there's no clear evidence that Wikileaks was ever tampered with. But it's chilling to know that it was ever even - and still may be - a possibility. Sites like Wikileaks catalogue our secret history, the version that we weren't supposed to know. In fact, the DoD's primary concern was that someone from inside the government was feeding the site important documents:
The possibility that a current employee or mole within DoD or elsewhere in the U.S. government is providing sensitive information or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out. Wikileaks.org claims that the "leakers" or "whistleblowers" of sensitive or classified DoD documents are former U.S. government employees. These claims are highly suspect, however, since Wikileaks.org states that the anonymity and protection of the leakers or whistleblowers is one of its primary goals.
In other words, a primary source.
The DoD's plan was to hack into Wikileaks to find those moles by hacking the site:
The obscurification technology used by Wikileaks.org has exploitable vulnerabilities. Organizations with properly trained cyber technicians, the proper equipment, and the proper technical software could most likely conduct computer network exploitation (CNE) operations or use cyber tradecraft to obtain access to Wikileaks.org's Web site, information systems, or networks that may assist in identifying those persons supplying the data and the means by which they transmitted the data to Wikileaks.org. ...
Successful identification, prosecution, termination of employment, and exposure of persons leaking the information by the governments and businesses affected by information posted to Wikileaks.org would damage and potentially destroy [its]centre of gravity and deter others from taking similar actions.
A frightening thought, although to date there haven't been any reports of Wikileak source exposures.
Other than the obvious Big Brother creepy-crawly feelings this story invites, it's also an important reminder about how we keep our collective memory. It's through news, and through documents, and through the stories we tell. If Wikileaks hadn't existed, the Guantanamo Bay torture manual may never have come to light. Nor a map of Abu Ghraib. Sites like Wikileaks force us to remember those things that some people would rather us forget. Deleting it, or its information, is like a memory wipe of history. [Wikileaks via Infoworld]